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Adobe roadshow hits Europe, and says digital B2B is leading the way

Supersonic skydiving superstar Felix Baumgartner was the main draw on the second day of the Adobe EMEA Summit 2013, held in London on 24-25th of August. The world’s most famous Austrian wowed the assembled masses of Adobe acolytes with an exploration of some of the challenges he faced (and conquered) in his record breaking 39,000 metre, supersonic freefall to earth last year – which achieved global recognition through YouTube. He rather overshadowed Mark Fearnley from the BBC who preceded him, who spoke eloquently about the corporation’s tremendous success in covering the 2012 Olympics.

But Baumgartner’s 30 minute cameo, introduced and interviewed by Adobe’s marketing director John Mellor, was the icing on the cake of an agenda really designed to show off the vendor’s evolving product suite, which it has recently rationalised around five key solutions – as reported by B2B Marketing in March, in the run up to the US version of the event.

Adobe did use the platform of the event to announce new Facebook predictive publishing functionality for its content platform, but as is often the way with European versions of US software company events, the really big news has already come and gone. Despite that, visitor numbers were impressive, up by almost 20 per cent, with a total of 2000 attending, and there was certainly there was very British polite interest from visitors (if not the fist pumping and 'whooping' that the same event might have seen in California). Clearly these roadshow events are now seen as essentials if you’re a global technology player – or have aspirations to be.

Personally I was won over by the fact that Adobe chose to put B2B brand SAP on stage as the first slot in the mammoth morning keynote – Shawn Burns, global VP of digital marketing at SAP, spoke for half an hour with Daniel Barnicle from Sapient Nitro on why B2B brands are taking digital just as seriously as B2C, and in the case of SAP are increasingly leading the way. And, of course, he mentioned how Adobe helps them achieve it. But cynicism aside, It’s good to see global technology brands recognising and promoting excellence in the B2B space, rather than becoming enthralled to the glamour of B2C fashion brands – as I’ve seen at other tech vendor events in recent years.

Whilst I wasn’t able to attend the event for the full two days, it did reinforce to me the growing importance of global tech vendors such as Adobe in the marketing world – both B2B and B2C. They are at once role models in terms of best practice, developing their technology in ways to drive their businesses forward, and as a consequence inevitably determining the way in which the rest of us reach out to, engage and seek to convert our customers. The challenge for vendors is to be perceived as doing this in the manner of enlightened paternalism (as Adobe seemed to be seeking to do, and was at least some way to achieving) rather than as corporate behemoth with an uncompromising ideology bludgeoning us into falling in line – something which a number of Adobe’s global rivals are in danger of doing.

Co-incidentally Salesforce’s Customer Tour (the renamed CloudForce) is in the same hall in Excel next week.