We’ve had a lot of conversations recently about the challenge of scaling content creation without hurting quality. CMOs and senior marketers are being asked to produce more, convert more, launch more, and earn more, albeit with fewer resources.
As organisations strive to handle an increasing number of projects and campaigns, effective resource management becomes crucial.
Anyone who attended this year’s Adobe Summit event will know that this is exactly the challenge Workfront promises to solve. Although it’s billed as a collaboration tool, Adobe Workfront is primarily a resource management software helping teams coordinate, streamline and launch campaigns.
Here’s what we see happening:
Let’s start by getting the lay of the land.
You’re not alone if you feel work has recently become more demanding. Between macroeconomic uncertainty, rampant burnout, increasing top-down demands and tightening data security measures, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with work.
There’s hope that working conditions will fix themselves. However, responsible employers should also be looking at the role resource management software can play in improving productivity, reducing stress and supporting collaboration.
Several project management tools vie for attention, especially at the enterprise level. Among the most popular are Jira, Monday.com, Asana and Workfront.
Each platform approaches workload management from a different angle. For example, Jira is typically seen as the leading project management tool for IT and software developers, while Asana is a user-friendly web-based project tracker.
Nevertheless, all these tools target the same fundamental challenge: workload management.
The fact that you probably recognise all the names – and can list alternatives like Wrike, Trello, Slack and ClickUp – is a testament to the scale of the workload management challenge in 2023.
The President of Adobe’s Digital Experience Business, Anil Chakravarthy, summed up the challenge in a 2020 interview that could just as well have happened last week.
“Every customer that we talk to is investing more and more in digital marketing,” he said. “As the investments grow, the amount of work involved in marketing is growing exponentially, and they really need a system to be able to manage work, so they get the right efficiency, productivity, and collaboration across their teams.”
CMOs and senior leaders face several challenges when it comes to balancing and distributing work in the most effective and efficient way.
Every campaign involves strategy, content creation, design, development, review processes, execution and optimisation. Coordinating these tasks and ensuring their timely completion can be overwhelming.
Marketing leaders need to balance the availability and skills of team members with the requirements of different projects. Poor resource allocation creates bottlenecks, delays and poor campaign performance.
Ensuring seamless collaboration between and within stakeholder groups can be challenging, especially when teams are distributed across different locations or time zones.
Timing and timeliness are crucial for marketing success, but the increasing complexity of cross-channel campaigns and the resources required to create high-quality content can make deadlines a terrifying ordeal.
New opportunities arise, strategies are adjusted, markets fluctuate and customer preferences change. The agility needed to account for ever-changing demands adds another layer of complexity to workload management.
We often hear from clients that tracking cross-channel marketing performance is a ‘black hole’. And if the organisation does have the tools to track customer journeys, acting on the insight in a timely and impactful way is tricky.
Marketing teams often turn to software to alleviate the burdens of ever-increasing workloads. By automating repetitive tasks, facilitating collaboration and providing oversight of all projects, resource management software promises to help organisations achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.
By centralising project-related information and combining it with collaboration tools, resource management software helps teams eliminate bottlenecks, track projects and reduce manual errors. Additionally, tracking KPIs (a feature in most high-end workload management solutions) provides transparency and accountability, enabling better campaign optimisation and planning.
Collaboration features like document sharing, task assignment and real-time communication are standard nowadays. However, there’s an opportunity to do more here.
For example, document sharing enables work done outside of the platform to enter the workflow. What if everything happened in the same environment?
Task assignment is a similarly manual process. A living, breathing person with a salary must define the workflow, break up tasks and assign team members. Resource management helps with these tasks, but only a bit.
Enough data sets are used to train predictive models in all three cases. For example, Jira’s AI:
In the case of Workfront, the potential of AI only really comes out in integrations. There are the standard automation features you would expect from an Adobe-sized software package, such as task assignment based on resource availability, data synching between back-end systems, and automated hand-off triggered by a status change.
But connect Workfront, Marketo Engage, Campaign and Analytics, and you’ve got a suite of Sensei-powered features helping to boost productivity and performance:
This makes sense when you consider that Workfront is designed to be an integrated software. It’ll function just fine alone, but the real value proposition was clear back in 2020: as marketing projects become more complex and mission-critical, and resources continue to be cut, teams need a comprehensive system to manage campaigns and collaborate easily.
Before the acquisition, Adobe and Workfront shared around 1,000 customer accounts.
When the pandemic hit and remote or hybrid working became the norm, workflows had a bad habit of falling apart, highlighting the need for a solution catering to distributed teams.
When the acquisition was announced, Suresh Vittal, VP of platform and product for Adobe Experience Cloud, said it made sense to add native collaboration features to the Swiss Army Knife that is Adobe Experience Cloud.
“We started to see new use cases emerge around the idea of work management, around the idea of content velocity, around the idea of providing compliance and governance capabilities so no asset escapes the organization, and it goes through this process of passing through creative and the marketing teams and getting out there and really representing your brand in the right way,” he said.
Fast forward two-and-a-bit years and Adobe is throwing its weight behind a beefed-up Workfront. It was a highlight at this year’s Summit events, a sign that Adobe is making moves to provide a comprehensive ecosystem for managing workloads and marketing projects.
That’s good news for organisations using multiple Adobe Experience Cloud solutions. Workfront natively integrates with sibling applications like Marketo, Campaign and Analytics, making for a true end-to-end experience.
From what we’ve seen, Workfront facilitates collaboration and streamlines the campaign development process by automating several time-consuming tasks.
It’s the things still to come, however, that we’re most eager to see.
If you’ll allow us to speculate a little, we’re predicting Adobe will bolster Workfront with much more AI muscle in the coming years. There are a few ways this could roll out.
Adobe already uses OpenAI capability (the Microsoft-owned company behind ChatGPT) in other products. It’s not a stretch to expect ChatGPT-esque content creation features in Workfront. We expect some AI capabilities to appear in briefing and collaboration features relatively soon, given that Jira and Monday.com are already there.
Generative AI, including Adobe Firefly, could also enable marketers to scale up or repurpose content for different channels, audiences or use cases.
Based on recent signals from Adobe’s Real-Time CDP team, one big step-change we hope to see is AI-generated workflow suggestions. Adobe Sensei is a powerful AI model, so it makes sense that marketers would want to see more heavy lifting done by technology. This could look like suggested project management workflows, campaign optimisations based on data coming from Adobe Analytics, or suggestions to personalise communications based on Campaign/Marketo integrations.
We could also see a feature that allows users to write prompts in Workfront to build experiences in integrated platforms. For example, prompting Workfront to create a lead nurture campaign and (via a Workfront Fusion automation) a campaign workflow appears in Marketo Engage or Campaign.
Right now, these are just TAP CXM’s speculations. But we’ve been following Workfront closely, along with Adobe’s continued adoption and advancement of AI features.
Whatever the eventuality, you can expect to hear more about Adobe Workfront in the future. Both from Adobe themselves and from us, your trusty neighbourhood CXM consultants, helping ambitious brands make the most of their technology investments through embedded expertise, technical development and training.