Sunday, March 31, 2019

My Experience at The Adobe Summit 2019

I attended Adobe Summit earlier this week held at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and walked ~72,000 steps in 6 days (Saturday to Thursday). In these six days, I only went out of the hotel twice which in a way is shocking but that's because the Venetian hotel is a city in itself and it also goes to show how busy I was. This was my second Adobe Summit and my first as an Adobe employee but the important thing to call out is that attending Summit as an Adobe employee is completely opposite than that of attending as a client or partner. Simply put, you don't get to attend Summit (as a consultant) unless you're presenting or doing a lab which I personally think makes a ton of sense and I want to especially thank the Adobe leadership team who gave me an opportunity.

I did a lot of things at Summit and want to summarize all I did but the one I'm most proud of is the speaking session with Garrett Friedrichsen who's my client from Mastercard with whom we presented to over 200 people. Let's take a look at some of the things I did:

Teaching Assistant in pre-conference trainings- The pre-conference trainings happen right before Summit kicks off so I landed in Las Vegas on Saturday instead of Monday as the actual conference began on Tuesday. My initial TA duty was supposed to be on Audience Manager fundamentals but I ended up swapping to cover basics of Launch by Adobe at the very last minute. Even though it was very tiring due a commitment of eight full hours, it was still a great experience for me as I proactively helped the instructor and for one of the lesson, took over on his request. The most satisfying thing for me was being able to help the students and answering ad-hoc questions about their implementation. The other good thing about this was that I got a feel for how to face an audience of over 50 people.

Adobe Booth duty- This was one of the highlights for me as this is where I got to catch up with my rockstar co-workers and the leadership team in person. In addition to this, I answered ad-hoc questions from clients and partners primarily on Analytics and Audience Manager. 

Ad-hoc Customer meeting- This happened as one of the account teams reached out to me and asked me to meet their client (not mine) to discuss my experience working with clients who incorporate agile methodologies in their analytics implementation. The conversation went well as the customer and I ended up addressing a lot of general challenges and potential solutions around agile, implementation challenges and enablement of resources within an organization. We have some next steps and the account team will work on executing those with the client.

Teaching Assistant in Labs (Video Heartbeat and Adobe Analytics)- Personally, I didn't add much value here as my main role was to work with other TAs to help attendees/students with their preexisting lab exercises and computers. All in all, it was a good experience to see how other instructors go about with their lessons.

Co-Speaking Session on Adobe Audience Manager- This was easily the most challenging and satisfying part of Summit for me. I wouldn't lie but I was quite nervous before the presentation as this was the biggest group of people (235 people attended) I had ever presented in front of (previous was probably 20). My session (Audience Driven Campaigns in Financial Services, Featuring Mastercard) started with an icebreaker but I did speak fast at times which is something I'll work on. As I got to presenting my core slides, my flow got much better as I knew the most about the subject. Overall, the presentation went well as the silver lining was that people came up to both Garrett and I to congratulate us but most importantly asked questions and engaged with us after the session. Having presented for the first time to a big audience, I would like to share some tips in case you want to do it as well:

  • Rehearse but not so much that you end up cramming the content
  • Get to the conference room 15-20 minutes early to prep and get set up
  • Have an ice breaker at the start (mine was to wish the Japanese audience Konnichiwa and also wish my co-speaker Happy birthday)
  • Try to include a relevant analogy for your presentation but be 100% sure that it's relevant and not overdone. We didn't include one but will probably do so next time
  • Speak slowly and take deep breathes in between
  • Stay hydrated (very important)
  • Gauge the audience reaction and mood to adjust if necessary. Sometimes, the audience in the room already knows a lot of what you're saying so it may make sense to go deep but there's a fine line here so be careful.
  • Make enough time available for questions and engage with the attendees after your session is over
  • Don't get intimidated and overawed by the situation. It's important to remember that the attendees are people just like you and they're attending to learn from you so relax and enjoy the moment
  • Finally, push yourself out of your comfort zone and take the plunge to speak. Trust me, if do it once you would want to do it again and again!

Got a demo of the Adobe Experience Platform- I feel the Experience platform is a game changer for Adobe and it will elevate Adobe to a whole new level. The real-time platform allows us to ingest any data (including PII), control privacy, query data, visualize data, leverage machine learning and AI at scale to name a few. Here's a link to it and I'll hopefully write about it as I learn more. 

Killers Concert and Wrap up- Adobe summit wrapped up and did justice to the phrase "Work hard and play harder". Honestly, it was hard to enjoy myself before my speaking engagement but after I was done, it was the best feeling not just because it was over but because I felt the hard work paid off which is why I didn't miss any opportunity to enjoy myself at the concert. 

All in all, it was a wonderful opportunity and I hope to come back in some capacity next year and continue to add value for the company. I've added some pictures from the conference.

 The amazingly beautiful Venetian hotel

 An awesome surprise for all AAM speakers from our track manager, Rakhi Patel 

 Dinner with client

In one of the labs 

 My presentation

Working our magic at the booth

 Awesome Adobe booth crew and my coworkers

The Killers performing on stage! 

This happened outside right after the concert where the DJ played some awesome music. It was completely unexpected and a ton of fun!

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