Context is king

Given the previous principle, you may be surprised to read that context, not content, is king in the Adobe® Digital Enterprise Platform. Actually it’s more like a king and his kingdom. Great content is critical to customer experience, and customers experience content in context.

At the center of Adobe’s technology for customizing and optimizing user experience is something called the Context Cloud.[1]

Adobe’s approach to building CEM solutions aims to empower and delight customers by (among other means) giving Web visitors exactly the information they need, in the right form, at the right time. Doing this reliably and in real-time can be a challenge. It requires software that can aggregate relevant user information from a variety of sources so as to drive intelligent provisioning of content on a page according to predetermined strategies.

Adobe’s Customer Experience Solution for Web Experience Management rises to this challenge with a patent-pending technology called the Context Cloud. The Context Cloud represents a dynamically assembled collection of user data that can be used to determine exactly what content should be shown, for example, on a given Web page in a given situation.

Envisioning Context Cloud extension for social

Several things make Adobe’s implementation of the Context Cloud unique:

  1. Much of the information (such as info about the user’s viewing environment) is derived on the fly in real-time; it is not persisted anywhere.
  2. Marketers can experiment with different user-data values to see changes to a page in real-time (e.g. to try different campaign strategies before going live).
  3. The Context Cloud is extensible. You can add a new (custom) session-store object whose contents can fully participate in campaign “what if” scenarios.[2]
  4. Non-volatile information shown in the Context Cloud viewer is persisted on the client side (in a cookie), relieving the server of having to maintain (and then transport back and forth) large amounts of user data.

Because user info is persisted on the client, concerns over privacy and control of potentially sensitive user data are easily allayed: The user has ultimate control over the data.

Credit: Thanks to Kas Thomas for his work in describing Context Cloud.

Next: cloud first, mobile first, social first

Update 9/6/2011: The larger technical white paper from which this post was drawn is now available from the ADEP Developer Center as a PDF download. Please feel free to provide me with your feedback on that work here. Thanks in advance!

[1] Previously in Day Software, Context Cloud was referred to as Clickstream Cloud.
[2] When Adobe CQ5.4 released in February 2011, it demonstrated this extensibility via its integration with Omniture. CQ5 is now known as the Customer Experience Solution for Web Experience Management.