Understanding Innovation @ Adobe Max 2018

Thoughts on Adobe MAX 2018

MAX wrapped up last week in Las Vegas and since I’ve been back in the office, I’ve been thinking a lot of innovation. Yes, Adobe apps are some of the most innovative pieces of software out there, and we couldn’t do the work we do without them.

But the idea of never-before-seen solutions isn’t what I find most exciting about the new releases at Adobe MAX this year.

It’s the every-day solutions. The things that we as designers, illustrators, editors and animators do dozens of times each day, hundreds of times each week and I don’t even want to know how many times each year.

It’s safe to say that because of my unique professional experiences, I’ve tested out a lot of headphones. - John Williams

The gift every creative wants. Time.

This latest round of updates to Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps seem to really focus on understanding how we’ve all been working, to strip some of the tediousness out of what we do in order to save us time.And that isn’t to say that Adobe hadn’t been understanding how we worked before, but the pace and nature of the work we do as a creative agency was itself shifting over the years so that a video editor didn’t need to just understand story and pacing – but also user content habits on half a dozen social platforms as well – changing one deliverable into half a dozen so we can reach every audience.

The gift every creative wants. Time.

It seems Adobe has worked under the mantra of “Work smart, not hard.” as they put together some really serious tools supported by machine learning (Adobe Sensei) to essentially act like an interpreter between what we as creatives need to do to achieve the outcomes we want, and the apps themselves with all the timelines, panels and functions we have to hunt through to do it. Adobe’s Sensei doesn’t seem like the dreaded AI we fear will take our jobs…but more like the Mr. Miyagi we all need – helping us to focus and hone our thinking (the serious stuff behind the work) – since we’ve already put in the countless hours of clicking through panels that equate to catching flies with chop sticks.


As someone who has always focused more on what the work is, what it says and how audiences engage with it, these Creative Cloud updates show that Adobe is thinking along the same lines. Our creative work will always be based on client goals and effectively communicating with our audience – that won’t change – what will change is how much time and effort we need to spend on the many tedious elements of executing the work that don’t actually advance client goals.

You can’t advance brand awareness by clicking through 46 menus in Photoshop. You can’t increase sales by constantly importing or recreating effects for every social video.

So with improvements across the entire spectrum of creative development – from experience design to photography, from social to video & animation – this streamlining of HOW we work, will improve WHAT we can do in the time we have.

So maybe “Work smart, not hard.” isn’t the correct interpretation, because there’s always going to be hard work in what we do.

Maybe it’s like Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” And now our software has a little bit of that intelligence built in to help out.

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