On retaining talent — and creating value — in a new hybrid reality

Adobe Professional Services was recently named a Leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Adobe Experience Cloud Professional Services 2022 Vendor Assessment.

Among the positive feedback, it was great to see a personal belief of mine echoed back — that the talent we recruit and retain is fundamental to the long-term success of Adobe’s Professional Services organization and the value-adding impact of Adobe’s Experience Cloud technology within our clients’ businesses.

While I’m pleased to see this reported by IDC, it doesn’t come as a surprise. As vice president of professional services, I see — and help nurture — the quality of support that clients get from our consulting teams. We develop advocates; partners who commit to advancing their clients’ digital transformations and ensure they achieve their goals.

The way Adobe Professional Services engages and supports a client’s organization has taken on a different shape within the context of hybrid working. So has how we retain our talent.

I believe that hybrid working has opened up new opportunities for our clients and consultants alike. These opportunities, in turn, have unlocked even greater value for our partner organizations and our organization.

Space to connect and grow

As consultants, we’re invested in the long-term success of our clients, and we are most proud of the relationships that span years of strategic success in our partner businesses.

The structures and processes we use to achieve this have, of course, had to pivot due to the pandemic and our new hybrid reality. But rest assured that our consultants are no less connected to their clients now than they were pre-pandemic. We’ve found new ways to foster that bond, and even add efficiency.

For example, leading meaningful discovery sessions any way other than in person was deemed nearly impossible before the pandemic. Since the business world went hybrid, however, not only have our consultants produced effective methods for virtual discovery sessions, but they’ve also set new standards for how discovery can be conducted. We’ve created an approach that’s just as valuable while saving travel time and resources. Virtual discovery sessions are our new normal as a result. Other examples of successfully moving to hybrid workflows include creating rapport with virtual ice-breakers and using synchronous communication tools to troubleshoot with clients and their customers in real time.

Our people are also motivated to further their skill sets, not just for personal development but for the positive impact this upskilling has on the work they do for their clients. We hear our consultants when they say they want the time and space to be creative, to innovate, to explore, and to try things out.

We build this space into our job specs and ensure we deliver on it once we onboard new talent. Maybe a business-minded consultant wants to invest a few hours a week in a technical training course, or a consultant deep in Adobe Analytics wants to spend time learning data architecture under Adobe Experience Platform.

We believe that facilitating these cross-over interests is important for retaining the best Professional Services talent and pays dividends across the wider Adobe organization, so we can deliver even greater value.

Better still, these development opportunities are more easily secured than ever in a hybrid, predominantly digital workday. If we can help consultants protect the time to learn new skills, the courses and connections required are often at their fingertips.

New progression pathways

Long-term career development is a top priority at Adobe. Professional Services has long been an organization where consultants can grow their Adobe careers thanks to the unparalleled networking and hands-on experience a role here provides them.

I’ve previously shared my personal career-charting tips, including being open to serendipitous interactions or unexpected challenges. You might think that hybrid working disrupts these collaborative, cross-disciplinary connections, but it doesn’t — quite the opposite, in fact.

Our consultants are working more closely than ever with Adobe talent from other areas of the business. If a client requires the support of our product team, for example, hybrid working makes reaching out and working with other Adobe staff a seamless practice. Colleagues can join a call, present at a meeting, or simply share their expertise from wherever they are in the world.

According to the IDC, “Organizations often want their professional services vendors to supplement their execution excellence and their client dedication with something quite different — the ability to think outside the box, to surprise the client with new or counterintuitive ideas, and to present the client with unexpected ways to solve problems." That’s something we are more able than ever to deliver as a result of the connectedness hybrid working fosters across Adobe talent and knowledge hubs.

It’s also worth emphasizing the benefit that working closely with other teams has for Adobe Professional Services talent. Doing so provides a bigger picture view of Adobe as an organization and empowers them to use newfound knowledge to serve clients to an even higher standard.

The standard of talent here in Adobe Professional Services is well-known across the Adobe enterprise. You could say our team has become something of a talent hub for the business as a whole. If there’s a vacancy for a leader in another org, the person who fills that role may well come from Professional Services — they know the client like no one else, have hands-on, transferable experience, and they’ve likely been exposed to that area of the business thanks to the collaborative, hybrid structures we’re working in now.

With a focus on professional development, we can improve retention within Professional Services and create valuable talent pipelines for other Adobe teams.

“Organizations often want their professional services vendors to supplement their execution excellence and their client dedication with something quite different — the ability to think outside the box, to surprise the client with new or counterintuitive ideas, and to present the client with unexpected ways to solve problems."

Talent and value are undeniably linked

IDC’s report makes another statement that I agree with, and that’s how Adobe’s future financial value — and the value we’ll continue to deliver for clients — lies in attracting and retaining the very best Professional Services talent.

Of the clients IDC surveyed, 50% expect to increase their spend on Adobe-related professional services in 2022. The highest spenders are predicted to be those experiencing the most significant strategic benefits from their Adobe projects.

Within its conclusion, IDC states: “Ultimately, while tools and intellectual property are valuable and often differentiating assets for services vendors, success in technology-related business projects is often determined mostly by the quality of the vendor's professionals.” With that sentiment in mind, it becomes all the more critical for our clients, our consultants, and our business that Adobe never takes its eye off talent acquisition and retention.

The majority of businesses are grappling with retention, and Adobe Professional Services is actively in hiring mode. I’m feeling inspired by and optimistic about the opportunities that hybrid working presents to our consultants — and how that can be translated into value for our clients today and in the future.

Suzanne Bourdeaux has more than 20 years of experience building and leading successful customer organizations within the digital marketing software industry. She leads the Americas Services Delivery organization, and her team is responsible for Adobe’s global implementation best practices. Suzanne and her team are passionate about delivering Digital Experience and Business Transformation engagements to customers across the Americas, helping customers achieve key business outcomes by fully leveraging Adobe solutions, and ultimately ensuring customers maximize value from their Adobe investment.