Securian Financial sees opportunities in the Adobe-Workfront integrations
The integration of Workfront with the Adobe Experience Platform should free up marketers for strategic and creative activity. But it's early days.
“We needed to modernize marketing,” said Chris Brown, Manager of Marketing Operations at Securian Financial.
He was looking back on a journey which had begun in 2017 — “Or earlier,” he said — and which had taken the marketing organization at the St. Paul, Minnesota-based financial services company from folders and a Lotus Notes database — “It barely counted as a workflow” — to users of the Adobe Experience Cloud, Workfront, and for email campaigns Salesforce.
Brown describes Securian as a conservative, reliable insurance and financial services provider. It’s roots in Minnesota date back to the nineteenth century. “Securian is kind of behind-the-scenes,” he said. “If all goes well, a lot of people might not even know that we are there supporting them.” For example, if you happen to be an employee of a big, household-name tech company, and you’re online looking for life insurance beyond the standard benefits, you end up using Securian.
“We do business with banks, credit unions, running solutions like credit protection – those types of things,” Brown explained. “We have an individual market as well, serving individual policy holders through advisers and financial professionals.” The company has around 80 full-time employees spread across those various services.
The Workfront journey
In November 2020, Adobe announced an agreement to acquire Workfront for a headline-grabbing $1.5 billion. It seemed a timely, albeit costly, deal with so many distributed teams needing to get a better handle on workflow. At the time, Tony Byrne of Real Story Group told us: “It makes sense for Adobe, which has been missing out on the increasingly important workflow/operations front in martech.”
Securian Financial is an example of a company that was using both Adobe and Workfront within its marketing organization before the acquisition happened, or indeed was even foreseen. As for Workfront, “We signed up at the end of 2016,” said Brown, “and our use started up in January 2017. We use the main suite of project management, and we also use the proofing tools, being a marketing department.” Securian marketers used Workfront to facilitate everything from ideation and planning all the way to execution, proofing and measurement.
“We put things into backlogs and queues for ideation,” said Brown, taking things “through the deep discovery phase and the kick-off meetings we have to get creative ideas on the table. We use Workfront to facilitate the documentation of those things and the timeline.”
Is Workfront rolled out across the business? “It is just within marketing,” Brown said. “We don’t have plans to expand right now; we think this is a really good tool for us. We have other areas that submit requests to us, but marketing is the primary user for this.”
Workfront meets Adobe
As for getting value out of integrations between Workfront and Adobe tools, it’s early days. “I’m seeing the possibilities theoretically. We haven’t squared them away yet. We are starting to — and here we’re just scraping the surface — capture metrics where it makes sense.”
The team uses many parts of the Adobe suite, he said. “We have the whole Adobe Experience Manager package, and we’re now starting to interface with the DAM. Two things we’re looking at right now are the Adobe Creative Cloud connector to Workfront, allowing people to accept tasks within Illustrator, within the Adobe tools. The other one is the Adobe DAM connector which allows us to add metadata, add new assets to the DAM. Those are the two things we’re focused on right now.”
There’s an established process for creating, finalizing and naming digital assets. “We have a naming convention, which is just a best practice for us and a strong taxonomy,” he explained.
“When I see the connector, I see a lot of possibilities. I see self-service — I see marketers interacting with the DAM to update metadata and update other things they’re not able to do right now, or they need to go to somebody else. I see benefit there, but I also see the work shifting. Right now, we’re heavily invested in marketers doing more strategy work. I know there will be benefits to having more self-serve, and we’ve been through such a transformation over the last four years. While the connectors are good, absolutely, it’s hard to find where the actual efficiencies are going to be. It’s not that I’m not bullish on this – I am – it’s just that I don’t think we’ve found the sweet spot.”
We asked if Workfront had a role to play in executing campaigns. “I see it tapping into Adobe Analytics at the first stage,” said Brown, “meaning that we will use APIs to pull some of the campaign metrics into Workfront so that it’s all in one spot. Our mantra is that we want to eliminate as much pivoting as possible, and we view Workfront as the starting place. If we can get people working in Workfront, and staying in Workfront, pulling in data on the campaign or whatever they’re working on, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The dilemma lies not with the various integrations, but with deciding how to balance the convenience and benefits of marketers being able to work directly with digital assets, and conserving their time for more creative and strategic activities. “The next thing is, we need to get our marketers to be more strategic and more focused on outcomes, so we’re a little worried about the administrative work on the backs of the marketers. We’re looking at these integrations as the key to getting out of that. We know that people will still have to process things, but any time we can make it so that people don’t have to pivot, or put information in two different places, we win.”