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Adobe just launched a completely new way to let people try its most cutting-edge AI features, while simultaneously improving its product (ADBE)


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  • On Friday, Adobe launched a new feature called Technology Previews to its popular Adobe Analytics product, which will allow customers to test out new artificial intelligence features while Adobe gathers feedback.
  • Previously, Adobe ran into problems with developing this kind of software because by the time they gathered feedback, the team would have to spend many more months redesigning the product.
  • By giving customers the option to test out these features, customers can access Adobe's latest analytics technology, while Adobe can work on improving its algorithms.
  • Read more on the Business Insider homepage.

One of the big challenges of building software is getting feedback. Building software is one thing, but figuring out if it actually solves the users' needs is quite another, and it can be a huge drain on time and energy. 

On Friday, Adobe Analytics — the $130 billion tech giant's tool for measuring how people actually use your products — announced a new feature called Technology Previews, which gives access to cutting-edge new features powered by Adobe's AI technology Adobe Sensei. With Technology Previews, customers can choose to try out new AI-powered data analytics features, but only if they want, and provide feedback on how to make it better. 

Typically, engineers may make small incremental changes to software while constantly gathering feedback from customers, in a process known as the agile method. Alternatively, engineers may create a beta of a product that's nearly finished, and seed it with some select users to try it. 

The problem, says John Bates, director of product management of Adobe Analytics, is that the agile method is not as effective when it comes to artificial intelligence products because the algorithms that power them can change so quickly, based on the data that comes in.

And beta programs are too slow, as Adobe says it found out with an earlier take on a similar initiative. In a beta program, you seed an almost-finished version of the software to select users to gather their feedback. The problem, Bates says, is that if the beta software is off-target, you have to start all over — which Adobe found out the hard way.

"After that experience, we said 'never again,'" Bates told Business Insider.

Rather than pushing these new features onto customers, Technology Previews is just an option that users can try out with the click of a button. That way, Adobe can test to see if its algorithms are fine-tuned to be useful enough to customers, and learn early on what users like and don't like.

Bates says it's a win-win for both: customers can access the latest technology, while Adobe collects feedback.

"We help our users have more influence and become a virtual product manager," Bates said. "We can see where are we going to further innovate and further invest for future solutions. It all depends on the feedback of our users."

The first feature previews

Adobe is putting three test features into Technology Previews. The first uses that Sensei AI technology to help users find the ideal audience for their products. The second is an intelligent forecasting feature to predict what will happen in the future based on their data, such as revenue forecasting or customer behavior. The third will help users understand how their customers interact with their product.

"These technology previews are in production, applied to our customer data," Bates said. "They don't have to wait for perfection in the development of these."

Then, Adobe can tweak these products, improve its analytics algorithms, and prioritize what products to release. Bates says this method will help engineers test products and make decisions faster.

Read more: Investors are betting hundreds of millions of dollars that startups like PagerDuty, GitLab, and CloudBees can change the way software gets made

"We can prioritize where to further invest," Bates said. "It will help us reduce the risk of a miss of developing something where we didn't give feedback on their data and really running the risk of developing something that wasn't the right end experience once it was applied to their data. It's a risk reduction method."

SEE ALSO: This CEO explains how he turned a tool he made for newbie programmers into a product used by over a million developers and backed by Microsoft's VC fund and Andreessen Horowitz

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