No matter where you turn these days, you are bound to hear about a little something called generative AI. I’ve said it before…AI is really a “thing” now. Don’t misunderstand my sarcasm: Generative pretrained transformers are not new. Neither is artificial intelligence or the models that power them. But within the last year, we’ve seen leaps and bounds in how these innovations are being brought together in the name of productivity.

Case in point: The AI Assistant in Adobe Acrobat and Reader. That’s right…your PDF just got chattier.

What’s the News Here?

Adobe has launched a beta of an AI Assistant that brings conversational and generative AI capabilities to Reader and Adobe Acrobat. Essentially, this new “conversational engine” can summarize the content of a document supported by Acrobat or Reader, answer questions, and recommend more questions based on the content. The models behind Acrobat Liquid Mode bring responsive reading for PDFs on mobile devices, and Adobe’s unique understanding of different document file formats and structures boosts the quality of responses, output and recommendations.

In researching this post, I have played with the beta, and I have to agree that the responses are accurate, but also noted that often the answers were supplemented with citations and additional summaries and insights from across a couple very lengthy documents. I found that reading a document and also leveraging the AI Assistant got me to dig deeper into some thoughts which was something I wasn’t necessarily expecting from the experience.

In the beta, Adobe Acrobat and Reader now include:

  • AI Assistant: Answers questions directly from users in a highly interactive and conversational manner, recommends and delivered suggested and custom questions based on the content of the document.
  • Generative summary: short overviews of content in easy-to-read format.
  • Intelligent citations: attribution engine and generative AI created citations to verify the source of AI Assistant’s summaries and answers to user questions.

The AI Assistant beta is currently available, allowing Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Individual, Pro and Teams customers to simply open their applications and start chatting with their documents today. There is also a private beta for enterprise customers. New features will be coming over the next several weeks. For the time being, these features are available on desktop and web. English is currently supported, but Adobe notes that other languages are soon to follow. Once out of beta, Adobe plans to release a new add-on subscription plan for the full range of AI Assistant capabilities. Currently, there is no word on how long AI Assistant is expected to be in beta, but there is already an extensive roadmap of future capabilities.

What’s the Impact Here?

Adobe’s AI Assistant brings the summary and productivity power of AI to the gold standard in business documentation. I struggle to think of the last time a white paper, contract or user manual wasn’t delivered in a large, multi-page PDF. Now…those PDFs can talk. Or rather…they can listen and then talk back with these new conversational AI functions. The impact on productivity and usability of documents is unquestionable. Imagine being able to just ask product guide how to troubleshoot, or pinpoint exactly where specific phrases or critical details like pricing are in a document. Imagine being able to ask if there are any differences in that pricing. Teams can start to ask for summaries of trends, send meeting notes or chapter summaries, or ask AI to identify anomalies in documents like contracts.

What Makes Me Lean in Here?

While the usability of the AI Assistant is unquestionable, we must think about how we as content marketers and creators need to plan and perhaps even write differently thanks to AI Assistants and copilots like this one from Adobe. As a content marketer, things like chapters, bookmarks, clickable links, sticky notes, and comments are lifeline tools when using a PDF as the delivery mechanism for your thought leadership. Afterall, you don’t just “export as PDF” and call it a day.

In this age of Generative AI, we will need to think differently and create within new mental models. When I launched Adobe Acrobat and opened a recent report I had written, I was greeted by the AI Assistant who “knew me” by name and it said, “I’m here to help you read, understand and work with your documents more efficiently.” I must admit that I was left wondering if I had set up the right phrasing, keywords, summary statements and guides to help the AI Assistant summarize and understand the big takeaways that I intend readers to walk away with. It made me exceedingly aware that I needed to not just think about the thoughts I was conveying but HOW I was structuring those thoughts to work well with generative AI tools like this assistant…was I writing to be seen and summarized?

Generative AI will open a world of content possibilities, even offering to author emails, change tone and tenor, update information based on pricing, product or even brand details. It will also offer to break through my writer’s block and whip up that first draft for me…even offer to edit or tighten up my run on sentence. So how can I be sure that I’m clear in those thoughts or leaving the right breadcrumbs to new thoughts?

Thought leadership content is hard enough to create as it needs to be something truly new with thinking that stands the test of time. Now we must make sure that these new thoughts are understood and summarized as such. We won’t be able to hide from the spotlight generative AI can shine on old ideas masquerading as new big ideas!

Content strategy and an overall understanding of where and how AI is impacting an organization’s capacity to create, contextualize and individualize content has to modernize and change. Understanding how these new AI powered tools are fundamentally shifting the process and operations of content marketing has never been MORE important.

With Adobe’s new AI Assistant, PDFs could be saying a lot more than we ever intended them to say. Are we as content marketers ready for this new conversation?

For more on the new AI Assistant, check out Adobe’s announcement here:


Header Image was AI Generated using Adobe Firefly