Where is Adobe Systems investing? MD Kulmeet Bawa explains

By: | Updated: July 11, 2016 7:39 AM

Govt is focusing on digitisation to drive enhanced efficiencies and deliver an improved experience for its citizen centric services

The Adobe India R&D centre contributes significantly in creating, developing and supporting products and innovations across Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud.(Reuters)The Adobe India R&D centre contributes significantly in creating, developing and supporting products and innovations across Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud.(Reuters)

The Indian economy is going through a digital transformation and multiple factors like robust growth of mobile, government’s thrust on Digital India, large and fast growing broadband penetration etc. are all contributing to this transformation. “We see a significant amount of opportunity to contribute to the digital transformation, whether it’s on the design, content, data or document management,” says Kulmeet Bawa, MD, South Asia, Adobe Systems. The San Jose, California-headquartered firm (renowned for its Photoshop and Acrobat software), which has dispensed with its pay-once-use-always business model and moved on to a subscription service, reckons that the transition to cloud is proceeding well. Recently, the Adobe South Asia MD spoke to Sudhir Chowdhary about new Creative Cloud innovations and the benefits of the new business model to his firm and to the consumer. Excerpts:

How important is India market for you from a business point of view?

India is important to us and big on the radar. India is the second largest establishment for Adobe after San Jose. We have got 3,700 people based out of India which is 1/3rd of Adobe’s total strength. India continues to gain importance further for us. A significant amount and over a third of Adobe’s R&D happens out of Adobe India. From a market standpoint, India is one of the fastest growing region for us in Asia Pacific and many of the country’s leading brands are our customers including Indigo Airlines, Mindtree, MakeMyTrip, SpiceJet, Airtel, Flipkart, Manipal Education.
I have been heading sales at Adobe for a while so a lot of business strategies have been formulated in my presence. I don’t see a lot of changes immediately that we would be making because things are going good for us and we are addressing a lot of the pain points whether on the digital or creative side.

Today, the Indian economy is going through a digital transformation and multiple factors like robust growth of mobile, government’s thrust on Digital India, large and fast growing broadband penetration etc. are all contributing to this transformation. We see a significant amount of opportunity to contribute to the digital transformation, whether it’s on the design, content, data or document management.

Reaching out to the broad set of customers—from individuals, SMBs across verticals, large enterprises and government with our diverse offerings forms the core of our strategy. We are seeing strong momentum in verticals ranging from travel and hospitality, BFSI, IT and ITeS, media and entertainment, government, design amongst others and will be betting on these for growth.

Investing in the human capital is a big focus for us and a part of the overall strategy, and we are making significant investments in this direction. For instance, we recently appointed noted computer scientist Anandan Padmanabhan as vice-president, Adobe Research to head our Big Data Experience Lab (BEL) in Bengaluru.

Who is adopting the Creative Cloud in India and what are the benefits to users?

We have seen a lot of adoption of Creative Cloud in the last few years. There are two sets of adopters. One set is the large enterprises that are actually adopting Creative Cloud. We have a buying programme called the Enterprise License agreement through which we serve the large conglomerates. So for a large enterprise, it has simplified the life of a CIO. What I mean by that is the Creative Cloud Enterprise, that’s the product we sell for enterprises, has a single administrative console. So gone are the days when the CIO would have to worry about who is using which license where, how it is being deployed in the field. That is one big advantage enterprises are seeing today.

Second is the whole simplicity with which they can buy new licenses. The way it works for us is that, say at the end of the year, the customer can declare that the pro rata in the last 6 months we have used 322 licenses, so they don’t have to go out and procure licenses. They can just go and procure from the cloud and at the end of the year they can pay us the subscription. That’s the second big advantage.

A lot of technology companies talk about their cloud strategies, but Adobe has really gone on and embraced the cloud. Tell us something about the benefits of this new business model to the company and to the consumer.
We have had a brilliant journey. We have been one the first people to actually harness/ face it head on. We have not had the dual strategy that we will also have perpetual and we would also continue with cloud. From a creative perspective we wanted to re-imagine the whole creative process which we did with Creative Cloud. From our side we were facing one or two issues which lead to customers coming back and complaining. One was we would take 12-18 months before the next release. So that was one of the big reasons for the shift.

Second was affordability. A lot of customers would find it difficult to bear 60k+ for a Photoshop license which would then lead to more piracy. So second was affordability, bringing the prices down, making it a subscription license and making it an operating expenditure.

From an India perspective, we were one of the first countries in the world that stopped selling perpetual licenses
and moved onto the subscription model.

What are some of the key verticals that the company is targeting in India?

Two big areas for us, one is that we will be deep diving a lot into banks; that’s one territory that we see we need to make more headway into. From an education perspective, what we are finding is that India is a very young country; 65% of India is below 32 so we have got a lot of millennials. We are finding a difference in ways the students of today are used to from a digital adoption perspective. But what we are finding is that they are not fast enough to hop on to the digital bandwagon, the way we are seeing in the commercial sectors. So that’s a big area where we will be focusing on.

We are optimistic about opportunities in the Indian market, with the onset of government programmes like Make in India and Digital India. For instance, one such initiative is the government’s recent move to introduce e-KYC (electronic know your customer) through digital authentication using Aadhaar cards. The government is also focusing on digitising land records and legal documents etc. all of this opens up enormous opportunities for us to contribute.

Can you tell us about the company’s focus on innovation?

We are committed to innovation and research in the country. Adobe India R&D centre has a strategic importance for Adobe and is an integral part of the organisation’s overall growth. The Adobe India R&D centre contributes significantly in creating, developing and supporting products and innovations across Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud.

In many aspects, our India R&D centre has end-to-end ownership of the products or solutions, including requirements for research and development, testing, and even marketing of the product.

Government has laid a lot of emphasis on the adoption of technology to streamline public service offerings and make its functioning efficient and transparent. What will be the role played by Adobe in this direction?

We are starting to partner with them. When we are talking about citizen services, it is all about experiences again. We are in discussions with various parts of the government. It’s going to be a lot of analytics, lot of data, which they need to gather to actually analyse who to serve what and then comes in the whole content part  for the experiences around citizen services. That is one big pillar for us.

If look at Digital India, they have got another big pillar— one is the infrastructure part, one is the service part and one is the skill part. So we are working closely with a lot of the large skill building organisations and initiatives which we would want to do as a part of Digital India. Smart cities are becoming big for us. We are involved in states like Gujarat; more than 18,000 villages today where we have tried to reduce the digital divide there, are powered by Adobe technologies. In short, we are investing into the digital government.

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