Cloud Transitions Are About People & Culture
In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Adobe’s executive vice- president and chief technology officer ABHAY PARASNIS talks to RUHAIL AMIN about how the company is betting on new age technologies to provide breakthrough services, its partnership with Microsoft and how India continues to be a strategic centre of innovation for the business
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What is Adobe doing to deliver a great customer experience?
If you look at Adobe’s mission, it has been about transforming the world through digital experiences. Going by the history of our company, whether in creative cloud, document cloud or in our enterprise business, we have always focused on the intersection of taking cutting-edge technologies and applying them to provide breakthrough services.
As we look at where we are today and at the next decade, there are probably three transformative technologies that will define the next set of experiences for our customers. Technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are going to expand the canvas for creativity. One of the approaches that we are exploring and looking at, is the intersection of digital and the physical world. Secondly, machine learning or intelligence is the most profound shift that the software industry has seen in the last two to three decades. The next decade of innovation for computer technology will be defined by intelligence; it has been mostly used for automation so far. What we are about to see now are computers combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning as large amounts of data and content will start becoming deeply personal and deeply intelligence-oriented to drive insights.
Adobe recently partnered with Microsoft to bring out joint solutions for enterprises. What does this strategic partnership entail and what is the way forward?
The Microsoft partnership for us is anchored on three core things: first, Microsoft and Adobe have been strong partners for long, and today we both share very similar vision for the future, which is centred on cloud technologies. Second, Microsoft is making some significant investments in driving cloud computing as a fundamental paradigm shift in the market. Moreover, at Adobe, we have a set of offerings that are very complementary to Microsoft’s offerings. If we bring them together, our customers will greatly benefit. Lastly, we are collaborating on essentially defining the next industry standard and taxonomy for how businesses need to embrace the experience era.
How does Adobe India fit in the scheme of things to drive the innovation agenda?
We are the only global software company that has a level of strategic bet on India, as not just a place where we do business in terms of selling software but really treating India as our premier centre for R&D innovation that literally drives every single part of our business. So, for us, India has always been and continues to be a very strategic centre of innovation for the business.
What are the key drivers of enterprise innovation for Adobe?
The leading edge of what is happening in enterprise transformation is actually increasingly being defined in emerging economies and markets like India and China. We look at three core tenets in enterprise experience for Adobe. First, advancing the state-of-the-art for content — with newer devices proliferating, the content delivery models are radically transforming for enterprise customers. Second, is how do we help companies across the globe embrace the digital transformation. Lastly, it’s the intelligence harnessing the power of data to really transform your enterprise experience with AI.
Adobe has been a glowing example of a successful transformation to an end-to-end cloud company. Could you share some technology tips for the booming cloud startups in India?
I think it’s important to be tuned into what your customers are asking for. The reason for this is that a lot of times people focus on transitions with a very inward looking lens as opposed to being focused on what will be the value for the customer in transforming the business model.
Moreover, cloud for the sake of cloud never works. You really have to ask if transforming your technology and business is going to help your customers in unique ways. For example, we now have more customers in our creative cloud business than we had before we began this transformation. Thus, in many ways, new customers have embraced us with this new model because they find it more valuable. So startups should focus on experience and value for their customers. Moreover, you have to be willing to break the status-quo and take risks. Most importantly, it’s all about people — the right team and the right culture change. I think most people underestimate how much these cloud transitions are not about technology but about people and culture. In fact, culture transition is the hardest part that companies struggle with.
Adobe has been a catalyst in digital transformation for multiple brands in India. What has been your experience and learning throughout this journey?
We work with lot of leading brands across every single market. The core learning is, in legacy business processes, putting a mobile app in the marketplace doesn’t lead to digital transformation. You really have to step back and ask fundamental questions around — what is my customer experience and what is the future of my brand? You have to transform your culture, your process, your business and technology, all have to go hand in hand.