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India has significant role in Adobe's transformation journey

By Shivani Shinde-Nadhe
June 16, 2015 16:01 IST
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From an abysmal business, Adobe started to bring all its changes to Indian market simultaneously.

Umang Bedi, managing director, South Asia, Adobe Systems India, wants, in the next two to three years, to make India the company’s largest market for enterprises business, lead by its digital marketing focus. Asia Pacific now contributes 16 per cent to the global revenue and is the fastest growing region for Adobe.

Of this, India has the second largest business on the enterprise side and the largest on the SME side. Globally, the SME business is among the fifth and sixth positions for Adobe.

For many who know Adobe, the brand which has popular products such as Photoshop and PDF, Bedi’s ambition may look very simple. But for Adobe which has been in India for over a decade, it’s only in the last four years that the country has started contributing significantly to the revenues globally.

 “When I took over the role in 2011, India was just a research & development hub for Adobe. In terms of revenue generation it was abysmal,” said Bedi.

There were several reasons for low performance. Like despite being a product company, updates would happen just one’s in 12-18 months.

Products were expensive and though the technology landscape was changing fast and moving to the mobile world, Adobe was catering to designers and developers on desktop.

One other big issue was piracy, which was denting the company by $1 billion annually.

These reasons were applicable for the company’s performance globally as much as for India.

Adobe, while had very little revenue from India, globally the company was realising that though it had good revenues, growth was plateauing.

Globally, the firm’s reinvention started in 2009 as it started acquiring firms that could transform the company into a digital marketing technology provider.

This meant an overhaul that made the company move to a complete cloud platform with a subscription-based model by discontinuing its licencing business.

The strategy though eroded the firms market capitalisation initially, its Creative Cloud suite attracted 2.3 million paid subscribers.

Bedi says that India has been a significant player in this shift. Mainly because the company which has over 50 per cent of its revenue outside of the US wanted to grow in other emerging markets, and within the emerging markets not only is India the fastest growing market in APAC, but globally one-third of the R&D work is now done out of India for Adobe.

“India is a very significant site for us other than R&D. We were the first country in the world to shut down our perpetual licencing business and move the model to the cloud. So Creative Cloud was launched in the US, but we did the move first in India in November of 2013 and the company finally did so globally in June 2014,” added Bedi.

From an abysmal business, Adobe started to bring all its changes to Indian market simultaneously.

The resultant was a tremendous uptick, as they launched an online store where consumer could buy in Indian rupees by using either a debit or credit card. They took to local pricing as this was critical to get the brand awareness. The second focus was SMEs.

“We went vertical is targeting SME. We started working with the gems and jewellery association, the ceramic tile association, pharmaceutical vertical, the fashion designers etc. Our talks were around how we can streamline their workflow. And the resultant is that India is consistently among the top 5 to 6 markets for Adobe for SME business,” said Bedi.

The enterprise business, which did not exist, had a different approach. The strategy that Adobe had was to target large value contracts with strategic enterprises.

“These enterprises were across media and entertainment, telecom, financials, IT-ITeS, pharma, publishing among others. We have over 400-500 long terms contracts with these enterprises.

Today enterprise business in second largest in the whole of APAC,” said Bedi.

Bedi believes that digital marketing is the next game changing segment for Adobe in India. Though the segment still very small, digital marketing has already become a part of boardroom conversations, he said.

“The most mature market in our region is China, which spends $16 billion on search, social and display/advertisement. Second market is Australia which spends $8.5 billion. India is a fraction of that business but it is the second largest in APAC in digital marketing for Adobe.

That’s because of the adoption of mobile and advertisement,” he added. But the shift to make India a business unit has not meant a shift in the firms R&D focus here.

“R&D in Adobe was not offshoring work. India as a centre owns 26 products end-to-end. For other products we have co-ownership that means, we touch every technology change in Adobe. India has become the largest site for patents with 300 filed,” said Bedi.

What has also changes is that engineers from the Adobe document cloud business unit (BU), creative suite unit and marketing cloud unit now report directly to the BU heads.

Going ahead, for Bedi there are two big focus when it comes to India—government and education. In government Bedi sees three areas where Adobe can be an important player.

These include; government to citizen engagement, two citizen portal’s and third is empowering education.

“Every interaction with government starts and ends with forms. Adobe has the most used document technology. Our forms technology, signature and PDF technology is number one area to take to the government,” he said.

Photograph: Reuters

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