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Adobe bets big on cloud computing for marketing, creative professionals

LiveMint logoLiveMint 03-05-2017 Sanjay Gupta

Mumbai: Known for its Photoshop and Illustrator software packages used primarily by design professionals, Adobe Systems Inc. is now betting big on providing creative and marketing professionals solutions that reside in the cloud.

Cloud computing typically allows companies to use software as a service (SaaS) rather than pay for it upfront.

Adobe’s solutions broadly cover three areas—the Document Cloud (to help create and manage documents), Creative Cloud (for designing purposes) and Experience Cloud (to monitor and analyse customer behaviour).

“We couldn’t have been more pleased with what we have done with (our) Creative Cloud,” Shantanu Narayen, chairman, president and CEO, Adobe told a media gathering in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Narayen insisted that there is “a massive tailwind of digital” globally, and consumer expectations have risen dramatically. “The next generation of software will be consumer-in,” he said, implying that companies need to sharpen their focus on customer satisfaction in today’s digital world.

The company’s senior executives are also bullish about Adobe’s prospects in India. “In India, we are just starting to ride the (customer) experience wave,” said Kulmeet Bawa, Adobe’s managing director for South Asia. He added that there is a lot of “headroom for growth” for Adobe in India, which employs about 5,200 people in the country—30% of the global headcount.

In this context, Narayen also underscored Adobe’s reliance on partnerships.

Citing the example of the company’s long-term partnership with Microsoft Corp., he said, “While we currently have our Experience Cloud running on Microsoft’s Azure platform, the vision, going forward, is to have all our clouds on Azure.”

ALSO READ: Despite Trump’s protectionism, India to remain Adobe’s ‘innovation hub’

Speaking about trends, Narayen pointed out that chief marketing officers (CMOs) and chief digital officers (CDOs) and other C-suite executives are increasingly asking how they can also figure out digital transformation for their organizations.

Analysts concur that as customers become central to how enterprises transform themselves digitally, CMOs and CDOs are having more say in how advertising campaigns are devised and run—and how the tech tools needed to create, run, manage and analyse those campaigns are bought and implemented.

Research firm Gartner Inc. noted in its CMO Spend Survey 2016-17 that CMOs now “oversee or heavily influence customer experience, technology spending, and profit and loss performance as means to deliver growth”. A report from research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), too, forecasts that spending on marketing technology will increase from $20.2 billion in 2014 to $32.4 billion in 2018.

Gartner uses the term “digital marketing hub” that can be likened to the so-called “marketing clouds” that consolidate and simplify the use of multiple marketing technology tools.

In its February 2017 report, Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, Gartner lists 22 companies. Adobe, Salesforce.com Inc. and Oracle Corp. dominate this market, according to the report.

There are a few challenges, though, in expanding this market, analysts say. For instance, Sujit Janardanan, vice-president of marketing at Aranca, a global research and advisory firm, believes that many of the tools that are part of the marketing clouds do not work smoothly.

“There are integration and skills-availability issues,” he said. What’s more, he added, is that the cloud offerings from large companies such as Adobe and Oracle are “super-expensive”, costing many times more than what smaller providers such as HubSpot Inc. would charge.

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