Apr 6, 2005

Adobe’s Mr.Strategist

Source: Silicon India
By Harish Revanna

Shantanu Narayen, recently appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of Adobe Systems, browses through his emails. “Look at my inbox.

Everything comes into this in PDF (portable document format),” he tells us, grinning enthusiastically at the rate at which the PDFs are percolating the global markets. It’s been more than a decade since PDFs were created and there is still no foreseeable competition.

Fortunately, Adobe still has a larger market to capture—it has 16 million users out of an estimated 60 million.

” Our strategy for retaining customers is simple: provide an excellent product that provides not only good value, but solves problems that customers may not have realized that they had. ” Said Shantanu Narayen.

Last quarter, the company witnessed overwhelming results—with PDFs contributing 42 percent of its $472 million revenue. Bruce Chizen, CEO, verbosely stated his ambition of upping that percentage to 50 by the next quarter. If Chizen’s words translate into reality, then Adobe could possibly brand their name on all digital documents globally. Intelligent documents, as the company refers to the Acrobat PDF, would make Adobe the monarch in its space.

But predictions are not pronouncement. As opportunity increases the competition will as well. For example, Microsoft may launch software on its Windows operating system that could do the same work as PDF for free. And this could change Adobe’s business. However, Adobe doesn’t seem to subscribe to words like “may be” and “perhaps.” “Our main concern now is promoting PDF awareness to various industries,” says Narayen—obviously hinting at Adobe’s disinterest to brainstorm for lurking competition.

Narayen, the No.2 official at Adobe, reasons how Adobe is losing to its two most important factors: lack of awareness that Adobe has created in delivering solutions, and that unawareness-bred homegrown inventions. “Enterprises are investing massively in all its business critical transactions to revamp their back office works with the available knowledge management tool, but the real problem lies in how to transfer documents without any changes,” he says. To capitalize on this transformation from manual processes documentation to electronic documentation, Adobe is aggressively marketing on its Acrobat and PDF products.

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