Business Issues -> Innovation
By: Clive Longbottom, Head of Research, Quocirca
Published: 12th June 2012
Copyright Quocirca © 2012
Remember Adobe? You know the company that does the PDF reader, provides the tooling behind all those flash sites and the software you always wanted to deal with your digital photos, but could never afford? Did you ever wonder what happened to it?
Well, on one level, the news doesn’t sound that good. The need for PDF creation software is nowhere near as strong as it was, since Microsoft and others built PDF creation into their software suites. Unfortunately for Adobe, the PDF reader technology is provided free of charge, and licence revenues on creation are now minimal in the greater scheme of things. It’s also unfortunate that although the number of people using digital cameras has massively increased, the number of people perceiving the need for high-end software such as Adobe Photoshop has not increased in equal amount. At least Adobe has tried to address this issue with its consumer digital image manipulation software, Photoshop Elements – but this is fighting in a highly competitive environment of cheap-to-mid-range software.
And as for Flash – well, Steve Jobs did a pretty good job of putting the writing on the wall for this when he refused to accept Flash as a technology on the iPhone, iPod or iPad, instead pushing for HTML5.
So, where does this leave Adobe? Withering on the vine? Hardly – in fact Adobe is rapidly repositioning itself as a new company that is moving from majoring on media creation to full management of the marketing function. In a recent event in London, Adobe showed some of its capabilities – and there is a lot of good stuff.
Over the past few years, Adobe has been quietly but aggressively acquisitive. From its long-ago acquisition of Macromedia, through Omniture, Day Software, Nitobi and Efficient Frontier Technology, Adobe has built up a portfolio of capabilities that enables it to make a determined tilt at the marketing function within an organisation. Flash is still there, but HTML5 is the real focus now. For those who have gone to the trouble of learning Flash, Adobe has now enabled all Flash output to be exported as HTML5 – in other words, although Adobe continues to support Flash for those who have built up the skills, it is now adding to the writing on the wall so kindly left by Steve Jobs.
Adobe has changed considerably. It now has a portfolio that spans creation of digital assets that includes:
There is a deal of cross-over between the various areas, with tools from one area being necessary (or at least desirable) to fulfil areas in other areas. Indeed, even comparing this year’s event with last year’s, it is apparent that Adobe has been working pretty hard in making its message more cohesive – while also trying to make its software more integrated as well.
In the past, Adobe has suffered from a clash of technologies from different acquisitions with disparate naming conventions and different front end experiences. However, a lot of work has been done to ensure that each piece of software can more effectively share information across the Adobe portfolio via a more consistent UI.
However, all is still not perfect. Although the data flows are now pretty well managed, the process flows remain problematic. Adobe seems to recognise this, and is working on multiple fronts in order to try and make the flow of work between different parts of the marketing function – and beyond into other parts of the business as well – as seamless as possible. Part of this is a project called “Genesis”, an advanced means of enabling not only data but logic flows between the Adobe products and partner applications and services.
Adobe also realises that its pricing model may not be to everyone’s liking. To create a full capability to carry out many of the examples Adobe showed at the event would require multiple different bundles and point products to be taken from its portfolio – and this requires in-depth knowledge of what does what from a buyer – or a good amount of time spent with a channel partner. To deal with this, Adobe has launched Creative Cloud, a subscription-based means of accessing a large proportion of its portfolio on-demand for a single monthly payment per user. Not only is this likely to make the Adobe portfolio eminently accessible to its core existing audience and its prospects, but also to enable organisations further down the food chain in the SME markets to use the software on a more ad-hoc basis to meet their needs as and when – rather than making a capital investment in something that may only be used once in a while and will require constant updating
Adobe is on the move. It has a lot of challenges ahead of it to ensure it becomes recognised as a valid offering in the fuller marketing arena, rather than in the media creative side only, and it needs to make sure that it both creates coherent messaging whilst painting an enticing picture of the future.
Adobe will need to build more partnerships around the areas it needs to be seen to have strength in, but does not have the direct capability itself. It already has an agreement with hybris for two-way information and functional flows between Adobe software and hybris’ ecommerce software; more like this will be required.
However, this new Adobe looks good. Beyond where it is now positioning itself, it will need to look at other touch points across the organisation – particularly in dealing with those knotty issues between marketing and sales, and also with customer support. However, Quocirca would not bet against Adobe just now.
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