Economic Times: March, 2016
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science are going to be the next currency for talent, Adobe's global CTO Abhay Parasnis said to ET in an interview. Currently in India, Parasnis, who joined Adobe six months ago and is responsible for the technology strategy and innovation agenda for the company, also talks about the next big bets for the company. Edited Excerpts:
How is Adobe aligning itself to the shifts in the technology landscape?
If you look at the past five years or so of the company's journey, the overall macro theme has been the whole cloud transformation and we have been successful in that. But next five to 10 years, we think somewhere there will be even bigger disruptions in the marketplace. There is an entire enterprise market that is being redefined due to the evolution of mobility. It's more evident in markets like India and China as lot of users skip the traditional desktop-form factor of delivering software. The other interesting opportunity is the sheer explosion of the content — whether it is the media, or internet of things with sensors. These two trends are fundamentally causing every single industry be it travel and hospitality, financial services or healthcare, to reconcile with this brave new world. The traditional platforms like SAP, Oracle or IBM — while they have a role to play, they are not helping these companies as they embrace future.
How do you look at India as a market for Adobe's new services?
First of all, India from the R&D side and talent side is not a traditionally delivery-cost driven mindset for us. If you look at our footprint in India covering both Noida and Bengaluru, we now have substantial portion of our core R&D done here. It's a very strategic market for us from the talent standpoint and not cost standpoint. Virtually, every strategy I talked about, we do R&D here. With the mobile shift, developed markets like North America and Europe are really huge for us. But markets like India and China are leapfrogging in terms of how customers are adopting this technology. Asia-Pacific is one of our fastest growth regions since the economies are growing, the workforce and the demographics are extremely young and they are adopting these solutions and technologies at a rate that is way faster than North America and Europe. India market in particular (and China is very similar to that), is not only a very interesting market for sheer revenue growth but are also becoming leading indicators of where our business is going. We have not broken out projections such as five years from now how much revenue will come from India and China, but I would say strategically we expect significant growth will come from these markets for us.
Almost a third of the total R&D is done out of India. Any plans to increase it further?
I'd say there are two or three big initiatives we're driving, not singularly out of India but the core IP is being driven here. The machinelearning and data-science area; it's a very cutting edge area. I would say there are probably only two or three companies that are investing at the scale like we are - Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. AI, machine learning and data science is going to be the next currency for talent, and we believe that and these three or four companies, Adobe included, are in a race of who can get the next generation of talent. So, one of the things we recognise is India is a unique place for talent. We have set up a big data machine-learning lab, which does some of our advanced research.
How do you plan to capture some of these broad trends like online payments, the data explosion etc?
If you look at Adobe's business, we have two core strategic strengths in the market place: one is on the creative side. I would say the front-end of the content explosion, we have tools all the way from Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator etc. What mobility is giving us is an opportunity to make these tools become more democratic and bring them down to literally hundreds of millions of users at the high end of the market. The other one, which most people don't know, is that virtually every single top tier consumer brand on the planet is now powered by Adobe's backend platforms. We now have around 40 trillion transactions that flow throughout platform on the backend.
What kind of platforms are these?
This is an analytic platform. If you are a mobile user, every time you open an app or a platform, it actually is embedded in these interactions. For example, coca cola, it's not exactly a poster child for a digital brand but they are transforming themselves now to be completely a digital interaction. They have free style machines that are their new vending machines, where if you walk up to these machines using adobe software you will get a personalised experience.