by Peter High, published on Forbes
Most people think of Adobe as a software product company. The company has been in business for over 30 years, and the legacy of Adobe is around desktop software products like Photoshop, Acrobat, PDF, InDesign. Several years ago, Adobe moved into the digital marketing area with their acquisition of Omniture, and starting at that time, the organization began a journey to become a services company, delivering SaaS based online offerings, as opposed to products in boxes. Everything in the last three years has been focused on how to move from traditional desktop software to a subscription service where people subscribe to various Adobe capabilities, and then are on a renewing or upgrading path to continue to leverage those services.
Adobe’s CIO Gerri Martin-Flickinger has been well positioned to help in these efforts. As a CIO, she has been a user of cloud-based services for years, and has understood the evolution of the technology that enables this business model, what good services look like versus average or below-average services, and she has been able to lend this experience and those perspectives to her colleagues throughout the enterprise.
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Peter High: Gerri, you have helped lead a significant transformation of Adobe’s business to the cloud. Can you please describe that transformation, the rationale behind it, and some of the steps the organization has taken to become more cloud-centric?
Gerri Martin-Flickinger: It has been an exciting time to be at Adobe. As a CIO, the move from a product company to a cloud-based company changes everything about your back office. If you’re a product company, you think about things like material masters, SKU’s, and physical goods. When you’re in the SaaS, software, cloud business, you think about entitlements, and subscription pricing, and the product itself being highly configurable with add-ons you can tweak each month. When you think about what that means to a company, it changes everything from how they build product to how they sell product. It requires different financial back office systems, and very different way of doing business.
In terms of how products are actually built, we used to have product release cycles of maybe a year or 18 months. Today, we have products release cycles continuously. Every month, new products become available to our customers and are immediately consumed. We used to build a CD, a golden master that was sent to distribution, boxed up and sold in stores. It might take months or quarters before real customers would get that installed and start using it. Today it happens in minutes. Our customers are passionately positive about the transformation. What it means to them is they get to use Adobe technology sooner, and they’re getting to see innovation in those products faster, which helps them build their businesses at a more rapid rate