‘Adobe’s move from perpetual licensing to subscription business is a big change’- Gaurav Kanwal, Head, SMB & Channel Sales, South Asia, Adobe

In last 5 years industries have shifted more to digital platform and here Adobe is helping partners to achieve the transformation. In a candid interaction with DQ Channels Gaurav Kanwal, Head, SMB & Channel Sales, South Asia, Adobe talks about trends and roadmaps ahead of Adobe.

Tell us, what is your product portfolio and how are they categorized?

Gaurav: Creative cloud, is suite part of business and services which includes everything from a Photoshop, illustrator, after effects, premier pro, so whatever is used from a creative standpoint comes under creative cloud. Everything from print, web, video, all technologies along with services falls under creative cloud. And then there is the document cloud business (earlier called as Acrobat). These two product lines come under DMed.

Digital Marketing is all the analytics, AEM, Campaign and other similar products. So, I look after the sales for the DMed business, basically through the reseller community that is the channels and SMB business. And I have been in this role for over 5 years now with Adobe.


What have been the transformations you have witnessed in the last 5 years?

Gaurav: Over a period of time, we have seen the transformation of this industry.

Around the same time, I have also seen a transformation in our channel community as well as in our customer space, in terms of how their focus has changed from what they were delivering from a content standpoint, where it was sometimes images, videos and all. But in the last 5 years we have seen a huge amount of focus coming in from videos. For example I have seen more and more customers asking for more video products and training. At the same time we are also seeing a transformation from print to web. There were practically no apps 5 years back. The people who were developing websites only, who were and are our customers and who had bought dream viewer, Photoshop and illustrator earlier for basic website creation have moved on from the app perspective.

The other thing that I have seen change, is the amount of content been created. The delivery of the content earlier was through newspaper, TV, radio, magazines but now we have mobiles, laptops and tablets and so on. Now the amount of content that needs to be delivered and the amount in which it is being consumed is crazy. Then the competition, pressure and the deadlines faced by the creative people and the marketing folks, to deliver ahead of the competition is tremendous.

The way Adobe used to function earlier, we would come out with a particular product version and typically between 12 to 18 months we would take to come up with the new versions. When the new versions would come out, we would go up to hunting new customers and at the same time we would go to our existing customers to upgrade at cost.

Our profile has changed completely; earlier it was more of printing organizations, KPO’s and photographers and all. Now we are looking at the largest of enterprises at the same time because everybody’s focus has changed

Also, the transformation of Adobe moving from a perpetual licensing to subscription business for creative cloud is a big change. We have seen the transformation happening in the customer space. We work with customers on workflow rather than just selling an application. That’s the key things I learnt from last 5 years.

What is the creative cloud model? What is GTM strategy? 

Gaurav: While we interact directly with our customers, the route is via the channel partners only. We work with our channel partners, to go along with them to the customers. This is our primarily go to market, so we will work with our channel partners and go to customers and that’s how it’s going to stay for a long time to come. The key to this is we want to make sure that we maintain a customer life-cycle through the subscription period and after. The key to successful renewal as I said is that our customers want to show them the value. Our major channel partners as well as Adobe, when a customer has a bought a license, we just don’t leave the customers there; we run a complete customer lifecycle management. We reach out to the customers through e-mails and phone calls and so do our channel partners to their respective customers. To make sure that they are not facing any issues in deploying the licenses, they are not facing any challenges in terms of using the products or support issues, all that we can escalate internally and we work with them to make sure those are resolved as soon as possible.

Over the 5 years, one you have moved onto the subscription based model, how has India business grown in term of subscription?

Gaurav: It has been phenomenal and we are one of the fastest growing companies in term of user numbers in India as well as in the world. Major attraction is affordability. Demand has exploded just after we opened Adobe’s channel ecosystem with affordability. New channel partners were very enthusiastic to reach out to their customers. Local partners work well and we keep on adding new partners as a part of our strategy, as they know the customers and have a better relationship with the customers. The relationship with local customers is always owned by channels and thereby we complement it rather than compromise on the services we offer and our partners provide. It helps us to make sustainable planning and ecosystem.

What is Adobe’s SMB customer base?

Gaurav: It is quite large, there are thousands of customers. So we just don’t want ourselves only but ensure that our channel partners are also doing the same. So we divide those responsibilities between our channel partners and us. So that it is a scalable model and customers divided between our channel partners that run the CLM [customer’s lifecycle management] program with our customers to make sure that they see the value that we deliver.

How is the   Adobe channel structure categorized?

Gaurav: At the top we have 13 platinum partners across India like Comparex, Value point in Bangalore etc. Then we have 50 gold level partners and 35 registered partners. And we have close to about 300 + certified partners and registered is lot more.

But register partners cannot sell the subscription products; they can sell only the small part of perpetual license products. Otherwise certified gold and platinum partners are the ones who basically sell our subscription products.

Within India, which are the products that fetch maximum profit?

Gaurav: In our business, we do not break it down as per vertical but what we have is our favorite verticals. My favorite vertical is photography as it’s a vertical that encompasses every single human being through camera. For example, if you are not a photography enthusiast but you are still clicking pictures, we have an application called photoshopmix/photoshopfix, which is free applications especially for amateurs and who really don’t want to get into editing.

However, traditionally Adobe is known as we cater to the media & entertainment industry and when we see from this perspective, it is huge but we can segment into vertical and sub – segments. We have mere entertainment; it includes channels, production houses, advertisement agency. And If you see advertising alone, there are various form of advertisements like on the line, off the line, DTH, below the line, activation, TTM (through the line) event management, digital media agencies, out of home media etc., everyone is creating, lot of content is being created, as thereby media & entertainment itself has become bigger.

But then over a period of time, we have realized on a lot more verticals are using Adobe products. For example, there are certain verticals which do not require external agencies to create their content, for example, Pharma industry.


Can you elaborate on what is Adobe partner Structure?

Gaurav: We have an Adobe partnership program, where we run prefix for new sales as well as for our partners who identify the opportunity for Adobe. And these are two programs that generally come with new schemes quarterly. We come with accelerator for our partners on product deal administration where they get opportunity as well as a good margin. So there is one set of program on the premium side where negotiation between business and pattern takes places in typical standard. Similarly in some cases, they also get reward when they identify a new opportunity for Adobe. When they identify opportunity in two cities, they get a deal.

How are you focusing on tier 2 and tier 3 cities?

Gaurav: We are working first with our top tier partners especially in state capital and another set who are the local partners. They are working with us to identify the opportunities mainly in education segment which is a huge opportunity in tier 2 cities. Tier 2 cities are a focus area for us but currently the focus is more on state capitals.

If we look at the future, next 12-18 months, what are the 2-3 key focus areas?

Gaurav: The 3 keywords that will define my strategy for the next 18-20 months are new, renew and grow. New stands for the new customer acquisition in India and we continue to grow our customer base.

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