Digital inclusion to unlock real growth in India: Adobe CEO

Nishant Arora-


For Shantanu Narayen, President and CEO of Adobe, the biggest opportunity for the software major in India lies in unlocking the true potential of billion-plus people and make digital literacy accessible to all as the country embraces digital transformation.

India is a strategic focus area for Adobe — both from the business and innovation standpoints. With over 5,500 employees, the country is the second largest location for Adobe globally and over one-third of its overall R&D happens out of India labs.

“Look, the massive opportunities that exist in India are related to the population and its demography. For me, each Indian needs to be creative and I sometimes say that growing up in India is all about three Rs — reading, writing and arithmetic,” Narayen told IANS on the sidelines of the “Adobe Max” creative conference here.

“Digital literacy is going to provide people with ample opportunities and make their lives better and for us, the aim is to make digital literacy accessible to every Indian. It is a way of giving back to the society,” said the Indian-origin CEO who was at the sixth spot in the latest Harvard Business Review’s (HBR) best-performing CEOs’ list a” ahead of Mastercard’s Ajay Banga and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella.

Earlier this year, the government think tank NITI Aayog partnered with Adobe to develop creative skills and spread digital literacy among school children in India.

The software major along with Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship last year launched an “Adobe Digital Disha” programme across vocational institutes in India.

In addition to digital literacy, said Narayen, digital innovations that enterprises, small and medium businesses (SMBs) and startups are fast embracing have created mammoth opportunities for the company in the country.

Adobe which has been in India for over 20 years is witnessing a robust growth across verticals, including travel and hospitality clients like Vistara, SpiceJet, Indigo and Taj Hotels; Airtel, Vodafone-Idea in telecom; Flipkart, MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Tata CLiQ in the ecommerce space and HDFC Bank, IDFC Bank and Reliance General Insurance in the financial services sector, among others.

“India is a big market for us that is doing very well. We have a very strong R&D presence at both Noida and Bengaluru facilities. Getting the right talent at Adobe India R&D has always been a huge focus area for us,” added the Adobe CEO who was honoured with Padma Shri, Indiaaes fourth highest civilian award, this year.

Adobe recently announced an achievement of 100 per cent pay parity among men and women employees in India.

The factors driving Adobe’s India growth story include the country’s rapid mobile-led internet penetration, data native millennial population, and the government’s focus on digitization. The company has also set up an advanced AI lab in Hyderabad.

“We take incredible pride in the fact that our products are available in over 180 countries. As we transition to the Cloud, the first thing that we want to do is to focus on Creative Cloud as the innate desire to tell stories is getting strong in countries like India,” said Narayen.

Adobe’s business is powered by three cloud-based solutions: Creative Cloud (Adobe XD, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator etc); Document Cloud (Acrobat DC, Adobe Sign and powerful mobile apps) and Experience Cloud that helps enterprises build campaigns, manage advertising and gain deep intelligence about business performance.

As CEO, Narayen has led the transformation of the company, moving its creative and digital document software franchises from the desktop to the Cloud.

Under his guidance, Adobe forecasts its total addressable market to reach approximately $128 billion by 2022.

For the 56-year-old Adobe CEO, the company’s greatest assets are its people.

“Every single engineer at Adobe we’ve invested in is being trained in future technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Cloud to help businesses deliver better customer experiences,” he noted.