Adobe seeks greener pastures

Multimedia giant takes aim at selling government solutions

Adobe Systems Inc., known for its Acrobat,
PhotoShop and Flash Player
multimedia software, has
launched a three-year strategic plan to add
enterprise solutions to its government offerings.

"People know that we do one or two things,"
said Rob Pinkerton, who has been the company's
new director of government solutions
for about seven months.

Agency clients know Adobe offers forms, digital
signatures, and digital rights and business
process management, he said. "But they only
know that one little piece. They don't see the
completeness of [our] enterprise capability."

Adobe wants government clients to know
that it is also a solutions company, he said.
"We have solutions for very specific government
problems that we think add significant
value for our customers."


He said 2008 is an appropriate time to launch
the campaign because the company has been
busy with other priorities for the past two years.
In 2006, Adobe was in the midst of its biggest
acquisition, paying $3.4 billion in stock for former
rival Macromedia Inc., a graphics and Web
development company. Industry analysts said
the deal would allow Adobe to challenge
Microsoft Corp. for market share in Web site
display graphics and animation.

Last year, Adobe concentrated on the June
release of its LiveCycle Enterprise Suite, integrated
software for automating processes to
help industry and government interact more
effectively with citizens, customers and suppliers.
The release coincided with Adobe's best
financial year, Pinkerton said.

He cited data showing that the federal government's
compound annual growth rate is
about 5 percent. "But the technology slice that
we care about in the enterprise is more like 9.3
percent," he said. "That's a substantial
growth area."

Agencies that administer benefits and services
such as the Health
and Human Services,
Veterans Affairs, Commerce,
and Defense departments,
are particular
sales targets for
Adobe solutions, he added.

To help guide them to success, Adobe executives
are conferring with industry analysts,
market research firm Input Inc. and the
Center for Digital Government on opportunities
in the government market.

The company has assigned some of its best
technicians to the government sector to create
solutions that will be attractive to agency procurement
officials, Pinkerton said. It has also
formed a sales team that includes employees
with an enterprise or government background,
such as Pinkerton, and some executives
who joined the company when Adobe
acquired Pixmantec's digital photography
technology assets in 2006.

"We've spent a lot of time since I've gotten
here looking at where we think the best fit is," he
said. That includes where customers have been
most successful in using Adobe technologies.
"We're zeroing in more on that service delivery
function, the interaction capability."

The campaign will also include targeted
advertising to create a better awareness of
what Adobe has to offer in the government
marketplace, Pinkerton said. "Obviously,
when you do enterprise products, it's a different
dynamic than when you do desktop products.
It's much more of a solutions sale."

"We're making a big commitment in solutions
development and company resources," Pinkerton
said. But he declined to say how much
money Adobe is investing in the campaign.

"We're predicting that government will begin
to experiment with everything as a service,
including software, infrastructure, data centers
and tools," said Thom Rubel, government programs
practice director at IDC Government

Insights, a global advisory services and market
research firm in Falls Church, Va.
Software vendors should all move to more
solutions-based strategies and messaging to
better solve federal agencies' most important
needs, he said. "Everyone will have to move
into some uncharted ground to achieve this."

Adobe's traditional competitors, such as
Microsoft and IBM Corp., are likely to remain
the competition in this new market space,
Pinkerton said, even though Adobe has longstanding
partnerships with both companies.

For all of them, "it will be more a matter of
what and how they're offering their solutions
as to how successful they are," Rubel said.


Some of Adobe's best-known products can also
help local and state agencies interact securely
with their constituents, law enforcement agencies and first responders, Pinkerton said. "We
see PDF not as a viewer, for example, but as a
secure container."

Citizens of Kane County, Ill., for example,
can apply online for restraining orders using
an Adobe PDF application. The process is
automated and takes only a couple of minutes
to complete, Pinkerton said. "It's routed
immediately and with high priority to the
judge for a digital signature and to other
appropriate authorities to sign off on."

Police can serve the restraining order within
an hour or so of sign-off, helping to prevent
child or spousal abuse or worse, he added.

In addition, LiveCycle and Connect have
started to catch on in the government market,
Pinkerton said. "LiveCycle in particular
[is used] for forms initiatives and for digital
rights management."

He said the proposed fiscal 2009 federal
budget was released in digital form with LiveCycle. The Army uses Connect to help relay
information from command-and-control centers
to battlefields, he said, and local, state and
federal agencies are using Connect and
ColdFusion to help manage FoodShield, a
secure Web-based system that monitors the
safety of the country's food supply.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
is another major customer. It has used PDF
applications to create secure, interactive 3-D
maps ranging from battlefields in Afghanistan
to plans for the summer Olympics in Beijing. By using PDF files, Pinkerton said, "the
agency wants to control who has access to that
information but [also] make sure it's deployed
where it needs to be."

David Hubler ( is an
associate editor at Washington Technology.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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