What a Year
As we get ready to wrap up 2010, I wanted to share a few reflections from what turned out to be an eventful 365 days – from our team’s whirlwind trips around the globe visiting thousands customers in 20+ countries – to the most significant Acrobat launch in recent years, with Acrobat X in the fall. Because this was such a momentous announcement, we needed to approach some things differently than before leading up to launch day. We wanted to know what keeps our customers up at night. We wanted to understand their pain points.
My first Acrobat launch as product marketing director was an incredible experience. I was able to hear first-hand how customers saw their business success and how Acrobat plays an important role in helping them achieve their goals. In spite of the economy, wherever I went, the mood was generally optimistic. Customers were excited about the prospects for their businesses and were thinking and planning ahead. But the biggest surprise for me during my travels around the globe was to hear the incredible passion that our customers have for our products and how they innovate. Here are the top three insights I learned along the way:
- Be transparent with customers – We wanted to be transparent and simply share more than we had before with customers what we were doing with the next version. With that in mind, we briefed 1,200 customers on Acrobat X prior to the announcement. We involved the prerelease community, that included 3,100 participants, in the Acrobat X development process as early as possible. We kicked off the program in March 2010, starting with a small set of power users to test the early builds and provide their feedback. We asked these people to put Acrobat X through its paces, use it as if they were running their businesses on it.
- Building better products starts with users – For Adobe, the prerelease program was an incredible opportunity to meet and understand our customer base first-hand. This was a great opportunity for the prerelease community to familiarize themselves with the new features and for the Acrobat team to jumpstart the feedback-soliciting process. The feedback we received from was incredibly valuable and ultimately helped us build a better product. I couldn’t have been more pleased and excited by the responses we received from our visits and the feedback from the prerelease program. People are passionate about Acrobat and how they use it. Every day, people are using Acrobat to make their businesses run better.
- Quality vs. quantity in features – The new focused features we introduced in Acrobat X hit many of the pain points we uncovered during the months leading up to launch – better SharePoint integration; a smoother, leaner user interface; simpler content reuse; improved security to name a few. The new ActionsWizard, which simplifies multistep document preparation and publishing processes, was a big improvement because it let users automate frequently used Acrobat functions which reduces training and makes collaboration easier.
Looking ahead, how we work is changing and the technology to work differently needs to be available. Services will play a bigger role in bringing Acrobat to more people. The customers I met were excited by the prospect of making services like Adobe SendNow and CreatePDF available on a variety of devices.
Acrobat X has raised the bar for collaboration and sharing. In the New Year, we’ll continue to reach out to customers for feedback and insight into how they use Acrobat to help run their businesses and what we can do make it better. If you’d like to be part of the prerelease program, you can sign up here. Regardless, we’re always eager to hear from you.
Mark Grilli, Director of Product Marketing, Acrobat Solutions