As Adobe’s newest Executive Vice President and General Manager, Anil Chakravarthy drives the vision and operations for the company’s Digital Experience business.
Anil brings decades of product innovation and industry expertise to his role leading strategy, product management, engineering, and marketing for Adobe Experience Cloud. He previously worked for technology leaders including Symantec, Verisign and, most recently, Informatica where he was CEO.
We sat down with Anil to chat about his strategic priorities over the next few months, trends, challenges and opportunities he sees in the market, his thoughts on the evolution of Adobe Summit, as well as how the COVID-19 crisis is changing everything about life and work today.
Adobe Summit, the digital experience conference that takes place in Las Vegas each year, has been turned into a digital experience. Can you speak to that a little bit?
The current health crisis is changing everything about life and work as we know it. At Adobe, we’re focused on how to best protect and support our employees, customers, partners, and communities in the face of this unfolding situation. That’s what led to our decision to transform Summit into a global digital experience with a keynote, more than one hundred product information sessions, demos and more. We hope we can provide value to our community by getting this information out there; things they can put into practice now to make a difference. The Summit experience went live on March 31 and we’re committed to adding additional content continuously to help our customers best utilise our applications, services and platform. (Learn more)
A big theme for us on the Creative Cloud side of the business is this whole notion of #CreativityForAll. How do you define that in the context of your role and your team?
I have to say that our team definitely embodies this notion. The transition of Adobe Summit into a digital experience is evidence of that. They’ve had to turn on a dime but have done a phenomenal job of pulling together an experience that I expect our customers will find great value in and also enjoy.
To me creativity is a skill that is necessary regardless of which department you work in. I am really proud of how our team has rallied and shown creativity in how we can engage with and support our customers at this time, even though we can’t meet in person. The information and resources we’ve made available on Adobe.com in a dedicated COVID-19 section is a great example. Our CEO Shantanu has a letter to customers there, and we have a list of special programmes we’ve implemented across our entire business. In the Digital Experience area, one example is we’ve made all of our Marketo and Magento online learning content complimentary for the next three months and the rest of our learning content for Experience Cloud remains so. We hope that can help our customers take best advantage of our technology at a time when digital has become even more important.
What have you been focused on over the first 90 days at Adobe?
The first priority for me has been learning. I’ve spent time getting to know our customers, partners, employees, my own team, and more, to get their perspective on the market and the opportunity. I’ve also been focused on understanding what is important to our customers through a vertical lens.
What are your priorities going forward?
Most important is the wellbeing of our employees. As I mentioned earlier, we need to ensure they feel informed, supported and safe.
Next is a laser focus on our customers and making Adobe a true strategic partner to them in this time of uncertainty. We need to help them along their transformation journey—really dig in to guide them on the “how.” I think we come with an advantage in that Adobe transformed from box software to cloud-based applications back in 2008. We have so many learnings from our own experience and transformation – I see a real opportunity in helping other companies navigate through digital disruption, especially in terms of drawing on the experience we have with our data-driven operating model (DDOM). It’s not just about getting someone to purchase an Adobe solution. We as an organisation need to always be focused on how to help customers realise value, now more than ever.
What have you learned so far?
I’ve learned that digital transformation, and becoming a digital business, is a top priority for our customers. They are very focused on transforming the customer experience – but what that actually entails depends on the company. It might mean overhauling the supply chain for one company, and it might be something totally different for another. But at a high level, everybody cares deeply about their customers and the experience they provide them.
And it’s not a question of whether they are going to transform or become a digital business. I think everybody I’ve talked with is committed to that. Again, it’s the how. What aspect of their business? Which customer segments? Which product areas, if they’re organised by product? What do they prioritise? How do you change the business model? How do you change the internal processes, capabilities and technologies? It’s a complex endeavour, and as I said before, I think it’s an opportunity for us as a company to step up and help guide our customers.
The Adobe CXM Playbook we announced and are making available immediately to our community is one important way we can do this. I’d encourage everyone to engage there; we believe the Playbook can deliver real value right now.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions you’ve heard from customers when it comes to digital transformation?
The biggest misconception is that digital is only for 100% online companies. The thought is that if people only come to your website, then digital transformation makes sense because you can have all of your data in one place. There are companies that believe because they do business both online and, at normal times, through physical stores, they aren’t able to really bring it all together into one single view. But that’s not true, and there are lots of great examples of Adobe customers who are managing customer experiences both online and in-store, and we are helping to combine the two. The work we’re doing with Adobe Experience Platform and the Real-Time Customer Profile speaks to this.