Mideast fastest growing market for Adobe

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Adobe’s free software in its Acrobat and Flash Player ranges continues to guarantee its technology a place on nearly every PC or Mac in the Middle East and around the world.

 

The California-based firm, which last year generated nearly $3.2 billion (Dh11.8bn), is now using this familiarity to capitalise on the lucrative enterprise business in Dubai, which is crying out for the latest IT innovations to streamline the delivery of operations.

 


Guiseppe Verrini, Adobe’s Managing Director for Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa, recently oversaw an e-Permit deal with Dubai eGovernment, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police and Dubai Customs, which harnesses Adobe’s LiveCycle Enterprise Suite technology to speed up shipments that pass through Dubai ports. He said the scheme, which aims to automate and consolidate the permits system governing import and release of goods into Dubai, is an example of the business potential that Adobe sees in the emirate, and the region as a whole.

 

Verrini tells Emirates Business how he plans to tackle Dubai’s technology needs and what challenges lay ahead for Adobe, as the US firm tries to increase market share in the Middle East, which is currently its fastest growing region.

 


What kind of revenues will the Dubai Government see from their investment in this project?

 

The average return on investment for this type of LifeCycle project is between 12 to 24 months. So whatever has been invested, the customer will then get that back, typically after this period. But you cannot put a price on the quality of service this provides the citizen or customer.

 

This is the first deal we have done with a government in the Middle East producing e-permits. We are also talking with others, but it is unique at this level. We want to see this become best practice not only in the Middle East  we also work with Aramco, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Qatar’s Gasco, Bahrain Ministry of Finance on our LiveCycle Enterprise Suite project. We also have a presence on the creative side, with Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Flash and the enterprise pieces, which is the Acrobat Family.

 


We have a significant presence in the region but we still see the potential is bigger because a lot of governments and companies do not have the legacy systems that they do in Europe. It is easier here to start in a digital way, so we have a lot of focus here. I focus on the southern region, which is Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East. The Middle East is not only the fastest growing market compared to Europe, but my whole region. So we think that putting more investment in this kind of partnership with the Dubai Government, and expanding these partnerships with other governments, is a great opportunity.

 

Two-thirds of our business is creative, so that is Photoshop, InDesign and Flash. One-third is our enterprise business, which is basically the Acrobat family and LifeCycle solution. Eighty to 90 per cent of newspaper, magazine, communications and the web are produced with our products.

 

Who are your main competitors?

 

We have competitors in some lines of business, but don’t have a global competitor. Before Adobe, I worked at Symantec, so if you had asked me then who my competitors were I could have said McAfee and Checkpoint because they are easy to identify. But here, we have different competitors in different areas, but nobody is covering what we are covering. And in some cases our competitor is our partner, such as Apple and Microsoft. Apple last year benefited from the launch of Creative Suite 3 in terms of sales of new hardware. In specific areas we also see IBM as our competitor.

 

How do you stay ahead of them in the Middle East?

 

We are in a unique situation because many years ago we decided to offer two free clients, Acrobat Reader and Flash Player, which is now on 99 per cent of computers. So we are leveraging the ubiquities of our technology in all the PCs and Macs. And it is not only these systems.

 

Today Flashlight is on 400 million mobile phones as well. You can build an application that can reach people through PC or mobiles or MP3 players.

 

When the Dubai Government delivers its e-Permits with our technology, they can be sure that each user has Acrobat Reader and Flash Player in his home. They don’t need to buy anything or receive training because they know how to use Acrobat and Flash. Also, PDF format is the standard of 75 per cent of the documents published on the internet and will soon become an ISO standard. So our baby that we developed for 15 years is finally free.


On the service side we have all the technology in place that allows us leverage with our paid-for products. For example, people think you can only read with Acrobat Reader, but that is not true. If a company decides to develop an application they can enable a function of their Acrobat Reader that is not free and was sleeping.

 

How is your approach to Dubai or the UAE different to other markets around the world?


You have to understand the local culture and ways of doing business. The best way is to have local partners and influential local people. We can bring some of the strategy, which is the same all over the world and the technological trends, but you need to adapt these to local businesses. The best way is to have local partners, our people and local people, working together here.

 

What challenges do you face in 2008?

 

Execution. We have great technology and great products, but we need to execute it well now. Some companies have great vision and great technology but are not able to execute. Here the challenge is finding the right level of resources to back this up. Executive means execution on the field, getting people using the technology.

 

Some companies don’t have good products but they have good people on the field to execute, and they fill the gap. We have great technology, and great people on the field, but we need to continue. We have the sixth largest software company in the world, the fourth in terms of capitalisation. Also, many of the technological trends are fitting with our products now. We are talking with a lot of media companies because the paper industry is, at best, flat.

So you need to reinvent how you communicate to do business, which means personalising news on mobile phones for customers who want to know all about football, the weather, IT or political news. We have the technology to do this.

 

 

Guiseppe Verrini

Adobe’s Managing Director for Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa

 

Verrini’s main responsibility for Adobe is to secure technology contracts with enterprise clients, which includes governments, telecommunications and financial services companies. He also orchestrates Adobe’s sales strategy for creative professionals and the small- and medium-business sector. Prior to Adobe, Verrini spent six years at Symantec as vice-president of Sales, Marketing and Services for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

 

From 1993 to 2000, he held different management positions at Lotus Development Italia, with a final role as general manager for Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa and Eastern Countries.

 

He is also an adviser for Assintel, the association representing more than 500 ICT companies, and a member of Permanent Stockolders Group of ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency), the agency founded by European Parliament that assists the Commission in assuring a high level of security.

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