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Afternoon Highlights from the Adobe Industry Analyst Summit, Day 01


Following up on the morning’s highlights, below some items from this afternoon’s Adobe Industry Analyst Summit. This afternoon shifted into the enterprise angle for Adobe, primarily around their LiveCycle suite:

  • The phrase “Adobe Stack” was used a few times, which is encouraging. The LiveCycle folks are the de facto core of “enterprise” for the purposes of this analyst summit, so the LiveCycle portfolio ends up playing the core back-end, middle-ware, and workflow role. No problem there really. As presented this afternoon, the “Adobe Stack” store composed of Flash, LiveCycle, and Acrobat makes for good looking demos for document and forms centric enterprise software implemnentations. (During the second day, we’ve been seeing some examples of what this Adobe Stack looks like without LiveCycle.)
  • Going over the LiveCycle suite itself, Kumar Vora outlined the document/forms workflow features, but also the three deployment scenarios for LiveCycle: on-premise, for development in the cloud (running in EC2), and running (in the cloud) as a managed service through an Adobe partnership. See my note from back in January for some more details.
  • Much of the remainder of the afternoon was nicely spent on customer presentations, folks using said “Adobe Stack” for their applications. The common theme of these talks was essentially using Adobe software to make ERP software (from SAP or Oracle) less painful and even time consuming to use.
  • The first case here was the “One Touch” system used in Southwick, London. The scenario here was to take all the forms – seemingly in the 100’s – that folks in the borough would have to fill out for government services, back-ended by SAP, and then do a sort of “forms mashup” for the clerk who helped people fill out all that paper-work.
  • Folks from Accenture and Deloitte came up to speak to how partners were using the Adobe Stack, again, in particular to improve the usability of SAP and Oracle ERP installs. The interesting point here, pointed out by one of my fellow analysts at dinner, was that the primary attraction seemed to be the UI layers (either in Flash/Flex or Acrobat). And yet, for Adobe the primary revenue is oriented around the back-end. On the UI layer, the Flash Player is free, and Flash Builder is (relatively) cheap and a one time expense for the organization developing the “more usable” ERP front-end.
  • The partner from Deloitte, Paul Clemmons, was extremely enthusiastic about Adobe: Adobe’s training is excellent, Deloitte is trying to get Adobe angled in on “virtually every ERP deal,” what Adobe offers in unique, and so on.
  • Accenture’s Joel Osman spoke to a few projects that were less about putting RIA lipstick on the ERP pig. Much of his content spoke to the best practices Accenture has been ferreting out of RIA projects of late. You can see some of these points, very broadly, in the RIA sections of this Accenture presentation.
  • Osman also spoke to the idea capture tool they’ve implemented in Flash and deploy for customers. Check out this IDC write-up of it being used at Wells-Fargo.
  • During the Q&A with these folks, Neil Ward-Dutton asked if these programs were driving more than LiveCycle sales. In brief, the answer was not really. I’ve been wondering the same thing as it seems Adobe is in a tough spot when it comes to direct revenue for the Flash Platform: the runtime (the Flash Player) is free and Flash Builder is a relatively small chunk of change that doesn’t get multiplied per end-user adoption. Now, clearly the Flash Platform is a strategic asset for other Adobe revenue, but it leaves analysts like myself wondering if there’s some money being left on the table for lack of something more to charge for. At least they charge for the tool, avoiding the fully free stack dilemma Sun has around Java.
  • Another question came up around cloud offerings and partner conflict. Does Adobe have any plans to offer cloud hosted services that would be competitive with what folks like Accenture and Deloitte offer? The answer to those kinds of questions is always “no,” but the more nuanced strategic thinking, mixed in with some comments about being more SMB than enterprise centric, seems to be that Adobe is happy to have partners take care of things closer to the application-layer in the enterprise space. That’s speculation on my part, but it’s interesting to think how that differs from Microsoft where Silverlight, Azure, and Microsoft’s business applications sets them up to be more competitive in the enterprise space with partners.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this well tech-biz speak crafted quote from Tim Hickernell:

Accenture: RIA opportunity is about transactional web and rich Internet converging to rich transactional experiences.

Yow! 😉

Disclosure: Adobe is a client, as is Microsoft.

Categories: Conferences, Development Tools, Enterprise Software, RIA.

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Continuing the Discussion

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