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With digital, experience matters more than ever: Shanmugh Natarajan, MD and VP - Products, Adobe India

Shanmugh Natarajan, MD and VP of Product at Adobe India shares his insight around the role of AI and machine learning in the creative field

  • Published: April 10, 2019 1:12 PM IST
Shanmugh Natarajan

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are among the popular buzzwords these days. Smartphones and the use of voice assistant bots in smart speakers are making man-machine interface move towards conversations. In light of this trend, we spoke to Shanmugh Natarajan, MD and VP of Product at Adobe India.

Could you tell us about Adobe’s efforts around AI and machine learning in the creative business?

At Adobe, we believe that AI doesn’t replace human creativity, but rather helps people do what they love better and faster while opening the door to new and exciting ways to experiment, test, and create dramatically improved experiences. In the creative realm, our AI and machine learning technology (Adobe Sensei) enables designers and artists to push creative boundaries, while automating mundane and time-consuming processes. For example, think about creating multiple different color swatches of an item for a website, or spending hours searching through stock photos for the exact right fit – these kinds of tasks can be tedious and time-consuming rather than creative or strategic.

In fact, a recent qualitative research study commissioned by Adobe found that 74 percent of creative pros spend over half of their time on repetitive, primarily uncreative tasks. For us, the allure of AI is about gaining an intelligent creative “assistant” that can take on these less creative tasks, thereby freeing you to focus on being truly strategic and ultimately creative in your work.

Today, there are dozens of Sensei-powered capabilities in product or in our pipeline across Adobe Creative Cloud, Document Cloud, and Experience Cloud. These features are helping our customers streamline and optimize their workflow – whether they’re designing an app, editing a photo or film, or launching a marketing campaign. With more than a decade of experience in AI and machine learning, we are uniquely positioned to lead the way in shaping the application of AI technology.

How does Adobe view and looking to leverage emerging technologies?

Without a doubt, AI and machine learning represent one of the most disruptive paradigm shifts in software. Disruptions in technology have always impacted the way in which brands connect with consumers, and vice versa. We saw the world experience the great PC era in the 1980s and the mobile revolution that transformed lives in 1990s. At Adobe, we believe the next leap forward will be all about new age technologies like AI ultimately becoming ubiquitous in the fabric of our everyday life.

AI is paving the way towards a new frontier of technology that will transform how businesses function, and allow us to be more connected, creative and productive than ever before. Adobe Sensei is not general-purpose, but rather solely focused on solving digital experience challenges by enhancing (not replacing) human creativity and intelligence. Adobe is focused on three core AI domains based on the company’s expertise and market leadership – for example:

  • Creative Intelligence – Adobe Sensei enables designers and artists to push creative boundaries, while automating mundane and time-consuming processes
  • Document Intelligence – deep learning in Adobe Sensei is used to understand and extract meaning from documents
  • Experience Intelligence – Adobe Sensei allows businesses to deliver personalized and engaging experiences for their customers across every interaction

We are also excited about immersive media, using AI as the foundation, as a new medium of creative expression and a natural focus for Adobe. Immersive media is starting to give way to experiences we can only imagine today, and we at Adobe are betting big on it. With Project Aero, our new augmented reality (AR) authoring tool available in private beta, we are aiming to set a new discipline for immersive design and ease the creation of quality AR experiences.

Would computer aided decision-making impact the creative thought of future designers?

It certainly will, but only for the better. No designer wants to spend hours on a tedious task that can be accomplished in minutes. Bringing one’s creative vision to reality can be a satisfying experience, which is often marred by mundane tasks like image searching, tagging, etc. By empowering creatives with an AI-powered “intelligent assistant” that can act as their mentor or muse in their workflow, advances in new-age technologies are only bringing back the joy of turning ideas to reality. It is helping creators spend more time around things that truly matter to their work – ideating, creative problem solving and design thinking.

What is Adobe’s plan for the India market?

Digital technology is changing our lives faster than ever before. Our devices are getting smarter and more indispensable – they say good morning, they answer our questions and take our orders. These changes are exciting, but also underscore that in today’s digital era – experiences matter more than ever.

At Adobe, we are on a mission to change the world through digital experiences. We give everyone – from emerging artists to global brands – everything they need to design and deliver exceptional digital experiences.

It’s an exciting time at Adobe. Our creative, document and experience cloud businesses are thriving and we’re being recognized for our cloud-based strategy as well as being a leading employer. We recently announced the achievement of 100 percent pay parity globally – an important milestone in Adobe’s ongoing efforts towards building a work culture that thrives on equal growth opportunities for all.

Our operations in India started as a small R&D base, but over the last two decades, our transformation has been remarkable. With over 5,200 employees, Adobe India is today home to our largest team outside the US, nurturing an ecosystem of all Adobe products and values. In fact, our India team is at the forefront of our global focus areas across product development, R&D, and customer experience.

On one hand, our talented engineers are leading several aspects of our global innovation charter, including our strategic focus on technologies like Artificial Intelligence that are fundamentally transforming customer experiences. On the business side, India’s biggest brands (MakeMyTrip, Flipkart, Taj Group, Airtel, MG Motor and IDFC Bank) are partnering with Adobe for their digital transformation journeys, and our business momentum is showing no signs of slowing down.

Over the years, our people and their passion for Adobe have been foundational to our market success and we will continue to invest in our people and operations here in India. Specifically, we see ourselves playing a critical role in furthering creative skills and digital literacy in India. With our program Adobe Digital Disha, we plan to leverage Adobe Spark to help educational institutes integrate a digital approach to learning within classrooms and curriculum and touch the lives of 1 million students and teachers across India by the year 2020.

Any particular innovation or feature in Adobe’s Creative Cloud that was led by the India team? 

Our team in India continues to be an integral part of Adobe Creative Cloud’s evolution story. Recently when some of our latest innovations were announced at Adobe MAX 2018, our annual creativity conference, the India team was a strategic part of the launch of Premiere Rush CC – an easy-to-use, all-in-one video editing software for online video creators. Our engineering teams are also contributing to our drawing and painting app ‘Project Gemini’, as well as updates in Adobe XD that encourage cross-platform creativity and voice-based capabilities to design at scale. We are also excited to have played a significant role in rolling out updates to our Creative Cloud flagship products including Illustrator, InDesign, and Lightroom.

  • Published Date: April 10, 2019 1:12 PM IST