AI-driven platform is Adobe's next major chapter: India MD Shanmugh Natarajan

AI-driven platform is Adobe's next major chapter: India MD Shanmugh Natarajan
Shanmugh Natarajan
23 Mar, 2018

Adobe Systems is best known for its flagship softwares such as graphics editor Photoshop and PDF tool Acrobat Reader .

As part of its digital transformation, Adobe moved all its softwares to the cloud in 2013 and has now embedded an artificial intelligence-driven platform into its offerings.

The platform, Sensei, is a unified artificial intelligence and machine learning framework which aims to provide deeper and more meaningful insights into customer data to improve their output.


In an interaction with TechCircle, Adobe India's managing director Shanmugh Natarajan spoke about how Adobe plans to invest in making Sensei more accessible and discussed the company's approach towards emerging technologies.

Edited Excerpts:

Digital has changed the way people do business. How would you describe Adobe's digital transformation journey?


In the business of technology, change is the only constant. Adobe’s transformation journey began with laying the foundation for the desktop publishing revolution with PostScript. This was followed by launch of product solutions like PDF, Adobe Acrobat and Reader, which today are the backbone of the Adobe Document Cloud.

We also saw great success with products such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, among others (part of Creative Cloud and Experience Cloud).

Adobe underwent a 360-degree overhaul in 2012. It transformed its core creative software business of software-in-a-box by launching the Adobe Creative Cloud where customers paid a monthly subscription fee. Every part of our operations right from engineering to finance to IT changed to support this always-on, cloud-based business.


Adobe.com was reimagined –the website became the product. We kept innovating and with the recent launch of Adobe Sign, a digital signature is received 21x faster than a traditional one.

What is the Indian arm's contribution towards Adobe’s global innovation charter of changing the world through digital experiences?

Adobe India is a significant contributor to the charter, undertaking more than a third of Adobe’s overall R&D efforts.


The India R&D centre is one of Adobe’s largest establishments across the globe, enabling creation, development and support for over 28 products including Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Photoshop Elements and e-learning tools.

Adobe India engineering teams and the business units also work closely with the Adobe India Big Data Experience Lab in Bengaluru. The lab works on new cutting-edge technology, including big data, data analytics, machine learning, social work analysis, natural language processing etc. and helps shape the future of several key Adobe products.

The India R&D centre has filed more than 300 patents till date.


Adobe Sensei has been central to your global strategy and recently turned a year old. How are you integrating it into all your product lines?

With Adobe Sensei, we are tackling today’s complex experience challenges including image-matching across millions of images, understanding the meaning and sentiment of documents, finely targeting important audience segments, etc.

Sensei, now powered by 100 abilities, is integrated into all of Adobe’s cloud offerings across Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Experience Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud. It is enabling the automation of mundane tasks, driving predictive and personalisation capabilities, and boosting productivity.


It enables creatives to work faster and allows marketers to discover meaning in data and create more effective experiences.

With AI and ML becoming buzzwords today and Sensei adding more momentum, how do you plan to ride this wave of emerging technologies?

AI and machine Learning are fundamentally transforming consumer experiences. We are embracing this shift with Adobe Sensei and significantly increasing investment in it to make it available to our ecosystem of partners, independent software vendors and developers who will build custom solutions on top of them.

Among the projects in our labs putting the magic of Adobe Sensei to work is a “creative assistant", which uses design intelligence from Sensei to continually learn from your personal creative styles, workflow decisions and templates to automatically enhance creative efforts.

The convergence of art and science is deeply embedded in Adobe’s DNA and our big bet on AI with Adobe Sensei is the next major chapter in our company’s journey.

What does the technology landscape look like?

The Indian business landscape is undergoing a paradigm shift owing to the government's digitisation agenda and rapid penetration of mobile coupled with increasingly affordable broadband network.

This development is pushing companies to reinvent the way they do business. Emergence and inculcation of new-age technologies have turned the marketplace into a quest to disrupt or get disrupted.

AI and machine learning are exceedingly transforming workplaces and personal spaces.

India, and the world at large is at the dawn of a new era of storytelling where the amalgamation creativity and innovation is rapidly redefining our everyday lives.