‘India has a major potential due to its sheer population’ – Loh Teck Heng, MD, South Asia, Adobe Systems Pte Ltd.

-Loh Teck Heng, MD, South Asia, Adobe Systems Pte Ltd.

Loh Teck Heng is the new man in the hot seat of MD,
South Asia, Adobe Systems Pte Ltd. Having 15 years of experience in Channel sales, Heng
will spearhead Adobe’s business in the ASEAN region. An MBA in Strategic Marketing from
the University of Hull, he joined Adobe in December 1997 as Sales Director for South Asia.
Prior to joining Adobe, Heng was GM, Nokia, Singapore, and subsequently Business
Development Manager of the company’s Asia operations. Recently in India to launch Acrobat
4.0, the newly-promoted MD spoke to DATAQUEST about the company’s plans for the country.

How does the new version of
Acrobat 4.0 differs from Acrobat 3.0?

In today’s business world, dissemination of information is a major task. In desktop
publishing and with the invasion of web, one finds it easy to ‘print and distribute.’ But
this needs to be chnaged to ‘distribute and print.’ So that one doesn’t need to print
thousands and thousands of copy.

One of the important functionalities introduced in Acrobat 4.0 is its integration with
Microsoft Office 2000. Since most people use Microsoft Office to create visual document,
they are not required to open another document to convert it into PDF. Hence if today, one
installs Acrobat 4.0 in his system, its icons will automatically be installed in Microsoft
Office 2000. However, if he opens Microsoft Word and clicks on Acrobat icon, it will
automatically convert the document into a PDF format. He doesn’t need to take the document
separately into Acrobat, open Acrobat and convert it into PDF format. Just one click and
the document is converted into PDF and is ready to be sent to anyone anywhere. The whole
idea is that one creates a document using his favourite package. You electronically
deliver it using Acrobat, because then you make sure that the person who gets the document
gets exactly the same thing which you had seen on your screen.

Does the internet figure anywhere in the features of Acrobat 4.0?
If you want to send information which is on the internet to someone who doesn’t have
internet access, then there is no way to do it today. As for example, you send a copy of
web page to someone, it will have some 50 HTML files and some 10 different image files.
And the person who you have sent it to, won’t be able to arrange it to see it the way you
had seen it. With Acrobat, you just need to specify the web page and then download the
whole thing into a PDF document, with fonts, links, images and hyperlinks all intact. It
becomes a static web site which you can send to anybody. Again, suppose I have to send
some information to my employees, but I don’t want everyone who logs on to see the
information, so I will just convert it into a PDF document and send it.

The new PDF format can also be used to send a document outside an organisation. At that
time you want to be sure of the authenticity of the document. Now the digital signature
package comes alongwith the Acrobat 4.0 but the interface is such that you can use any
digital signature verification process, which is available from the third party.
Personally I also think that the other feature in Acrobat 4.0 is the simplicity. In
Acrobat 3.0 we had five different products but in Acrobat 4.0 we have just one product.
Everything has been integrated into one single and simple product.

Acrobat 3.0 was targeted at the
business user, but it never became popular with them. Is Acrobat 4.0 also targeted at the
same segment?

Yes, Acrobat 3.0 was also targeted at the business user. But Acrobat 4.0 is more powerful
in the sense that it offers greater ease of use and has more functionalities to offer.
Another important feature of the package is that in terms of colour management it has
become much more useful for the professional user also. When professionals use PDF format,
they want to send it directly to the press, and it has to have colour management and other
hi-tech facilities. Acrobat 4.0 is much more robust in all these functionalities.

You have identified four high
potential markets-professional publishing, corporate enterprise, digital imaging and
document solutions. What are your activities in the last two?
For us, digital imaging means consumer imaging. Here we are trying to position
ourselves as a leader in image editing. And so we first launched Photoshop, which has
today become an industry standard as far as the photo editing is concerned. This was
followed by two other products: PhotoDeluxe home edition and PhotoDelux business edition.
PhotoDeluxe home edition, which sold 14 million copies during the first six months of its
launch, is now bundled with video camera and scanners. And what we have also done along
the line is that we have entered into collaborations with companies like Kodak and Intel
in the US.
Similarly, we have revolutionised the way a print film is done in the US. Now when one
goes to get his film printed, he can request his photographs to be loaded on a CD which he
can collect later and see an electronic photo album of all the pictures that he had given
for development.

Are you using your expertise in
digital imaging for any other print media also?
In terms of document solutions, 85% of the corporate information is passed in the form
of paper and the rest 15% in digital format. I think, this is an opportunity for us to
address this market. In Acrobat 4.0, we have introduced a feature called paper capture.
What it does is scan, digitize and later convert it into a format which is searchable,
which you make use of and is called PDF. What this means is about 65% of the information
which the company has said can be used for competitive advantage can be now brought back
to life. PDF is an easier medium when you want to disseminate information. So we have
provided this technology for the people to shift from paper to digital in the easiest form
they can think of.

Right now, HTML format is much
more popular than the PDF format. How do you plan to fight the popularity of HTML?
Yes, you are right. HTML is more preferred than the PDF format. I don’t think we are
going to fight the HTML war. I think what we are going to do is complement that
environment. HTML has got very flexible, very friendly programming tools. Down the line we
are going to include things like scalable vector graphics. In simple language it is the
postscript of the internet. Postscript that allows you to print what you see on the
screen. Today on internet when you try to print a page, it’s looks terrible. It doesn’t
look anywhere near what you see on screen.

What are your R&D activities in India?
Currently, we have a group of 40 engineers based in Noida. The focus is to support the
R&D and product development activities in the US. The other thing, which they have
done locally is to come out with ‘In Design’ product. ‘In Design’ is a high-end graphics
product for the high-end desktop publishing environment.
Since for last 15 years, we have been positioning our products as the ‘only solution’ for
both business and professional. And we have found that professionals look for more power
and business customers for more features. So we have repositioned our Pagemaker software,
which not too long ago was a page layout software, for the professionals as 6.5+ for the
business community. Pagemaker 6.5+ is a very easy to use so that the business community
can embrace this product.

Piracy has always been a problem
with Adobe products? How do you plan to deal with it?
Who says so? (Laughs). I don’t think there is any easy way to address this issue. As
there is a general lack of respect for the software and intellectual property rights we
have joined Business Software Alliance (BSA). In India, alongwith NASSCOM, we want to
increase the awareness about IP rights. Apart from this, we are also trying to educate
end-users and make sure that they understand the philosophy of IP rights.

What we have done is that firstly as a vendor we have introduced some very compelling
products. Secondly, the onus is on us to make sure that we have creditable channels,
distribution partners in the country in which we operate. Having a product is one thing
and to make sure that it is available and reaches the customer is another.

Thirdly, we have a scheme under which cutomers who buy more than one of our products get
discount. We feel good channel network and lucrative packages for the end-user will go a
long way in fighting piracy.

We have also launched licensing programs for both individuals and institutions in various
countries. In South-Asia, we have opened customer support centers where a user can call up
and get technical help from trained Adobe engineers.

What is your marketing strategy
for India?

The fact that the product is integrated with Microsoft’s Office is a clear indication of
our target users. We feel that all the users of Microsoft Office 2000 should have a copy
of Acrobat 4.0.

We recently appointed Summit Datasystems as our second distributor in India. So now we
have two distributors in India-Wipro Infotech and Summit Datasystems. Though we haven’t
identified anybody else as yet, but we are definitely exploring the areas where we can
have a distributor who can sell our products more effectively and more efficiently.

How do you see the market
potential in India in comparison to other ASEAN countries like Malaysia, Thailand,
Singapore Indonesia and Philippines?
We think like everybody else, there is no exception for Adobe. India has a major
potential by the sheer number of people that the country has. I will answer this by giving
you an example. Some 18 months ago, we had set up our office in Singapore. It was started
with just two people and today has seven people. The first headcount that we allowed
outside Singapore is in India. This shows how committed and gungho we are about the Indian

How will be the next version of
Pagemaker and Photoshop going to look like?

I can’t comment on what developments are going on. You know they always keep these things
away from sales people, as they start promising hell and heaven to the end-user.

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