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Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen Discusses Driving Innovation and the Digital Experience

On April 29, members of the region's technology community gathered at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner for a Titans breakfast featuring a fireside chat with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and NVTC Chair Todd Stottlemyer, CEO of Inova Center for Personalized Health. During the event, Narayen discussed changing Adobe’s business model, the company’s customer-focused strategy, and how digital trends are influencing Adobe and its clients.

Narayen began by discussing Adobe’s recent transformation, when the company, known for its software offerings, made the decision to move its software to the cloud. Narayen said Adobe had to completely change how the company thought about its business, because its products weren't scaling and business leaders didn’t deem Adobe products as mission critical. The shift to the cloud increased innovation at Adobe, said Narayen, by allowing the company to move faster, increase revenue and develop new products. The shift ultimately brought in new customers – thirty percent of Adobe’s creative cloud users are new.

Shantanu Narayen and Todd Stottlemyer.
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen talks to NVTC Chair Todd Stottlemyer, CEO of the Inova Center for Personalized Health, during the April 29 Titans event at The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner.

Innovation and a customer-focused strategy are important, according to Narayen. In order to innovate, a company needs to hire intelligent people and those innovators need a champion. His leadership style involves backing ideas and partnering with staff to support them. In order to grow and innovate, Narayen said, failure must be celebrated. Adobe has embraced this by creating a seed program to allow entrepreneurs within the company to try an initiative without fear of losing his or her job if that initiative is not a success.

Narayen also discussed the relationship between Adobe’s work with the private and public sectors. Government agencies, like private sector companies, want to bring a great digital experience to users, said Narayen. Therefore, the Holy Grail, he added, is if government agencies could cooperate to allow citizens to have a simpler online experience across various agencies that would predict the services or information a citizen will want next based on their past interactions.

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen.
Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, left, accepts a token of appreciation from NVTC, given to him by NVTC Chair Todd Stottlemyer, CEO of the Inova Center for Personalized Health.

In closing, Stottlemyer asked Narayen for his 2016 predictions. Narayen is excited about how data will transform healthcare, and is a big believer in the power of data for any industry. Narayen also answered audience questions about Adobe’s use of data centers and cloud computing, bridging the gap between commercial innovation and government, changes forced by social and consumer expectation, creative marketing, and addressing a company’s digital needs with a shrinking budget.