Adobe's big plans for Brazil

After moving its Latin America headquarters from Miami to São Paulo, the company wants to boost the uptake of its digital marketing products as local users focus on improving customer experience
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer on

Adobe is looking to widen its user base in Brazil and boost the uptake of its marketing products as local organizations enhance their customer experience capabilities as part of digital transformation plans.

Just as in its other global markets, the company has been focusing on promoting its blend of cloud-based digital marketing and analytics applications in Brazil, as well as document products in addition to the creative software it is best known for.

The software giant has had a Brazil presence since 1999, but in recent years the local operation has grown substantially since the Latin America headquarters moved from Miami to São Paulo in 2013 in recognition of the opportunities that lie in the region - particularly in the digital marketing front.

"We envisage adoption growth with more [Brazilian] clients using our products across several verticals - but mainly financial services, retail, telecoms and media - as companies want to improve the experience they offer to customers in the consumption of their products and services," says Adobe's vice president for Latin America, Federico Grosso.

"I am confident in the dynamism of Brazilian organizations as well as their increasing levels of digital maturity. We have lots of success stories globally and I think that Brazil is ready to enter that digital transformation stage too," Grosso adds.

Weathering the recession

According to the Adobe executive, despite the economic slowdown Brazil has been facing, local clients have been optimistic of late. He points out that there is now a common understanding that "going digital" is one of the main mechanisms to improve customer relationships and therefore generate more income.

"In times of economic contraction and uncertainty, there is a tendency to look for platforms that bring measurable results and help introduce a culture that is more data-driven," Grosso says.

"The fact that digital brings more efficiency is undeniable and the benefits of digital marketing are not new to large Brazilian companies, we are not longer talking about a cold-call. There is a much bigger awareness of what these tools can do - and curiosity where there isn't," the executive adds.

Digital transformation is an unavoidable route for companies seeking efficiency and competitiveness, according to IDC predictions for 2017. Brazilian companies will no longer be postponing such projects as they have been over the last couple of years - this shift, says the analyst, will drive 5.7 percent growth in the local IT sector this year compared to 2016 figures.

Grosso has been close to the Latin American market for nearly a decade and has been able to follow trends such as the growth in adoption of cloud computing technologies by Brazilian organizations over the last five years. This has in turn cut some corners for Adobe in terms of its sales pitch.

"There is obviously a more modern way of thinking enterprise software that is a lot less reliant on physical infrastructure, which means projects are less heavy and with shorter implementation timescales," Grosso says.

"In any case, it is no longer possible to think that a company might take a year to implement a piece of software - particularly in digital marketing, where there is an agility imperative, to enable the applications to work," he adds.

While Grosso accepts that in some industries cloud adoption in Brazil has seen some compliance and regulatory hurdles, the executive says that some sectors have been able to anticipate the need to transform themselves digitally.

The Adobe boss cites the media and advertising space, where the vendor has traditionally held a significant presence, and retail, where four out of the five top organizations use the company's marketing cloud, as examples of segments that are more advanced in that regard.

"The financial services sector in Brazil is responding to digital challenges in an interesting way and the telcos also have a real intention to go digital. They are all concerned about what keeps the customer up at night regarding their offerings, as well as their experience," he says.

Driving digital maturity

Brazil is among the top five global markets for all the main social networking platforms including Twitter and Facebook. This, according to Grosso, is a clear indicator of the "digital curiosity" that Brazilian consumers have - and therefore, increasing digital demands, which must be met by companies.

"The Brazilian consumer of 2017 has absolutely caught up with the needs and wants of global consumers. They want to be heard and respected by brands that talk to them through a single voice, so it doesn't matter whether the contact happens through Twitter, call centers or a physical store," Grosso points out.

The explosion in smartphone adoption in Brazil over the last five years along with the adoption of mobile apps has heightened these expectations even more, the executive says. It also means that digitally native companies that focus a lot more on customer experience are a real threat to more traditional organisations.

Where there is digital work to be done, there are also challenges, as procurement of the applications supporting such transformations has been led by senior staff from the marketing function and other departments rather than solely IT.

"Regardless of the buyer, people in user organizations are aware of the benefits of digital and analytics is the big motivator, the oxygen companies needed. Then there is the ability to create more interactions via connected devices and an Internet that is no longer text-based, but visual and multimedia-heavy," Grosso says.

"Globally, digital has already grown and matured - and classic things like analytics are being boosted by other elements of value. Results that can be gained with someone digital tools are not necessarily immediate, but efficiency can be created and measured in a relatively short period of time," he adds.

However, there are other intricacies - especially when it comes to Brazil, a market that is usually a few months behind the curve in terms of adoption of new technologies. According to the Adobe executive, an acceleration in the adoption of tools is needed and the digital story is compelling, but it is not that simple.

"When you look at the [Brazilian] corporate market as a whole regardless of sector, you can tell that not everyone has the same level of digital maturity. That said, our mission is to precisely support the pioneers, who have already embraced their transformation journeys and are leading the way," Grosso explains.

"Now that there are pioneers, we also have to foster the debate about digital transformation. But the thing is that there's a natural challenge when we bring in new terms and concepts: for executives, it's too much information to digest," he adds.

Adobe wants to make it easier for buyers to understand the value that each application can deliver because, according to Grosso, there is a challenge that users face in terms of time to analyse and select tools as well as budget, but also uncertainty around investing in trends that might not be necessarily relevant to them.

"The conversation here revolves around defining which is the technology that makes sense to [users] right now considering their adoption and maturity curve. At the same time, they wouldn't want to buy something that is so futuristic and long-term that they can't even demonstrate value," Grosso says.

To make the most out of the digital marketing opportunity in Brazil, Adobe plans on continuing to feed its user base and potential clients with data, events, cross-sector networking opportunities and showcasing what has worked in other parts of the world that can be applied locally.

According to Grosso, the work of creating awareness around Adobe's marketing tools beyond the creative applications that is has been traditionally known for is a "story that still needs to be told."

"The good thing is that it's a beautiful story. We were the patient zero of our own digital transformation and Adobe has successfully changed its skin and strategy," the executive points out.

"So when we talk to Brazilian clients about digital transformation, we have our own experience to demonstrate that it is something positive and that can bring great results."

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