Adobe: Channel Slowly Catching On To Creative Cloud

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Despite a slower start, Adobe is optimistic it can gain more share in the channel and leverage it to push forward its Creative Cloud offering, Adobe's channel chief told CRN.

Back in May 2012, Adobe made the announcement that it would no longer be developing its flagship Creative Suite, replacing it with a recurring revenue-based Creative Cloud. In December of that year, Adobe opened the Creative Cloud to the channel and enterprise.

There are already 1 million Creative Cloud users, Stephen Snyder, vice president or Adobe's worldwide channel sales, said. However, most of the licenses weren't purchased in the channel. But, Snyder doesn't expect it to stay that way.

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Of the units currently sold through the channel, 50 percent are the Creative Cloud. Snyder said the uptake in the individual space is "about six months ahead of uptake in the channel" but that, "We're moving very, very quickly because it's really a new way of selling and a new way of encouraging our partners to sell a subscription, to sell a service and to really have the opportunity to have a much deeper IT discussion with their customers."

Snyder said Adobe is offering training and seminars to educate partners on the new product. The most successful partners, he said, are those that are already connected to other cloud services and are committed to recurring revenue models.

"Partners who have the ability to engage with a customer around a portfolio of cloud services and a portfolio of enhanced services are doing really well at selling this product," Snyder said. "Partners who are more focused on selling a transaction and then moving on to the next product or moving on to the next box or unit to ship can't have the in-depth conversations that you need to have to be successful selling Creative Cloud."

All partners that previously had access to the Creative Suite now also have the ability to sell the Creative Cloud, Snyder told CRN. However, he said Adobe is actively recruiting partners that are more cloud-based to help expand its channel reach.

"We are recruiting partners who we think may be able to sell services more effectively than other partners. So we are trying to add new partners to the mix, but the vast majority of the units we are selling or are going to sell next year in 2014 ... are going to be sold by customers who understand the Adobe line, have carried the Adobe brand as a whole and have a very tight trusted advisor relationship with the end customer," Snyder said.

Adobe partners primarily operate in the SMB marketplace, Snyder said, because enterprise-level clients buy direct from the company itself. The problem now for resellers, Snyder said, is convincing clients who have two or three years left on a licensing agreement to upgrade to a subscription model.

"That's the more challenging conversation," Snyder said.

To help convince partners to sell the Creative Cloud over older editions, Adobe has heavily shifted its incentive programs over toward the Creative Cloud, Snyder said. The incentives are twice as large for Creative Cloud than for Creative Suite 6, the previous model.

Being able to extend the product's reach through the channel, Snyder said, is especially important for Adobe because customers often call resellers for advice on which product they should choose. The problem is that oftentimes when VARs switch to the Creative Cloud, they see a drop in revenue right away, though Snyder said it will be a larger revenue source in the long run.

"The conversations that we've had with our partners over the last six months are about what we can do to accelerate the transformation so that they can see the recurring revenue model sooner," Snyder said.


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