Prativa Mohapatra, vice president and managing director for Adobe India leads the company’s India business across Experience Cloud, Creative Cloud and Document Cloud. Mohapatra is responsible for driving strategic planning, operations, customer interactions and shaping growth in the market, for Adobe. At the Adobe Summit 2023, Mohapatra tells Storyboard18 that India is highest in terms of growth both on creative and experience side in the APAC region. In fact, the US market looks at Adobe India as one of the big growth catalysts, she adds.
Prior to joining Adobe, she was the vice president of digital sales for IBM in the Asia Pacific region. Having spent close to 30 years in the technology industry, Mohapatra is a transformational leader, who understands marketing and sales as closely as she does the software business. In a conversation with Storyboard18, Mohapatra shares her thoughts on role of sales and marketing; CEOs and CMOs as a team and more.
Of the innovations announced at the Adobe Summit 2023, what is India's contribution?
Adobe India has about 7500 plus employees. A lot of them are PHDs and engineers. Therefore, a lot of innovations emerge from here. The number of patents filed from India is among the largest with the company. We are as good as the US when it comes to innovation and R&D. With the rich intellectual capital, we do contribute a lot to the innovations of the company, including the ones you have seen at the Summit this year.
Many in the marketing and advertising ecosystem think Gen AI is a double-edged sword. What's your honest take? Adobe is clear that Gen AI is more like co-pilot to human ingenuity. Could you explain the company's view?
Tech trends always drive such kind of conversations. Today it is Gen AI. In the future, it will be something else. Let’s take the example of innovation of calculators. Did that put accountants out of job? No, right? Of course, their role changed but was there mayhem, or did the business of doing math just go away? No. These trends just transform businesses and people in the business. According to me, every technology increases the productive quotation and value addition of professionals in the business.
Today, CEOs are expecting to understand if the marketing spends are independent from sales.
In Gen AI’s case, will content writers or copywriters, go out of jobs. Absolutely not. New technologies will only enhance the exercise of content building and help picking the right threads. It is an evolution that will lead to the next big thing. It challenges you to do better. We think Gen AI is more like a co-pilot to human creativity for the same reasons.
What are marketers expecting from Adobe today? Where is your place in a brand's journey?
Product analytics is taking a centre stage in a brand’s journey. Today, it’s important to understand how a product is performing; how customers are behaving to it; and how it is feeding into a brand’s strategy. It is all coming together now. Today, CEOs are expecting to understand if the marketing spends are independent from sales. It’s challenging, and connecting to marketing and sales is product. Bringing this synergy is what companies like us are championing in. For instance, we launched product analytics to our Experience Cloud. This will help marketers be more accountable and responsible to their stakeholders for the spends that they make.
Everyone from HR to R&D should do a sales job. It’s important for everyone to understand what a brand stands for, what they sell. It gives you a lot of clarity and changes your perception about the realities of the business when you meet real consumers.
What are Adobe’s conversations with clients like these days?
When the pandemic hit the world, digital channels became extremely important to brands. It becomes important for marketers to contribute to the top line. To be honest, marketers were shaken up. The top bosses wanted to understand more than ever before how marketers are contributing to the company’s ROI. They also wanted to understand how much percent of sales marketers were able to generate through new channels of sales. The other concept that is catching up is ‘marketing is sales, sales is marketing’. More and more both the functions are feeding of each other and essential to stay connected. If there is a disconnect in what a brand sells and what it advertises, there will be no time to recover. CMOs are empowered to be like a revenue generator and not an enabler to revenue generator.
You have done digital sales in your previous role at IBM. How much of that is helping you here at Adobe?
I have done direct sales, enterprise sales and digital sales in my career so far. Digital was earlier seen as just another revenue generating stream. When I moved to enterprise to digital sales, I understood how much of a reach digital as a channel can bring to a brand. The battle for space for digital sales team started when I took up the role. Consumers are looking for better experiences, less intrusive one, hence digital sales is picking up. Those experiences are helping me to make a better pitch to my clients here.
CMOs are empowered to be revenue generators and not enablers to revenue generators.
So do you think marketers should work in sales at least once in their careers?
100 percent, agree. In fact, I will take the liberty and say, everyone right from HR to R&D, should do a sales job. It’s important for everyone to understand what a brand stands for, what they sell. It gives you a lot of clarity and changes your perception about the realities of the business when you meet real consumers.
How do you think CEOs and CMOs can collaborate for business growth?
Marketers have a primary role of upholding the brand. Given the proliferation of digital and social media, a brand can be made or broken just like that. A CEO of a company is another custodian of the brand. The CEO and CMO have to talk to each other to understand what consumers are talking about their brand. Understanding segmentation and consumer sets is critical. If that constant intelligence is there, the CEO’s strategies from product to business can be tweaked. The custodian of the brand and the creator of brand they have to be in sync. The markets are agile and sharp. Things can change overnight. Expectations from a CMO has changed. Today, a CMO’s role is challenging. A CMO is in the front and centre of the business.
(The writer is in Las Vegas to attend Adobe Summit at the invitation of the company.)