Feds’ belt-tightening brings opportunities to Adobe

Government adoption of new technologies will mean big opportunities for business, according to  Shawn Cruise country manager at Adobe Systems and the company’s area vice-president for the public sector.

By Jacob Serebrin

Mr. Cruise spoke at the Adobe Government Assembly on Thursday morning, a half-day conference on how technological changes – what he calls “the mobilization of content” – will help government reduce costs and engage citizens more effectively.

“Over the past couple years, there’s been a massive transformation in commercial business,” Mr. Cruise said in an interview. While governments have, in general, been slower to change people are “beginning to look at the public sector and expect the same thing.”

Thursday’s conference brought together around 200 industry leaders and government officials, Mr. Cruise says, with around 65 per cent coming from government.

Despite government belt tightening, Mr. Cruise says there’s a lot of business opportunities selling technology products to government.

For Adobe, “the public sector business is one of our fastest-growing verticals,” says Mr. Cruise. “In my personal opinion it’s going to be one of the biggest opportunities.”

Part of the reason, he says, is that simplifying things like data collection and improving service through apps and data analytics can result in cost savings.

“Has the government ever mailed something to your house that asks for your address?” he says. Instead, he says, government could use the information it already has more effectively.

He says that governments need to change the way they think about procurement. While the traditional decision-making process involves starting with a need and building requirements around it, he says governments need to start by thinking how citizens will be engaged and ensure they can access services anywhere they are, on any device.

He says government needs to “think content first” and make interactions convenient.

“No one wakes up and says ‘I can’t wait to interact with the government,’” he says. “We do it because we have to.”

While he acknowledges that there is a “big chunk” of government employees and officials who are “stuck in bureaucracy,” he says there are also a “lot of forward thinking people” in government.

“This isn’t a public sector problem,” Mr. Cruise said. He added that a similar percentage of people in the private sector are resistant to technological change as in government.

While the federal government has created Shared Services Canada, a department to consolidate federal IT services and procurement, Mr. Cruise says that “right now it’s going after low-hanging fruit” like moving all departments from 100 different email services to one. He says Adobe hasn’t seen any impact from the initiative, but he expects that eventually it will move on the “higher level” systems.

Adobe was at one point one of the largest software firms in Ottawa, but cut its workforce by a third in 2011. Mr. Cruise said the company currently employs “a couple hundred” people locally.