Rob Tarkoff spoke to V3.co.uk about his vision of changing the world 'one screen at a time'.
V3.co.uk: What technologies are you responsible for in your
role at Adobe?
Rob Tarkoff: I'm responsible for all the enterprise business productivity solutions, so all the traditional PDF franchise offerings, Acrobat, our solutions for web conferencing and the new offerings built on the LiveCycle base merging Flash and PDF.
What is the problem with traditional enterprise software?
It's really simple. Enterprise software has failed miserably to help organisations effectively achieve what it promised. The way they got there is complicated but the reasons for failure are simple. The way people are using software has changed and traditional providers are failing to keep up; and the way it is developed is also changing and most organisations are not adapting quickly enough. The result is exceptionally long project implementations which fail to deliver business benefits. The issue is that software is not working in the way people want it to work. The question is do you instead design systems that take into account the way people want to move from any application, device, screen and have a consistent experience? Do you design that in mind as a fundamental endpoint?
How do you achieve this goal?
There is not just one user. Enterprise software companies talk about the user as if they are preserved in formaldehyde, but you never really know if that user is coming from a mobile device, a tablet, smartphone, PC, and whether they want deep knowledge of that app or not. We as a design company have a unique way of solving the problem: building solutions which connect user interactions with back-end processes.
Can you give an example?
Well, before the notion of rich internet applications [RIAs] became known to enterprises as a way to architect experiences we had intelligent forms of PDF, either replicas of paper-based processes in PDF or more interactive versions. Today we reproduce the paper-like experience with RIAs, to present the user with things like drillable charts and sortable grids - a more immersive experience that can live behind the PDF. It makes it highly visual, Flash-based and audience-aware. The technical underpinnings are the LiveCycle platform, which traditionally helped with document services, information authentication, digital rights management, digital signatures and so on.
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