Can someone remove the people in the background from this photo? And replace the coffee cup with a wine glass? And use AI/ML to make it look like summer?

Hoping someone has a subscription to Adobe Photoshop, sufficient skills to make complex edits, and the time to actually fix this…just kidding, we are all busy enough at the moment.

I was inspired to write this post after Professor Kane’s reminder of Adobe’s successful switch to a SaaS model and a recent announcement by Adobe for a launch of a web version of Photoshop and Illustrator. It seems Adobe continues to pursue digital transformation even after transitioning to a SaaS model.


A New Web-Based Tool

Creative Cloud Canvas

The new web-based Adobe tools are not a huge change to the current tools, but I believe they are necessary. Two specific changes are the Creative Cloud Spaces and Creative Cloud Canvas.

Creative Cloud Spaces – this acts as an online archive for various digital assets which can be accessed via Photoshop, Illustrator, XD, and Fresco from a tablet or computer. Think GoogleDrive but for Photoshop.

Creative Cloud Canvas – this tool allows team members to add shapes, text, stickers, and even working files to a document where team members can communicate and collaborate in real-time. Think GoogleDocs and commenting features but for Photoshop.

In the end, not groundbreaking advancements, but definitely ones that will help promote collaboration in the digital arena.


Adobe Sensei

As I read more and clicked on embedded links, I discovered a more fascinating set of changes that focus on Adobe Sensei, the company’s AI and ML system.

First, they have improved the “Object Selection Tool” which now allows you to hover over an object and select it with a single click. You are able to do this due to improvements made to the machine learning system within Adobe Sensei. What once required you to painstakingly use the lasso tool to carve out an object, now takes a simple click of the mouse.

Second, Neural Filters have been updated to allow you to change several features of your photo – from color schemes to shading. Most impressive is its ability to ADD pixels to an image (like adjusting someone’s smile) based on the neural network’s knowledge about images like it.

Third, Landscape Filters. To be honest, this one was most impressive to me. You can take a photo and adjust it to look like Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, or a time of day. It uses neural filters and automatically adjusts the photo to represent the season. Moreover, you can use Landscape Mixer to combine several photos into one – take a photo of someone walking on the beach and mix it with a picture of a grassy field, and VOILA you have someone walking through a grassy field with the ocean in the background. Rewind 20 years ago, and someone would think this type of technology was magic.

Four photos showing the Landscape Mixer (Beta).

Let’s keep going with what Adobe Sensei enables – Harmonization. Have a photo of a stunning tree changing colors? Also have a great selfie? Use Harmonization to merge the two while Adobe Sensei detects color palettes, shading, and more to make the merge faster and a more refined final product.

Shifting away from photo-editing tools but staying on the topic of Adobe Sensei, this AI/ML system can:

  • inform marketers by predicting customer behavior
  • choose best-performing experience to achieve goals
  • predict and forecast impact of different budget scenarios
  • continously monitor campaign performance to optimize ad delivery

With companies spending more money on digital advertisements (Google earned $147B in ad revenue in 2020), it seems Adobe is adding tools and features that utilize AI/ML to support various business needs of today and the needs of the future.


Content Authenticity Initiative

Screenshot of Photoshop.

Lastly, I want to talk about Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative, a new initiative “to provide and assess digital content provenance and attribution.” Essentially, it’s a series of tools so that content creators can add metadata to files and receive credit for their work, while also helping to combat misinformation.

A content creator can capture edits that they make to their content by attaching information as secure metadata in a file sent to someone else. You can also verify content through Adobe’s database. Information such as lens type, software used, camera make & model, focal length, ISO, and more can be embedded as metadata within the picture file.

Adobe has also partnered with NFT marketplaces such as KnownOrigin, OpenSea, Rarible, and SuperRare to allow creators to mint their work as crypto art.

They have also made efforts to combat misinformation, specifically DeepFakes. Adobe has partnered with Twitter, WaPo, BBC, Getty Images, to name a few, in order to try and get ahead of people using content editing tools for mischievous purposes. Whether those efforts can keep up is still very much in question, but it is a start.


While I do not have a lot of experience using Adobe, it’s come up in several classes during my MBA. Their transition to a SaaS model is a remarkable case study in business strategy. More and more content is being created and distributed online and AI/ML systems are becoming more powerful and more ubiquitous in businesses. Adobe seems to understand this and continues to pursue digital transformation to become a leader in the content creation software industry.

For those willing to try it out, here’s a free 7-day trial and discount for students. You could definitely up your Instagram game with some of the tools available…

I subscribed to a free trial of Adobe and was able to use the object detector to remove the people. That’s as far as I got, but I was able to use this tool within an hour of subscribing.

Or…I may just stick with Canva.com to have some fun…


Sources:

https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2021/10/26/photoshop-ships-major-updates-across-desktop-ipad-apps-extends-light-editing-collaboration-features-web-beta.html#gs.f9flls

https://www.pcmag.com/news/adobe-launches-beta-versions-of-photoshop-illustrator-for-the-web

https://blog.adobe.com/en/publish/2021/10/26/adobe-unleashes-content-attribution-features-photoshop-beyond-max-2021.html#gs.f9jw1u

https://www.adobe.com/sensei.html

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/reborn-in-the-cloud

9 comments

  1. I think it’s great you actually tested out the features you talked about in the blog post! I am not the most savvy when it comes to editing photos but I can see how big of a game changer this is. This will allow Adobe to be more agile and push out more features and enhanced tools to users than they had in the past. While you wrote up your blog, did you read about any strategic partnerships that really helped transition them into the SaaS success story that they are?

  2. I really like that someone validates the concepts one is talking about. Thanks for sharing this amazing technology, I will try it out for sure!

  3. Amazing blog post! I didn’t realize Adobe diversified their repertoire this much. I usually stick to Adobe Acrobat where I only save as PDF before submitting or uploading an assignment. Now I might need to use the other features more often and really get my money’s worth. They seem to be staying ahead of their competitors that way they don’t fall into survival mode. More companies should look at Adobe’s business model and see how they shifted from their core strengths to this unique portfolio of applications now. The clicking and removing feature is going to help me so much, rather than removing the background in Word.

    1. I recommend the trial simply to see all the applications. When I downloaded it and it launched I was stunned by how many different tools existed just in the launch window. Though that can be overwhelming.

  4. I am glad to see Adobe is making some changes to photoshop! I once tried using it for work and had a very difficult time. I am wondering if Adobe’s improvements has anything to do with the competition from other graphic design services like Canva. I have used Canva for a number of projects and have found it to be extremely intuitive. I have even designed a few things right from my iPhone, which I don’t think is possible with Photoshop. Perhaps, Adobe needs these new additions and product features to justify it’s cost compared to a free service like Canva.

    1. I think you make a good point about competition from Canva. I have used Canva before and it is easy to use. However, I’ve found myself wanting to make some more technical edits and discovered I have to pay for that or can’t do it, edits that Adobe allows you to do. We’ll see if the application of AI/ML can make Adobe more intuitive.

  5. Parker – this is a great advertisement for adobe! Now I want to try it out. It is interesting that you mention you have come across Adobe a lot in the MBA program as this has not been the subject of any of my courses and I was not aware it was a Saas model business. After a bit of research myself I see that the transition in their business model was rolled out over the course of 5 years which makes sense to me from a customer perspective. Many of the issues that we have discussed in class surrounding the transformation of businesses we have been concerned about cutting out customer bases who would not be able to or willing to readily transition with a business. Transition over time for long-term success seems like a great model by Adobe that many other businesses should look to follow.

  6. Great post. Always interested to hear in these advances!

  7. Awesome post, I wasn’t aware of how advanced these features had become in such a short time. I’m most interested in the Content Authenticity Initiative. After some research, it seems like creators would upload their media into the platform, and obtain the hashes of their photos. Edits could be made via specific applications (of course.. only Photoshop is listed as a potential tool) while still maintaining the integrity of the photo, ownership rights, etc. Very smart business model, create a free platform that encourages the use of your product.

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