INTERVIEW: Bruce Chizen, Adobe's picture painter

Users want data on many devices


  • Most important daily job: 'To kiss and hug my wife and two kids.'

  • Hometown: 'Brooklyn, N.Y., where my father was a retailer of radios, TVs and appliances, and my mother was a housewife.'

  • Role model: Bill Campbell, chairman of Intuit Inc. of San Diego

  • Motto: 'Without Adobe, life would be like watching black-and-white TV. Information would be boring.'

  • Bruce Chizen

    Bruce Chizen, president and chief executive officer of Adobe Systems Inc. since 2000, joined the company in 1994. He helped develop and market Adobe applications as vice president and general manager of the graphics professional and consumer divisions.

    But Chizen came to graphics from a career that began during the first wave of computer games. From 1980 to 1983, he worked in Mattel Inc.'s merchandising group as a retail manager. In 1983, Chizen joined Microsoft Corp. as its eastern region sales director. He also worked at Claris Corp. beginning in 1987 as a founding senior manager of the Apple Computer Inc. start-up, where he was vice president of sales and worldwide marketing.

    Chizen earned a bachelor's of science degree from Brooklyn College, City University of New York. He serves on the board of directors of the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, Calif., and Synopsys Inc. of Mountain View, Calif.

    Chizen is giving a keynote speech at FOSE 2002 in Washington on Thursday, March 21.
    GCN associate editor Dipka Bhambhani interviewed Chizen by telephone from his Mountain View office.

    GCN: What would Adobe Systems Inc.'s acquisition of Accelio Corp. mean for federal users of Accelio products and services?

    CHIZEN: We believe they would benefit from our incorporating Accelio products into Adobe products. Accelio would bring, among other things, server-based tools that drive business processes based on electronic forms. We announced our intention to acquire Accelio in early February, but the deal isn't expected to close until April.

    GCN: You started your career in the video game industry. What was your favorite game?

    CHIZEN: Dungeons and Dragons involved both strategy and action. It wasn't just a shoot-'em-up game, it had a true strategic component. But it wasn't just strategy, either.

    Today's games are not that different from what was developed back in the early 1980s, except they're much more visually compelling. I have a 10-year-old son, so I'm pretty familiar with what he's experiencing. The games haven't changed much, the graphics have.

    At some level, video games have helped an entire generation of kids become more comfortable with computing. To an even larger degree, though, the Internet has driven this trend. Kids are often more proficient than adults when you sit them down in front of a monitor and a keyboard. It's like second nature, they just go.

    GCN: If an agency buys Adobe Acrobat, does that commit the agency to purchasing a broader set of Adobe software?

    CHIZEN: Government customers can buy large quantities of just one product, such as Acrobat, or they can mix and match based on their needs.

    Our mission has always been the same: to help people communicate more effectively with visually rich, reliable information. The big change is where people are consuming the information.

    Our business used to be about desktop publishing. Organizations would look to communicate their information in print, and Adobe played a role there with products like PostScript and Illustrator and Type. In the 1990s, it became not only paper but also communicating information through a desktop Web browser.

    Now we're in an era where people are not only consuming information on paper and on the Web, they're also accessing it through a variety of devices'personal digital assistants, smart cell phones, TV devices and, shortly, video games.

    Where people want the information and how they want to view it has changed. Everybody wants to communicate visually rich, reliable information anywhere. The industry calls this network publishing.

    It's no longer just about the desktop, it's about many devices connected through wire or wireless. More people want to view information on more devices than ever before, and they want that information to be visually rich and reliable.

    GCN: What's happening with the Portable Document Format?

    CHIZEN: PDF has changed about every 18 to 24 months. PDF will continue to be a good way to view, capture and print information reliably'for example, loan applications and tax forms.

    What we've done with Acrobat 5.0 is make it a container for information that could be in Extensible Markup Language format to seamlessly integrate with any Open Database Connectivity-compliant database. You'll see us do more of that with future versions of Acrobat, making it a better container.

    GCN: What agencies are using your products?

    CHIZEN: Some agencies use it more aggressively than others. Look at what the IRS does with its tax forms in PDF. Look at what the Food and Drug Administration is doing with the pharmaceutical industry on clinical trials. The U.S. courts are now accepting electronic case submissions in PDF.

    GCN: How has publishing technology changed?

    CHIZEN: If you go back three, four, five years, many government agencies and government workers would think of graphics, either for creating content or for laying out content with products like Photoshop and Illustrator and PageMaker and GoLive for the Web.

    Now if you were to ask the IT professionals in the government, they would think of Adobe more in terms of Acrobat.

    The whole premise of Acrobat and what we're doing around e-paper is to move seamlessly from paper processes to Web processes without ignoring the need for reliability, security and being able to deal with legacy paper.

    GCN: Are federal webmasters using graphics less?

    CHIZEN: I think at one time, webmasters were adding flash and sizzle to their sites for the sake of flash and sizzle.

    It's no different than back in the mid-1980s when everybody realized they could have a lot of different type fonts. They were publishing documents that looked terrible. They were abusing the tools they had.

    We've experienced a lot of that on the Web. A lot of webmasters created sites full of unnecessary clutter. Now webmasters know they need the appropriate level of graphics and images and video on their sites to communicate the right message.

    GCN: How will the Office of Management and Budget's 24 e-government initiatives affect publishing technology?

    CHIZEN: A lot of those initiatives are focused around moving from paper to the Web. The heart of the e-paper initiative is to give the government a set of tools for forms development'to create electronic forms and set up systems to capture the information.

    GCN: How will publishing advance beyond fillable forms?

    CHIZEN: A user is accustomed to viewing information in a certain way, and we should not ask them to view it any differently. That's a big shift.

    Over the last few years, more and more agencies are getting connected in this way internally and connected to each other. That means that they have productivity savings and much more efficiency in communication.

    GCN: How has Section 508 accessibility affected your products?

    CHIZEN: 508 accessibility is critical to our business. We've made Acrobat 5.0 accessible to any of the market-leading text and speech applications.

    We'll make sure that content created by any Adobe application is accessible. We're working on the other applications, and we're committed to moving as rapidly ahead as we can.

    Accessibility in Acrobat and Adobe PDF was significant for government adoption not only in the United States but around the world.

    With the next release of GoLive, we'll make it easy for anybody to create an accessible Web site. We know it's important, but it's hard to quantify.

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