This morning Adobe announced the availability of their Technical Communication Suite. While the offering is broad and appears to be tightly integrated, its still just shy of where it needs to be in terms of addressing critical requirements for true enterprise deployment.
After years of evolution, growth, and major acquisitions, Adobe still appears to be focused on a desktop paradigm. The Technical Communication Suite press announcement references FrameMaker 8, RoboHelp 7, Captivate 3, and Acrobat 3-D v8, however, when they reference workflow, they refer to workflow integration between the products in the TC Suite. This is not to be confused with documentation workflow integration that tracks the production lifecycle that is found in most major manufacturing companies.
For example, all of Astoria’s customers are heavy users of technical documentation products, and a significant percentage of them are FrameMaker users. The problem for FrameMaker users is that they work in isolated silos, which is one of the characteristics of a desktop solution. They may have workflow integration with other Adobe products, but they lack integration into the broader production workflow.
Astoria’s customers are Forbes Global 2000 companies, and these companies routinely deal with global manufacturing issues. The technical documentation team for any product line produced by any of these companies is typically spread out across the world. What is required is full visibility into the documentation production process for teams that may be spread out across 24 time zones, operating in 30 languages, and delivering documentation to over 100 countries. The desktop-centric model just doesn’t work in this context.
If Adobe plans to succeed in the enterprise, they have to take a much broader view of how technical documentation teams work by moving beyond the creation perspective. They need to adopt a perspective that encompasses the entire production cycle, which by default means they need to incorporate a robust, muscular content management system that is delivered on-demand and optimized for rich media. Once they make this leap, they will move from ruling the desktop to ruling the documentation production flow.