How Adobe's CIO redefined her IT org’s identity

Adobe is creating an IT-as-a-service model to better support its business peers. The formula includes newfangled workplace solutions, innovation labs and Hadoop-based analytics.

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Replacing a CIO often proves challenging for even the most harmonious and well balanced technology organizations. But what happens when a marquee maker of marketing and creative software goes several months without a seasoned IT leader? It becomes rudderless. That's the situation Cynthia Stoddard encountered when she joined Adobe Systems in June 2016 — seven months after CIO Gerri Martin-Flickinger left for Starbucks.

"After Gerri left the purpose of IT drifted," Stoddard, who joined the software maker from storage vendor NetApp, tells CIO.com. "They felt like they had no purpose or mission. Different pieces had moved around by virtue of they're not having had a CIO for a long time."

CIOs who join new companies have one thing in common: They like to put their stamp on the organization, which often means making a lot of changes. But Stoddard didn’t come to rip and replace IT using a cookie-cutter playbook. Rather, she interviewed key leaders and contributors at various parts of the IT organization, which includes roughly 1,000 employees globally, about what they thought about the department’s role within the company. “I wanted to take off the blinders and figure out what could be if there were no constraints,” Stoddard says.

With so many IT organizations mired in an “identity crisis,” the first step in Stoddard’s plan was creating an “identity for IT” that sought answers to key questions. Why does the department exist? What is its secret sauce? How should it treat employees?

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