Adobe CIO: How we rallied IT around a new purpose

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CIO Cloud Strategy

A few months ago, the IT organization at Adobe worked on our identity at an off-site meeting. The goal was to take a step back and work together to determine why we exist and what is the special sauce we bring to the company. What came from this was a new strategy that strengthens our alignment to Adobe’s business: To have cloud-like characteristics in our DNA.

To successfully enable Adobe’s cloud business, we realized that IT needs to encompass attributes of a world-class cloud operation and provide the same "cloud-like" experience to our business stakeholders, partners, and employees.  Being cloud-like doesn’t mean being a cloud provider. Rather, it’s bringing the characteristics of the cloud into everything we do as an IT organization – from ease of use and customer-centricity, to self-service around analytics and reporting, to being an enabler of business processes.

For us, that meant a shift not only in technology as we move forward, but also people and processes. It meant big changes in how we operate with each other in IT, as well as transforming how we support our business users and the capabilities that we give to our customers externally.  

"It’s an open approach, and it gives you the power to interconnect the massive amounts of data at your fingertips, which is the new currency of the organization."  

For the team, it meant changing the mindset from thinking about technology delivery to thinking about enabling the business process. When you are cloud-like in your DNA and are capitalizing on cloud infrastructure; you are no longer constrained by your internal toolkit. In fact, you have a larger, virtual toolkit of microservices that you pull pieces from and bring to your business users. It’s an open approach, and it gives you the power to interconnect the massive amounts of data at your fingertips, which is the new currency of the organization.  

With this new strategy, we needed clarity of purpose across the global team. We needed everyone on the team to feel ownership and accountability toward this new mindset so that we could truly live up to the promise of cloud-like characteristics in our DNA. And one of the ways we reinforced this was through an “IT Identity Award” program.

The IT Identity Award rewards behaviors that are associated with our IT identity and the concept of being cloud-like. We recently gave out five IT Identity Awards – two individual and three team awards – and the program has been really exciting for my team. Notably, it’s a peer-nominated award, and nominations came from both within IT and from other areas of the business.

Multiple benefits

This program has had a tremendous impact on IT for a number of reasons. For one, celebrating success is a great way to build a foundation for future success. Our IT organization is quite large, and there is outstanding work being done at all levels of the organization. Bringing those examples and accomplishments to light is a great way to celebrate success both within IT and with the larger business.

Secondly, recognition of these wins helps everyone learn from each other. It enables individuals to get a better idea of what’s going on in other parts of the organization. Naturally, people will look at the accomplishments being recognized and ask, “Am I demonstrating those behaviors? How can I show it through some of the work that I’m doing?”  

One of the team awards was given to our engineering services team. Their mission is to provide all the tools, platforms, and services to the engineers on the business side. We received some great feedback from the business on how well this team helps enable and empower the engineers. In recognizing this team, we highlighted a quote from their nomination that said, “The team is not only highly technical and dedicated to the systems they support, their customer service skills are exemplary.” For me, this quote really gets to the heart of what it means to be cloud-like in our DNA. It means we are dedicated to engaging with the teams with support internally in the same way we are committed to engaging with our external customers. We are customer experience centric.  

Working on our identity proved to be a great morale builder for IT. It unified our team, and the associated awards program generated excitement and buzz. Most importantly, it brought us all together around a unified strategy we could believe in, and has brought some much-needed accountability and ownership to everyone on the team.  

As senior vice president and chief information officer of Adobe, Cynthia Stoddard oversees Adobe’s global Information Technology team. In her leadership role, Cynthia spearheads a global strategy for delivering services that form the mission-critical backbone for the company.