Adobe CIO: Optimizing our employee experience

Cynthia Stoddard on how her team re-imagined tools, workflow.
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Very often, when someone takes on a new CIO role, they are handed a lot of problems. I’m happy to say that was not the case when I joined Adobe. IT was not broken, and that enabled me to hit the ground running on innovation. One of the areas that I was eager to tackle was the internal employee experience.

When you think about our offerings across Creative Cloud, Document Cloud, and Experience Cloud, Adobe is offering a phenomenal digital experience to customers. I wanted to make sure we were bringing those insights and the same world-class experience to our internal customers – our employees – because happy employees naturally lead to happier customers.

[ Want more wisdom from Cynthia Stoddard? See our related article, Adobe CIO: How we rallied IT around a new purpose. ]

It wasn’t just about making their lives a little easier. The next-generation workforce has a new level of expectations. If their experience at work doesn’t match the personalized and design-led experiences they are used to in their daily life, they are likely to look around for another opportunity. To retain your best employees in today’s environment, you really need to think about their experience as a journey from the day an employee joins until the day they retire. How can you best equip them on their journey? In what ways can you give them the instantaneous response and concept of ease that is natural to them in their worldview?

Figuring this out can offer a number of benefits. If people find their work gratifying and are motivated by their environments, that’s going to show externally.  For instance, if they have intuitive and powerful tools to work with internally, they can be more productive and provide better customer service. 

Personas help improve employee experience

As part of my IT re-organization, I took all the different components of functions, capabilities, everything that touches the employee, and put them in one group, which we call the “employee experience solutions group within IT.” This group is looking at the employee journey from the view of different personas, based on the type of work that an individual does.        

For example, one of our employee personas is a "builder" – anyone whose work is focused on creating experiences through building software. We also have a "leader" persona – anyone managing a team – and a  "communicator" – one who influences and collaborates with others. If you think about personas in those terms, it’s easy to see that different types of tools are needed for the various ways these people work. How a builder uses our collaboration tools, for instance, is going to be very different than how a communicator uses them because of how they actually move around the company, travel, work remote, work in the office, or a number of other factors.

"Employees put a high premium on the design, ease of use of the experience, and the efficiency of their workflows."

We’ve found that employees put a high premium on the design, ease of use of the experience, and the efficiency of their workflows. So, we are working to digitize as many of those employee experiences as possible.

Part of that is taking IT out of the equation. Not because IT isn’t needed, but rather, we are looking at IT as an enabler of self-service activities throughout the business – things that our employees can do for themselves without having to call the IT help desk.  For instance, we are updating our intranet with easy-to-consume and informative knowledge documents around commonly asked questions.  And we are enabling the ease-of-use of information and applications across mobile devices.  

Another part of digitizing the employee experience is going paperless. In HR, for example, 55 percent of new hire paperwork is signed with Adobe Sign and returned within 24 hours, closing candidates faster and saving time. We’ve also worked with the legal team on electronic workflows, which has helped them out tremendously with contract-processing and more accurate and secure documentation.

Unique workspaces

Finally, we are challenging ourselves to create unique and standout workspace experiences.  We are implementing more collaborative environments where people can use design thinking for ideation and problem-solving.  We have a space within our corporate office in San Jose called Lab 82.  The name is derived from the founding year of Adobe, 1982, and the fact that Adobe started with an idea in a lab. The company founders believed that good ideas come from everywhere in the company, and in that spirit Lab 82 was born. Within Lab 82, teams benefit from a creative well-designed space to help inspire innovation and creativity. 

Additionally, in Lab 82 we can observe how different people react to the new tools, whether they are a new employee or a more seasoned employee. And we’re learning some interesting things that are helping to shape how we put together the workplace and the tools of the future.  

We firmly believe that our customer success is dependent on the success of our employees.  With digitization transforming businesses inside and out, we’ve reached an inflection point to re-imagine employee experiences. I encourage other CIOs to take similar steps to advance the inside of their organizations and empower their employees to take productivity and innovation to new levels.

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.