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How Adobe’s CIO blends IT and marketing

Matt Kapko | May 4, 2017
Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard explains why the era of IT as a separate entity with a separate purpose is over.

Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard doesn’t think about marketing and IT as separate functions. “We don’t have an artificial wall between these organizations,” she tells IT and marketing have distinct priorities within the business, but aligning their respective responsibilities around company goals leads to greater outcomes, according to Stoddard.

“We tend to place ourselves in the other person’s role and situation,” she says. “Try to put yourself in the shoes of the CMO or the CIO so you can jointly feel what the other person is going through and what their priorities are.”


Technology’s reach knows no bounds

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Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard. Credit: Adobe

Technology is so widespread that any wall -- virtual or physical -- between IT and another aspect of the business would be a drag on the entire organization, according to Stoddard. Marketing is a particularly important area of Adobe’s business that overlaps with IT at the highest levels, she says. Marketers are also among the most sophisticated users of IT because they rely so heavily on analytics and data to measure campaign initiatives.

“We have a lot of information within IT, we’re kind of the keepers of big data,” she says. “We can bring that knowledge forward to the marketing organization and actually work with the marketing organization so they can understand better how they can use big data and different trends within their day-to-day operation.”

Adobe’s IT shop has a group dedicated to managing data insights in constant collaboration with colleagues in marketing. Another IT group works with marketing systems and has developed core marketing business expertise to understand challenges and deliver more effective marketing programs and lead analysis, according to Stoddard.

“We’ve aligned the IT organizations around capabilities and services, and then we have different people in the business that we focus on different subject matter expertise,” she says. “We work very closely with the marketing organization and we definitely have a role.”

Analytics is also a key point of overlap for IT throughout Adobe’s business, according to Stoddard. “You want to make sure that the IT analytics are pretty self-service so that people within the marketing group and other groups can do their own analysis,” she says.

The prevailing goal for Stoddard and her colleagues is to take IT and its unnecessary complexities out of the organization. “Whatever we do within IT is to really eliminate IT,” she says. Her group is responsible for implementing self-service tools and making them readily available on any device. While these objectives are most noticeably blurred in the marketing analytics and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions space, the mission continues throughout Adobe.


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