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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.

“In order to enable people to do their jobs you have to plan to take that wall down between IT and the business units, and really self-service and enable people to do things on their own,” Stoddard says. Adobe has adopted a model that entrusts marketing leaders to work directly with vendors when the need arises. The framework includes governance and other controls to make sure it adheres to Adobe’s IT requirements without impeding progress, scale or agility.

The company also takes a more holistic approach to SaaS so that it doesn’t use one solution for one department and something else for another unless special circumstances apply. Redunancy and increased maintenance of technology is something that Stoddard and her team tries to avoid.


How B2B marketing and IT collide

Adobe’s long history in the consumer and enterprise space has developed into a blended model that benefits from many of the same tools for business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing, according to Stoddard. “We work together a lot in that regard,” she says.

Adam Kleinberg, CEO of advertising agency Traction, says the consumerization of IT and B2B marketing is being driven by a growing consumer-minded workforce and the elevation of marketing as a core business process. “The plumbing has become an important minimum standard of marketing,” he says. “Once brands have put marketing infrastructure into place and become data-driven organizations, they really need to then impact the numbers… We all have access to the same data, the same toolset, so creative is the thing that stands out and makes a difference.”

Within B2B marketing there is a proclivity to see customers as businesses when they should be targeting the people responsible for making purchase decisions inside the organization. “There is a trend in the industry that’s about quantity over quality, but I think that’s going to shift,” Kleinberg says. “Once everyone has the marketing infrastructure in place, it’s no longer a competitive advantage, and if you don’t have a competitive advantage you’re going to achieve average results.”

Stoddard says she tries to maintain competitive advantages that come from a flattened, universally accessible IT organization by focusing on two core principles: deep intelligence that comes from understanding its customers and enriching design. “When you engage with your customer you have to have the right aesthetics, the right experience so that it meets their needs and they actually get excited by the design that you have and it compels them to want to do more,” she says.

IT professionals who are working at organizations that put barriers between IT and other departments need to get immersed in the entire business, according to Stoddard. “Get to know the CMO, get to know their pain, get to know what they’re trying to do -- the goals and objectives that they have,” she says. “People tend to get a little scared about opening up that wall. It actually can lead to better and richer experiences for both sides of the fence when people get so ingrained and immersed in the business.”


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