Gerri Martin-Flickinger, CIO, Adobe Systems

Gerri Martin-Flickinger is Adobe's senior vice president and Chief Information Officer.


Jan 09, 2015

Gerri Martin-Flickinger is Adobe's senior vice president and chief information officer. She oversees the company's global Information Technology team, providing strategic direction and management for the company's IT infrastructure worldwide, including

its hosted services. In partnership with the business, Martin-Flickinger also has responsibility for developing innovative enterprise solutions built with Adobe products and technologies that solve business issues and reduce IT costs.

Martin-Flickinger has more than 20 years of experience leading large-scale global IT organizations for companies experiencing explosive growth through acquisition, global expansion and/or implementing new business models. Her expertise includes leading organizations through transformational change, connecting IT to the needs of the business and aligning IT costs.

Before joining Adobe, Martin-Flickinger was CIO of VeriSign, where she oversaw corporate information technology services for the company's 60 offices worldwide. Prior to VeriSign, she served as CIO for Network Associates, Inc. and McAfee Associates, Inc. Before joining McAfee, Martin-Flickinger held several senior systems roles at Chevron Corporation, including serving as process consultant to Chevron's executive staff.

Martin-Flickinger holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Washington State University.



(00:01) Hello. Welcome to a late starting episode number 93 CXOTalk. I am Michael Krigsman with my fabulously friendly and patient co-host Vala Afshar. Vala, how are you today?


(00:18) Michael, I’m very happy that we’re connected. We have an extraordinary CIO and I can’t wait for our show to start. So please begin with the intro’s.


(00:27) Yeah, we had a little technical troubles here. I’m going to take the credit for our technical troubles today Vala.


(00:36) Very kind of you sir.


(00:38)Usually I pass the buck but not this time. So today we are joined with an interesting Chief Information Officer, Gerri Martin-Flickinger, who is the CIO of Adobe Systems. Gerri, how are you?


(00:53)I am great Michael and I just have to add to your comment on the start-up I was very impressed with your technical competence. Well done.


(01:03) You know, here’s the thing. I make fun of Vala and the guests can make fun of Vala, but it doesn’t work the other way around. We have this sort of unwritten rule, but anyway.

(01:18) So Gerri, you are CIO of Adobe and probably everybody knows about Adobe. But let’s start with your brief sense of your professional background.


(01:32) Well I like to think of myself as a career CIO. I’ve been a CIO in high tech for a long long time. I’ve been a CIO for three high tech companies

(01:42) I started off my career with McAfee. Spent about five years there in the early years as McAfee grew from a $250 million a year revenue company to well over a billion dollars. So exciting times, I cut my teeth in the Valley.

(01:59)  I then was a CUIO for Verisign for a number of years and I am now the Adobe CIO for about seven and a half years.

(02:05) I actually started my early career in IT at Chevron Oil. So I spent 12 years at Chevron Oil. A big company background which I think for any CIO is awesome to get some experience at scale whether or not you are in a CIO IT role because it really helps you think through process and process control. So I’d like to give a big nod to Chevron for being a key part in my growth as a professional.


(02:34) Tell us a little about Adobe and the transformation of Adobe, which I think a lot of our audience would be interested to hear, not only from an insider’s perspective but a lead technologist within the company.


(02:45) Yeah that’s a great question and probably a lot of people have seen in the tech news that Adobe has been going through a massive business transformation, from the traditional world of shrink wrap product software to a service and subscription base model company. And it’s one of the reasons why I chose to join Adobe seven and a half years ago was because they were starting to contemplate what the evolution was going to be like for tier company as Sass and cloud became more prevalentin the industry.

(03:17) So as the CIO there are some very practical things that change your business as you move from that old school to the new school. the old school product and product creation and to sell through a multitude channel looks very much like a material distribution model.

(03:36) You know, it’s all about skews and box product and inventory and distribution shipping. You know you spend a lot of energy around that kind of processes and management.

(03:46) But in the world of subscription and services it looks much more like (a Telco? 03:52) in the sense of, hey, there’s a subscription plan. You can upgrade your plan. You can degregate your plan; you can add people to your plan. You can change your plan today and do something different tomorrow – it’s a living engagement and transaction. It’s not an material master purchase product. It’s a living usage base pricing model.

(04:17)  So just from a pure IT CIO perspective, the back office shift from those two things at an at scale company, multi-billion product revenue a year shifting in flight is pretty significant.

(04:33) From a company perspective, huge change culturally in how the company is organized, how we deliver and build product. In the old school our engineering team – people who built products like Photoshop or InDesign products – they are a common name to everyone would do releases every year or 18 moths.

(04:57) So the entire product development organization was wrapped around this waterfall model of management, would start off with figuring out what you’re going to build and building it and spending months and months testing it and getting it ready for distribution.

(05:10) But in our new world we do releases every month and pretty much the entire engineering organization is restructured and re-functioned to work in more Agile/Scrum structures. So things are very innovative, it’s very different and it really changes the psychology of everything. I love using thisstory.

(05:32) In the old world people would work really hard for 18 month and get that golden master CD burn and the entire engineering department would go on vacation for six weeks. Because by the time that golden master actually got through this and actually got on a machine at any scale in the customer base, the phone calls didn’t start ringing for about six weeks to customer support right.

(05:52) Today, they finish the code, it gets through its QA cycle, they push deploy and a million people get that software in the first 12 hours.

(06:03) Wow! The phones start ringing in three minutes. So even the engineers have rethink on how they are ‘on-point’ as that feedback starts coming through and flowing. So those are just a few examples of how our business has changed.

(06:16) Today, far more – half of our revenue comes through subscription services models as opposed to product purchase models.


(06:24) You know I’m an Adobe customer. I’m a photographer and actually my photos have been published in quite a lot of places. And I remember when you made that transition and I must say, it was a little bit tough as a customer - as you spoke about psychology. So it was tough as a customer to adapt and say, well hey you know; now I have to keep paying each month. But I will say over time I’ve seen the more frequent updates and now it does seem a more natural way to go.


(07:01) Absolutely and we are hearing that from everyone and one of the things Adobe spent a lot of time thinking about as what we decided to go down this path, the first was to make and declare for our customers intent. You know we didn’t sort of dribble this out a little at a time to trap people in the change in business model. We declared to our customer’s industry intent.

(07:24) And in doing so we also became very transparent with the price point that we were setting out on a monthly basis versus the package. You know buy the whole box every 18 month or two years. And we tried to get the price in place that it isn’t any different from a total dollars out, but the value and it is playing out with our customers – the value our customers get is faster integration of our product and faster innovation that they can start to deploy in their own bespoke products

(07:55) So if you are a professional photographer, as you are, given that next really cool new feature in Photoshop now instead of 12 months from now is a very big material difference to you to try and make money on your photo.

(08:012) We’re hearing from our customers is making a big difference. The other thing that is the value that we have now really harnessed and people are leveraging is the integration between products. The cloud gives you a very natural way to have these products exchange assets between the various ‘traditional’ desktop products. So if you are actually taken that photograph that you’ve built and your actually sharing it with maybe a design community, or an ad agency, or a client by it, the ability of the creative cloud is actually giving you a landing place for that asset and a place that other people through their own Adobe product instances can interact with it quite seamlessly.

(08:50) And so for our more sophisticated customers who are working more at scale and enterprises with groups of teams or ad agencies the value of this creative cloud move as part of this is really starting to pay out for them now.

(09:02) So it’s very exciting. We are seeing all that we hoped would happen with our customers and we had an amazing 2014 and it just blew our numbers. So clearly our customers are agreeing with that. So it’s awesome.


(09:16) Congratulations. So before I asked this question I want to share with you this week’s CIO magazine published there, 2015 state of the CIO survey of over 500 CIOs and IT leaders and one of the interesting survey points was, how do business leaders perceive IT. And 38%, that’s the largest portion view a T&S service provider, 30% business partner, 18% as a cost centre and only 13% as business leader. So my question to you, and you just talked about an incredible transformation that was technology led and now you’re having fantastic success. Knowing businesses that are all going through the challenge of digital transformation, what exactly is the role of the CIO as you are going through a transformational change like Adobe?


(10:14) Well that’s a great conversation and certainly one that many at my CIO group’s share with each other in person and have a big glass of wine and talk about that for hours. I can’t think of a C level executive that had as many disrupters and opportunities in the last five years CIO.

(10:31) So what’s the future of the CIO is has a lot to do with the industry you’re in, who you are as a leader, and what you aspire to be. But there are some things that have come across pretty consistently in people I’ve talked with. And I would agree with all of these.

(10:50)The first is the value of information and data, and the role of the CIO becoming a very strong focal point in bringing that together holistically for most corporations and enterprises.

(11:03) You know, there has always been pockets of data in an enterprise and some of the CIOs are very involved with, specifically the financial data and in most cases also may be sales pipeline data.

(11:15)But now as we have mature wood into the realm digital marketing, which is an area that Adobe has a lot of engagement in as a supplier. The digital marketing arena has opened this whole new aspect of analytics for the marketer. And now the CMO is becoming a very primary business partner with CIO’s as they deal with harnessing and stitching that enterprise data with marketing data.

(11:38) So I would say the one thing that is definitely evolved with that role of the CIO is the lead forward CIO needs to grow with the business and grow with the IT capability of the business, is the realm of information and management data science and status services – whatever word is appropriate for you. But that whole concept of having data stewardship governance and really next-generation big data technology that allows serve in the business.

(12:08)That is a journey and we can spend an hour just talking about that one topic, but that would be an area I think every CIO – my best example of that is even if you’re a CIO or let me just use a very different industry, refrigerator manufacturing. You are the CIO for a company of refrigerators. Well the things that people are talking about are things like if you put that milk carton in the refrigerator and it automatically scans that barcode and when the milk gets too low it automatically orders it from your favorite grocery store and automatically delivers.

(12:40) Well guess what folks, all of that data interchange, all of that integration, there is no organisation better positioned than that refrigerator company to help with that than the IT organisation because that is right up their alley.

(12:54)Now whether the IT organisation decides to step up to that, or you know stand back and let some other product driven organisation is really more about culture and the style of the leadership. But the opportunity it’s absolutely front and center for IT organizations to morph more into information management leadership, and really empower companies to use data to drive product engagement to the customers, even if it’s a refrigerator.


(13:21) You know it’s really quite interesting, as you were talking earlier about the transition of Adobe from providing essentially on premise to cloud products, you were talking very much about the product itself and the development of the product. And that’s a little unusual for CIOs because very often we think about the CIO role as being very inwardly facing as opposed to having anything to do with the product whatsoever. So maybe talk a little bit about your connection to product and I know some of what IT at Adobe is doing is related to some of the backend systems that connect with the product, so maybe talk a little bit about that.


(14:09) Like I said earlier when I came to adobe, one of the reasons I came was because this transformation was a head and I always been really passionate that the investment that most companies have made in their back office that they have done it responsibly and well is an asset to be harnessed. And as people start building products that are cloud connected, information that sits in the back office can actually be part of that engagement with the customer. I’ll use a really simple example.

(14:37) If you are sitting in front of Photoshop at your desktop doing your photo editing and you want to buy a new component feature of Photoshop as an add-on – let’s just pretend it’s an 99 cent add-on – we don’t really do this by the way. I’m just making this up as an example.

(14:55) Wouldn’t it be cool if we could push a ‘buy now’ button right there on your desk top and have it just sort of magically work. It knows who you are, it knows you’ve bought this, it know it’s going to entitle you to this extra widget or feature and it just all happens.

(15:10)  Now that’s not rocket science. Lots of products do that today. There are variations of that concept even in Abode products. But here’s why I think the CIO in the back office that’s interesting. Why shouldn’t that buy button really just wired to the back office that already knows about doing commerce and entitlement, customer mastering, and pricing. You wouldn’t want to rebuild all that again and again and again.

(15:35) So one of the things, five years ago that we strategically set up to do in conjunction with the business changes for 12 products for cloud enablement was solely enabling our entire back office. So that when our product teams want to put that buy button inside their product at some point in time of the future, really they get to make a service call to make and it’s done. They don’t have to worry about all the security and the compliance, and the linkage and the entitlement. They don’t have to worry about any of that, it’s all within the service of the catalog call.

(16:08) That’s a big deal and that requires a multi (year thing?) for an organization to truly architect the back office and think about building out a service integration layer that can work for engineers. And in our case it means getting thousands of product engineers to start moving those service catalogs and not going off to do an underground project to build a new buy button.

(16:29) So one of the ways that my IT team have become deeply embedded in the products is by providing this web service’s layer that will help them build their products faster by unleashing capabilities that traditionally lived in the back office.

(16:45) And as we have matured in that journey, we have also extended that to information stitching that I talked about earlier. So if someone want to interrogate the inside of a product, certain types of attributes about a customer or a customer’s segment, they don’t have to go and create that wheel and build up a database somewhere and try to extract that data, they can leverage our core big data stitched models of our customers in our universe.

(17:11)  So lots of different ways and dependent on the product and the company, and I think IT organizations need to be thinking about how they can actually unleash the power of the company’s products. And they need to get ahead of that and not wait for someone to come and ask them, because in this new world nobody’s got time to come and ask you for something.

(17:31) So it was really important that we went out for example and showed the buy button to our product engineers working. If we had waited for them to come and ask us, we would still be waiting.

(17:41) On the other hand we were able to speed up time to market our product to get out to the market because they didn’t have to write whole sections of code they would have had to worry about otherwise.

(17:50)So as a company, we’re moving faster. We’re becoming a piece of the core software platform for our products. IT is part of the products and I think for many many companies that is a reality, whether or not you’re in tech like we are or you’re building refrigerators.


(18:08) So you joined Adobe in 2007 and clearly you have successfully shifted the conversation regarding IT from cost to value. And I’ve read your comment on how to do that, and right now we have a bunch of CIO’s that are watching and Tweeting your words of wisdom live. Can you give them advice in terms of how do you put a skills development plan when you’re moving to the cloud and embracing analytics and taking the tradition IT’s view of  help desk to folks that are enabling product enablement and accelerating marketing and sales. What was some of the challenges on the things you had to do to create that culture that goes from cost to value?


(18:52) Well I wish it was simple and I could just give you like here’s one thing to do and  it will all be easy, but this is sort of a Holy Grail for being a CIO anywhere. And you know I think I would be missed if I didn’t say it’s a journey for everyone everywhere. And depending on what’s your situation in your company, it may take you years to move the conversation away from cost into value.

(19:18) So don’t be disheartened if it’s a journey that’s taken you years. You know, I’ll be completely candid, in seven and a half years I’ve been through many phases of many of those transitions and sometimes you circle back.

(19:31)  You Know, 2009 for a lot of us was a really big reset year with the economy, which drove a much tighter pencil sharpening across all of our business’s around cost management to probably set it really hard to have value conversations for in 2009. So don’t be disheartened about that.

(19:47) But I think there are a few things that we can all do to move up the chain. The first that I’ve found really effective is to make sure that you are really consistently transparent with data, and make sure that that data that you present is not in the IT vernacular but is in the word of the business.

(20:08) So if the business is talking about growing a certain market, show all of your expense in IT and all of the things you’re doing relative to that category or activity. Don’t show them a project list that looks like an IT project list. Show them, hey, to help your expansion in emerging markets you know, we’re investing $3 million in new technology to support you in that and we’ve got 200 people lined up behind that and here are the six things we are going to deliver for you that will help you penetrate that emerging market. Put it in their language.

(20:42) And that sounds like a little thing, but just getting that language right is part of it.

(20:48) The other thing I found to be a really important element and I think the paper you referenced talked a little bit is consistency and simplicity. It’s really important to boil that message up to your audience, so I found as we thought a few years ago where in talking to the CEO and the CFO, I finally got them gravitated about three numbers that simplified it in their mind.

(21:13) And the three numbers that I was using were new delivery, which in our discussion meant that anything that was bringing new capability to the business, like a new feature, function, and new activity, versus operations which included the health and legacy that we had and then split out separately, depreciation. Because for many of us in IT, depreciation is an incredibly significant portion of the precedence that we carry, but often people forget this year that they committed to that last year and the year before and the day before that.

(21:50) And it gets pretty sizeable and a company can grow, and it was funny because at one time I would have told you that is way too high level for those senior people and need to have more detail, even though I had the detail in the background. Those three numbers told a story.

(22:05)And the story I told them was then, you need more delivery, how do we get more in delivery. And you know, once you show them all the ways that you peeled off from operations and there is nothing you can do about depreciation, it’s like, oh we need to invest. And it just gave us a really simple way to have a conversation.

(22:24) And that’s not to say you don’t have the deeper conversations, but you have got to find whatever formula like that works in your company to get deeper message, so that the sentiment is clear about how you are doing the work that you are doing. So it’s a journey, it’s a journey, but for us simplicity works.

(22:40)And the other thing that we have done in the last 18 month is that we have restructured IT around a true service of organisation model. So we have three service families, about 20 service portfolios and about 50 total services in IT and that’s provided for those people who care about the services and a much more holistic view of the service and the service pricing and the service capability.

(23:06) But it’s also grown in my organisation, 50 really good leaders and I like to call them all CIOs or CEOs of their service. And they are having to learn everything from you know, how do I plan for the life cycle of my service, who is my customer, how do I charge for this, who are my competitors, how do I stay relevant and it has been awesome to see this mix of leaders and IT all have to grapple with in becoming a CEO. So pretty cool.


(23:36) So, Gerri, we have a question or really a comment from David Chu, who is a CIO and actually a former guest on CXOTalk, and he raises the question about the culture of IT and how do you adapt the culture of IT and how did you do that during this significant transition that Adobe undertook?


(23:59) I think that’s a great question. You know, there is a couple of things. I think messaging from the top is really really important and one of the things that my team will tell you is that I am a huge advocate for the word partnership. So every time we talk about things like alignment of IT efforts with business needed is always in context with partnership.

(24:29) When I meet with IT leaders, I like to see them in the room with their business partners not solo. I do think if you really believe partnership is part of the value proposition and is going to move IT organisation up the food chain, that partnership cannot just exist on the table. It has got to exist at every level across the business and IT.

(24:54)  And you have to promote that and reward that and acknowledge that, and celebrate that. And so I have something and it’s a very simple thing I do, but it has been really powerful.

(25:06)Every time I get a kudo note from a business partner about something someone has done in IT, we send out a little recognition mail from me personally, that talks about why this was great, or behaviour in what it was that this person in IT did, that really demonstrated that partnership all the alignment to the business.

(25:28) And the thumbs up notes have become this sort of point in pride with IT people. People walk around saying how many thumbs up have you gotten and they don’t come out every day, you know, they come out a couple of times a month.

(25:42) So the more that you can demonstrate in the partnership grounding culture change which you can make which I think it is for most IT organizations, demonstrate every single day of that partnership is rewarded at every level in your organization.

(25:54) You know other things about cultural change to me that are really important is and this is I’m sure that the CIO that asked the question and is very experienced and knows all of this, but being really genuine and transparent is super important and people need to hear from their leader that they are clear on why the cultural change is important and they hear it repeatedly over and over.

(26:18) And so I’ve said a fair amount of energy on making sure that our communication and I’ve cascaded communications across IT and spend time reinforcing for our IT employers in what that culture shift is. We talk about culture shift quite openly which is good. I hope that helped.


(26:38) That helped, that was by the way the packaging of the mission status and goal statement into a simple a three KPI to tell a story, I thought that’s fantastic advice for any executive, so certainly advise that I’m going to look to in the next time I call on marketing mission status and goals to our CEO. But so clearly company culture is critical for a CIO to be successful through that transformational journey. But what are some of the challenges you know, we are hearing about in the digital business apps, big data, and cloud and mobile and social, sensors, the Internet of things. All of these things that are popping up and my Twitter stream from a consumer electronics show and some of the examples that I saw are just unbelievably cool. But what are some of the challenges and what advice do you have also for our you know meeting these technology initiatives.


(27:40) I don’t want want to leave the impression that we somehow just like stand and got involved. So let me tell you about the culture inside Adobe and what the last seven years has been like and may be more on the ground.

(27:56) You know, we’re a company with software engineers. We’re a company that is more than 30 years old and built by software engineers and I know we have some of the best software engineers in the world in our company.

(28:09) And IT came from the pretty traditional IT place. You know, like a few years ago a companies, IT managed the PCs and kept the servers rack and stack. And the engineers and IT is like you guys don’t do anything like what I do.

(28:29) So I would say that the single most difficult challenging cultural shift that this IT team has made in the last five years has been getting to the table in a place of mutual participation with our engineering community.

(28:46) And a couple of just thoughts about ways to make that happen, first of all you don’t mandate that kind of change. It isn’t something that I go in and declare on a Monday morning with engineering and become their best friend. It is something that you do in combination of letting the people get to know each other and then proving that you can be valuable.

(29:06) And a fear of the things that I’ve done are things like skunkworks that gets close to one engineering team with a couple of really smart people and just sort of letting them get to know each other for six or seven months to deliver something great.

(29:18) And the really interesting thing about engineers is that they are just like all of the rest of us if you do something good you will get rewarded for it and you want to keep doing that thing. So making sure whatever it is that successful gets mutually recognised, not only by myself but by the engineering leaders that are my counterparts that I’m on that side. And you do enough of those kinds of projects where people see that there is mutual recognition and skill sets and the coming together makes a better solution rather than not coming together. And that people actually like each other and they discover, wow, you’re actually a cool person and you’re not really a geek.

(29:53)It takes care of itself. You know sometimes we like to overthink this and the reality is if you will do what you say you will do and people like working with you and you know your stuff, it’s all going to work out. I firmly believe that.

(30:05)So the challenge for IT is to get IT in their headset. You’re not the decision maker, it’s not a unilateral process. You’ve got to go and work with somebody, bring what you are really good at to the table, respect what they are really good at at the table. And if it makes sense, collaboratively and collectively build the next new thing.

(30:24) So it sounds kind of like simple and it is, but it takes time. So don’t rush it, and place a few bets. Find a few really hot technologists that you have that look like engineering DNA and send them in underground.


(30:43) Yeah, it’s very easy to say but obviously it’s extremely difficult and takes time to execute. But on a similar topic and the impact on IT and so forth, you’ve been running something called Adobe innovation summits - CIO innovation Summit, which again is quite unusual because the stereotype of the CIO is facing inwards building infrastructure. Yet you invite people from the outside to discuss innovation. So, tell us about that and what’s that about.


(31:27) Yeah, well that’ll kind of grew out of really a selfish need and it turned out to be one of those things where you can go, wow that was brilliant and I should have done that sooner. So here’s what the real kind of story is to that.

(31: 41) Several years ago when I was located in silicon Valley and just before the sort of exposure of Adobe as a whole, I was having the opportunity to get invited to a number of different venture firms, roundtables, CIO advisory boards you know to look at new companies coming in and help just giving some feedback about their potential on the market.

(32:03)And that’s been a pretty casual fun thing and over the years I’ve got involved in four or five of those that I attend regularly now. Anyway, it was a couple of years ago and I remember coming back from one of those days and I was just so excited – and I mean it wasn’t that I thought of one thing that was going to blow the socks of everything. I was just excited and really energized because I was thinking outside the box and I stopped worrying about my day job for eight hours and I had listened to these start-ups with two guys and a dog, or a husband and wife team, or you know to college graduates that have never worked in a company in their life, and I was excited.

(32:39)And as I was driving home I was thinking how do I get all of my team – my entire worldwide team this excited. How do I let them take the day and just listen to what I have just listened to without having to deliver on a project, not trying to respond to an RFI, and not trying to deal with the next deliverable and will this technology work. But just to listen – nothing else just listen.

(33:03)And that’s where the innovation day came from. I decided I had the total door open to contact all of those companies and invite them in for a day and I had the audience here at Adobe to invite and to show up and hear what you want to hear. You don’t have to do anything with it is just a day to listen and learn. And it has been in hindsight one of the smartest things that I have ever done to unleash the innovation across a huge audience of employees.

(33:29) People look forward to this day every year. It’s a big solid day and we’ve structured it in one hour connections and people can attend fracs. They can attend one session, they can attend all the sessions. And for the start-up companies – by the way, start-ups range from what I’ve talked about as two people and a dog in a garage to you know companies that are just like pre-public, so they’re quite large.

(33:56) But they get to see this whole spectrum and in this hour they don’t just listen, but at the end I ask all of these companies who present for 15 minutes to get feedback from the group about what worked about my pitch and what didn’t, what do you think about us, do you think this has got legs – give them feedback.

(34:17) For the venture firms this is awesome because they are little fledgling companies that get real feedback from real professionals, to the typical buyer of these types of technology and not companies.

(34:29) you know, there is no expectation that any business will transpire out of these events and it’s really an informational sharing event. Having said that though, obviously when something really exciting get shared it can lead to things down the line, and we have had a few of those occur that has been really positive for both sides.

(34:49)So I think it’s a great thing and you know what there is nothing special about me as a CIO that makes this possible. Every venture firm I know would love a phone call from a CIO and say hey, I really want to put together this innovation day and do you want to participate. I’m guessing they would say yeah, so it’s not a hard thing to do and it doesn’t cost a lot of money.

(35:11)The biggest cost for me is I give everybody lunch, but decides that it’s pretty easy.


(35:15) So you have seen my calls technical skills in action, do you think he can perform a start-up to get invited to your innovation day or is there something else you can do for him.


(35:27) Well we’ll follow this up off line I think.


(35:31) I think my technical – you and Vala, you and I – what’s your back Vala. I know where you are.


(35:42) Is wonderful to hear you not only embrace innovation but also work with the metric capital community. I suspect as part of your technology roadmap you work with start-ups. Any advice because we have start-up founders that watch the show, you know with the two guys and the dog, two gals with the dog, any advice in terms of how did they approach Adobe and pitch their solution. Is there one thing that they really need to focus on to either get included or excluded?


(36:13)  I think the advice it give is don’t try to over think it. I have had a few venture firms really coming in and pitch a specific company, and to be honest I don’t think the venture firms are spending a lot of time with us to understand what our priorities are to start with to be able to really start lack connection. So I would suggest instead if you really want to pitch your company like Adobe, try to bring them into a form like an advisory form or offer to host and innovation day with seniors. Let them hear a series of your company and if you know there is one you particularly want to hear, make sure it’s one at the end that you present to them.

(36:52) But you have got to make it attractive for the CIO or the company you are talking to and I think sometimes people think that they all mean as CUIO’s of our company, that the two get close enough to actually dealing on a day to day might miss the mark and you might do more damage in missing that mark than really just opening the door which is I think most venture capitals folk probably want to do with Adobe or other companies.

(37:17) just open the door and get to know what would align.


(37:21) Great advice to actually ask rather than assume. Go out and ask. Well you know unfortunately, I think our time is about drawing to a close. You know, I feel that we have barely – Vala we’ve barely scratched the surface today on some really interesting issues.


(37:40) Anytime we have a brilliant and cool guest, time flies so this was no exception.


(37:47) So Gerri will you come back and do another show with us another time.


(37:51) It would be fun. And you know what, I have got to tell you Michael my folks can help with the technical set up.


(38:08) Well we have been talking on episode number 93 of CXOTalk with Gerri Martin-Flickinger who is the CIO at Adobe Systems, and has given us an eye opening view from the IT perspective of what it’s like when a company makes the transition from pure desktop to cloud. And Gerri, thank you again for taking the time.


(38:35) Thank you Michael and thank you Vala, this has been a lot of fun


(38:38) I’m Michael Krigsman and my and I was going to say my friendly and I’m going to go back to friendly-ish co-host  Vala Afshar. And I really want to thank everyone for watching today and we will see you again next week. Bye bye.

Companies mention in this edition:




Chevron Oil:

Published Date: Jan 09, 2015

Author: Michael Krigsman

Episode ID: 93