Using Insights from Analysts To Serve Multiple Lines Of The Business: An Interview with Adobe's Peter Sheldon

by Andrew Hsu

October 11, 2021

Case Studies | Interview Blog Post Series |

Using Insights from Analysts To Serve Multiple Lines Of The Business: An Interview with Adobe's Peter Sheldon

We recently sat down with Peter Sheldon, Senior Director of Commerce Strategy at Adobe. Previously a Forrester Principal Analyst, Peter is responsible for Adobe’s commerce partner ecosystem and working to understand strategic relationships necessary for the business. Peter is heavily integrated at Adobe, touching multiple business lines to connect the work going on in the organization and industry analysts. He works alongside the product marketing team to relay messages from the front lines of analyst conversations back to the group. With all of these competing AR initiatives, Peter was able to take a moment and share with us his perspective on how the world of AR operates within Adobe. Through the lens of an executive, Peter has faced the challenges that come with a major acquisition and understands how to use the art of insights-driven AR to bring value to the business.

The Big Bet: Adobe Purchases Magento

Peter came to Adobe through their acquisition of Magento back in 2018. Magento was primarily serving an audience that consisted of SMB and mid-market organizations. Once the acquisition was complete, the AR team was faced with the challenge of combating the perception of Magento being unprepared to serve larger merchants in the market. Even with Adobe at the helm of the ship, Magento’s ability to scale to the enterprise-level was a stigma that still exists.

“After the acquisition, we were grateful that the analysts had a mature understanding of the market. This allowed us to share more details around the momentum of our enterprise deals. They [analysts] have the ability to connect with our customers and understand things that the general market can’t see. Analysts talk to our enterprise clients and knew we were enterprise ready.” 

With analysts onboard for an enterprise-focused approach, team Adobe continued transparent conversations with the analyst community for valuable insights when it comes to their overall product strategy. With analysts’ predictive research combined with open dialogue, Adobe forged their path forward.

“We highly value the advisory days with analysts and getting that intimate time. We are not there to impress them and show them how great we are. We want to share things that are typically behind the scenes:  our challenges, architectural shortcomings, our investment plan, our thoughts on what we are building. They give us valuable feedback to help us know where to spend our dollars and not fall behind against our competitors. Getting that validation was incredibly useful to us.”

Not only does Adobe use the analysts to push their product forward, but also to help validate customer’s opinions of them in the market. “It’s important to talk with the analysts about the inquiries they are receiving and the trends that are coming up. It doesn’t necessarily lead to something we don’t know, but it helps validate and uncover perceptions that exist in the market. Analysts are our ear to the ground when it comes to the negative things that are being said about our product and identifying ways that we can improve.”

Once the AR team has this foresight to know what current and prospective customers are struggling with, they go back to the drawing board with product and sales teams to identify opportunities to correct.

AR Leader Spotlight:

Peter Sheldon
  • Role: Senior Director of Commerce Strategy
  • Team Size: 9 analyst relations managers
  • Priorities: Managing market perception
  • Challenges:
    • Navigating the business after acquisition
    • Driving value from analyst insights across the business
    • Prioritizing competing initiatives

Influencing Product Investment

For evaluative research processes, Adobe’s AR team and Product Marketing teams work alongside each other to get the work done. “We are joined at the hip with our product marketing team when it comes to approaching ranking reports, Magic Quadrants, or Forrester Waves of any kind.”

This partnership works by the AR team capturing key insights from analyst conversations and funneling them back to the product marketing team to impact their strategy. By having this full circle of capturing the initial insights, implementing changes to the strategy, and then reviewing with the analysts, Adobe’s AR team is able to bring invaluable information to the company.

An Omniscient View with Spotlight

Like most large companies, Adobe is challenged with keeping up with all the different flowing veins of AR. Spotlight helps team Adobe by capturing analysts’ valuable feedback during all of the interactions, organizing the information, dissecting key takeaways, and surfacing them to the appropriate business channels after each engagement.

“I think the unique thing about Spotlight is first the incredible value of not just being part of our team’s analyst conversations, but other analyst interactions. The Spotlight team’s ability to have an aggregated view of what analysts are hearing, interested in, writing about, it’s much greater than our ability to keep up on our own.”

With Spotlight’s omniscient view and Peter’s leadership, Adobe can execute an insights-driven analyst relations approach. By providing analyst feedback to different lines of the business, Adobe’s AR team is impacting imperatives like product roadmaps and learning to better communicate with their potential customers. While the world of AR can seem small, it’s clear that the work being done by the Adobe AR team is reaching every area of the business.