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An Interview with Susan Walker

Group Manager, Marketing at Adobe

Susan Walker has more than 25 years of experience managing syndicated and secondary high-tech market research portfolios for technology companies. Shortly after joining Adobe 13 years ago, she developed a market research portal to integrate Goldmine, Adobe’s primary research portal, with third-party content from research vendors including eMarketer. She is currently tasked with managing a stable of nearly 60 research sources, which Adobe makes available to all employees.

Can you describe your role and what it entails?

Susan Walker: I think of my job as managing a research portfolio that has a centrally funded budget. Like a stock portfolio, I’ve got a basket of research, and I’ll trade things in and out as I see fit. My job is to understand the kind of research Adobe’s businesses need and match that with available third-party research. It’s not a static thing where every year something will remain in the portfolio, because the business needs always change.

But eMarketer has become one of those core research vendors for me that it’s not a question of, “Do I need this this year?” It maps really well to Adobe’s business needs, so it has stayed a part of my core portfolio, along with a few other research vendors. There are services I’m going to try because Adobe is exploring something new, but eMarketer has so much good content that it has earned a place in my portfolio for the past 10 years. So, I think that’s a powerful message.

Adobe has Goldmine, a robust internal research portal for employees around the world. What is the relationship between eMarketer and Goldmine?

Walker: We make eMarketer content available on Goldmine so all Adobe employees have access to it. If product managers need to know whether a certain market is growing or what the trends are, they can go and search our internal portal, and they’ll find eMarketer content there. Adobe also has an enterprisewide subscription to eMarketer so all employees can log in.

I consider eMarketer a major vendor for us, especially because of your marketing coverage. As our business has changed, eMarketer has become even more important for people staying abreast of what is going on in digital marketing and media across different industries. It’s been a nice confluence of Adobe becoming a digital marketer as well as having already been a user of eMarketer for many years. It just maps really well.

For Goldmine, we cherry-pick what we want, but a lot of your reports are very relevant, so we’ve got a nice collection available through our portal. eMarketer always ranks as one of the top most-read vendors on Goldmine. We don’t upload the charts, data or interviews, but power users throughout the company have direct access and logins to eMarketer.

Adobe puts a big investment into information we need to run our business. That’s why we’ve developed a pretty robust portal and make it and eMarketer available to all employees around the world 24/7.

Can you think of a specific instance where eMarketer content influenced a strategy?

Walker: Well, that’s somewhat proprietary to whatever Adobe is looking at. But let’s say social media. eMarketer has a really good flow of content on that topic, so it gets seen by a lot of people who are looking at social media monitoring and things like that. The point is: You’ve got great content that Adobe is interested in. We do depend on your research for making informed decisions about business direction, business trends that might affect the company or just planning—looking at market growth in certain areas or the uptake in adoption of social media by corporations. This is all very good stuff.

Why does Adobe provide open access to business intelligence to everyone in the company?

Walker: I was in the market research world for a very long time before coming to Adobe, so I understand the power of having industry research for decision-making. The original goal was to make our primary and secondary information available throughout the company. So over time, and with a centralized budget, it made sense to license the content people needed to do their jobs across all Adobe business units and departments.

To me, it’s our competitive advantage. I think a lot of companies struggle with making information available, or they have all kinds of locks on it. I know business and market research really well and as our business changed, I was able to add new services. We have a wide variety of resources and vendors.

What is the value of a multisource business intelligence provider?

Walker: It’s a big time saver. Aggregating so many sources really saves a lot of time. Even though I am a professional librarian, to go out and find all these sources and then compile that information would take a long time. So eMarketer is very rich, it’s a huge time saver, and I think it gives the information consumer a good look at reality and what the thinking is out there in the marketplace. It provides a really nice snapshot.

Which divisions of Adobe are using eMarketer the most?

Walker: The global marketing organization and anybody in product marketing are big consumers of eMarketer. Adobe has two business units—digital media and digital marketing—so those organizations are also heavy users.

What do you like about eMarketer?

Walker: Your business model is somewhat unique. A lot of the other vendors I deal with are analyst firms like IDC [International Data Corporation], Gartner and Forrester [Research]. I go deep in some areas and in other places I like to go really broad and offer something a lot of people can use, or the information just hits a lot of business needs around the company. And eMarketer does a really good job of this.

I think you’re really on the leading edge of what’s going on in marketing. I really like that. The content is really relevant. I like reading your interviews. I also get your daily email newsletter, and I have alerts, so I stay pretty much up to date.

What value do the interviews offer?

Walker: It’s really good to be able to point to other companies or to figure out what they are doing. And the interviews are always very interesting. I pass them on to people who are asking about something in particular with the idea that, “Here’s a good example of a company that is doing this.”

You were an early advocate of offering eMarketer access to everyone at Adobe. What would your advice be to companies that don’t offer unfettered access to business intelligence?

Walker: It’s a huge advantage to make our employees smart and well-informed before they make business decisions. In addition, the information on our portal and the usage patterns really confirm that it is a very good investment. We’ve made Goldmine a pretty rich and robust resource. Access to sources like eMarketer and other providers helps our employees get answers to tough business questions.

As the world becomes more complex and there’s so much more information available to people, it’s important to make critical business information available. I’ve read statistics on how much time knowledge workers waste looking for information. It’s very scary when you think about it.

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Susan Walker

On eMarketer:

“eMarketer has so much good content that it has earned a place in my portfolio for the past 10 years.”

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