I want to be respectful of the NDAs SAP requested during the recent analyst summit but wanted to share early thoughts that crossed my mind as we were introduced to SAP’s new acquisition. We saw keynotes at the Qualtrics X4 conference, had a walk through of the show floor, a q&a with the management team and couple of conversations about the acquisition due diligence conducted by SAP.
a) Qualtrics punches above its weight class
Many of the customers we heard about this week are blue chip, SAP-class. The executives we met have impressive pedigree. The co-founder, Ryan Smith has been riding a unicorn the last few years. What’s even more admirable from talking around is his work-life balance with 5 kids under 10 years. His brother, Jared Smith is a brilliant engineer with experience at Novell and Google (and as this story describes he worked with Kai-Fu Lee who is now funding a vast empire of machine learning startups in China). Zig Serafin, the COO ran Skype and Cortana units for Microsoft. They speak in jargon like instrumentation and conjoint analysis. Their tools are designed to turn ordinary users into data scientists. I believe they will sharpen SAP’s analytical chops.
They are turning annoying survey tools into conversations. With digital assistants and real-time sentiment analysis, they are redefining how to collect experiential data. Their early focus on academia brought them users who used their tools for a wide range of scenarios. While the most common ones now are customer- and employee-centric, at the X4 event, Under Armour talked about a product engineering scenario. SAP sees a lot of promise in product centric/spend management scenarios as they look to integrate X – experiential data from Qualtrics and O – operational data from its systems.
Rob Enslin of SAP described how he gradually warmed up to the acquisition. Abdul Razack, Head of Cloud Technology and Architecture showed us the image he doodled after his first due diligence visit to Qualtrics. Abdul said he was blown away when he was told the X4 event was attracting 10,000 attendees. To Utah no less, not the easiest place to get to. BTW the slate for the event had heavy hitters like Obama and Branson and Imagine Dragons.
b) The bigger news is SAP’s O data keeps growing by leaps and bounds
Having spent $8 billion on the acquisition, SAP could have focused the analyst summit mostly on Qualtrics. Instead, they spent most of the time talking about how the “Intelligent Enterprise” keeps expanding and maturing – S/4, C/4, cloud properties like Ariba and Concur, Leonardo ML and IoT progress, Cloud Platform, Analytics Platform all got plenty of time. To me, it was a nice summary of the products in the case studies profiled in my upcoming book.
I hope the messaging at SapphireNow is similar – lots more on the expanding Intelligent Enterprise, with Qualtrics adding another dimension which could blow people’s minds. I would like to see it as the cherry on top of the dessert. I think that will resonate more with the SapphireNow audience.
c) Even bigger impact may come from spreading the Qualtrics ethos across SAP
Dennis Howlett can be a flamethrower as we saw this week in his commentary on SAP’s restructuring. But in the book, he has a thoughtful section where he talks about how Qualtrics instrumentation can be used to improve SAP itself across customer, product, employee and brand dimensions.
That’s it for now. More to come in the weeks ahead.
(Cross-posted @ Deal Architect)