By now, SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics last month might seem like old news, but we’re just starting to uncover what it all could mean for both SAP and Qualtrics customers. To do that, we must first understand what Qualtrics brings to the table.

Adam Page, ASUG’s market research specialist told us that, “Qualtrics is the leader in survey software when it comes to user experience data.” SAP certainly thought so, considering it spent nearly $8 billion on the acquisition. “We were incredibly excited when we began our conversations with Qualtrics,” said Arlen Shenkman, SAP executive vice president of global development and ecosystems. “We were impressed not only with the product Qualtrics built, but also with the vision it had to attack the market and create an entirely new category.”

That category is experience management, which fits within SAP’s vision of an intelligent enterprise.

Qualtrics: Roots to Bloom

Back in 2012, Qualtrics’ CEO, Ryan Smith, turned down a $500 million offer for the company he and his father and brother had spent 10 years building. The company, which got off the ground by focusing on the academic market, has grown into a survey provider now serving Fortune 500 companies.

Like other survey providers, Qualtrics sells online question-and-answer survey tools. But what differentiates it from its competitors is that it can capture and analyze data from real-time sources, including social media and email. That’s how the company mastered its experience management solutions.

Qualtrics identifies four core experiences within a business—customer, employee, brand, and product—and offers the solutions to manage all of them. “If you’re thinking about it from the customer’s perspective, it allows a company that wants to measure experience data (or X data) to do it at a much more significant level,” Page said.

Customer Experience Dictates Everything

As more businesses recognize that the customer experience dictates everything from revenue growth and innovation to planning and execution, there is increased demand for how to better measure and analyze customer expectations and feedback. According to a 2017 study from Accenture, 81 percent of customers feel loyal to brands that are there when they need them, but otherwise respect their time and leave them alone. But how do you make the strategic choices to run your business like this?

Businesses need to know how to manage their customers’ experiences to improve loyalty, reduce the cost to serve them, and increase brand awareness. According to Qualtrics, “the best customer experience management programs track every customer interaction and analyze the data to close the gap between what customers expect and the experience currently being delivered.”

The Qualtrics Customer Experience solution covers three core functions: engage with customers on their terms, predict what they will do next, and activate the entire organization. To accomplish this, the platform offers survey software, analytics, customer journey mapping tools, closed loop customer follow-up, and event survey software. It’s helped brands such as 1-800 CONTACTS, Aetna, and GE.

Your Employee Experience Matters, Too

Employees who are excited to be ambassadors for your brand can only help strengthen your business. But how do you help every employee succeed so they can give your customers what they need, too?

The Qualtrics Employee Experience solution is designed to help improve the employee experience through tools for onboarding, engagement, training and assessment, 360 development, personal experience tracking, all the way to their exit. It’s built to deliver three main functions: a digital open door so business leaders and managers can interact with employees at scale; personalized programs specific to each business’ needs and functions; and insights that drive impact by turning data into measurable employee experience improvements.

According to Qualtrics, “An effective employee experience program creates happier, more-engaged, and better-developed employees while also driving business outcomes like reduced attrition, higher revenue, and increased customer satisfaction.” Happy employees can absolutely create happy customers.

Where the Brand Experience Fits

Happy customers and happy employees are part of the equation, but the overall brand experience is just as important. According to Qualtrics, “Recognizable names and marks command a premium in the market, but only if that recognition is positive. Brand experience means listening to customers and the public using research and feedback software. Identifying your essential brand drivers helps you improve brand perceptions, optimize your communication strategy, and grow your company’s overall brand value.”

Tracking customer experience reveals some of that information. For a business to truly capture the whole picture, however, it needs to understand how this adds up to its brand. The Qualtrics Brand Experience solution offers insights on market trends, competitor analysis, and brand awareness in one place. The platform offers tools such as brand tracking, advertising testing, and brand positioning research.

Your Product Experience Delivers the Goods

Your product, whether it's a tangible item, digital, or a service, is what represents your brand and what your employees help create. Knowing what kind of experiences your product or service delivers is critical to the success of your business.

So, what does the Qualtrics Product Experience solution offer? For starters, by surveying product testers, it can help you quickly identify the features users want. Statistical analysis can help you prioritize features before a product launch or understand what customers want you to change about your existing product or service. You can use this real-time feedback from customers to drive adoption and loyalty.

The platform includes market segmentation software, concept testing research, user experience research, and product satisfaction surveys.

What’s the Tie-In with SAP?

Shenkman explained that where the SAP C/4HANA suite touches everything from services to marketing and the customer, Qualtrics fits perfectly within the suite by providing a perspective from the customer on their experience and how they’re perceiving that experience. “To have that kind of feedback directly from the customer,” he said, “dovetails really well with the products we already have.”

The strategy isn’t to create an additional cloud platform for SAP C/4HANA using Qualtrics, but rather to integrate it with existing SAP technologies wherever it would make sense—for example SAP SuccessFactors or SAP Ariba. And of course, SAP C/4HANA.

The acquisition deal won’t be completed until sometime in 2019. This means SAP is still in the process of working out the details for its development road map, yet it’s looking at the integration holistically.

The Q&A Customers Need to Know Now

SAP saw Qualtrics as an opportunity to fill in a gap in the services it offers, while complementing its products. In the short term, SAP will offer packages that add the most value to the current SAP solution portfolio.

For SAP customers, Shenkman noted the opportunities ahead to begin to make more-informed decisions about how they’re currently doing business. About current Qualtrics customers, Shenkman said, “We’re going to make the company even better. We’re not going to take you off the road you’re on.”

SAP has approximately 400,000 customers and Qualtrics has about 9,000. Though Shenkman said that there isn’t much overlap in the customer base, the two companies do serve some of the same big-name brands, such as Under Armour and Volkswagen. For all current and future customers, Shenkman pointed to the possibilities ahead. “We’re going to bring the breadth of the Qualtrics portfolio to SAP solutions and infuse that technology in what we’re doing to help our customers.”

We’ll continue to track this acquisition as the details become available, so be sure to check back with us and visit the customer experience section of ASUG Insights or ASUG News + Views.