On Sunday, SAP again redefined the capabilities of its marketing platform, announcing the acquisition of survey and research firm Qualtric for $8 billion.
Qualtrics offers survey software for assessing customer and employee attitudes for about 9000 enterprise customers. Based in Provo, Utah and Seattle, the company said it would maintain those headquarters and its separate brand, even as it integrates into the SAP ecosystem.
Projecting $400 million in revenue this year, Qualtrics had been preparing to go public, following a similar path by its main competitor, SurveyMonkey.
Why this acquisition? But, given the enormous price tag, the key question is: Why did SAP make this purchase?
The two companies are pitching the idea that Qualtrics offers X-data, or experience-related data, which, when married to SAP’s operational data, provides a complete view of experience management:
According to Andrew Joiner, CEO of customer experience management firm InMoment, the price shows the “strong demand for technology that helps companies tap into experience data,” in this case by getting survey answers from customers, would-be customers and employees at scale.
It also points the way to the next level, where survey responses can be enhanced with other data layers to create a multi-dimensional assessment of customers and employees, he said via email. If successful in doing so, this makes SAP’s operational and identity data all the more valuable because of how it helps understand users and workers at scale.
“An ultra high-definition picture” of customer relationships. In fact, Tony Kavanagh, CMO of CRM Insightly, said that “the only way to effectively manage customer relationships is to build an ultra high-definition picture of them using data,” based on survey-generated preferences, interactions and usage data.
Combined with AI and CRM, he said, this gives SAP “a very robust customer engagement platform” for competing against major marketing platforms like Salesforce, Adobe and Microsoft. What SAP had been missing that Qualtrics provides, he said, was “a structured way to understand and map a [customer’s] journey.”
But Gartner VP Andrew Frank emailed that this acquisition wasn’t a directly reactive move against SAP’s biggest marketing cloud competitors.
Instead, he said, it is “more of a bet on differentiation,” which can be utilized in conjunction with marketing analytics and performance management tools.
Nearly 70 acquisitions. “SAP has to set its own footprint,” Gartner Senior Director/analyst Ilona Hansen said, “and is developing its own unique culture going forward to be successful and for standing out of their competitors.”
She noted that Qualtrics offers more than just customer surveys to define the customer journey and expand on customer relationship management, including employee surveys, product assessment and brand awareness, and these all fit well into SAP’s strategy of positioning itself for the “intelligent enterprise.”
The Qualtrics purchase is only the latest of nearly 70 acquisitions since the early 1990s by the Germany-based SAP, which together are adding up to a unique mix.
In January, for instance, it acquired sales performance management tool CallidusCloud and conversational user experience platform Recast.ai. In September of last year, it picked up identity management platform Gigya and, the previous year, marketing attribution provider Abakus.
Why this matters to marketers. Since marketing tools are increasingly interoperable and integrated, large marketing clouds like SAP need to continually add differentiators that make them unique. The addition of Qualtrics adds a survey tool that Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft lack, and helps SAP obtain a unique positioning in the competitive landscape.
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