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SAP intends to take Qualtrics public through IPO: what is the impact?

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Here I am again, blogging about the XM (Experience Management) platform of Qualtrics. In November 2018, it was announced that Qualtrics would be acquired by SAP and the acquisition was completed in January 2019.

Since then, I started blogging around this topic, writing my first blog for Acorel about this acquisition. Within this blog, you can read what the XM platform of Qualtrics is and how it strengthens the current CX (Customer Experience) platform of SAP. At that moment, not much was known about how this platform would be integrated with the CX solutions of SAP.

So, in December 2019, I wrote my second blog around this topic describing some use cases in the area of Customer Experience. This blog quickly outlines how the XM platform of Qualtrics can work together with solutions such as SAP Commerce Cloud, SAP Sales Cloud, SAP Service Cloud and SAP Marketing Cloud. It cannot be denied that SAP has put some serious efforts into several integrations to make these scenarios happen. As a result of that, we see some of the SAP Customer Experience customers utilizing the power of combining O-data and X-data, resulting in a more beneficial and powerful customer experience.

In September 2020 I wrote my latest blog post for Acorel, reporting about how we turn this development into practice. Together with Ipsos, we held a presentation during one of our events about customer experience, showing the crucial interaction between O-data and X-data for an optimal customer experience and maximized business results.

Around this time, SAP announced its intent to take Qualtrics public through an IPO. That was quite surprising as it was only 20 months ago since their acquisition of 8 billion euros! Although SAP will continue to fully consolidate Qualtrics, an IPO is planned. However, SAP communicated that a final decision on the IPO and its timing is pending and subject to market conditions.

What is the impact of this IPO?

The announcement of the intent to take Qualtrics public is around one year ago, and I must admit that things have changed so far.

From a strategic point of view, we have seen that SAP has been promoting the vision of combining O-data and X-data to optimize customer experience in 2020. This year (2021), their focus appears to have changed. Now, we observe that the main focus of SAP has shifted towards commerce-led experiences and its new customer data platform. Carefully listening to the voices of your customers before taking action is still part of the SAP Customer Experience story, but it has faded into the background.

From a technical point of view, we see less developments on the current SAP roadmaps with regards to integrating the XM platforms to the current SAP Customer Experience solutions. However, it must be said that SAP has put serious efforts and investments into these integrations in 2020. This resulted in the use cases as I described in my second blog. So, are the integrations completed, or has SAP’s focus truly changed?

From a marketing point of view, the assumption that SAP has changed their focus can be confirmed. Following their marketing communications via LinkedIn and newsletters, much attention goes to e-commerce experiences and its new customer data platform. This also appears to be the focus area for the blogs SAP is publishing via multiple channels. Are you still hesitating? Just visit sap.com and go to the Customer Experience area on the website and you will see for yourself. Also, on the website of Qualtrics, the big banner that Qualtrics is an SAP company has been removed and the SAP platform is presented as a nice-to-have plug-in.

Finally, from a financial point of view, SAP has mentioned that the transaction is not expected to have an impact on SAP’s 2020 or longer-term financial targets. Given last year’s numbers, this statement of SAP has turned out to be true. “SAP’s acquisition of Qualtrics has been a great success and has outperformed our expectations with 2019 cloud growth in excess of 40 percent, demonstrating very strong performance in the current setup,” SAP CEO Christian Klein said.

What will the future look like?

SAP CX solutions and Qualtrics combine O-data and X-data. By collecting experience data at every meaningful touchpoint, you can analyse and understand experience gaps and determine what to do about them. Your company can then automate actions across business functions to drive improvement in customer experiences.

I still believe that the addition of an XM platform such as Qualtrics is of great added value for any organisation who wants to optimize its customer experience for better business outcomes. In fact, an XM platform will give you a laser sharp insight on which touchpoints within a customer journey you may want to improve, so that CX initiatives are spot-on and outside-in. The solutions of SAP Customer Experience will support you to (automatically) act fast, scalable, and innovative. Therefore, I will continue to promote Qualtrics, despite the changed focus of SAP.

SAP itself responds accordingly: “Qualtrics has always operated with greater autonomy than other companies SAP had previously acquired. SAP intends to remain the majority owner of Qualtrics. SAP’s primary objective for the IPO is to fortify Qualtrics’ ability to capture its full market potential within Experience Management. This will help to increase Qualtrics’ autonomy and enable it to expand its footprint both within SAP’s customer base and beyond. When we launched the Experience Management category, our goal was always to help as many organizations as possible leverage the XM Platform as a system of action.”

So, let’s wait for the final decisions and let’s see how it will impact the SAP Customer Experience portfolio in the long term. In the meantime, if you want to know more about this topic, please feel free to reach out or connect via LinkedIn.

Thijs den Dikken

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