A Love Letter to Qualtrics

On January 31, 2019, in Editorial Advisory Board, Erin Spencer, HRExaminer, by Erin Spencer

 
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I love Qualtrics.

Really. If it’s possible to love software I do. I’m Qualtrics Certified. When I heard about their IPO I told my financial planner that I wanted stock, I never buy single stocks. I’m a believer.

I was disappointed when I heard that SAP purchased Qualtrics for $8 billion. Not because I don’t think that’s an interesting partnership, but because I wanted to invest in their dream and would no longer be able to buy in.

I started at Sierra-Cedar in April of 2014, and the Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey was hard coded by a programmer. Stacey Harris (VP of Research and Analytics) promised me a survey tool to do the analysis and deployment.

We looked at other survey tools but to duplicate the design the only option was Qualtrics. The analysis and reporting capabilities, even 4 years ago, were immense.

After the hard coded 2014 Survey closed I got to work importing the data into Qualtrics. I programmed the Survey. I then changed all of the text responses received into corresponding numbers to import the data. It was an ugly process. I’d call support at midnight with questions and everyone was unfailingly polite and encouraging. And the software worked. I could do my analysis inside the tool instead of using pivot tables.

Since then the Survey process has gone smoothly and to say that I couldn’t do my job without Qualtrics is not an exaggeration.

In addition to the practical experience, I’ve attended 4 of the 5 Qualtrics user conferences. This has allowed me to experience the evolution of their thinking and product design almost from the beginning.

The first I attended, but the second held, was in 2015 at the Grand America hotel in Salt Lake City. It’s a beautiful venue. The conference had about 1,000 attendees, enough to talk to new people daily, but not so many that you felt overwhelmed. The ballrooms were split, one for the mainstage, one for the meals, and breakout rooms were crowded but not full.

The 2016 conference had more attendees, and an insights theme. They wanted to focus on using Survey tool to help organizations make better business decisions. Qualtrics was on to something now, the idea of a data driven organization, and their tool was going to provide that business data and insights.

The 2017 event involved meals in the parking garage because all of the hotel space was needed for the mainstage. Breakout rooms were standing room only. But this event focused on experience data. How do you improve products for customers? Qualtrics figured out the shift from the use of data for better business decisions to using data to influence consumer behavior.

The 2018 event was held in the downtown Salt Lake City convention center. It wasn’t big enough. The Grand America hotel couldn’t accommodate the 6,800 attendees; every hotel room in Salt Lake City was sold out. The crush of people attending main stage sessions was astounding. Internally, event staff turned away attendees from breakout rooms citing fire code regulations. The company names of attendees read like a Who’s Who for the Fortune 500 and the Wall Street Journal.

I attend a number of software vendor user conferences every year; Qualtrics is just different. Barnaby (the dog) is on a leash walking through the halls. There’s a “Dream Team” that wants to fulfill your wishes, from the outrageous to the practical to the absurd. The speakers are all amazing – Lin-Manual Miranda (Hamilton) and Arianna Huffington anyone? For 2019 Oprah and President Obama will be speaking.

The type of company Qualtrics is can’t be faked long-term. The vision, the mentality, the drive are the type of culture companies dream of building and Qualtrics has it. Most importantly, all of the individuals I’ve encountered in my journey care about people.

Qualtrics is selling a dream. And delivering on that dream with a product that’s powerful yet user friendly. I don’t know what the partnership between SAP and Qualtrics will ultimately produce. I can’t tell you if SAP overpaid or underpaid for Qualtrics. But I do know that if I was willing to live in Utah I’d want to join their team to play a part in what they’re bringing to the market.
 



 
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