Playing the data game

Playing the data game

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Data is a game changer online .  Ask Ryan Smith, CEO and Co-Founder of data-survey company Qualtrics. Few tech founders can expound the value of data in the way Smith does. “I’m fired up,” he says at the recent Qualtrics road show in London. “I’m fired up more than ever.” 

Smith was raised in a data-obsessed family with an academic father who wrote some of the first textbooks on the value of data. It was at his father’s side in the basement ‘office’ where Smith with his brother Jared absorbed data ideas and innovations years before they could come to fruition online. These ideas inspired the family to keep working and to see beyond the clunky old school programming set-up they worked on.

Maybe still the family’s spirited enthusiasm coupled with a solid knowledge how to use data that makes Smith bound onto the stage at his company’s state-of-the-art road shows. Smith has a mission. It is a mission is to bring the importance of data home to audiences and clients.

“I just knew data could change the world,” he says.

The audience had already already converted. It is populated with insight-hungry clients including big brands such as Disney and BMW. Smith who has been in the world of survey management for over 17 years has gone from learning from his father, to bootstrapping, to securing venture capital. And now he feels the future has arrived.

 Just over two years ago Qualtrics set up a new offering, launching the first customer, employee, product and brand experience all on one platform, trademarking it ‘XM’ or ‘experience management’. The platform propounds the concept that data should not only be end-to-end but should be regarded as the wellspring of a holistic ecosystem.

Following the XM launch Qualtrics, which had already successfully expanded into to Europe, intended to go public.  Yet with just days to spare in November 2018, it was acquired by German enterprise software giant SAP, for $8bn. It is now just three months in with SAP and while Qualtrics remains a separate entity with Smith as its head, there will be integration.

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