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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

'We want to be the leader in making sophisticated research simple'

Online survey software firm Qualtrics scooped $70m in private equity funding last week from investment houses Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital. We spoke to CEO Ryan Smith to find out what the company plans to do with the cash.

As private equity investments go in the MR space, it’s a pretty sizeable one. The announcement talked about the company moving its product offering “beyond market research”. But as Smith explains, survey software will still remain the cornerstone of the Qualtrics offer.

What did you mean about moving the company “beyond market research”?
The plan is to leverage the technology of the Qualtrics research suite to expand our software-as-a-service product offerings. For example, we recently released Qualtrics 360, a talent assessment tool, and Qualtrics Site Intercept, which is an online marketing and research tool that serves customer content to targeted website visitors. But market research is at the core of our business and we think we are just scratching the surface.

Where would you like to see the company, in terms of its place in the MR industry?
We want to be the leader in making sophisticated research simple, so that organisations of all types and sizes can easily collect, analyse and act on large amounts of unstructured data without programming.

In addition to supporting the do-it-yourself research model, we also offer our research suite as a platform for market research firms to offer sophisticated research to their clients. We give them the technology so they don’t have to build, host and maintain their own platforms and can focus on their core competency, which is providing cutting-edge market research.

How do you see your product suite developing?
Because we are a SaaS-based company, we can innovate quickly. We release new versions of our software every six weeks and 80% of the enhancements are based on customer feedback. So we see customers helping to drive much of the future innovation.

But take the Qualtrics 360 product I previously mentioned – that is part of an enormous market for human capital management that includes areas like workforce analytics, performance, succession and development. We are also working to enhance our offerings in advanced analytics, particularly around voice of the customer programmes and in panel management.

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