Qualtrics Sale Highlights Customer Experience Software

Sprinklr CEO Ragy Thomas on the emergence and consolidation of customer experience management, in the wake of SAP’s $8 billion purchase of Qualtrics. 

By Chris Nolter

Published in The Deal 

SAP SE‘s (SAP) $8 billion acquisition of Qualtrics International Inc. has focused attention on the emergence of customer experience management, a growing field that collects data and analyzes customer data and interactions to increase satisfaction and loyalty.

“SAP acquiring Qualtrics is a huge validation of the space,” said Ragy Thomas, CEO and founder of ten-year-old customer experience management company Sprinklr Inc.

Sprinklr is one of a growing number of independent companies that also target the market, as more established enterprise software powers such as Adobe Inc. (ADBE), IBM Corp. (IBM), Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and Salesforce.com Inc. (CRM) have entered customer experience management.

“When a new category, a new industry is coming out there is a lot of confusion,” Thomas said, of the new players, services and labels emerging. “We are very early both in the consolidation cycle as well as the evolution of what this industry is going to be.”

Based in New York, Sprinklr expects to exceed $250 million in 2018 sales from clients such as Allstate, McDonald’s Corp. (MCD), Microsoft, Nike Inc. (NKE), Procter & Gamble Co (PG), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Verizon Communications Inc. The company has raised $239 million, including a $105 million round led by Singaporean firm Temasek in July 2016 that gave the company a $1.8 billion valuation. Former Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) Chairman and CEO John Chambers sits on the board.

Sprinklr tracks customer experiences through 25 social media platforms, 10 messaging platforms and other public media.

“There are also 350 million other web sites, review sites, blogs, sites like Yelp! that also have public information,” said Sprinklr’s Chief Experience and Marketing Officer Grad Conn, who is a former Chief Marketing Officer for Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) U.S. commercial business. “The big head-space changer for people is to realize that you’ve got 4 billion people now online, 3 billion of them with smartphones and social accounts, and they are all broadcasting day and night about everything that is going on.”

While enterprise resource management and customer relationship management software has changed the back office, Thomas suggested digitizing and transforming the front office is one of the largest opportunities for software developers and companies, alongside the move to the large public cloud platforms.

“The cloud opportunity to move enterprise on-premises software to [Microsoft] Azure, [Amazon’s AWS cloud service], Google Cloud Platform, that is a massive opportunity that is a 15-, 20-year opportunity,” Thomas said. “The second-biggest opportunity is, I would contend, the front office.”

As the large software groups such as Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, Oracle and IBM build out their services, Sprinklr aims to be one of “three to five critical players as the dust settles,” Thomas said.”We see ourselves getting ready for life as a public company at some point in the foreseeable future,” he added, though the company does not have a time frame for an offering.

One of the larger questions for customer relationship management is whether Google, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), Facebook Inc. (FB) or international social media companies will enter what Thomas suggests is potentially a $100 billion market.

“They are all candidates and I’m pretty sure are logical contenders someday,” Thomas said.


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