Xs and Os at Qualtrics X4 Summit
I had the good fortune to attend the Qualtrics X4 Summit in Salt Lake City last week. The Summit had an amazing star-studded list of Speakers, including:
- President Barack Obama: powerful discussion on the dedication to the mission of his cabinet and the team he assembled, coupled with the absence of individual advancement by the people he surrounded himself with over eight years in the White House.
- Sir Richard Branson: a humble visionary, who attacks the problems he has experienced firsthand while also looking to do the impossible. A simple, but powerful take-away was his statement (paraphrasing): “startups can only excel if the CEO / Founder is willing to delegate daily responsibilities and trust the team they are assembling.”
- Oprah Winfrey: if there were ever a better motivational speaker, please let me know; despite all the challenges she has faced from the earliest days in her childhood, she has continued to succeed and give back to society. It was refreshing to hear someone so successful reiterate the mantra to “be true to yourself and you will achieve success” and reminding people to not make decisions purely for money, as that will not lead to long-term success or achieving your goals.
- Bill McDermott: as the CEO of SAP (~$150.0 billion market cap) he spoke with pride of his entrepreneurial beginnings, at 16 years old he bought a local deli and built a business designed for the local high school kids who were “looking to play arcade games and get good food”, in turn his little corner store took all the business from his local rival, 1970s behemoth 7-11.
- Ashton Kutcher: I have to admit an ignorance to the workload of actors/actresses and models, and the pleasant surprise to hear Ashton extoll the benefits of working hard and that no job is beneath you. In evolving from a laborer to a model to an actor to an investor, most importantly his energy is being used as an activist to save children from exploitation and human trafficking.
- Dan Reynolds: as the lead singer of Imagine Dragons, he has seen the trials and tribulations of an unsigned band and the heights of multiple platinum albums. In an era where every song being released seems to have an Explicit Warning on it, Dan and his band are steadfastly focused on clean music and in response they are the drawing amazing crowds of both young (children) and old (parents) all the while traveling the world on what seems to be a perpetual tour. Dan does an amazing job educating his audiences on the need to bring awareness and acceptance to depression, anxiety and the value of therapists.
In addition to the opportunity to hear the stories from these amazing people, there was an extensive discussion on the powerful combination of X (experience) and O (operational) data, as illustrated by the $8.0 billion acquisition of Qualtrics by SAP. Qualtrics software focuses on experience management related to: (1) brand, (2) customer, (3) product and the most recent addition (4) employee. These four areas provide a continuous feedback loop related to all aspects of a company and take the concept of customer development well beyond product market fit and simple product iteration. This is a growing market and already gaining incredible traction. SAP on the other hand is already everywhere; take into consideration that 77% of all transactions globally are run on SAP software, they have cornered the market on operation data.
The combined entity (SAP + Qualtrics) gives us a view into how every company (start-up or established) needs to truly embrace data and eliminate bias in their business decisions. Human nature is to make excuses for negative outliers and criticize the data that does not conform to their opinion. If we want our companies to be truly successful, we need to align with the mission of the company, trust in our team, not chase the dollar rather the goal, and embrace the ground truth provided by both X (experience) and O (operational) data, no matter how difficult it may be to accept.
By the way, if you ever need some to break up the tediousness of your conference, I would highly recommend Dr. Peter Lovatt, Dance Psychologist. It is amazing how quickly he can get an 11,000-person audience engaged and raise the level of energy in only a few minutes. This is definitely worth a watch:
Dr. Peter Lovatt, Dance Psychologist Talent Summit 2018 (skip forward to the 7m00s mark)
—Mike Nugent, Managing Director