Business

Survey maker Qualtrics simplifies employee assessments

Above: Ryan Smith, chief executive of Qualtrics.

Image Credit: Jordan Novet
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Cloud-based surveying software vendor Qualtrics today launched a service for assessing employee performance, Qualtrics 360, bolstering the company’s toolbox for easily generating and analyzing data.

Introducing the product to the company’s customer base, which includes 5,000 enterprises along with smaller businesses and universities, will surely increase the load on Qualtrics’ infrastructure. The company has been adding servers at its five data centers in anticipation of the change, and it has sent a team to Dublin to find room for more capacity, chief executive Ryan Smith told VentureBeat.

But instead of pushing it as a standalone offering, Smith depicts Qualtrics 360 as a way to round out the product line. The standard Qualtrics service lets companies make whatever kinds of surveys they want, to measure customer sentiment, conduct market research, and target online content for marketing purposes. Now they can turn to Qualtrics for yet another service — figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of their employees, and getting feedback from them.

Smith shares with other cloud executives this vision of turning his company into a full-blown platform. He speaks highly of LinkedIn, which has not only concluded the cold-call era but has also created a vast talent database for recruiters and even served up something of a media wire for people’s business contacts. In other words, a company and its employees have multiple ways to engage with LinkedIn every day. Smith wants to do something similar with Qualtrics.

“All data within the organization is on one platform, and that’s what we’re helping people do,” he said.

Qualtrics 360 is similar to previous company releases by virtue of how little time it takes to implement and analyze results. What’s more, the new product can yield better results by capturing thoughts from a larger pool of respondents. Crate and Barrel, one beta user of Qualtrics 360, came up with a 97 percent completion rate for an employee assessment, Smith said. “It saved 75 percent more time than their previous provider for the managers,” he said, although he declined to identify that previous provider. It also cost less money, Smith said. Less time spent translates to less money spent, thereby opening up the door for more frequent assessments and more up-to-date data.

Qualtrics has also been testing out its new product on its own employees, and findings have caused executives to change course on some initiatives. They learned some employees didn’t get so much out of Friday afternoon company-wide meetings and decided to move them to Thursday mornings and limit them to a half-hour, Smith said. The company began giving free healthcare and complete premium coverage to all employees, instead of paying a portion with regular deductions from paychecks. “Everyone is like, ‘Qualtrics has done some innovative things,’ but we’re not doing it blindly,” Smith said.

The Qualtrics 360 launch is a big deal for the company. No announcements are slated for the near future. Having taken on a sizable Series A round in the amount of $70 million last year, the company merely wants to broaden adoption of its services now, not make trivial incremental updates. “We believe in this nail-it-before-you-scale-it model,” Smith said.

Going public could become a viable option as the company takes in more and more money, Smith said. Leaders could start thinking about the idea next year, he said.


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