How Accurate Was SAP in Projecting Qualtrics as a Strategic Acquisition?

Executive Summary

  • What SAP said about its acquisition of Qualtrics.
  • What actually happened with the Qualtrics acquisition?

What SAP Said About its Qualtrics Acquisition

SAP made a number of highly optimistic statements about how Qualtrics would become so central to SAP’s business.

The Truth About the Qualtrics?

As we covered in the article Does SAP’s Acquisition of Qualtrics Make Any Sense?, that the acquisition both made no sense as it had little relationship to SAP’s business, and that furthermore, the acquisition price was extortionate. We classified that acquisition as ridiculous and a sign of how illogical SAP’s leadership was.

We published our article on the Qualtrics acquisition in November of 2018. This article reviewing the Qualtrics acquisition was published in May of 2020, which is close to 1.5 years after our production that the Qualtrics acquisition would fail.

At the time, compliant analysts like Josh Bersin stated the following.

The word “experience” has taken over the software market, and for good reason. In today’s digital world, if your experience isn’t good, you just don’t do business with a company. But how do you understand and manage it?

If this was true, it was because SAP made it into a “thing.” The experience economy as a concept has greatly declined in the months after this acquisition. As is typical of analysts, they presume that the executives in these companies know what the are doing. The evidence? Well, the company did it. This is found in the following quotation from Josh Bersin.

It’s clear that SAP sees a lot of opportunities here, and to me, this tells me something about scale.

It’s never easy to tell when an acquisition will pay off. It’s clear that the SuccessFactors acquisition was very successful for SAP, but there are other deals (IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa) that don’t always pan out as well.

That is a different point, but it not really true.

Few SAP ERP customers use SuccessFactors, and even if it were true, it is not a reflection of SAP’s average success ratio with acquisitions, which is quite low, as we cover in great detail in the article How Effective is SAP in its Acquisitions?

Analysts that write on SAP could never be bothered to actually itemize and rank the effectiveness of each acquisition. And as with most analysts, Josh Bersin then simply repeats statements that are made to him by SAP executives without questioning any of them.

The following is a perfect example of this.

If SAP can pull this off, they could build a set of tools that help every company behave like Amazon; deliver real-time feedback to managers about customers, prospects, and employees – in an actionable and useful way. That market is probably 10 times bigger than the “survey” market, and it leverages SAP’s expertise in data management, infrastructure, and enterprise solutions.

Misunderstanding How Amazon Gets Feedback From Customers

Amazon does not do that with survey software. They do that through how they set up their website, and how the customer responds to their website. This is something that SAP has never done and did not know how to do before Qualtrics, and still does not know how to do today (so almost a year and a half after this article was written). The person who writes this does not know how either Amazon works, how it gets customer feedback, and how surveys either have nothing to do with it, or very very little to do with it.

Josh Bersin continues..

It’s a big move and clearly, SAP has a big vision. I’ll be watching this closely and look forward to letting you know how it goes.

That is untrue.

Josh Bersin will only publish what happens if the Qualtrics acquisition happened to be successful, otherwise, as with other analysts, they will never bring up the topic again. That is how the analysts work, they make projections, where they never go back and hold themselves accountable or record their predictive accuracy. I have found this repeatedly in researching analyst writings. Did Gartner go back and measure their accuracy for what they wrote on IBM Watson as we covered in the article How Gartner Got IBM Watson so Wrong? Of course not. IT analysts follow no scientific approach and this means zero measurements of previous projections.

Denis Howlett of Diginomica did barely any analysis in his article, which of course was positive as SAP was a “partner” with Diginomica at the time. In fact, he primarily just used quotes from Josh Bersin, who as I just pointed out, was primarily just using quotes from SAP executives.

Long story short, both Josh Bersin and Denis Howlett both got the prediction wrong.

Bill McDermott was supposedly increadibly charged up to work on the future with Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith. Except he was not excited for that long, because he left SAP 11 months after Qualtrics was acquired. 

A year and a half after SAP made a big marketing push on “X and O Data” no one is talking about this concept today. 

  • Overall, I never see Qualtrics discussed in SAP projects.
  • Even with many people reaching out to the website, I have no customers or other inquires that reach out even using the term.
  • The Qualtrics acquisition has done very little for SAP.

SAP does not break out its revenue per application, therefore it is not possible to know if Qualtrics’ sales have gone up or down since the acquisition. The only real way to measure Qualtrics success is how often or much Qualtrics is part of SAP projects or discussed or of interest by SAP customers.

Conclusion and Calculation

SAP and the IT Analyst and IT Media Scores

SAP receives a 0% accuracy for its projection that Qualtrics would become a major component of SAP’s strategy. The vast majority of IT analysts also receive a 0% accuracy for the analysts listed in this article simply repeating SAP’s talking points, as does IT media which did the exact same thing (IT media entities typically rely on SAP for advertising revenues and paid placements (ads that look like articles but are actually written by the vendor)).

Brightwork Research & Analysis Score

Our forecast for what would occur with Qualtrics has proven to be correct. Therefore we have allocated a 100% accuracy for this prediction to our long term Study into SAP’s Accuracy.

Ignoring Our Accuracy

SAP resources who have a problem with our research have refused to address this accuracy list which is all supported by dated articles. They also refuse to address SAP’s incredible history of inaccuracy.

Link to the Parent Research Article

This is one of many research articles on a specific topic, that support a larger research calculation. For the overview of the research calculation for all of the SAP topics that were part of the study, see the following primary research A Study into SAP’s Accuracy.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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