Making Sense of 2020 (or at least bits of it)

Carolyn Hall

Carolyn Hall

Author Bio

An established member of the Confirmit team, Carolyn plays an integral role in promoting Confirmit’s world leading solutions for Voice of the Customer, Voice of the Employee, and Market Research programmes to its global customer base. Confirmit is dedicated to ensuring that its solutions deliver business change and value and Carolyn is instrumental in sharing best practice and thought leadership with customers, partners and the analyst community.

Author Bio

There's been a lot of activity in the world of research, insight and CX. Mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, post-acquisition IPOs, and there is more to come.

Well. It’s been quite the year so far. I think we can safely say that anyone back in 2015 who was asked the dreaded interview question “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time” didn’t get too close to the mark. With the possible exception of Bill Gates.

While the pandemic has turned the world on in its head, there’s been a lot of non-pandemic-based activity in the worlds of research, insight and customer experience (CX) too. There have been mergers, acquisitions, IPOs, post-acquisition IPOs, and there is more to come. At Confirmit, we’re part of that too, of course. We were acquired by Verdane towards the start of the year, and our subsequent merger with data visualization specialists Dapresy is now well underway.

In our (admittedly somewhat biased) opinion, the fit with Dapresy is a brilliant one. There is a huge move towards more visual forms of data consumption across pretty much every industry that uses insight (i.e. all of them). And, while our reporting solutions can do some pretty slinky things, some of the capabilities in Dapresy, such as the creation of infographics and really fancy PowerPoint automation is just amazing. Size and culture-wise, it’s all pretty ideal too. Plus, both companies have slightly weird names.

Many years ago, I worked for an analyst firm, and one of the senior analysts there used to talk about “acquisition indigestion”. He meant “the after effects of taking over companies of the wrong type or size”. Everything we’re seeing at the moment about our merger with Dapresy is that we won’t be needing to get the Tums out anytime soon!

But what about elsewhere? There have been some headline grabbing numbers flying around with some of these acquisitions, and others have been between companies of very similar sizes, so is there a chance of indigestion there? The answer is – no one can be sure, of course, but it’s worth keeping a keen eye on what is happening with any vendors you are working with. What’s the plan with the roadmap? Are any critical pieces of your solutions going to be retired? What about the people, who in most cases, are more critical than the technology itself? Often, answers won’t be available immediately (R&D people do tend to insist on having time to work on those pesky roadmaps!) but think about what is a red flag for your business. And, of course, what are the opportunities too? At this extraordinary time, there is a lot to be said for stability.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the CX and insights space is clearly looking pretty interesting to some big guys too. Huge CRM players and some company called Microsoft are getting in on the action too. It’s genuinely an exciting time. If you’re pondering a change, talk to people – analysts, peers, vendors (we can be honest, I promise), networking groups – and find out about their experiences and expectations.

In my attempts to be impartial, I’d say that with so many changes going on, there probably aren’t any truly bad decisions to be made when it comes to choosing a technology partner for insights at the moment. But – and it’s a big but (ahem), make sure you are looking at a partner, not just a vendor. Right now, partnerships are critical because it’s people who will see us through whatever comes next, not just technology. People, and maybe gin.