SAP has been on an acquisition binge in recent years (SuccessFactors, Hybris, Ariba, Concur, Fieldglass, CallidusCloud, Gigya, and others) — a marked departure from SAP’s build-it-all strategy of the past. Qualtrics is the latest — and largest — in this shopping spree. Like many of the other acquisitions, Qualtrics will roll up into the Cloud Business Group headed by Robert Enslin.

Key takeaways for SAP customers:

  • This move is another major signal that SAP is serious about winning in the customer space: now to the tune of an additional $8B on top of what it already has invested both organically and inorganically. It comes in the same year that SAP announced its C/4HANA strategy and acquired CallidusCloud and comes about 14 months after its acquisition of Gigya. Today’s Qualtrics customers likely make use of other CRM solutions — but that is nothing new for SAP, given that many of its customers already use at least one other CRM solution somewhere.
  • Customers should look to see Qualtrics embedded into other products (such as SuccessFactors and C/4HANA) rather than think about it as a standalone buy. The real power and potential lies in SAP’s ability to use Qualtrics (and Gigya) to create differentiated business applications across the major functions of the enterprise (ERP, HR, CRM, and supply chain). For example, SAP could embed more experience management into SuccessFactors to evolve beyond HCM and into real employee experience — and to try to create competitive advantage versus key alternatives such as Workday and Oracle HCM Cloud.
  • The benefits to SAP customers will not be significant in the short term — but the disruption will be. Creating value out of this acquisition — for itself and for customers — will not be an easy journey. Plus, SAP has long struggled in the customer space and still has work to do to capture the hearts and minds of business executives responsible for customer applications (including CRM, CX, and commerce solutions). It will be a tough task piling on this hefty acquisition with all of the other major organizational and brand changes related to cloud and customer already in flight.