Well, this has been a crazy month. In case you missed it, Temkin Group was acquired by Qualtrics. We weren’t able to discuss it too much, because Qualtrics was in a pre-IPO quiet period. And then SAP acquired Qualtrics. Can you say Pac-Man?!?!

A month ago, I would have provided my independent analysis of these acquisitions. I can’t do that anymore, I’m now biased. But here’s my read of the general environment that led to these moves.

Experience management (XM) isn’t new. It’s been one of the key differentiators for organizations for decades. Companies that understand their customers’ needs, engage their employees, build valuable products, and have trusted brands have been winners. Period.

What’s relatively new is that XM now has a language, which allows us to talk about it and embrace it. Now that XM is in the light, we are starting to decode its “secrets.” Platforms like Qualtrics are enabling enhanced XM capabilities, which are being tapped into by professionals who are developing more innovative and repeatable XM practices, in organizations that have increasingly XM-embracing perspectives.

It’s the perfect time to be focusing on XM!

Let’s chat about the technology for a second. In 2010, I rejected the description of this space as Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM), which was the popular moniker. Instead, I called the space Customer Insight and Action (CIA) Platforms. Managing feedback has never been a differentiator. Organizations don’t succeed by managing feedback, they succeed by taking action on insights that come from many sources, combining experience data (X-Data) and operational data (O-Data).

It’s taken a while for the vendors and practitioners to adjust to this perspective. That’s why companies are still pretty weak at taking action. But things are shifting. As you can tell from our acquisition, we believe that Qualtrics has been making the most significant strides towards this vision — helping organizations take actions based on insights.

As Qualtrics becomes more of an action-enabler across an organization, it moves from a niche technology to a fundamental component of enterprise architecture. As a matter of fact, it’s likely to evolve into one of the most important elements of an enterprise’s technology stack. Why? Because it’s enabling XM, which we’ve already seen is a key differentiator.

To bring this story full circle, I need to go back more than 15 years when my team at Forrester Research was responsible for covering the CRM market, which included SAP. In 2002, I won a research award for my report called Forget CRM, Focus On The Customer Experience. I argued that widespread disappointing results for CRM were a result of a pure technology-orientation, and that companies needed to focus more on developing practices and perspectives that used the technology to better serve customers.

Maybe I should have also predicted the Temkin Group, Qualtrics, and SAP moves back in 2002. Alas, I’m just happy to be a part of bringing XM to life in 2018.