posted on 03 Apr 2015 07:38 by highacne977
SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg has rolled the dice on a new product line. (Credit: Getty Images)
When it comes to Web tools, SurveyMonkey is practically a dinosaur. Though employees at 99% of the Fortune 500 have used its online surveys and people complete 90 million of them a month, the product itself hadn't changed dramatically in years.The company hopes that has changed Thurs., as it launched a new service that will allow customers to compare their own survey results with rivals in a particular sector.
Called Benchmarks, the new product has a free and paid version, much like the SurveyMonkey main product itself. Companies that use a question SurveyMonkey has set as measurable can see the average answer for that question by opting in to share their own answer anonymously. By choosing to pay about $1,000 a year, the company can see more detailed analysis of that answer or a series of answers.
That can be automated, like when a Salesforce.com support customer automatically pings someone who has used the support service to ask them about their experience-in that case, SurveyMonkey would automatically send a survey and then provide the client with data in Salesforce on how that experience stacks up against competitors. Another major use case type, CEO Dave Goldberg says, is with internal employee satisfaction check-ups from human resources. If morale is suffering, a company can tell whether the causes might be external-difficulties in the sector or some macro concerns-or issues the company needs to specifically address.
"That's a tool that many companies pay $30,000 to $50,000 a year to do," says Goldberg. "We think it's better to survey your employees more frequently, and itopens up a market for companies to measure satisfaction who couldn't afford it."
Benchmarks isn't SurveyMonkey's first data tool: it's had a panel business, Audience, it launched in late 2011 and created an enterprise offering in Nov. 2013. But Benchmarks is by far the most ambitious product launch the company has taken in the six years that Goldberg's run the business, its first real push into comparative data instead of simply passive collection. "We are calling this the launch of SurveyMonkey 2.0," Goldberg says. "This was the product I always wanted to build, that I thought only we had the ability and data to do at this scale."
SurveyMonkey's spent years rebuilding its product's technical architecture and building out new product and data science teams to make that transition. The company hopes that Benchmarks eventually becomes a major revenue stream, though Goldberg says that won't happen until 2016 at the earliest. Goldberghopes that the product will drive up new business while also allowing it to penetrate deeper into that 99% of Fortune 500 companies it serves, since many of those are just one or several people working informally.
Early Benchmarks customers include the People's Credit Union, Jive Software, Hallmark Cards and Pivotal Labs, the software company acquired by EMC in 2012. Pivotal has been a customer since April 2014 and adopted Benchmarks at its release, looking for a more standardized approach to track customer loyalty, says Pivotal corporate strategy executive Paula Kwan. "We use the filtering features of Benchmarks to help narrow down the lens in which we want to compare our scores," Kwan says. "The results have led to some very interesting and productive discussions internally." Individual Pivotal offices can now now more reason to why their customer satisfaction scores might differ from other offices in the company and compared to rivals.
For SurveyMonkey, Benchmarks could prove the bellwether of Goldberg's tenure as CEO, the result of a major prioritization of strategy and a test of whether the company can mature past the simple surveys that give it its name. Comparative data will also move the company closer to competition with the business intelligence providers and analytics tools of other cloud software providers, from Birst to Salesforce.com, though their still survey-driven nature means it's more overlap than head-on rivalry. SurveyMonkey says it has 25 million registered survey creators today, though the majority use only the free option.
The company's future will also be judged by the success of Benchmarks as Goldberg has stayed firm about keeping SurveyMonkey private. It'sraised more than $1 billion in debt and equity since Jan. 2013 to help early employees and investors cash out, buying time to avoid the need for an IPOand giving it funds to make strategic acquisitions alongside the development of Benchmarks. Most recently, SurveyMonkeyraised $250 million in Dec. 2014. The company's reportedly valued at about $2 billion. "We wouldn't have raised that money if I had an update on IPO plans," Goldberg says. "There's no interest there."
SurveyMonkey will continue to look for data businesses for acquisition to add alongside Benchmarks, its CEO says, as it looks to build out a data platform. "This turns us from a survey tool in a platform for decision making," Goldberg says. "It's the most strategic thing we've done in our history."
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