Recently we wrote about the implication of the QuestionPro and Digsite M&A deal, calling it a key signal in the next phase of the “Platformification of QualiQuant“. In this latest entry in the CEO series of interviews I dive deeper with Vivek Bhaskaran of QuestionPro and Monika Rogers of Digsite, exploring their thinking on what synergies will be unlocked by them joining forces, the challenges of integration, and the broader implications for the industry as the line between qual and quant blurs further driven by technology platforms.
This is a fun and insightful conversation that I am sure you will enjoy. Perhaps more importantly, it delivers a rare insider look into how technology leaders are assessing opportunities and making moves to create new models for research.
This text has been edited for clarity.
Lenny Murphy: Hello, everybody. It’s Lenny Murphy here, with another in our interview series, separate from our podcast. Interviews gives us an opportunity to really dive in, in a different format on very specific topics, usually with people that are involved in making things happen in the industry, rather than kind of general topics, so just for those that follow both, you’ll understand the difference. And you’ll understand why I have that lead-in here in a minute because we are talking to two major trendsetters in the research industry, two movers and shakers. Vivek Bhaskaran, CEO of QuestionPro. Hey, Viv.
Vivek Bhaskaran: How’s it going? Thank you for having me, Lenny.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah, always good to talk to you. And Monika Rogers from… [laugh] Digsite. I’m so sorry. It’s early, guys, as we record this, and I’m not fully caffeinated, so apologies for that. Monika, welcome.
Monika Rogers: Good morning.
Lenny Murphy: Thanks [laugh]. It’s the joy of doing this live without a net, right? So, we get brain farts and all. Anyway, welcome, Viv and Monika. For those that follow the news, just a few weeks ago, it was announced that the QuestionPro had acquired Digsite.
And I wrote a blog post on that, on the platformification of quant and qual and how we’re—you know, that deal, I think is the first modern deal of showing the power of pulling those two together. Before we get into that—I’m getting ahead of myself—for those who don’t know Viv and Monika, why don’t you guys tell everybody a little bit about you, and then we’ll get into the company stuff. So, ladies first. Monika?
Monika Rogers: Sure. So, my background is in my research for 20-plus years. I started my career at General Mills and Pillsbury back in the day. Worked a bit on the agency side, ran the A.C. Nielsen Center for Market Research at UW Madison, and then started my own brand consulting practice. And that’s really kind of the culmination of that got me thinking about tech and the future of the insights industry at a point in time when qualitative research had less than 20% usage online. And so, I decided to go venture out and start my own tech company and founded Digsite in 2014.
Lenny Murphy: Awesome, thank you. Viv?
Vivek Bhaskaran: Hi. My background is actually in software computer engineering. And I’ve been running QuestionPro since 2005, so it’d been a while. I started in my garage in Seattle in 2005. But today, we are about 250 employees globally. We do about, almost—we’re a research platform; we do about ten millions responses per week, across the entire planet. We have, what, 6000 clients across the globe. So, it’s been quite a ride all these years.
Lenny Murphy: It has been. I remember meeting you in, was it 2009, 2010—
Vivek Bhaskaran: Yeah.
Lenny Murphy: In New York City?
Vivek Bhaskaran: Yeah.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah, we were hanging out in the bar at the W Hotel, and P. Diddy was in the background. And you and I both
kind of geeking out, like, well, we’re hanging out, and here’s P. Diddy. So anyway, [laugh] so we go back a long way.
All right. So now, here we are all these years later for all of us. And obviously QuestionPro has ridden the wave of technology from a quant standpoint. You’ve always been one of the leaders, early push on mobile. Remember back in the day, you were one of the first companies to really dive into that and become mobile-first.
And Monika, yes, online qual. We were waiting for something to happen and then here came 2020, right, and that changed the game for online qual as well. So, now we’re several years past that and the defining trend, in my view at least, is, you know, technology, everyone’s over the technology adoption hump, overall. I mean, market research today is a technology industry, period. End of story, from a—and certainly from a methodological standpoint.
We still do other stuff that’s not necessarily technology-driven, of course, but when we talk about the size of the industry, we talk about annual turnover, the makeup of the constituents, we are primarily talking about technology-based companies that are leveraging a variety of tools to drive greater efficiency to speed insight. Would you agree with that overall assessment?
Vivek Bhaskaran: Nothing to disagree there [laugh]. Nothing to disagree there.
Monika Rogers: Yeah.
Lenny Murphy: Okay. All right. So, now we’re all in the same framework. Now, my view has been that although there’s been efforts over the years to combine quant and qual in a platform, even back in, you know, the early days in—when I—2005. You know, there were some plays, but nothing reached scale and it was really kludgy, and it was just not a good experience across the board, and it just didn’t take off.
And yes, there are industry-leading companies out there that have integrated offerings, but I wouldn’t necessarily think that they are integrated solutions, you know, with some exceptions. I mean, there’s some companies that are certainly playing in the same arena. But what struck me about this deal was—and knowing both of you in the past—that I knew you were not going to do this because you were just going to, you know, bind together two platforms that would still remain separate, that in doing this, that it would be a real integration to unlock synergy, right? Not one plus one equals two, but one plus one equals, you know, three or four. So, can you talk a little bit about what that vision looks like for achieving that unlocking of synergy through the integration of quant and qual capabilities? Who wants to go first?
Vivek Bhaskaran: I can go. So yeah, I mean I think you’re right in terms we’ve seen deals in the past where, you know, companies have bought each other, the recent one that comes to mind is Decipher and, kind of, FocusVision, kind of, merging together. And our vision, when I met with Monika, is that, like, look, we’ve been doing surveys on communities from a quant management and things like that for a long time, and we’re deeply entrenched in that. And therefore, we actually don’t know a lot of what Monika has done. So, that’s something that even if we tried to do it all by ourselves, we are, you know, I think we are not qual researchers, by definition, you know?
We’ve been doing—so the way we think is completely different, I think—not completely or somewhat different, and we’ve not gone through that exercise. So, that’s why, you know, it’s not just merging of two companies; we are going to rebuild the platform, effectively, rebuild the platform, integrate that into our system. So, that’s why we are making a significant investment.
Monika Rogers: Yeah, and that’s what was really exciting to me. Yeah. Because what I saw in all of this is that qualitative technology has become critical in organizations. They, you know, and as you said, Lenny, the pandemic really changed the nature of this recognition that, you know, what all of our models are broken [laugh], we better understand our people. And that’s going to be how we forecast, right, is to understand all of the people that are going to be involved in growing our business.
And I think when you try to scale, you know, a bunch of one-on-one interviews, it becomes pretty difficult. And so, our technology has been an enabler, but also this, kind of like, multi-touchpoint thing, I want to do some discussion, and some IDIs and some—and I want to scale it up. And you know, what we started, it was like, 25 people. And then it was 50. And then it was 75. And then it was like 200.
So, it kind of kept getting to where people wanted to scale up the qual. And then you hit that threshold and all of a sudden, all the things that Vivek’s team is experts at come to play, right, stat testing, and being able to do, kind of, advanced functionality. And so, we started to build all of that into Digsite, with a recognition that it would be a huge uphill battle for us to reinvent [laugh] quantitative research in our platform. And so, I think this kind of merging of the two is a really cool opportunity because of the fact that our clients are looking for that best, most efficient way to scale up learning, regardless of what label you want to put on it.
Lenny Murphy: Now, that’s a great point. That is—and I think that is definitely—it’s becoming mo—it’s always been true, but I think it’s becoming more blatantly obvious that as the industry has evolved, that the client-side focus is no longer on methodology. You know, there was certainly a time when all of us came up, you know, that we had to think methodologically. But all the indications are the clients are just interested in answering the business question in the most effective way they possibly can. And methodologies are just a means to an end and clients are rebelling against the limitations of that methodological focus, right?
They want to be able to do everything at scale to gain the appropriate insight and the knowledge inputs needed, across the board. Now, but Monika, from your background on the client side, does that resonate with you and say, “Well, yeah, Lenny, like that was true 20 years ago.” And maybe, you know, is it—have you seen that change and grow and just being blatantly apparent as I’ve observed?
Monika Rogers: Yeah. So, I think there’s a kind of underlying change on the client side that’s driving this as well. And that is, you know, what I was—you know, back in the day, on client brand teams, I mean, we just, like, called up Agency A at Agency B and, you know, and that’s how we got work done, right? And there was—I mean, General Mills had an in-house research team, so we went out, we were one of the first companies to go do ethnographies in homes. You know, we were kind of out there pioneering.
I did a conjoint, you know? I, like, designed and built the conjoint at General Mills in-house, right? So, there was a lot of in-house kinds of things happening there. But industry-wide, that wasn’t typically the—you know, that wasn’t the norm. And most researchers just wanted to, you know, they wanted to be the go-between, between the agency and the client.
But when you bring in Agile methodologies, that doesn’t work because the timeline to the decision is two weeks, right? And by the time you get the contract signed with the agency, two weeks is gone. So, you had to change your thinking. And I think this platform kind of play is also an opportunity for clients who say, “I’m going to have this relationship that is beyond the project. I’m going to have this relationship, that is the way that I learn.”
My team in-house is going to learn, and they’re going to be involved in that data collection in a whole different way because the insights can happen instantly, right? So, same thing with personalization and marketing is happening in research. We need to, like, have the insight—poof—at that moment that the data is being collected, not some period of time later. And I think that’s partially what’s changed the nature of clients’ interest in getting their hands dirty in tech, they don’t necessarily want to have to do all the heavy lifting themselves, but they need the instant access.
Lenny Murphy: Yep. Now, that brings up an interesting topic as well. I think more from a kind of a macro trend standpoint, right—Viv, you can certainly appreciate this—when we look at the capital markets, right, for years, they avoided the research industry because no pure play SaaS platform—meaning without a service capability—has ever truly succeeded at the enterprise level. Every company that reaches real scale has a service layer. Certainly, that’s true in quant. Absolutely, I would say true in qual, right, as we bucket those together.
Now, interestingly, we have seen—I talk to investors all the time from kind of an industry perspective and they have now recognized that the—in our industry, you can be a SaaS platform and you have a service component as well, and it’s okay. And they’re increasingly making those investments now. So, bringing in the qualitative component, how is that shaping your thinking around services as well, and leveraging next? Because, Viv, I know you’ve had them, but you’re always kind of held your nose, were like, “Agh, I really don’t want to have much service.” [laugh]. But there we go to fully unlock for clients who don’t want to do the heavy lift, you’re going to have some pieces. So yeah, Viv, what do you think?
Vivek Bhaskaran: Yeah, I mean, yeah, I mean, I think the—I want to touch on a little bit what Monika said with respect to—I mean, I think the speed to insights—I call it speed to insights—I think that is the driving macro trend that is out there, really. So—and going back to your question around capital markets, you know, obviously, from evaluations perspective, service, you know—almost it’s not only in market research, but I think even in other areas, you know, 20, 30%, or even as high as 40% of your revenue will come from services, as long as your top line revenue is growing, actually it doesn’t even matter. Almost, if you look at even like, you know, HubSpot and you know, martech stack, and even sales stack, Salesloft and all those guys, all of them either have a huge partner ecosystem or an integrated service delivery layer that is kind of baked into their platform. So, I think it’s obvious to me like that, you know, we’re not saying that we don’t have any service delivery; so we’ll have a combination of internal service delivery and a partner network, which is what, you know, Digsite has. Digsite has an amazing partner network and an internal service delivery, also, and a platform.
So that’s, I think, the combination. It’s stacking those three components up. You have to have the platform, then you have a sort of delivery layer, that’s internally for, kind of, your largest clients, and so on, and then you’ve got to have a partner network that can take over some of the delivery work when we are not suited for it. So, I think that’s my vision, and I think, again, from a capital and frankly, from a valuation perspective, that actually fits in well. Because even everybody has realized that without that growth, you know, growth—and retention; most importantly retention.
So, service delivery is really important for retention. So, every once in 120% NRR, and the only way you can—not only way. One of the ways you can get that kind of retention from clients is to make sure that you are delivering a cumulative service; not just the platform, but the service on top of that. So, that is our intention. Now, I’ve actually learned a lot from Monika in terms of how they’ve structured their platform as well as service delivery.
It’s more pronounced in qual, I think, obviously. It’s more pronounced in qual in terms of having that service delivery integrated, as well as having, kind of, the partner network is an important element. And actually, we’re going to continue down that path and we just want to scale that up a lot more than in terms of what we are doing. And from a tech perspective, we are going to kind of really integrate it. We won’t keep Digsite as a separate business unit.
No, it’s going to be part of our solution, part of everything that we’re doing, it’s just going to, like, fully integrated and we’re, kind of, investing heavily into the tech platform. And then I also want to talk about, like, you know, I think, you know, in terms of what people are looking for, like, okay, you have a quant solution, you have and integrated qual solution; we also believe that there’s got to be an integrated, kind of, repository modeling, baked into either you partner heavily with a deep connection, but because all these insights, you know, having these Ad Hoc insights, kind of, flow through into a repository, and/or a knowledge graph, and/or a knowledge management system, I believe is going to create tremendous value for insights teams, you know, in from a structural perspective. So, that’s at least kind of my vision around that.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah. Yeah, totally agree.
Monika Rogers: One of the things I was going to mention was just, when we started Digsite, there was definitely this feeling, like you know, because I came out of consulting, like, “Okay, you need to get rid of that consulting firm.” So, I sold the consulting firm, you know, just focused a hundred percent on tech. And then we were going to go a hundred percent external [clear throat] partners, and you know, went out to QRCA and met, you know, got 35 different qualitative folks, like, certified on Digsite. But I think ultimately, what we learned was that there needed to be, as Vivek said, there needs to be a partnership with that client, and there needs to be an experience that your customers get that has continuity.
And if you just have a partner network and you don’t have any internal component, you can’t really create an experience that’s the same across projects and clients. And I think that’s where we kind of found that, kind of, right balance between being able to scale quickly with, you know, having a partner network and having that internal layer that’s just enough to make sure that that client gets a great experience every time, that they’re onboarded, that they’re taken care of, and that they can leverage the insights in their decision-making and don’t just fall back to [laugh] we need to hire an agency for this, you know?
Lenny Murphy: Yeah. No, I totally agree. And you guys both know, we’re relaunching Savio, that gig network for the industry, with the absolute awareness that any—you know, we’re talking to you, Viv, so I hope that we can do that, but that client service component, that has to stay in-house, right? That’s what’s most important for that relationship you’re talking about Monika. I mean, you know, we’ve been outsourcing different parts of the research process for the [laugh] entire industry, right? That’s nothing new.
The mechanics how we do that may change, but that client relationship, managing that client relationship, being there, partnering with them, is only something that the company itself can do. You know, other stuff is just, you know, you’re just hiring people to do other related tasks, but you never outsource the client relationship itself. Is that, kind of, your—
Monika Rogers: Well—
Lenny Murphy: —experience, Monika, with—
Monika Rogers: —yeah. And I think, you know, the other piece that Viv mentioned, kind of the layering on the knowledge repository is important, too, in the sense that we were having, you know, at the point where you where this merger happened, and I think, you know, we’ll burgeon as Viv and team get more into it, was this idea of being able to, like you know, benchmark across studies, or make comparisons, or look at data in different ways. And I think, you know, we were just at the beginnings of that, and seeing that they’ve already had that technology, I think that, you know, very much is an opportunity to realize the vision that a lot of companies have, which is, “I want to do research, I want to do the right research, but I want to be able to really compare and learn and iterate, and to do that I need to be able to access and understand how all the different data in the ecosystem—what I have and how it relates to each other.” And so, I think that that is kind of another really cool build that I don’t think the industry has had to date.
Lenny Murphy: No. Totally agree. And actually, this brings up an interesting question. So, to do that—and 100% agree that that is the path to go and what clients want. On purely pragmatic levels, getting through procurement, you know, is just such a heinous experience [laugh] so often, so you know, clients want everything in one place if they can because it’s just easier from an administrivia perspective [laugh], often, right, to manage it right there
But that, it brings up the question then around usability, of unlocking more value and speed and efficiency and usability within the data itself. Which brings us to utilizing text analytics, or video analytics, and, you know, nonconscious measurement, and AI, and all of those tools, right, that are developing really quickly. I mean, even, you know, text analytics, I’ve been involved with text analytics for years, and some of the new companies that I have identified just in the last year or so, are lightyears beyond the stuff that I was working on with folks, you know, even five, six years ago, in terms of ease-of-use and the ability to really extract information rapidly and without a lot of training, which just unlocks more value. So—sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox—so as you look at this, that piece of moving towards unlocking value overall of data, being that data repository, are you looking at, kind of, back-end solutions to either build or acquire to make that happen? And is there anything that you’re particularly excited about that may help make that happen? So, Viv?
Vivek Bhaskaran: Yeah. Yeah, I think having, just having—pick a simple use case, like, I want to search through every project we’ve done regarding a particular construct, right? Regarding, you know, regarding millennials and I’ve talked with clients and, like, “Do you have a mechanism?” And it’s not that we only do one kind of studies against a particular construct, right? So, in a platform like ours, yeah, we can search to every single piece of data regarding, you know, regarding a particular construct within our system, okay, within—and now, with Digsite, we want to extend that, obviously into that.
So, it’s a simple use case, like, “What do we know about X,” all right, given X can be anything from, you know, how people eat to millennials to whatever it is, and we’ve done 50 projects or 100 projects over the last, we’ve done—we’ve spent, you know, so many millions of dollars over the last three years, and people don’t answer that question, honestly. When I talk to most of my clients, like, “Oh well, we know exactly what we’ve done with you. Then we use user testing, then you do this, you do this, you do this.” And I think that is a huge area of opportunity that, you know, at least we partially will solve with the Digsite deal, realistically, right? So, I really believe that having access to that deep data, right, so it’s not just, like, “Hey, I have a”— most people take it into the PowerPoint presentation, okay, yes, you can put it on SharePoint drive, you can search through that, really, but really going down to the level of I want to know everything about every response from every survey as well as every conversation I’ve had, in a moderated focus group somewhere, right?
And we will sort through that, and you know, go through that process, really, right? And I think that is a huge amount of data that’s kind of siloed out, effectively, right now, right? It’s inside systems, you know. And these systems are not necessarily either exposed—and it’s tough to expose all the API across the system. It’s a massive, kind of, fundamental data processing problem, realistically.
So, getting—you know, yes, we may expose some data, but we may not expose all the data to everybody, realistically, right? So, I think it’s important. That at least my thought process and that’s why I’m, kind of, baking our insights help platform, which is kind of a repository solution, into it because it’s got to have deep connections into it, right? So, we need to, you know, just from a search perspec—I take a simplest example, I just want to search through all the data I have. That’s it. It’s not that complicated, realistically, right?
So, but it is complicated because, you know, there are eight different tools or five different tools people are using, five different kind of use cases, and therefore, in each of these and, you know, having an API—yes, you’re going to have an API layer, but it’s not happening right now. It does not happen today, right? That’s why Snowflake was born; because these things existed, like, in the non-market research context. It’s a tough problem inside the non-market research context, having access. That’s why people put everything into Snowflake, and then you can search through Snowflake to everything that you want to do really, right?
But that’s a massive effort, right, to put every piece of data from all the systems into Snowflake. And then you have a, you know, cloud warehouse and then you can sort through that. So, we are attempting to solve that within the market research, within the insight state. And I’m—you know, within the insight state, you know, I think, obviously, we’re taking quant and qual and all the capabilities that we have, and with the insights hub repository, we can do things like tagging and searching into that. And naturally from there, comes kind of more advanced off like NLP, in terms of what is available.
So, all the text data that we have, you know, within the surveys and the comments and the text data that we have, in all the qualitative discussions. Yes, they are there in different contexts when we collected the data, but from an execution perspective, from an analysis perspective, they need to be merged together, they—at least they could be merged together. So, that’s the power that I think this integration will unlock. And I’m one hundred percent committed to, kind of, not keeping these things separate, but like, really getting the data flows in there. Otherwise, it doesn’t solve—yes, we could claim that we have a core platform and that’s about it, and sell more of it, but realistically, that’s not going to—you know, it that data integration doesn’t happen, then we’ve done the same thing that, you know, frankly, FocusVision and Decipher did not—never kind of, you know, never plugged the deep data into a similar system that is searchable, indexable, taggable. And so, that’s at least—it’s a little bit of a heavy lift, not a huge heavy lift, but there’s definitely a lift in terms of technology, but I think we are up to the challenge and we are going to go for it.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah. You know, so not to name drop, but you know, I look at these companies all the time and there’s a few in what you describe. I think that Lucy AI, if you look at Lucy, their search capabilities across all content is just really amazing. You know, like, down to, “Hey, any mentions of yogurt,” to go to the video, [laugh] right, and say, “Here’s the point in the video they’re talking about yogurt.” It’s really cool.
KnowledgeHound, obviously a big fan of KnowledgeHound, but you know, we used it for GRIT as well. And they’re wonderful and awesome to get to that data integration point, but the process of loading all of that in—and I think that’s true for many of the knowledge management systems, the setup can just be a challenge. So, it’s always made more sense to me to have that done at the platform level where you’re just it doing automatically and then unlocking those capabilities and looking across. And then recently, a text analytics company—well, two—Canvs is pretty cool, and then Yabble, doing some pretty amazing stuff as well. And here’s why I mention those companies, is what I hear from you in my mind because I think in terms of other companies and resources, what are those things combined look like, right, if that was one integrated solution, foundationally built into the server layer for the data collection platform, and how amazing that could be to unlock those capabilities.
And you know, there’s no one else that I know of that has that. I think everybody’s kind of chasing it; this isn’t a unique vision; everybody kind of gets it. I think to win is the one who does it best and easiest, with the focus on the easy because that really is the challenge, so often, with utilizing these tools. It’s such a heavy lift to make them usable, to build them from, to your point, API integrations, et cetera, et cetera, it’s a big investment, takes a lot of time. But if you can build that out of the gate so it’s just a default capability within your platform, now, that’s a game changer, at least in my perspective. So, Monika, I want to be conscious of time as well.
Lenny Murphy: And also—
Vivek Bhaskaran: —really quickly—
Lenny Murphy: Go ahead. Go ahead. Oh, lost you, Viv.
Vivek Bhaskaran: Yeah, really quickly. I know you mentioned—sorry. Can you hear me now? So yeah, really quickly, in terms of KnowledgeHound, I have talked to Dr. Christie at length in terms of combining.
So, I really believe that. I mean, you know, obviously, we’ve not been able to come to terms, but I am a big fan of what Christie has done with KnowledgeHound and I think that, yes, even today, like, it’s a great solution, but it’s like a lot of work to get the data into KnowledgeHound, really, simply put, right? If it’s a lot of work, it’s just not going to happen. That’s it, you know? It is, it is—you know, you have to download data at this point, there are some API integrations. But you know, the deep API integrations, in terms of all the information that’s available, it’s only a subset of the information, typically, that’s available that is even exposed, frankly, for most platforms; it’s not necessarily every single piece.
But we are adding more capabilities, you know? Looking deep into some analysis, we did, and that’s part of our system. Then exposing that is not necessarily, you know, frankly, top-of-mind on our side, which means it’s not going to be available in a lot of other systems, realistically. So, I am a strong believer, like, look, these datasets has to be going to, like, at point of collection, and then at that point—same thing you could even argue about, you know, text analytics, right? A lot of people download the text and push it into some other system. Yes, it’s kind of there.
And that is a barrier to adoption, that’s a barrier to execution, realistically. So, imagine the, you know, that’s why I think Qualtrics bought Clarabridge because that was kind of the integration from the data collection perspective, and then you have Clarabridge, kind of, doing the analytics as part of it. So, those are the, kind of like—you know, and then that yields, as you said, ease-of-use and ease-of-execution from the client’s perspective. If that’s not there, then it’s always going—you know, asking clients to download and upload data, this is 2022; it’s just simply not feasible. , on a project level, but not at a system level, if you will.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah, no, I agree. Now, and Monika, from your perspective to the—is we’re—sorry, Viv and I went real geeky there for a few minutes talking about the, you know oh, cool, exciting tech. The, I think, qualitative brings this issue into focus more than almost anything else, right, I mean because it has been more siloed; each project is fairly unique. So, what’s your experience with this idea of the need for data integration and in your vision, on how we unlock that real value between both the qualitative projects and the quantitative projects, based on your client experience?
Monika Rogers: Yeah, I think what we kind of saw as part of the path forward, to Viv’s point, is if you can collect the qual and quant data in the same platform, then you have the capability to do analysis across studies. And so, what we were looking at and what we built into Digsite was, you know, some of that natural language processing, text analytics, video analysis tools, right, searchable libraries. And we were looking at this though, as a way that clients could access through benchmarking. So, we could take and have, as Viv mentioned, we had kind of this idea where you could walk certain questions, that you could repeat across studies and then you could actually do a direct comparison analysis like you would with quant, with quant arrays. So, building some of those capabilities in, but allowing the flexibility for not every question to be locked, right?
So, you think of that tracking study that you can never change, right? Really trying to think about the pieces where you can have some quant, some qual in the same study, somethings locked, somethings custom, and yet have that analysis and comparison across waves or across concepts, even within the same study be able to be done, even with qual data. So, you have an image markup of Concept A and an image markup of Content B, two sets of open-ended responses, but you could actually look at the ratings and the valuations of those side by side in an analysis without having to export the data, you know, go into another platform, or throw it in Excel, but you could actually see it on a dashboard on screen and then export a PowerPoint slide and present it [laugh]. And I think that kind of, you know, like you said, kind of the easy button for being able to do that kind of work is what’s needed for clients to be able to effectively use these platforms. They don’t want to put stuff into Excel.
They—almost like there’s two different kinds of researchers. There’s the researchers that like to take Digsite data into Excel and the researchers who love the dashboarding and PowerPoint exports. And I think we had to find a way to satisfy both of those needs, right?
Lenny Murphy: Yeah, yeah. Well, and one of the, I think, the holy grail that we get to with this unlocking data integration is also well, then we don’t have to ask the question, you know? So, “We just asked this last month over here. We have this data. Why are we asking this again?” So.
And that brings up a whole other topic of, you know, sample and why do we ask screeners when—blah, blah, blah. We’ll save that for another day. So, [laugh] anyway, we are recording this on Friday morning on October 7th. It is early, so I want to make sure that everybody gets a chance to go get some coffee and [laugh] do all of that. I obviously need some as well, considering the number of flubs that I’ve made during this interview. So, anything else that you want to share with the audience or mention on, kind of, things to watch over the next few months?
Monika Rogers: One thing I’ll mention is just the fact that we’re all tech companies. I don’t mean that in sense of the suppliers or providers or, you know—but all of the clients, everybody, you know, whether it’s a General Mills, or—we’re all tech companies; we’re all becoming tech companies at some level, right? And so, I think that needs to be recognized in all of this as well, is that, you know, the integration isn’t just qual and quant. It’s user experience, it’s customer experience, it’s every type of tech need that these clients have, as well. And that’s a really important part of this platformification concept, Lenny, that you mentioned, and I think part of the vision moving forward as well.
Lenny Murphy: Great. Yep, totally agree. Viv, final thoughts from you?
Vivek Bhaskaran: You’ll see, more and more, I think in the next few months, see more and more consolidation, I would say. There’s, like, lots of, kind of, point solutions versus platform solutions, and point solutions are going to get integrated into platform solutions. That’s a trend. I mean, it’s not even a new trend, quite frankly. It’s been happening for, you know, four or five years now, three years, maybe.
So, that’s going to [unintelligible 00:38:11]—that’s going to accelerate rather. And then I think—and then you will see—and because of unlocking value, really. That’s the reason; it’s not because, you know, they want to be bigger. It’s just like you’re actually going to connect the dots together, so that’s the reason people do it. So, that’s the trend that I see.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah, totally agree. And there’s a lot of dry powder out there in the capital markets, particularly in private equity. And, you know, in last, you know, as we say, this October, we’re, you know, I think it’s a fair assumption that we’re moving into some type of economic downturn that will probably progress for the next few months. But my bet is, it’s not going to affect us, at least not the way that it maybe has in the past. Because technology, the platformification in the research industry enables us to meet the need for budget restrictions in a way that-full service was not able to do during, let’s say, the Great Recession.
And we’ll see the same thing happen going into economic downturn that we saw in 2020, right? Companies like you will rise to the occasion, will become more in demand, will grow during that process. And private equity is very aware of that now and they’re watching it, and that will fund that consolidation because it’d be safe money to throw in. So, I think that we’re—despite all the weirdness that still exists in the world, we’re in a very good spot as an industry.
Vivek Bhaskaran: Yeah, and the big guys, have massive ones that need to spend in the next, I don’t know, few mon—like, over the last—I mean, those things—every company I know, like, “Well, we’d raised our fund last year which was that much and we don’t know what to do with it.” We got it—when we got it, every minute they don’t apply it, [laugh], you know, inflation is at 7%, so they are actually losing money when they are sitting on cash [laugh]. So, they got to do something.
Lenny Murphy: Yeah. I mean, valuations have come down. Let’s all—for every other tech entrepreneur out there listening, you know, if you didn’t get a big deal in 2021, you’re not going to get the same valuation now as you would have in 2021. I’ll own that. It’s just the way it is.
But the industry is growing, it’s going to continue to grow, it’s going to thrive. You know, QuestionPro and Digsite are wonderful example of why that is and will, I think, will continue to be one of the trendsetters as we move forward.
So, yeah, guys, thank you so much for the time. Appreciate it. Hope that you have a wonderful day. To our audience, thank you for listening. As always, we appreciate it. If it weren’t for you, we would just be three friends chatting privately. But it’s more fun to kind of have eavesdroppers and give that [laugh] out there to our audience as well. So, until next time, thanks. This is Lenny Murphy, and we’ll talk to you later. Bye-bye.
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