In early January of this year, CX insights company, Confirmit, announced a pending merger with FocusVision. While both operations occupy different parts of the broad customer insights landscape, the overlap in their technologies and approaches looks like it will create a unique set of complimentary synergies, once the merger goes through.
We sat down with Kyle Ferguson, CEO of Confirmit to talk about the strategic thinking behind the merger, what market value he sees coming from the new entity, and a look-ahead to how CX is changing to keep up with today’s entitled consumers.
Below is an edited (for flow) transcript of the full conversation.
I’m with Kyle Ferguson who is CEO of Confirmit, and I’ve been following Kyle and Confirmit for the past month, really, actually more than that, after they announced a merger with Focus Vision, which I believe is still pending some regulatory hurdles – but Kyle, thanks for joining me.
Thanks, Mike, it’s great to be here. Welcome to my home office!
And mine as well! So, I know that that the merger is still being scrutinized by the authorities so there’s probably a lot that we can’t talk about, but I’m really interested in the reasons for this merger overall, because, of course I’m familiar with Confirmit’s offerings and somewhat familiar with FocusVision, and, whereas they seem very complimentary – what are your expectations for this? How, where do you see this going? I think is a better question.
Yeah, I’m getting that question a lot, but I think that question, you kind of have to sort of walk step back a little bit in order to be able to answer that. And the reason I say that is, you know, we kind of started this journey off full back in May, when I joined the Confirmit organization quickly after it was acquired by Verdine, which is a private equity firm out of the Nordics. And shortly after that, we then merged one of their portfolio companies.
So, it was a pretty pivotal point in the company’s history. And we set out on a, let’s call it a growth journey. The first thing that we had to do, was we had to turn over every rock. And so we brought in some consultants that I’ve worked with before, and we worked hand in hand with the management team and the leadership group to really look at what are the things that Confirmit did really well and what are the areas that we needed to improve.
And so, we went through that process and we announced to our internal stakeholders and we communicated more broadly to our customers, what the outputs of that strategic review were. And one of them is looking at that value of creative opportunities. Very much like the one that we’re talking about.
And so, we set out on a journey to sit down and talk to the folks at FocusVision to see whether or not we could bring these two organizations together to really leverage both the pedigree and the history, both businesses have been around this landscape for almost a quarter of a century. So, there’s a lot of uniqueness in the space.
And complimentary sort of aspects of the business that aren’t just technology-related actually. When you think about the history, the way in which we go to market, the way in which we talk to our customer, the way in which we interact internally, the culture, the values, there was a real strategic fit there.
So that was, that was step number one, step number two, which was obvious, is this best of breed in terms of technology. That we’re able to bring to our joint customers, but also new customers. And it spans not just in sort of the market research or insight space or in the voice of the customer or employee engagement space but it broadens out beyond that, beyond the survey and touches down on areas of sort of qualitative technologies.
So ,we think the results of this merger will put us in a really sort of unique position within the marketplace by being able to offer this one-stop shop of technology solutions or an insights or, or enterprise customer.
Right. I think unique combination of technology, the hardware, as well as the human analytical component as well as some of the sophisticated analytical tools you guys have built – so, from what I see, and this isn’t definitively the only way to see things, but I don’t see other companies being able to offer the scope and the breadth of what the new entity will bring to market. By the way, what is – what do we have a name for the new entity yet? Do we know how that’s going to be branded?
We, we don’t, but it’s certainly something that we’re talking about internally, but yeah at this stage, we don’t have any more information that we’re able to disclose, but, you know, I think you quite rightly touched on something. You know, we think this is going to be pretty unique and we’re really excited. You know, when we closed the transaction to, to bring both businesses together, to really start to accelerate our plans to tackle the challenges that both of our customers face. And you know, from my perspective, we want to innovate and invest in technology that allows our customers to reduce the time to get to the insight. But most importantly, to reduce the time to capitalize on the insight or not.
You know, one of the things we, we worked really hard at prior to announcing our intention to merge with with FocusVision, was to somehow articulate and to succinctly deliver to our customers, the ability to take an insight, to tell that into a story, but most importantly, turn that story into some kind of an action. And that really is at the core of what we’re going to try and do as a combined business going together.
Fascinating. So, you just walked right into my next question, which is really probably more than a question. Maybe this is an entire discussion, but the world of CX is changing and expanding and becoming infinitely more complex year over year, and market research the same thing. So, with your combined abilities, where do you see the new entity kind of fitting into that ecosystem – or maybe even better yet – where do you see that whole world going?
Yeah, that’s I mean, that really is the $64,000 question, isn’t it? I think I see the trend moving from reactive to proactive insights and action. And, you know, you’re starting to see the formation of a lot of thinking around data analytics and predictive analytics. So really trying to understand what’s going to happen before it even happens. And that’s by accessing reams of data that’s available. And it’s not only through our own data collection tools, but it’s also tapping into the infinite amounts of data that’s available, both in the cloud, from our customers, from their customers and different API connections across the globe. And I think that robustness and the ability to tap into that level of insight is going to be critical because it allows us to run really cool AI-driven algorithms and models that help our customers predict the view of their customers for it even happens. And that really gives the power to the end user in a really, really efficient and effective way.
It’s going to be a fascinating next few years as AI really starts to take root in all these genres and all these places.
I was just going to say, you know, we’re, we’re pretty excited because on the Confirmit side, we just released In our Q4, an AI scripting tool that basically allows our clients to be able to import a word document and survey document. And we run the algorithms off the back of that to really try and reduce the time to implement the survey. And that was a request that we’d had from a number of our customers.
And so, it’s really, really an exciting front for us to be able to capitalize on the intellectual capital that we have internally and the wealth of resources and know-how from our engineers to be able to develop these really, really innovative solutions. It’s all about reducing the time to survey, but more importantly, reducing the time to act. To activate it.
Yeah. It’s been well said that we’re drowning in data but starving for insights. And I think maybe you can put a little asterisk on that as “activated insights”. So, fascinating stuff. I want to just say thank you for your time. I know you’re busy running what will soon be one company but almost two at the moment. So, I would love to check in with you maybe in a few months to see how the merger has gone and your view for, for what’s up next for the new.
Sounds good, Mike. Thanks.