Blog | A Conversation with Nils Stangnes, SEVP, Global Execution
In our latest interview with thought leaders from inside and outside of Questback, we got to talk to our SEVP of Global Execution about his thoughts on the role and future of feedback in driving transformation and business success.
How long have you been at Questback?
I’ve been with Questback for some five years now, but I've actually been in the IT and software industry since the early nineties. I’ve always been fascinated by how much technology can help companies flourish but, of course, this is only possible if you really understand the issues, challenges, and pain-points those companies are grappling with.
Tell us more.
Imagine, if you could capture all the experiences customers share? Whether it be from interactions in a call center to experiences in a bank branch or shop. Or perhaps you’re gathering feedback from an app on your smartphone? Wouldn't that give you a wealth of feedback that you could turn into valuable insights, especially with the advances in big data and analytics? That's how I've always approached talking to my customers and clients. I've always sought to listen to their problems and then aimed to solve them.
What do you make of Big Data and Analytics?
Data has always been important to businesses in helping them make decisions from the small to the strategic. It's just the volume of data and the sophistication of analytical techniques that have grown and will continue to grow exponentially. I’ve spent much of the past 15 years trying to predict the future based on what’s happened in the past. In some respects, we’re now data-rich but information-poor. And, that’s the problem that big data and analytics promises to solve. It’s also where feedback can play a crucial role in enriching the information we have at our fingertips. Gathering and interpreting insights from customers, employees, and the market helps companies to understand both the ‘what’ and the ‘why.'
Is that how Questback caught your eye?
Yes, without a doubt.
What are some of the key challenges facing our customers today?
We all operate in a global marketplace, even local businesses, thanks to the internet. Innovation, agility, and speed all need to be embraced by organizations but to do that effectively, those companies need to shapeshift, to change the way they operate. They need to be customer-centric and employee-centric at the same time.
Suffice to say, companies can only transform their organizations if their employees and customers are engaged and brought into the process. Do you think today’s millennial would want to join a company that doesn’t take a modern approach to listen and engage with its people? Would your customers stick around if you’re not adapting to their needs?
How is Questback powering transformative organizations?
In my role as SEVP of Global Execution, I’m very fortunate to work with a huge and varied customer base from SMEs (small to medium enterprises) to large corporates, and from direct to indirect through our global partner network. It sounds obvious, but before any organization can embark on a journey of transformation, they need to understand what’s preventing them from doing so. The journey of transformation isn’t static, rather it’s organic. To be successful, organizations need to be in tune with their employees, their customers and the market and this is where customer and employee feedback plays a central role. Through our agile and scalable technology, we’re powering and enabling our customers all over the world to gather and act on the insights they need to transform.
2018 was a pretty exciting year, wasn't it?
Yes, it certainly was. With the IPO of SurveyMonkey and acquisitions of Qualtrics by SAP and Glint by LinkedIn, 2018 demonstrated to investors and the market itself the true value and the potential of feedback-driven insights. This is exciting to me because it takes us to the core of Questback's purpose, that to transform, you really need to take your people, and your customers with you – their collective insights will shape and cement your transformation.
What do you think 2019 holds in store?
I am confident we'll see more IPOs together with further consolidation in the market. We’ve also seen news of Medallia raising more funding ahead of their anticipated IPO at some point this year. The enterprise feedback market has typically consisted of many mid-size players, not really one big player as we have seen in both the business intelligence (BI) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) worlds.
What does this mean for the world of feedback?
In the past, the timing of feedback tended to be annual or infrequent at best (in other words, part of the annual employee engagement survey or the yearly customer satisfaction survey). However, we're starting to see a movement towards the always-on type of feedback from both employees, customers as well as other stakeholder groups. The big benefit here is that organizations can make adjustments and course-corrections to their product or service offerings. I liken it to changing a tire in the pitstop before it blows on the track.
Second, we’ll see a move from a centralized to a decentralized model of feedback. At Questback, we call this the democratization of feedback – meaning that all people throughout an enterprise can give, receive and act on feedback. For this to happen, we’ll likely see a growth in feedback ecosystems so that companies can more readily glean insights from within the systems and tools they're already using. For example, we have a team improvement app, Qubie, which is embedded inside Microsoft Teams – with Qubie, teams can use and act on feedback 'in' the moment.
The rest of 2019 and the next few years certainly won't be dull, and I'm looking forward to embracing them with our employees and customers.
If you missed it, here's a previous interview with Julia Beizer, Chief Product Officer, Bloomberg Media.
About the Author
Nils Stangnes | SEVP Global Execution at Questback
As SEVP Global Execution at Questback, Nils is accountable for all Questback country operations outside the U.S. Prior to joining Questback, Nils held the position of Country Manager for HP Software in Norway. Before that, he spent nine years at SAS Institute Norway and has been in sales and general management positions in the software industry for more than 20 years.