Blog | A Conversation with Mårten Blixt, Regional Director, Nordics
Published 12 June 2019 by
In our latest interview with thought leaders from inside and outside of Questback, we got to pick the brains of Mårten Blixt, who looks after our Nordic operations, customers and colleagues. Mårten inspires us with his passion for all things customer, tech and teammates, and reassures us that kryptonite doesn’t have to be all bad!
Who would you most like to be stuck on a desert island with and why?
I’d have to say my wife and kids, but if they weren’t too keen on that idea, my second choice would be Jerry Seinfeld, the American comedian. There’s only so much sand, sea and surf one can take, right? After which I’d need to turn to Jerry’s humor to keep me entertained (until I was ready to make a swim for it that is).
What’s your kryptonite?
That’s easy; Estrella Grillchips, a famous brand of Swedish crisps (the barbeque ones are my favorite). All my life those have been my weakness, my kryptonite!
Be honest, what you think of Surstomming?
Ah-hem. I think this is one I might grow into, but for the foreseeable future, it’s not for me.
What are some of the significant challenges you see our Nordic customers grappling with?
This takes me back to a recent customer seminar we held in Stockholm. There was lots of heated debate in the room about artificial intelligence as an emerging (and disruptive) tech. Business is moving at such an incredible pace that our customers need to make sure they’re ready to embrace disruption. I guess the biggest challenge for us all, not just our customers, is knowing how to successfully pre-empt that change – dare to change in a way that transforms our businesses for the better.
Who do you think has the power to be more disruptive, customers or competitors?
Actually, when I think about any organization, I believe it’s really their people who have the power to be most disruptive. With their insight and collective intelligence, they propel the company forward. For us at Questback, it is an honor to be front and center in helping our customers to build better experiences – from customer experience and employee experience through to market research experience!
What’s your tech guilty pleasure?
Tech is right up there with my Estrella obsession, I love it. I’m an early adopter and tend to jump on every new thing, especially when it comes to the ‘smart home’. I now have four Google Homes. I’m also a big fan of cloud cameras so I know exactly what’s going on in and around my house – even though there’s nothing remotely exciting going on in our neighborhood! The lights are all wi-fi so that when we go to bed, with one click of a button, the whole house shuts down. Love it, saves me two minutes every night!
What big changes have you seen in the SaaS industry over the years?
I’ve been in the industry for a while now. I was the Managing Director for Insight Technologies, a US Solution provider, and before that, I was with Adobe. A big watershed moment for me was when Adobe introduced their subscription model. That was like – whoa – for the industry at that time. Up until then, you paid for software, you owned it, you even had it on your computer as proof. Being able to ‘rent-it’, now that was a complete revolution. Like most new things, there were those that doubted it would succeed, but now we take that model in the SaaS industry for granted in much the same way as we do the Cloud.
How can feedback and insight help businesses get ahead of industry disruption?
This is a little off-topic but I think it illustrates the point. So, Whistler Mountain, the famous Canadian ski resort: alive in the winter, dead in the summer. Knowing that some people can be pretty fanatical when it comes to cycling, they took the bold move of rebuilding some of the slopes for mountain biking. The summer season now gives the winter season a run for its money. They turned their biggest weakness into their biggest strength. And, I think the same is true of all transformative companies. They listen, learn and continually evolve so that they remain relevant (and I believe to not do that is tantamount to painful death).
Tell us about Questback’s ‘ecosystem’ approach.
It’s true we may not be as big as some of our competitors but that doesn’t mean we’re not as strong. By tapping into an ecosystem of partners, we make sure we get the right products and solutions to people where they’re already working and collaborating. For example, we have market research products in the Cloud with AWS, we have Salespulse for Salesforce, which is our sales performance improvement app and, Qubie, our team improvement app that’s embedded in MS Teams. It’s much like in sport, drawing on the strengths and positions of others in the team. It keeps us focused and it’s that kind of teamwork and agility that makes us a force to be reckoned with.
How are you using technology in the Nordics to improve collaboration?
There’s a saying about shoemaker’s children always going barefoot and when I reflect on my early days in the Nordics, it was the same. Being tech geeks, we had so many tools at our disposal but were not always using them effectively, if at all. So, we set ourselves some standards for the tools we wanted to collaborate with (e.g. Skype and MS Teams). And, now we have what I call a ‘Nordic rhythm of business’ in the way we communicate, the way we share information and the way we are transparent across our organization.
How do you reward and recognize those working for you?
We have a really engaged and creative bunch of teammates in the Nordics and we’ve created a feel-good factor in the region by introducing a number of feedback initiatives using our technology that allow everyone working in Questback to express their gratitude to their teammates. For example, we have a ‘thank-a-colleague’ initiative, which can be completed in a few clicks on your phone. It creates a scoreboard, that we broadcast on TV screens around our offices, for both giving and receiving thanks. I think it’s excellent and we’ve even had customers asking for it!
What brought you to Questback?
I was inspired by the vision of the Questbackers I spoke to early on and in our ‘people matter’ DNA. Every day we help our customers to build strong relationships with their own employees and their own customers – be that through their annual engagement survey or quarterly pulse through to continuous listening and closed-loop feedback amongst other things. Every day we help our teammates to thrive by being interested in them as individuals, helping them to develop into the best versions of themselves. So, for me, every day is about teammates and customers. Almost nothing else matters and together those two elements are what will make us the number one in global feedback.
What does ‘Glocal’ mean to you?
Questback has been in the business since 2000, but in the Nordics, we have the enthusiasm and courage of a start-up, allowing us to stay nimble on our feet. We have the advantage of being global but, at the same time, if we are going to be successful in Sweden, Norway, and Finland, we need to land business locally. And, that means delivering local support and local understanding by local peers.
Who is your all-time favorite leader?
My father-in-law is a strong contender, but so is Sir Richard Branson. As a leader, he walks the talk and embodies the Virgin brand values. He’s innovative, disruptive and a challenger who isn’t afraid of making mistakes. And, mistakes are okay because we learn a hell of a lot when making them! I like that approach.
Does size matter?
It’s no secret that we’re in a sector with some players a lot bigger than ourselves, but if I think about the Dalai Lama for a moment and his quote ‘if you think you’re too small to make a difference, trying sleeping with a mosquito.’ It’s that type of mindset we have in the Nordics. We train each other, we support each other. That way, we move the needle every single day.
If you missed it, here’s a previous interview with Maija Dunder, our Head of Global Community.
About the Author
Mårten Blixt | Regional Director, Nordics at Questback
Mårten heads up our Nordics region. He joined Questback from Insight Technology Solutions, where he was a managing director. He started his career in computer sales before joining Adobe Systems Nordic for nine years in key sales and sales leadership roles.