On September 26th SurveyMonkey, the ubiquitous online survey provider went public. The IPO was successful, with shares closing out the first day of trading 44% higher than the offering price. The financial details are compelling, but what’s more interesting is what this move says about how the value of data is being measured — and rewarded — in the modern business world.
Today, companies can collect data from employees, customers, and other user communities in myriad ways, with online surveys being just one example. When SurveyMonkey was founded in 1999, companies did not have access to the wide of range of survey respondents and resulting data that they enjoy today. SurveyMonkey provided a much-needed bridge between these two groups, giving everyone the power to create questionnaires and get critical feedback from a diverse set of stakeholders. Whether business focused (i.e., questions to inform new product updates or the launch of a corporate initiative) or more light-hearted (selecting the location of the company picnic, for example, or voting on bagel choices for Friday breakfast), SurveyMonkey made it possible to get quick, comprehensive answers in an intuitive, easily accessible format.
In the nearly two decades since the company’s inception, “hundreds of millions of surveys” have been created on SurveyMonkey’s platform, according to Mehmet Goker, the company’s vice president of data and analytics. As the company matured, so did its data strategy. While it still offers a free version of its product, its enterprise-level options draw on SurveMonkey’s depth of experience and horizontal industry knowledge to help companies devise the right questions.
As Goker put it, “What we can provide is (our) experience of which questions work the best in what environment, and from there we can provide that information to our end users in the form of catalogue questions designed to produce better results. But also, since we have it across industry, we can provide benchmarks for this and provide information about what similar companies are asking.”
This is an excellent example of data monetization, and how companies can discover and benefit from new use cases of existing data. That SurveyMonkey was a pioneer in data collection and feedback in the early days is indisputable, but plenty of other companies founded in the dotcom era are no longer around.
Is SurveyMonkey’s longevity due to its deep roots in data?
Quite possibly. As TechCrunch’s Matt Lynley wrote in an article about the IPO, “In an era where tracking… data becomes increasingly important thanks to more robust predictive tools and considerably more processing power to make…projections, SurveyMonkey’s data is likely even more valuable than it was when it raised funding in 2014.”
We’ll continue to watch SurveyMonkey’s success with data monetization. As for its debut on the public market, indeed it marked a milestone for the data science industry — and pause for reflection on how integral data has become to enterprise operations.