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SurveyMonkey opens Dublin datacentre region to court data-security conscious enterprises in Europe

Online survey software provider SurveyMonkey is on a Europe-wide enterprise charm offensive, and is focusing on winning over CIOs with the offer to locally host their data within its European datacentre region

SurveyMonkey will soon be serving up its online survey software from the Dublin-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) datacentre region, so that European enterprises can access locally hosted versions of its products and services.

The online survey software provider is on something of a charm offensive where the enterprise market is concerned at present, with its most recent set of financial results revealing that around 16% of its revenue during the first quarter of 2019 came from sales to this sector.

“We’ve become a much broader, bigger company than most people realise. In fact, we sit on top of one of the largest collections of market research data and probably have the canonical dataset with over five billion surveys answered and 50 billion responses in our database,” SurveyMonkey president, Tom Hale, told Computer Weekly.   

Increasing its share of the enterprise market has been repeatedly signposted by the firm as a growth priority, in combination with increasing its customer footprint within Europe and ramping up the size of its European sales and support teams.

“Today, about a third (35%) of our business occurs outside of the US, and the majority of that is in Europe. We have an operation in Dublin, and in April we closed the acquisition of a firm called Usabilla that is based in Amsterdam, which gives us a good-sized footprint in Europe,” added Hale. 

“We are investing in building out our capabilities and ability to support and service users in Europe, which is a multi-year strategy to serve enterprises in Europe, as well as [companies from] elsewhere that operate in Europe.”

That investment includes the opening of its first public cloud datacentre region in Dublin, which is operated by AWS, and will be critically important in addressing the data sovereignty concerns of the European CIO community the company is increasingly keen on courting, according to Hale.

“As we expand into Europe, a new datacentre and the public cloud infrastructure we’re launching will offer a better user experience, but most importantly allows us to store data locally which is a priority for European customers, and European users and survey takers, and reduces the complexity for customers that need to store data where they are operating,” he said.

SurveyMonkey is adopting a phased approach to moving customers over to its Dublin datacentre region, Hale revealed, with the first phase focused on moving “net new customers”.

“Phase two is when there is a lot of data being stored in your SurveyMonkey accounts already, and migrating those customers over. We’re mid-stride on that. We’ll land that in the next few months,” he said.

Land and expand

The company is pursuing what it describes as a “land and expand” strategy when it comes to growing its enterprise customer base, so it can capitalise on the in-roads it has already made through shadow IT deployments.

Many of these in-roads have been made possible by individuals who have signed up to use the free version of the company’s eponymous, flagship online survey tool.

“For many years we would say we came in through the backdoor, and people [were] adopting without the control of the CIO, and collecting data is a high stakes enterprise for companies,” said Hale.

“We have many customers who are working within large organisations, collecting data, and some of what the cloud datacentre gives us is the ability to say it is being stored in the local market.”

Before it can set about converting these small pockets of ad hoc SurveyMonkey users into a larger-scale, company-wide deployments, the C-suite will often seek assurances about where their data will be stored and how.

“This is the classic SurveyMonkey [adoption] story. When you ask [CIOs], ‘Do you know how many people are using SurveyMonkey in your organisation?’, and you tell them there are 4,000 [people using it],” said Hale.

“And then you ask if they know what data is being collected, and do they have any control over it or what other data stores it is connected to, and you can see the temperature rising in the room.”

As well as converting more of its user base into paid subscribers, the company is also keen to get organisations to delve a little deeper into its wider portfolio of data collection and processing tools, many of which have been developed either in-house or acquired through mergers in recent years.

“We have solutions for market research, which most people would be able to wrap their minds around, but they are not aware that we provide the ability for companies to purchase what’s called a panel, which is if you’re looking for a particular demographic to take your survey,” he said.

“We also have solutions for employee feedback and customer feedback. Many companies have come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to ask their employees what they’re thinking and feeling, and gathering that data over time to see if they’re improving or if a particular manager is getting worse, so they can do something about it.”

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