ORLANDO – Many of the newest and fastest growing companies in the world today – like Uber Technologies Inc. and WeWork – are highly focused on the experience for its customers, and this is a strategy that Bill McDermott, chief executive officer of SAP SE, says needs to be more heavily invested in by businesses across the board in his keynote speech to kick off Sapphire Now in Orlando, Florida.

As businesses turn their focus towards the experience more and more often, combining O-data (operational data) and X-data (experience data) is the “next frontier” says McDermott.

“Experience is now the organizing principle of the global economy. Every CEO I meet is trying to solve the experience gap,” he said. “What is it? It’s the difference between what people expect versus what they actually received. This is a $1.6 trillion problem.”

This is something that McDermott said SAP had to do themselves before ever looking to help its customers do so.

“SAP is already the richest source of operational data, what we call old data. But we didn’t have experience data, what we call X-Data,” said McDermott. “Ladies and gentlemen, feelings matter. In our own business, X-data was disorganized at best or nonexistent at worst. This led us to the conclusion that SAP must be the platform that combines X-data and O-data.”

This revelation is what led to SAP’s acquisition of Qaultrics, an experience management company, this past November.

McDermott says he saw a perfect relationship between the two companies, as he saw a great opportunity to provide SAP’s customers with the experience management tools that Qualtrics has created, and saw an executive who saw the importance of combining X-data and O-data in Ryan Smith, the co-founder and CEO of Qualtrics.

“When you think about SAP C/4HANA, for example, bringing the experience from the external customer into the internal CRM system is something that competition doesn’t have. The same is true of human capital management. So we’re going to bring in the experience layer into all of the applications at the front end of these business processes,” said McDermott.

While it is easier for new companies to turn towards experience data, Smith says it is still very possible for established companies to go down that road, and he believes this can be done through the offerings that SAP and Qualtrics provide.

“If you actually think about that, most of these breakthrough brands, they’re naturally leading with experience management, which is a scary time for the other brands. It’s hard because they’re already established,” said Smith. “So with XM in the platform, we can actually deliver that into the cycles. Now, what do you do once you get the system in place, you start closing the gaps, one by one. Then you start taking action in a way that that is actually driving change. Our goal is not to gather insight. We’ve done that for years. Our goal is to allow a brand to take action. If you take 75 actions in a year because of Qualtrics, that’s successful. And that’s the difference between XM, is when you get that next data, you can actually drive action. And those are the actions that actually make the breakthrough.”

Buckley Smith’s travel and accommodations to cover SAPPHIRE NOW were paid for by SAP. This story was not reviewed externally before publication.