Perceptyx Acquires Cultivate: A Clear Leader In Employee Listening

As I wrote back in 2015, Feedback is the Killer App. Companies that tap into the collective wisdom of their employees almost always outperform their peers.

Why? Because employees (not customers) know the most about what’s working and what’s not. Yes, we need to get feedback from customers, but employees know even more. So employee listening systems are red hot.

Just this week I talked with one of the world’s largest retailers (a company with hundreds of stores located all over the world) and they now know when a store has problems, when a manager is misbehaving, and even when the products are out of stock. How? They have a very powerful employee-listening system, and it gives them real-time feedback almost every single day.

This market, which started as a set of tools for surveys, has vastly expanded. Today we want to listen to employees through surveys, pulse surveys, open text comments, crowdsourcing, and even AI-enabled sentiment analysis of emails, text messages, and behavior in meetings.

Perceptyx, which has been a leader in this market for years, has been really cranking along. A few months ago the company acquired both Waggl and CultureIQ, two specialized players in the market. These acquisitions gave Perceptyx a leading solution in crowdsourcing and pulse survey management, complementing the company’s existing flagship products for enterprise surveys, real-time analytics, and 360 feedback.

Today Perceptyx announced the acquisition of Cultivate, bringing AI-enabled text and sentiment analysis, coaching, nudges, and proactive feedback (sometimes called passive listening) to the platform.

Cultivate is an innovative company that built a system to monitor, analyze, and improve daily communications on email, text, and other communications. We interviewed many of their customers (including SAP, PwC, and others) and the product provides useful feedback to workers to help them improve their management, leadership, and daily work. If you don’t talk with someone you’ve communicated with regularly, or appear to be upset with someone, Cultivate will give you a nudge to help you work a little smarter. It’s like an AI-enabled leadership coach, something we all need in the post-pandemic lives we live.

Here’s a good overview from the news release:

“Operating strictly on an opt-in basis, Cultivate captures existing behavior data in a leader’s own digital communication channels and delivers hyper-personalized leadership insights and recommendations. For example, leaders can see how often they give recognition or provide feedback, whether they make too many ad-hoc meeting requests, or if they communicate or share opinions equally across their team. Leaders can also improve collaboration and reduce burnout by inviting team members to design their ideal team norms, including their preferred times for meetings, brainstorms, focused work, or wellness breaks, and then Cultivate can measure if the team’s behavior is aligning with their preferences. Cultivate’s privacy-by-design focus on employee empowerment ensures no data is analyzed without consent, and no personally identifiable metrics or insights are shared with others in the organization.”

The Perceptyx platform is now quite advanced. Not only is the platform proven for global engagement and pulse surveys, the company offers crowdsourcing (Waggl has been relaunched as Dialogue) and this new system for passive listening, feedback, and leadership development.

This announcement does two things.

First, it clearly positions Perceptyx as a leader in the employee listening (and EX) market. Perceptyx has more than 600 Global 2000 customers (including 3M, Dell, Eaton, Comcast/NBC, Ahold Delhaize, Citi, AVAYA, BJC Healthcare, FedEx, SHARP Healthcare, ABInbev, CH Robinson), revenue growth of over 50%, and a staggeringly high NetPromoter score of 73.  (Our research Listening at Scale explains this further.)

Second, it lays down the gauntlet for what we may call “Action Platforms:” systems that not only listen but actually respond. As we wrote about earlier this year, Cultivate is like a combination of Microsoft Viva Insights (which gives you developmental feedback to improve wellbeing and productivity) and an AI-enabled BetterUp (access to online coaches on demand). BetterUp, the leader in real-world online coaching, just acquired Motive (a hot startup focused in this area) and also plans to get into this market.

While Cultivate was a small company, its technology is now strategic. As more of us work remotely, online, or in a “deskless” environment, we can’t get feedback exclusively from surveys or text comments. We need passive (AI-enabled) listening systems that give us feedback in the flow of work. Perceptyx now has an offering in this new market, making the company more relevant and interesting than ever.

Additional Information

Employee Engagement 3.0: From Feedback To Action

Feedback Is The Killer App (Forbes)

Coaching at Scale: AI Enables Leadership Development (Case studies of Cultivate solutions)

Online Coaching Is So Hot It’s Now Disrupting Leadership Development