Recently Service Objects reached two important milestones: our 20th year anniversary as a company, and our 5 billionth transaction processed.
These are both important milestones for me personally. But these are also important milestones for the industry, dare I say it, and for society. I’d like to step back for a moment and look at the history of how we got here, and what it means today.
In September 2001, when I founded this company, I had a simple objective: to use data science to reduce the world’s waste stream from duplicate and misaddressed direct mail. And I wanted to build this business around a strong workplace culture based on “customer service above all,” where talented people looked forward to coming work every day, together with a shared vision to protect the natural world through data quality.
These ideas are still the centerpiece of who we are. But no one could have imagined where it would take us: leading an industry where data excellence is now a mission-critical component of businesses worldwide. Nowadays we serve many of the world’s major firms – including Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Verizon, Mastercard, American Express and Best Buy – as well as businesses of every size. Let’s take a look at how this came to pass.
What changed in 20 years
When we opened our doors in 2001, businesses accepted a certain amount of bad contact data as an inevitable cost of doing business. People changed jobs, addresses were mistyped, bogus leads, fake phone numbers and email addresses came and went, and keeping 100% on top of it all of the time was seen as costing more than the consequences.
What changed was culture and technology. From a culture standpoint, the cost of being wasteful grew to become unacceptable – and a competitive disadvantage. Labor costs rose and new privacy regulations ushered in stiff penalties for unwanted phone calls and direct mail, and the brand damage from missed deliveries and spray-n-pray marketing came into sharper focus. What drove this culture change was technology – in many cases, our precision technology.
The growth of inexpensive cloud-based technology, and the ability to tap into real-time databases for USPS address data, email and phone records, and associated business information, changed the equation for data quality. Nowadays, poor contact data puts you behind your competitors, and opens you up to stiff fines, increased fraud, and a poor market reputation. Moreover, businesses discovered that their contact data assets held the keys to a gold mine of automated business intelligence.
As these needs grew, so did our business and our product line. Today, our flagship address validation capabilities have evolved to 20 distinct products, ranging from global lead validation to comprehensive email validation, geolocation, and type ahead address autocomplete capabilities with built-in address verification. The pace at which businesses need these capabilities keeps growing rapidly: while it took sixteen years to reach three billion transactions, getting from four billion to five billion transactions took barely eighteen months.
To celebrate this major milestone with the people and causes that matter most to us, Service Objects will soon be recognizing our top 20 customers with Data Quality Excellence Awards, hosting an employee celebration with special commemorative mementos, and perhaps most importantly, making special donations to 20 nationally recognized charities that are meaningful to us and our employees. This milestone is as much theirs as ours.
What hasn’t changed
Throughout a period of tremendous growth, what has remained constant is the culture and core values that got us here. We still have the same passion to deliver a great customer experience. We still look forward to coming to work each day. And we have never lost our focus on being the best in our market, with a growing suite of products, multiple state of the art data centers with bank-grade security, 99.999% uptime and 24/7/365 support.
Moreover, the commitment to the environment that launched us has never changed. We follow green business practices in every aspect of our company, from reducing our waste stream and carbon footprint to incentivizing bicycling to work. And we routinely support causes that benefit the planet, ranging from reforestation to protecting watersheds and wildlife.
More importantly, the impact our services have on the planet is substantial. Protecting our clients from negative environmental impacts is at our core – here are estimates of what we have saved them to date:
- 13,663 tons of paper
- 2,289,263 trees
- 51,171,750 gallons of oil
- 936,308,363 gallons of water
- 79,046,888 pounds of air pollution
- 549,019,013 kwh of energy
- 412,067 cubic yards of landfill space
Looking to the next 20 years
As business continues to change rapidly, and the world with it, our culture and core values will still be our guide to serving your needs. For example, in the face of a global pandemic, we quickly pivoted to a flexible work-from-anywhere model that ensured uninterrupted service, saved resources, and supported a steady stream of new features and products.
Above all, we never forget that the most important part of our story is you, our customers. We haven’t grown too big to keep listening to you and evolving our products and support to meet your needs. We look forward to joining you for the next 20 years and the next five billion transactions.