Data Quality and the Environment

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EnvironmentService Objects recently celebrated our 15th year in business and it made me reflect on something that is important to me and is an underappreciated reason for improving your data quality: protecting our environmental resources.

Lots of companies talk about protecting the environment. Hotels ask you to re-use your towels, workplaces encourage you to recycle, and restaurants sometimes forego that automatic glass of ice water on your table. Good for them – it saves them all money as well as conserving resources. But our perspective is somewhat different because environmental conservation is one of the key reasons I founded this company in 2001.

Ever since I was a young man, I’ve been an avid outdoorsman who has felt a very strong connection to the natural world we inhabit. So one of the things I couldn’t help but notice was how much mislabeled direct mail showed up at my doorstep, as well as those of my friends. Some companies might even send three copies of the same thick catalog, addressed to different spellings of my name. Add in misdirected mail that never arrives, poor demographic targeting, and constant changes in workplace addresses, and you have a huge – and preventable – waste of resources.

As a mathematician and an engineer by training, thinking through the mathematics of how better data quality could affect this massive waste stream was a large part of the genesis of Service Objects. We discovered that the numbers involved were truly staggering. And we discovered that simple, automated filters driven by sophisticated database technology could make a huge difference in these figures.

Since then, our products have made a real difference. Over the past 15 years, our commitment to reducing waste associated with bad address data has saved over 1.2 million trees, and prevented over 150 million pounds of paper from winding up in landfills. We have also saved 520 million gallons of water and prevented 44 million pounds of air pollution. More important, these savings are driven by a growing enterprise that has now validated over two and a half billion contact records for over 2400 customers.

As a company, our concern for the environment goes far beyond the services we provide to customers. We encourage our staff to ride their bicycle to work instead of driving their car, use sustainable office supplies, and keep a sharp eye on our own resource usage. Corporate conservation is one of the four core values of our company’s culture. The result is a team I am proud of, with a shared vision and sense of purpose.

There are many great business reasons for using Service Objects’ data quality products, including cost savings, fraud prevention, more effective marketing, and improved customer loyalty. But to me personally, using a smaller footprint of the Earth’s resources is the core that underlies all of these benefits. It is a true example of doing well by doing good.

For any business – particularly those who do direct marketing, distribute print media or ship tangible products, among many others – improving your data quality with us can make a real difference to both your bottom line AND our planet’s resources. We are proud to play a part in protecting the environment, and look forward to serving you for the next 15 years and beyond.