2018 Retrospective and looking ahead!
While 2018 is slowly phasing out and 2019 is coming up, we at Sample Solutions are starting our 10th year of running a business that focuses on traditional telephone sampling.
Back in 2009, there was already a discussion that there is no future of CATI fieldwork anymore, but here we are CATI still exists and it will stay. I remember well being ridiculed as a 20-year-old to set up a business with no future – this is what us driving throughout the whole decade. We have never cared about experience or titles – we continuously believed in highly-motivated and eager colleagues and making them great. While telephone data collection certainly is not the same as 10 years ago, it has rather transformed than being evaporated.
We at Sample Solutions see a lot more demand in developing countries in which face-to-face surveys are being replaced with CATI studies due to high mobile phone penetration and still lack online access panels. Having experimented with SMS surveys as a combination of RDD sample and 2-way-SMS was one of the experiments that we tried to launch as a new product line (no failure – just learning). An expensive, painful failure that nevertheless helped to put the focus on what we are great at – DATA.
From a business perspective, just three years ago we hired our first 2 colleagues in Skopje, Macedonia. Since then we have moved offices 3 times and are about to add an additional office to add an extra 45 members of staff throughout the next year. We are rounding this year up with almost 50 colleagues in our offices in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Skopje, Macedonia. Building such a team of highly-educated, data-savvy millennials has been a tremendous experience. What has become clear from the last years is that company culture cannot be implemented but rather is the result of the sum of the individuals’ character traits.
Having each department of the company doing a yearly trip abroad (Montenegro, Hungary, and Slovakia) and a whole company event (Ohrid, Macedonia or Malta in the previous year) aligns everyone on the company, department but also individual objectives throughout the year.
I am extremely thankful for having such a team around me that challenges our status quo on a daily base – having a whole team of intrapreneurs that re-invent our busy on a daily base.
Challenges we are facing are the change of the signaling system of dialers as ISDN connections that previously has been used for screening of phone numbers is slowly replaced globally by SIP providers. This requires a whole new fine-tuning of dialer disposition codes – something that will still challenge us throughout 2019. Together with the technical challenges in the industry, it has also been tremendous to work with corporations, government bodies or NGOs to work on data collection areas that have not been polled or studied before. Presenting events like WAPOR, AAPOR, CSDI or ESRA challenges our processes and rigorousness beyond just 9 to 5.
For the upcoming year, we are finally launching all modules of our Survey Platform (after 2 years of development – agile took a bit longer….) with provides the telephone market and social research platform to access B2C, B2B and RDD data from up-to-date sampling frames that are second-to-none. Internally we have implemented a rhythm of yearly, quarterly, weekly and daily meetings that align the company – our internal OKR (Objectives and Key Results) will hopefully be launched in the first half of the first year. In addition, we are testing our Sales & Marketing Automation Platform Sales.Rocks currently in closed beta and we look forward to releasing the various versions throughout 2019. Setting up a whole new brand and focusing on Big Data Applications for Sales, Marketing & Recruitment automation will bring completely new challenges which we are all excited about (many sleepless nights ahead).
The transition from a mere data provider to a sampling consultant will continue as a real Big Data company in 2019. We all look forward to keeping doing what we are great at and further growing the Sample Solutions family.
Thank you to all colleagues (current and previous ones) that helped building this great workplace, to all industry peers that helped us through the years making connections within but also outside the industry, the advisory board that helped out in tougher times with their experience on administration matters and of course all clients that provided so much feedback (yes, not just positive) which allowed us to grow further.
All the best for 2019, should be fun!