Cato and Bente broke down the evolution into three different segments:
1. Cost and Availability of Credit Information
Bente: If we’re talking about differences at that time, credit information wasn’t a commodity, it was a necessity. Businesses tried to gather information from anywhere and everywhere so they could avoid the risks of the economic crisis in those days.
Cato: The biggest difference is that data providers are now paid 30 times more per the report.
Bente: It also takes seconds now to get a report compared to it being days and months at the time, especially if you wanted information outside of your own country.
Cato: There were also more people involved in gathering data than working in sales, and this was combined with it being expensive to produce the report. We would host our reports on the IBM mainframe, and that alone would cost €1.50 to process a single report. We would also send a whole bunch of faxes, and there was no internet to do any of this either, so every little thing was manual. We also did monitoring work through the posts, so at every meeting we went to, we came across a big stack of parcel envelopes sent by us to clients who hadn’t gone through them yet.
Bente: In this case, if you wanted an industry prospecting list, you had to buy a big, old phonebook, which almost weighed 2 kilos, also sent to you by post.
Cato: I think it took 3-4 years after they started sending that, that phonebooks and cold calling became a prospecting tool. Before, in the 90s, that just did not exist.
Bente: I realise that competition was also different then. It was very cut-throat, even at that time, but we always went the extra mile to open up the sources and get the same data as our competitors. We organised networking events like football tournaments to build better relationships with our data partners.
Cato: Yeah, I had stitches on my forehead after that - I remember it well! But overall, it was a very conservative industry, and we may have had a hard time fitting in at first, but eventually, the industry evolved and adjusted to us (I think you could say…).
But at the same time, I think about the deal we won with the second largest bank in Norway, ABI, and their demands were high-end: They wanted the response times to be no longer than a second. So, some of the things we see today were already starting up back then, even without the internet and with slow connections - but still fast and advanced for those times.
3. Customer Needs: From Operational to Strategic
Bente: I think the Nordics were early adapters of API tech when talking about decisioning models and just going from posts/parcels to implementing decisions models - the Nordic market adapted to that quickly and well. That continues to be in high customer demand amongst our client base today.
Cato: Yes, what truly has changed is how our customers now use Creditsafe to make strategic decisions and look into historical data, building their own credit models and then implementing them into products like ‘Check and Decide.’ You could’ve possibly done these things in those days as well, but it would’ve cost a fortune due to the lack of software and technical capabilities, and it shows how workflow processes now are also considerably different. Businesses now use data providers to do other kinds of decisioning for them, not just credit reports.