In the year 1993, a pivotal chapter in the history of Nebu began. It was during this time that Fred Broers and Eric van Velzen embarked on their visionary journey. The backdrop of 1993 saw remarkable events:
- The World Wide Web made its debut at CERN, marking the dawn of the internet age.
- “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray took us on a timeless adventure, where February 2 repeated endlessly.
- Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” topped Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 songs of 1993.
- Bill Clinton succeeded George Bush, becoming the 42nd President of the United States.
- The Maastricht Treaty was signed on February 7, officially establishing the European Union.
- Apple introduced the Newton, a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), a milestone that would influence Nebu’s journey in the years to come.
Nebu’s inception took place in the spring and summer of 1993, originally focused on sales applications. Early successes included clients like a Dutch lingerie sales organization, Massey Ferguson, and Range Rover. This growth prompted the need for additional software development resources, leading to the inclusion of Jan Raaphorst in December 1994 (who to this day is a part of our team!).
As Nebu flourished, clients began to inquire about adapting the Apple Newton for market research. The team embraced the challenge, eventually presenting a working solution. Hugo van Veen’s Interface Fieldwork became Nebu’s first market research client, setting the stage for further expansion with clients like the Dutch transportation companies NZH and NOP, who conducted interviews on the Eurostar. Nebu also supported numerous car clinics for NOP-MIL in Detroit and Arizona, all utilizing the Apple Newton for 60-minute car evaluations, marking Nebu’s first steps into the world of Market Research.
While tablet-based research (CAPI) was on the rise, Nebu concurrently developed a research application for call centers (CATI). Initially, it was designed for Windows, but as the industry shifted, Nebu saw the opportunity to distinguish itself by embracing emerging technology.
The advent of the internet, particularly Netscape Navigator, prompted Nebu to pivot and leverage this new protocol for interviewing. This strategic shift proved highly successful. Recognizing the potential of the internet for online research (WAPI), Nebu’s technology was well-positioned, and the company rapidly expanded its services, forming partnerships with major Dutch clients. However, a setback came when Steve Jobs discontinued the Apple Newton in 1998, causing challenges for the company as its CAPI technology relied heavily on that platform.
Somewhere between late 1999 or early 2000, Nebu sought additional developers and expanded into Debrecen, Hungary. The Hungarian team proved to be an invaluable addition, with the first two employees joining quickly. In January 2001, Zoltan Szuhai became part of the team and remains a key figure to this day, overseeing the Hungarian team.
Contrary to the belief that CATI was obsolete, Nebu recognized the potential of mixed-mode surveys combining online and call center methods, offering a significant advantage. Responsive surveys compatible with any device were later added to Nebu’s arsenal.
In addition to the growth of Web-CATI and online surveys, Nebu anticipated the rise of panels in Market Research. The Hungarian team spearheaded the development of Dub Knowledge, Nebu’s panel management system. In 2007, Survey Sampling International (now Dynata), one of the world’s largest panel companies, selected Dub Knowledge as their platform for rapidly expanding panels, leading to significant development efforts to ensure scalability.
During this period, Nebu’s list of panel clients continued to grow, with increasing demands on development and support. The Debrecen team expanded to approximately 60 people between January 2009 and November 2012. In 2012, Dub Knowledge was sold to SSI, who continued its development for worldwide expansion. Nebu shifted its focus back to data collection, emphasizing online, mobile, and other modes, with a strong focus on responsive surveys.
Nebu’s multi-mode approach, encompassing CATI, WAPI, and mobile, paid dividends. The introduction of Dialer as a Service, a no-investment, pay-as-you-go solution for CATI, marked a significant milestone. With substantial volumes, Nebu’s purchasing power for telephone costs enabled the company to offer the lowest costs on the market.
In 2015, Nebu ventured into the realm of automation and the integration of data from social media and other sources into Market Research. Nebu Data Hub was born to address these evolving requirements. Subsequently, Nebu Reporter, a dashboarding tool, was launched in 2017. Work on a new generation interviewing platform, Nebu InterViewer, began, culminating in its release to the market in early 2021. This marked another transformative step in Nebu’s journey, showcasing its relentless commitment to innovation and adaptation in the ever-evolving landscape of Market Research.
On June 3, 2021, Enghouse Systems Limited (TSX: ENGH) acquired Nebu.
Now, in 2023, we embark on a new journey, becoming Enghouse Insights. It’s our goal that our foresight and passion continue to match those of our founders as well as Enghouse drive to deliver the highest tier software solutions.
As Enghouse Insights we continue the journey to grow and adapt while pushing the boundaries of technology to improve market research.