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Our History

What's in a name?


Phase 5 was founded in 1991 in Ottawa, Canada, with a desire to help organizations constantly evolve to better meet the needs of their customers.  The very name was chosen with this mission in mind.  The development of businesses can be categorized on a continuum of phases ranging from a small, owner-operated enterprise (phase 1) to a large, multi-product, multi-unit, multi-market enterprise (phase 4).  Our original mission was to help large, complex enterprises aspire for a fifth phase of striving to remain customer-focused (hence the name).

The rise of the internet

001-domainBeyond helping organizations evolve with their customers, we realized that the business environment in the early 1990s was entering a period of seismic shift.  Phase 5 was one of the first research and consulting firms to track and advise clients on the emerging online market.  In 1995, we launched the Canada Information Monitor to track business use of the Internet across Canada.  We followed this with new services to help government and commercial organizations transition their products and services to the online world.  Starting in the late 1990s, we played an early role in helping the Government of Canada and companies in the information business migrate important products and services to the Internet. 

In 1998, we established our Toronto office in order to serve a growing base of clients in the emerging Internet space.  With growing recognition that online would become an essential channel for financial services, we became established as an important advisor to large companies in the financial services industry.  At the same time, Phase 5 continued to play an important role in bringing customers into product and service development for companies and organizations in Canada and the US that had the delivery of information and workflow solutions at their core.  This quickly expanded to include usability and user experience design services, and the establishment of usability lab testing capabilities.

A multi-channel world

002-bullhornWith the emergence of digital channels, we recognized that the customer experience involved an increasingly complex mix of channels and touchpoints, and that we had a unique mix of skills and services to help clients manage in a multi-channel environment.  Our expertise in customer experience and value measurement, along with our understanding of online channels, allowed us to better assist clients in managing the customer experience in this multi-channel environment.  Phase 5 was recognized for its expertise in customer experience by being chosen to conduct the first business experience study, Taking Care of Business, for governments across Canada in 2004.  This was followed by studies for government organizations in Canada and internationally to understand and improve on service delivery to their citizens.

Focus on customer value

004-consumerSince that time, we have emerged as a firm with offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Minneapolis with expertise in innovation, user experience design and customer experience serving national and global enterprises in all industry sectors. 

Although we have grown in both our scope and capabilities, our core mission of helping clients realize value by evolving with their customers remains as a guiding light for the future.