FICO’s CIO Drives Cloud-Based Analytics

Annually, lenders purchase more than 10 billion FICO scores, and about 30 million U.S. consumers accessed their scores on their own. FICO is an $800 million software company founded in 1956 and based in San Jose, Calif. Nearly 98 percent of credit-related decisions are made using FICO, but the company has diversified into providing a broader set of analytics tools. As FICO CIO Tony McGivern tells CIO Insight contributor, Peter High, his responsibilities have expanded from those that are traditional to the CIO to his service responsibilities for the FICO Analytic Cloud offering.

CIO Insight: Tony, 98 percent of credit-related decisions are made using FICO’s backbone, and yet many people probably do not know much about the company. Could you please provide an overview of FICO?

Tony McGivern: FICO, in addition to our well known Scores product, offers analytic software and tools that help organizations make smarter decisions. We’ve been around for nearly 60 years providing our products and services to customers in over 80 countries around the globe.

CIO Insight: What are your responsibilities as CIO?

McGivern: I am extremely fortunate in that I have a very broad portfolio of responsibilities at FICO as I manage all of the conventional CIO activities around business applications, desktop and communications as well as having infrastructure and services responsibility for the FICO Analytic Cloud.

CIO Insight: You have been focused on an aggressive cloud strategy. What was the logic of this move, and what has been the value derived from it?

McGivern: To expand into the middle market and to diversify beyond our traditional Financial Services focus, we developed the FICO Analytic Cloud, a cloud delivery channel that enables FICO to serve organizations of all sizes. A democratization of analytics, if you will. The FICO Analytic Cloud provides Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) access to the FICO Decision Management Platform, allowing customers to use FICO tools and technology to create and deploy applications and services.

CIO Insight: The transition to the cloud represents one of three pillars of the overall transformation you’ve led. What are the other two?

McGivern: The other two are what we refer to as marketplace and community. Marketplace provides the ability to commercialize apps and enable other partner companies to monetize their offerings over the FICO cloud. Community is just what it sounds like: the aggregation of a community of interests around certain topics.

CIO Insight: What people changes were necessary in light of the transformation that you’ve led? Are there skill sets that you have had to increase the supply of?

McGivern: A lot of retraining, education and assistance in how the “new” architecture models function. Converged infrastructure folks have been our largest new addition skill-set wise.

CIO Insight: You also have restructured your organization. Why did you do so, how did you do so and what has been the outcome?

McGivern: To create a distinction and clearer boundaries between what we would describe as our Engineering function and our Operations function. We’re still mid-flight but results are promising so far.

CIO Insight: What trends particularly excite you as you look, say, two or three years out?

McGivern: There are a few. The increasing ability to transfer workloads, securely, to an elastic infrastructure, and particularly in the cloud, allowing for an increased concentration of things we consider to be within our core competencies. The ever increasing move to more granular architecture and horizontally auto-scaling applications through new concepts like containers, orchestration etc.

Software-defined everything. The ability to control, maintain, scale and automate almost everything within a construct for which we have long understood how to manage effectively (software development).

Peter High is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. His latest book, Implementing World Class IT Strategy, has just been released by Wiley Press/Jossey-Bass. He is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs. Peter moderates the Forum on World Class IT podcast series. Follow him on Twitter @WorldClassIT.

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