FICO: providing data analytics in a time of instability

Will Lansing, CEO of leading analytics software company FICO about challenges around data and AI and how the company helps customers overcome these

Can you tell us a bit about FICO?

FICO is all about decisions – helping businesses make data work hard for their organisation, optimising customer engagement and the decisions that underpin their operations and profitability. Over the past 60-plus years, our use of Big Data and mathematical algorithms to predict consumer behaviour has transformed entire industries, such as credit risk scoring and fraud detection, where we have the world’s leading solutions. While our background is largely in solutions for financial services, our technologies in areas such as optimisation are used across multiple industries, from telecommunications to healthcare to energy, for everything from scheduling nurses in a Swedish hospital to optimising sports schedules.

We believe that every decision matters and our technology represents the next generation in decision-making platforms. We have a talent-first approach to work at FICO and have brilliant employees all over the world.  

What do you think are the big challenges for your clients as the global economy continues to face instability?

The number one challenge is how to compete for customers in a digital environment. The stakes have changed radically for businesses like big banks that have to build customer relationships without the face-to-face time that used to be a big advantage for them. How do you make the ideal decision on every customer at every touchpoint to systematically build the relationship in a more profitable way? Banks have built up in silos and fintechs haven’t, which can give them a foothold. This is where the smart application of AI can help both sides compete.

Against this background, how is FICO supporting businesses with its analytics - can you draw on any examples?

There is no single solution that covers all the nuanced questions facing our clients around the world. Instead, there’s a set of decision intelligence technologies. Machine learning models get a lot of attention and they are a crucial component of decision-making tools, but there’s also optimization, data ingestion, predictive modelling, decision orchestration and other technologies. What we do to support businesses is bring all of these technologies into one platform. Our platform capabilities provide collaboration between business experts who understand decision logic and other decision technology professionals like data analysts. 

We just gave out our FICO Decisions Awards in May at our global conference, and these winners show the kinds of benefits we bring. Here are a few examples:

  • Boeing’s crew solution team deployed Boeing and FICO technology to create a complex nursing schedule within a week for 300 nurses at a large Swedish hospital to handle the demands of the peak Covid-19 pandemic period. 
  • Akbank achieved a 129% profit increase on cards using FICO’s prescriptive analytics to increase credit card approvals by 45% and limits by 60%. 
  • Care by Volvo accelerated customer onboarding by using FICO’s cloud-hosted platform to cut credit checks from 3 days to seconds for a new car subscription service and make real-time decisions for 80% of applications.
  • OCBC used FICO technology to approve mortgages online in just 60 minutes and grant a total of $700 million in loans in Singapore during the COVID lockdown, with 30% of loans originating on the platform in 2020. 
  • ABSA Bank increased self-service users by 43%, achieved an ROI of 29x, and enabled the rapid roll-out of payment relief with FICO’s Customer Communication Services. 
  • Mibanco used the FICO Platform to reschedule $2.4 billion in microloans during COVID, reducing the time taken to put policy into production by 90% and cutting IT expenditure by 20%.
  • Traxion, a leading mobility and logistics company in Mexico, slashed thousands of tons of emissions from their transport business. They also expect to reduce costs by USD$2.5 million and cut empty trips by 20% by using the FICO platform to optimise their business. 

As AI use expands across businesses, what do you think is the biggest challenge for your clients? 

As AI becomes further entwined in our day-to-day lives, we are seeing a need for greater accountability. Organisations using machine learning can no longer hide behind the “we will do no evil banner”. 

The “3 Es of AI” is how our chief analytics officer, Dr. Scott Zoldi, describes the criteria for responsible AI, which is now top of mind for analytics-driven businesses. 

Explainable AI ensures that we know how the model operates, and we can provide reasons and explanations as to why a decision was made at an individual level. Ethical AI allows us to understand if a model is biased toward any protected group of individuals. Finally, Efficient AI models should enable actionable monitoring. This monitoring ensures that biases don’t creep in overtime in the production environment, and can even indicate whether the model should be modified or abandoned. This last principle is sometimes called Humble AI — it means using AI when we’re sure it works and using something else when we’re not sure.

What can we expect from FICO in the coming months?

We will continue to add new functionality to FICO Platform so that our customers around the world can more rapidly build and deploy analytics-based decision strategies across their business. We believe this platform approach is the way of the future for how businesses will make decisions. In fact, a recent report from Forrester Research on digital decisioning platforms noted that your AI platform should be part of your decisioning platform — if they’re different then you’re wasting valuable time and money trying to get your AI into production.

At the same time, we will continue to make new breakthroughs in AI and machine learning. We have around 200 patents in this area, and a lot of our focus now is on explainable AI. We’re merging the experience we have from the credit risk world, in which explainability is required by law, with the incredible IP we have in AI to help our customers get ahead of regulations in this area.

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