I got a quick update from Roger Ahern at Experian recently. Roger runs a recently founded group focused on hosted decisioning applications. Experian also has a Decision Analytics group with teams handling software (their Strategy ManagementSM and ProbeSM products), fraud products (like Precise IDSM) and Decision Sciences (custom analytic models and related services). Experian’s Credit Services side of the business is focused on consumer and small business bureau reporting, among other things. The new hosted decisioning solutions group represents a combined effort between the Decision Analytics group and the Credit Services organization to deliver solutions to companies in the financial services, telecom, energy, cable and other industries.
The new group builds hosted or SaaS decisioning solutions for companies. This group grew out of the Credit Services and Decision Analytics sides of the business that helped organizations develop decisioning solutions based on Experian’s decisioning and data capabilities. Clients wanted to use products like Experian’s Attribute ToolboxTM (for accessing credit bureau data and managing attributes) and Strategy Management (to automate decisions) but did not want to install it themselves. Originally Experian hosted the software on a single-tenant basis for these customers. As demand has grown they have created this new group to expand their multi-tenant hosted decisioning capabilities to reduce costs and decrease the time to implement.
Personally I think this kind of Decision-as-a-Service model is a very powerful one, allowing as it does the addition of decisioning power to existing applications without needing to add new software etc. With a simple web services interface, and the construction of Decision Services that are stateless and side-effect free (both best practices), Decision as a Service makes adding analytic decisioning much more straight forward.
Experian made a conscious choice to create such a black-box, decisioning solution with the client’s environment still handling workflow and process management, case management etc. This represents something of a change for clients as many still see workflow and case management as part of a decisioning solution. While a service-oriented mindset has become increasingly common in companies, the tendency is still to want to buy whole systems.
In addition, business customers often see the challenges with their current systems in terms of the user interface. For instance they complain about the case management environment when the real problem is that the decisioning is so poor that too many transactions are being referred. If fewer cases required manual intervention, something better decisioning could deliver, then the case management environment would be fine but this can be hard for people to see when they are struggling day to day.
As Experian develops this DaaS environment they are often finding that their customers start with wanting data services – using the Attribute Toolbox to get easy access to credit bureau and related data, for instance – but increasingly see the value of the hosted service making decisions not just returning data. Personally I see this more and more with data providers trying to become decision providers and so add more value.
As part of this transition, Experian is also adding content for specific decisions. Creating a pre defined data universe, analytic models and rules for a decision such as “should we acquire this customer for a revolving credit product and, if so, on what terms”. This example uses some 5,500 data elements – everything you need for decisioning criteria – as well as a standard set of rules/decision trees. This data universe includes attributes calculated from fast start or pooled models created by Experian, allowing companies rapid access to analytical models without having to do analysis of their own data initially (though this is something Experian can add through their Decision Sciences group).