FICO offers one of the most extensive and mature suite of products, solutions and expertise for designing, building, deploying and monitoring predictive models, and other types of decision automation. For half a century the company has utilized state-of-the-art technologies and methods to primarily help firms in financial services and insurance both automate and improve decision making. This experience shows in the ubiquity of the FICO Score, used by many organizations as a measure of customer credit worthiness. More recently FICO has consolidated its formidable array of technology into a cloud offering – the FICO Analytic Cloud, and also offers on-site platforms for building predictive models, optimizing resource usage and managing business rules. These different methods can be combined to yield decision automation solutions that simply are not possible with most other platforms. Recent acquisitions have broadened the capability even further to include data discovery and exploration. FICO is one of only a very few that ‘gets it’ – that the era of decision automation is upon us, yielding new levels of operational efficiency and improved efficacy. The whole decision automation task is well understood by FICO, and is embraced within its Decision Management suite of products.
While FICO’s technology platforms and solutions have been primarily used in financial services, and to some extent retail, it is now making an impact in a diverse set of industries. These brief examples demonstrate FICO’s capability in predictive analytics, optimization (where a set of resources is optimized for usage given constraints and an objective), and business rules management.
- Optimization – A major US airline wanted to improve margin and the quality of its services. With 3500+ flights per day, 93 destinations, 45000 employees, 600 aircraft, nearly two billion gallons of fuel consumed each year, the optimization problems were complex, and in some cases near real-time. Some aspects of the project paid for themselves on the first optimization run.
- Predictive models – A large telecoms operator needed to optimize its credit policy and strategy. A three month project led to US$47 million in additional cash flow.
- Big data – A large North American bank employed big data analytics to address new product development, strategic segment growth and customer retention. A wide variety of data sources enabled this bank to create highly competitive offerings and improve customer retention.
The overarching concept that defines FICO is that of decision management. This is implemented within its Decision Management Suite and embraces data manipulation, discovery and preparation, model design and development, model testing, integration with operational systems and deployment. It also embraces issues of prime concern to management, such as the efficiency with which models are built and deployed, the performance of models, and adherence to regulatory requirements. The primary components of this capability are:
- FICO Model Central – increases the visibility and control over analytic models and is an essential component in industries that are heavily regulated. Model validation, reporting, and creation of audit trails are included in its functionality.
- FICO Blaze Advisor is believed by many to be the leading decision rules management system. It supports high volume decision rules execution and multiple methods for rule development, authoring and testing – including decision trees, scorecards, decision tables, graphical decision flows and customized templates. It also supports monitoring of business performance.
- FICO Decision Modeler allows business users to create, maintain and control business policies and procedures. Decision services can be rapidly embedded into production applications using FICO Application Studio, and data exploration and discovery is supported by FICO Visual Insights Studio. FICO also supports models built in other languages including SAS and R.
- FICO Data Orchestrator facilitates the use of data from various data sources (often external to the enterprise).
- FICO Data Management Integration Platform is an active component capable of merging data into a usable form and recognizing events within data.
- FICO Xpress Optimization Suite is used to create, deploy and utilize business optimization solutions, based on scalable high performance algorithms.
Clearly this is an extensive environment covering virtually every aspect of designing, creating, testing, managing, monitoring and modifying decision models. It emphasizes that simply throwing data at an algorithm and building a model is just a very small part of the picture. FICO supports developers implementing models within business applications, analysts and business users who need to explore and visualize data, provides mechanisms to manage data and morph it into a usable state, and also allows managers to monitor decision models for performance. This overall capability is largely unchallenged by any other supplier, and the experience FICO has in this domain is certainly unchallenged.
The FICO Analytic Cloud provides analytic tools and solutions all hosted in a cloud environment. This is attractive to organizations who develop and sell solutions as well as those who use them. It certainly provides a low cost of entry to FICO’s technology stack.
FICO has a long history going back to 1956, when it introduced analytic solutions for credit scoring. The firm has consistently used contemporary technologies and methods to maintain a lead in its markets, and now encapsulates its experience, technology and know-how within its analytics platforms.
FICO has a market capital of US$ 2.6 billion and in 2014 had annual revenues of US$ 789 million. It has recently been acquiring to enhance its product and services portfolio.