For more than 50 years, FICO has provided analytics software and tools across many industries to manage risk, build more profitable customer relationships, optimize operations, fight fraud, and meet strict government regulations. But just a couple years ago, the company reevaluated its portfolio and decided to prioritize a shift to the hybrid cloud. “Many customers liked the functionality of our products, but didn’t necessarily like the upfront effort needed to build out their data centers,” says Mike Trkay, vice president of cloud services for FICO. “So we set out to simplify access and lower the barrier of entry to FICO products.”
The company immediately knew that because of strict compliance requirements, it would have to build its own internal infrastructure as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), with the ability to securely manage resources in a private data center. The firm also was faced with the challenge of taking existing products and moving them to the hosted model on that infrastructure. Meanwhile, the firm developed other products that would run as cloud products from day one. “We had this understanding that all of these moving pieces would have to come together and work in unison,” Trkay explains.
Like any endeavor that has the potential to be positively disruptive and worthwhile, the path was certainly met with some resistance. For starters, there was the technical challenge of piecing it all together. “We had to determine how to take products not originally meant for the cloud and make them ready for the cloud,” Trkay says. This also involved restructuring how FICO licensed the products and software.
A lesson was learned throughout the process. Although theoretically, trying to “cloudify” existing products seems practical, sometimes it’s actually more efficient to build them from scratch just for the cloud. Trkay compares the process to remodeling a house. “Sometimes it’s just easier to build from scratch than having to tear everything down to studs and then build it back up,” he explains.
On a team level, there was also the challenge of finding employees that had the skill sets needed to navigate this new technology. “We were moving to a platform that was a leading-edge technology, and we quickly found that not a lot of people with that skill set were readily available on the market,” Trkay explains. He adds that FICO didn’t have anybody internally with that skill set, so the company had to hire new team members. Meanwhile, existing staff members needed to be trained to operate and support the new platform. Still, the threat of losing new team members loomed, Trkay explains.
“When you pick leading-edge technologies that are very hot in the market, it becomes challenging to maintain a team because there’s a lot of other companies interested in the technology,” Trkay says. “They often want to come in and poach employees that you just trained.” As a result, FICO focused on creating a strong culture where employees could feel comfortable developing new technologies as a team and know that talent would be retained.
Overall, Trkay and his team are confident that FICO’s shift to the hybrid cloud was most certainly a move in the right direction. “At FICO, our sole purpose is bringing predictive analytics to our customers to aid them in mitigating risk and making better decisions,” Trkay says. “This move is enabling us to make our predictive analytics products easier for potential and existing customers to access.”
Renee Morad is a freelance writer and editor based in New Jersey. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Discovery News, Business Insider, Ozy.com, NPR, MainStreet.com, and other outlets. If you have a story you would like profiled, contact her at [email protected].
The IT Innovators series of articles is underwritten by Microsoft, and is editorially independent.