Inside Look at Equifax's $1.5 Billion Digital Transformation Journey

The following is an excerpt from a feature Q&A in SearchCIO. To read the full article, click here.

 

BRYSON KOEHLER joined Equifax as chief technology officer in 2018, not long after the company experienced its massive data breach. Since then, he has helped drive the credit agency's digital transformation journey. The $1.5 billion effort aims to rebuild the company's vast technology underpinnings - from moving IT infrastructure to the cloud and modernizing applications to maximizing the value and accessibility of its data.

The results to date have been impressive, according to Koehler, and they keep coming. 

The ambitious digital transformation has also brought major changes to Koehler's large technology team of 7,500, which includes a mix of full-time staff and consultants in more than 30 countries. Over half the team has been "refreshed," Koehler said. "We've trained 700 of our engineers to get cloud certifications," he cited as an example. "We're very proud of the work our teams are doing to re-skill themselves and reinvent themselves as IT professionals."

In a wide-ranging interview, Koehler talked about what digital transformation means for Equifax as it moves forward and about the challenges - and rewards - of accomplishing this work during a pandemic. Be sure to watch the accompanying video, in which Koehler talks about what's required of today's IT leaders.

What are some of the concrete results that you're seeing so far from all this work?

Koehler: We've seen tremendous outcomes. We've got customers where we would have taken six months before to onboard them. I saw an example literally last week with a customer that was 40 minutes into their welcome meeting with us, where the engineer in the room was already developing a coding in a sandbox against the API. So, six months to 40 minutes.

We have customers in our identity fraud space who are seeing an eight-fold increase in fraud detection. Why? Because they're able now to bring more data sets together in real time than they would have before.

We're seeing examples of uptime improvement as we are now moving from legacy single points of failure to multi-region multi-zone cloud implementations. We're seeing 400% to 600% improvements in our performance and our latency. So whether you look at uptime, look at latency, at speed of implementation or the outcomes of the products themselves, the examples are amazing.

I send out a winner of the week, every week, to the company. I've been doing it for over two years now, and I have a growing backlog of wins that the team wants us share.

I want to talk a little bit about the role of the top IT executive - the CIO role, the CTO role. Did you see your role change at all during the pandemic?

Koehler: Yeah, I think it did. I think people really looked to the technology team to help kind of lead the way, frankly, on this way of working. [That's] because I think in many cases, the technology teams were further along in remote work with diverse and dispersed teams. We're used to having teams around the world. We're used to people being remote. Not all parts of the company had that culture.

One of the things that I said almost on Day 1 to the senior leadership team at Equifax was that all of you need to take a part in having a 'camera-on culture', because as we went from voice being kind of the norm - even though we had video, most people just used it as an audio conferencing system - we had to learn how to make sure our cameras were on to actually get the full effect that video would have.

So technology leaders really had to step up and provide a lot more cultural support to the organization to help them evolve - not just making the tech work, not just making sure VPN was up. Those are all table stakes - but how are we going to work? How are we going to use this technology? How are we going to collaborate? And how do we make sure that our productivity continues to rise as we go through this?

I think the role of the CIO and the CTO played a really critical part, just because of our histories of we've been doing this for a long time … at least I have in my career. I've been working with globally dispersed teams for 25 years. And so I think we had an opportunity to really lead there.

Read more of Bryson's insights by clicking here.