The five-minute CIO: Dave Webb, Equifax

9 Sep 2016

Dave Webb, CIO, Equifax

“Leveraging our capabilities, we develop 40 to 60 new software solutions a year in order to remain competitive,” said Dave Webb, CIO of Equifax.

Last week, Equifax opened its new R&D operation at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin.

In January, the company announced plans to hire around 100 new staff in “highly skilled R&D positions”.

The company was created in 1899 and is considered one of the three largest American credit agencies in North America alongside Experian and TransUnion.

Equifax opened an office in Wexford in 1994. Over the 22 intervening years, ties were strengthened between the company and Ireland, according to CIO Dave Webb.

Webb is chief information officer for Equifax, where he is responsible for leading a global team of IT professionals in delivering the technology strategy as well as support for the company’s innovative consumer and business solutions. He joined the company in 2010.

A 30-year veteran of the IT and financial services industries, Webb joined Equifax from Silicon Valley Bank, where as chief operations officer he led the company’s IT strategy. He also served as a vice-president at Goldman Sachs, supporting the investment and merchant banking divisions, and held technology leadership positions at Bank One and GE Capital’s auto finance business.

Additionally, Webb has served as a technology consultant to several large corporations in the US. While living in Europe, he held positions at companies servicing the oil industry, including Kestrel Data, Marathon Oil UK, and Brown and Root. Webb earned a bachelor’s degree in Russian from the University of London and a master’s degree in business administration from the J L Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

Can you outline the breadth and scope of the technology roll-out across your organisation and what improvements it will bring to the company?

We came to Dublin because there is great engineering talent that is well-equipped to develop platforms we can deploy in the geographies in which we operate. Not only is the talent outstanding, but being in Dublin also allows us to source people with contemporary technologies.

What are the main points of your company’s IT strategy?

At Equifax, IT’s dual role in the enterprise is to enable margin growth and accelerate revenue by leveraging capital expenditure to innovate and create standardised reusable assets and platforms which provide the backbone and agility required to accelerate speed to market when entering new verticals, markets and geographies faster than ever before.

Can you give a snapshot of how extensive your IT infrastructure is?

We have IT functions in every city in which we operate with more than 2,000 full-time employees and a number of consultants. A significant portion of our revenue is reinvested in developing new products and services in response to our customers’ ever-changing needs in the evolving marketplace.

Leveraging our capabilities, we develop 40 to 60 new software solutions a year in order to remain competitive.

In terms of managing IT budgets, what are your key thoughts on how CIOs should achieve their goals?

Quite simply, it boils down to how you run, improve and grow your business and the investment you make in each. For a company, like Equifax, whose very success depends on the development and deployment of successful new and innovative technologies, every year we are increasingly focusing resources on improving and growing the business.

How complex is the infrastructure?

There are two threads to this. The first one is infrastructure. We have nearly 30 data centres and because we are a highly regulated industry, the infrastructure is highly complex.

In line with this, we are adopting contemporary technologies to run the data centers and on the application side are investing into technology that will allow us to reduce the total number of applications we use.

Do you have a large in-house IT team, or do you outsource where possible?

Our strategy is to build and retain IP, so for that we rely on full-time employees. On the run side we leverage partners as we need them.

What are some of the main responsibilities of your own role?

My focus is on developing strategy and identifying opportunities for growth both inside and outside the company on a global scale.

What metrics or measurement tools do you use?

We are unusual in that we look at it through more of a business lens and more specifically at how much we are spending on new products and how much revenue is generated from these.

Are there any areas you’ve identified where IT can improve?

There are always opportunities to continue improving upon your talent base and an ongoing need to stay on top of technology trends.

What other projects do you have lined up for the year?

We continue to increase staff and develop our global IT centres in support of the over 1,000 active projects that are in the queue.

Updated, 9.20am, 16 September 2016: This article originally stated that Equifax was founded in 1989. It was founded in 1899.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years