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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Upside Briefing: FICO

Decision management provides a way for organizations to clarify how their decisions are made and structured. We offer Upside's first impression of FICO's decision management tools.

Name of Company: FICO

Company Location: Global

TDWI Product Market Categories: Predictive Analytics/Decision Management

Product-Line Vision: To help organizations realize the promise of advanced analytics and decision management.

Briefing Notes: I recently met with David Lightfoot, VP of product management at FICO, to get an update on what FICO is doing in the area of predictive/prescriptive analytics and decision management.

When people think about FICO, they often think about their FICO score. However, FICO offers a range of software across the customer life cycle, primarily (although not exclusively) in financial services. For instance, it offers Falcon Fraud Manager, a fraud protection product, as well as TRIAD Customer Manager for credit and deposit customer management. FICO also offers a decision management suite (named Decision Management Suite 2.0) that provides a breadth of modeling capabilities.

Decision management can help an organization make small, repeatable, high-volume operational decisions that have a degree of uncertainty, where each decision by itself is not necessarily that valuable but the aggregation is important. Although financial services is a likely target (think fraud/no fraud; credit/no credit decisions), decision management lends itself to many different verticals. In fact, Lightfoot said that 60 percent of new clients in the last few years have been non-financial, including telecommunications and transportation.

Decision management was the primary focus of our conversation. A few of the products that are part of the newly released suite are:

  • DMN Modeler: DMN Modeler helps in modeling decisions by providing a standard, codified program for decision modeling. In other words, it helps to actually detail how decisions are made: what data is needed, what knowledge sources are required, and what rules are applied. A subject matter expert can model a decision with FICO DMN Modeler and put it into production through the Decision Management Platform.

    In V2.0, FICO is now offering DMN Modeler at no cost in the FICO Analytic Cloud because the company wants organizations to adopt a standardized approach to decision management. V2.0 of DMN Modeler also enables output of decisions in Spark.

  • FICO Strategy Director: This is a new tool in V2.0 that enables organizations to set up a decision service -- to author decisions within a well-structured paradigm using FICO's decision flow structure (that has been proven and tested by FICO over many years of use).
  • FICO Decision Central: This provides the infrastructure to manage, audit, report, and update decision assets along with predictive models. Decision Central acts as a control point to put the model into production. It includes capabilities such as decision logic governance, a central repository for decisions, workflow management, and an audit trail for the development and management of decisions.

FICO also provides a number of analytics tools for modelers, including a simple, guided means to develop scorecards, as well as sophisticated capabilities such as support for R, Spark machine learning libraries, and unstructured data analysis. FICO can also deploy models built in SAS and based on the PMML standard. Models are ultimately executed using the FICO decision management platform. These analytics are also available in the FICO Analytic Cloud.

First Impressions: Decision management is important because it provides a way for organizations to bring clarity to how their decisions are made and structured. Decision modeling can help save time and increase productivity in decision making. More often, organizations will be making large numbers of automated repeatable decisions.

Analytics vendors are beginning to move into the decision management space. One interesting capability here is how FICO is managing and governing decision assets. In the FICO model, the model builder doesn't simply create the model and note it in a model repository. Someone needs to actually sign off on the model as part of the model deployment process. This audit trail is captured as part of the software.

Additionally, although we didn't spend a lot of time talking about the FICO Analytic Cloud, it is something that also bears mentioning. FICO has numerous applications on this cloud for decision management, including customer behavior applications such as the FICO Customer Dialogue Manager.

About the Author

Fern Halper, Ph.D., is well known in the analytics community, having published hundreds of articles, research reports, speeches, webinars, and more on data mining and information technology over the past 20 years. Halper is also co-author of several “Dummies” books on cloud computing, hybrid cloud, and big data. She is VP and senior research director, advanced analytics at TDWI Research, focusing on predictive analytics, social media analysis, text analytics, cloud computing, and “big data” analytics approaches. She has been a partner at industry analyst firm Hurwitz & Associates and a lead analyst for Bell Labs. Her Ph.D. is from Texas A&M University. You can reach her at [email protected], on Twitter @fhalper, and on LinkedIn at

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