You may know Experian as a credit reporting agency. While it’s definitely that, like any modern company, it is broadening its focus in response to expanding customer demands. Today, Experian also helps business customers prevent fraud, offer on-the-spot credit to consumers, and make data-driven marketing decisions.
In 2015, Barry Libenson came on as CIO. His job: Help the company make the leap from a legacy enterprise IT infrastructure, built over decades—to a more integrated, agile IT, ready to take on the digital world. We spoke with him about how he’s meeting that challenge, and what the future looks like for Experian.
How has IT changed, from your perspective?
Experian used to be more of a pure information company. I would say that we’ve become much more of a technology company. Gone are the days where our responsibility was to keep the lights on and keep financial systems operating. IT has morphed into being more of a strategic partner with the business, helping to decide what type of product should be built, to better understand how customers want to access information.
How are customers driving IT priorities?
The days of companies dictating how people consume information are really changing. Where we used to provide a very prescriptive way that we wanted to interface with customers, they’re now coming back and saying, “We love the information and services you provide, but we want to consume them differently.”
There’s a critical need to authenticate that everybody who’s pulling information is who they say they are. Equally important is ensuring that they’re authorized to pull the piece of information that they’re actually looking at. Ensuring that we don’t share proprietary information with somebody who’s not entitled to see it—that’s at the forefront of all the products we build.
How have you approached that identity problem?
Part of my team’s responsibility is ensuring consistency across the organization. We have a lot of customers that use multiple Experian products. We want to make sure that they have the same type of experience with each product so that they don’t see something completely different between two different lines of business. That’s one of the reasons we standardized on Okta’s platform—so that all the lines of business for internal and external use would have an identity management platform that would be ubiquitous for the company.
What sold you on Okta?
The first application that we built using Okta’s technology was the mobile credit platform that’s offered to consumers (Credit Tracker). It’s received rave reviews. People love the interface—how clean it is. Through that app, you can see your current FICO credit score, how many open accounts you have, issues that are affecting your credit both positively and negatively. You can do what-if scenarios to determine how you could improve your credit history.
It was the first thing we built on Okta and it led the way, in terms of credibility. We knew we could use it enterprise-wide, given the success we have had within the consumer business.
What’s next for Experian IT?
We’re building out an API services environment that will allow customers to programmatically interface with Experian data sources and pull the exact information they need.
API enablement will allow us to move to more of a pure data provider, as opposed to just a credit provider. Okta is the go-forward strategy for all authentication inside the organization and will replace six different products across the company to be the single standard that we use. It will have a huge impact on everything we build going forward.
Experian replaced six disparate identity management technologies with Okta. They connected 17,000 employees to the platform, along with Experian customers and partners, in less than a year. To learn more about Experian and its move from credit bureau to technology company, check out the customer journey, and watch the interview in the video below.