Minimizing risks and maximizing business opportunities with data

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Information is incredibly valuable when you’re starting a business or embarking on a new innovation project within your organization. Knowledge about your market, your competitors, your partners and the potential risks involved is paramount to make informed business decisions and seize business opportunities. This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Peter van den Heuvel, CIO at Graydon – a Netherlands-based company that helps you make these key decisions with confidence using data and analytics.

Peter, could you tell us more about your background and your passion for data and analytics?

I have a Bachelor’s in Information Technology and a Master’s Degree in IT Management; and I have been working in the IT industry for over 20 years. However, it was only until I started working for Intrum Justitia (Europe’s leading Credit Management Services group) in 2008 that my interest in big data and analytics was fueled. That’s where my passion for data really started to develop.

Could you tell us more about Graydon?

Graydon has 3 pillars in its product stream: credit information, risk and compliance, and marketing information. The company has 400 employees and delivers services in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Simply put, we help companies gain insight into their financial health and the creditworthiness of their potential and current partners, but we also advise them on their market and customer potential through marketing intelligence and provide them with insights about potential risks and opportunities in their business relationships. Furthermore, the solutions we are currently developing will also enable companies to analyze their full supply chain and make intelligent decisions about their new ventures and business relationships using big data. We have 90 million companies in our company database. This valuable data bank enables you to compare your own business with other companies. For instance, you can compare how many employees and invested capital a potential business partner has, or how your competitors are performing. This helps you get a competitive edge.

Can you elaborate more on how your customers benefit from big data and analytics?

Peter van den Heuvel

There are multiple ways our customers benefit from big data and analytics. For instance, they can optimize their business processes to reduce risks and improve sales. Likewise, they can analyze their financial health and compare it with other companies to optimize their financial processes and drive more business opportunities.

Could you tell us more about the importance of credit data for the economy at large?

Data helps us reduce risk and create opportunities. It makes the creditworthiness of companies visible and this, in turn, facilitates international business. Our credit reports and advice make international investment and business relationships less risky, but also detect new business opportunities.

How does big data and analytics support Graydon?

Analytics and big data are key to the success of our business. Amongst other sources, we use chamber of commerce data and payment data (namely companies’ invoicing information), as well as open data initiatives. These open data initiatives are very important. For instance, you can use traffic or business growth information (by location or industry) to decide where you want to start your next company.

What technologies and tools do you use?

We use Oracle for storage and SAS software to calculate credit ratings, detect anomalies and handle data integration and management. For instance, data from Open Data streams is processed with a SAS data integration/management solution. The stored data is then analyzed by our Oracle Big data system (using Hadoop and Endeca) and the outcome is turned into Insights with SAS software. We deliver it to our customers by means of a web portal and API platform.

In your opinion, will big data change the way companies finance their operations? For instance, through connected markets, peer-to-peer lending and maybe even crowdfunding?

The use of big data will definitely bring changes to the way finance operations work. The more data sources you have, the more precisely you can determine your risk and the better your analytics. It’s not only big data that is making a change, it’s technology in general – which is becoming easier to use and readily available. This is making it easier for companies to enter new business sectors, peer-to-peer payments provided by companies other than banks are a good example.

What do you enjoy the most about working in this field?

I like to work with up and coming technologies and I’m interested in how big data can optimize the way we do business. The Internet of Things will take this one step further. More and more data will become available. I’m excited to see what will happen in this interesting new era, which has the potential to be more revolutionary than the internet itself. Exploring how this data can be integrated with business activities is what I enjoy the most.

Interview written and edited by Gloria Quintanilla, Chirppoint.

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