Premier 100 IT Leader profile: David Webb

A big bet on big data pays off.

In two short years as CIO at Equifax, David Webb has worked hard to transform the credit reporting agency.

"We're on the cusp of a revolution with data," he says. This revolution will allow Equifax to deliver more extensive insights into consumer behavior that the firm's clients can use to make better risk and marketing decisions, he says.

Faced with integrating $1.6 billion in new data assets, including 30 billion records on income, assets and real estate, with Equifax's existing credit data, Webb, 55, realized he needed a new approach to big data that would let IT crunch hundreds of terabytes in a matter of seconds. Rather than invest $7.5 million in hardware for its massively parallel processing environment, Webb bet that Equifax's engineers could build a better mousetrap in the form of a new indexing technology.

"We rolled the dice and built solutions internally that had the potential to derail some significant revenue streams had we got it wrong," he says. But Project Keystone, as it's called, also had the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue.

Fortunately, Webb says, the plan worked. "With Project Keystone, we can produce products and bring them to market in a fraction of the time of our previous model or what the competition could do," he says. (For more on Webb and Project Keystone, see the blog post Equifax: Facebook, Google biggest threats.)

"David gets the big picture very quickly, and his vision to move fast is critical," says Ravi Acharya, senior vice president of global Internet solutions. "It helps challenge us all."

-- Robert L. Mitchell

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