How the cloud is driving a full-scale business transformation at Equifax

Article - Operations
By Tim Cassidy|18th July 2023

In September 2017, Equifax experienced a data breach, which impacted the personal information of approximately 147 million people. Six years later, the global data, analytics, and technology company is in the midst of a $1.5 billion transformation that includes moving to a 100% cloud-native operation to drive better performance, scalability, and speed of innovation. And while the technology changes were anticipated, as Equifax’s CFO of Global Technology, Ranojoy (RJ) Hazra, told us at our recent Digital Innovation Summit, it also required a wholesale reset to implement a Cloud culture across the company.

In brief: Equifax’s mission

  • Establish security leadership: Not just restore trust but to become best in class with a commitment to share that knowledge with the world
  • Move to a 100% cloud-native operation: to drive better performance, scalability, and speed of innovation
  • Bring all data assets together: An enterprise data fabric, to better deliver insights for their customers

Vision statement

After the data breach, Equifax was on a mission not only to recover but breathe new life into the 120-year-old company and turn it into a cloud-native innovation machine. Their vision? To be the trusted global leader in data, advanced analytics, and technology, to create innovative solutions and insights that help customers drive growth and move people forward. RJ was charged with managing the transition and delivering ROI. RJ told the audience,

“We were at a critical juncture with few choices in front of us and we had to make a bold choice and we did.”
RJ Hazra, CFO of Global Technology – Equifax

$1.5 billion strategy

Equifax committed $1.5 billion to establish security leadership, move to a 100% cloud-native operation and bring all data assets together in an enterprise data fabric. RJ said,

“In just a few years’ time we have taken significant strides to re-engineer our company from the ground up, our approach was unlocking the agility of a cloud native startup backed with the scale and expertise from a 120-year-old company, but it came with significant challenges.”

Leadership buy-in

The bold transformation project required leadership buy-in from the word ‘go.’ RJ says they were able to show growth projections, “While we did to a lot of communication and change management from an engineering perspective, what was most critical to us was senior leadership buy-in, so we focused on the most senior leaders, GM’s, CFOs, CEOs, CMOs, for them to understand how does moving to the cloud impact your business profile and what abilities does it give from a growth perspective.”

The journey

  • Rebuilt 800 applications
  • Decommissioned 14 data centers globally
  • Migrated 70% of Equifax’s revenue to be cloud native
  • All while integrating 11 plus acquisitions worth $3 billion+ in revenue

All of the above is simply not possible in a legacy environment and RJ says this is what the cloud unlocked for Equifax, “We went from a $3 billion dollar revenue business in 2019 to approximately $5 billion dollars today, with outsize growth from our workforce solutions business, we experienced 9 consecutive quarters of double digit growth, this growth is coming on the back of our new product velocity, we introduced over 150 products last year compared to 90 in 2019.”

Keys to Equifax framework

Established a Cloud Center of Excellence – Composed of sourcing, FP&A, SREs, Tagging structure

Targets – Shared accountability

Centralizing Purchases – Cloud cost capitalization

Architectural Structures – Cloud cost capitalization

Standardized Analytics – Gold standard developed; Now democratized

SWAT Team – Support for app teams, best practices, resize environments, architecture

Private v. public cloud

RJ has worked in both the private and public cloud space. Equinix is now using public cloud and RJ says it’s a secure place to be, “We are one of the most regulated businesses in pretty much any industry you can think of, and we have found that our security posture in the public cloud is better than any industry standard and we feel extremely comfortable having answered the question around security which led us to the decision we took which was public cloud.”

Cloud costs

“Cloud costs is the number one concern for CFO’s today”
RJ Hazra, CFO of Global Technology – Equifax

“Cloud costs is the number one concern for CFO’s today when highly skilled engineers are on a mission to move workloads to the cloud, they are focused on delivering the best possible customer experience at the highest performance, but they often lack a view into cost and revenue implications.”

Rampant growth of unused cloud services and cloud costs which are hard to forecast and regularly go over budget was a big worry for RJ, “There was a month in 2020 where our cloud costs doubled, and I realized I didn’t really understand why, and that uncomfortable position really pushed us to think differently in terms of how important cloud costs were going to be for the enterprise especially when you looked at our transformation vision.” That was what RJ and Equifax tackled next.

Cannonball to FinOps

Traditionally, finance teams have limited visibility into what’s driving costs. FinOps is an evolving cloud financial management discipline and cultural practice that allows organizations to get maximum business value by helping engineering, finance, technology, and business teams collaborate on data-driven spending decisions. “The traditional phases of FinOps was inform, optimize, operate and our journey has basically been the same, cultural change has been a critical component, driving shared accountability upfront was a baseline, operational optimization and full time analytics driving architectural decisions was critical and agile financial framework, dynamically putting in place all the financial structures that our partners and cloud providers have built into the process, this helped offset some of the financial implications.”

Conclusion

Equifax’s journey from a data breach in 2017 to becoming a cloud-native innovation powerhouse is a testament to the power of transformative leadership and bold decision-making. By committing $1.5 billion to establish security leadership, embracing a 100% cloud-native operation, and unifying data assets in an enterprise data fabric, Equifax not only regained trust but also achieved remarkable growth and success. Through the adoption of FinOps practices, they efficiently managed cloud costs, enabling continuous innovation and faster time-to-market for new products. Equifax’s story serves as an inspiring example of how embracing cloud technology and cultivating a cloud-native culture can drive full-scale business transformation, ultimately leading to extraordinary achievements.

RJ says they are in the 4th inning of their transformation journey in terms of migrating everything to their cloud-native culture. A transformation resulting in astounding growth.

“Every business wants to grow, every business wants to have great margins, plug in to those details on how you can make the business grow and how cloud can help the business grow from a velocity standpoint and what it came down to for us was how long will take us to get a new product on the market today and now we can get a product to market in less than half the time from where we were able to before that was the selling point.”

Looking for ways to accelerate your sales cycles, engage in industry conversations, and achieve better outcomes? Look no further than our digital summits – our unique 3-day digital event experiences that bring together senior executives and solution providers.

Our recent Digital Innovation North America Summit had RJ as a keynote speaker and ended with an impressive average content attendance of 94% and meeting completion rate of 106% against target.

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Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend one of our unforgettable event experiences that promise to leave you feeling inspired and empowered.

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