Greensill Partners With Dun & Bradstreet to Achieve True Data-Driven Decisioning
Interview with Nick Carrel – Head of Data Science, Greensill
Greensill is the leading provider of working capital finance for businesses and people globally. It has more than 1,000 specialists, providing Supply Chain Finance in over 175 countries. In 2019, the company provided $143bn of financing and since inception has provided finance to in excess of eight million customers and suppliers.
Greensill is working with Dun & Bradstreet to broaden its dataset to understand who it is truly doing business with and make data-driven decisions across all business functions – from Compliance and Risk to Marketing, Origination and Product Development.
Nick – we’d like to start by getting to know you a little better. Could you please tell us about your role at Greensill and how you ended up where you are today?
My job title is Head of Data Science, and I’ve been at Greensill for around a year. I actually started my career in marketing, working in the retail industry. I then moved to insurance risk for a while, before completing my transition to the dark side with roles in credit risk. Throughout my 15+ year career, I’ve had the chance to work in lots of different areas of data and across multiple industries.
As my title suggests, I look after Data Science at Greensill. Aside from building and managing the data science team, I’m also responsible for setting the vision and direction. My role covers the sourcing of data for internal and external use, as well as setting up our analytics platform and decision engines. Essentially, it’s my job to give the teams the right tools to work with. More widely, I also act as a data evangelist within the business and facilitate the business on its journey towards being data-driven.
What role does data play at Greensill?
Data is essential to many of our different functions. One of the things I particularly like at Greensill is that Data Science sits within IT. Typically, the Data Science function will sit within Marketing or Risk and usually follows the strategic objectives of those functions, however we instead have a certain freedom to support a wide range of stakeholders (including Origination, Distribution, Risk, Product, Marketing, Operations and even Legal), which is unusual for a Data Science function. The key commonality is that all these functions use data either to automate their processes or make decisions and our role in Greensill is to facilitate this.
What are the key outcomes Greensill is trying to achieve by partnering with Dun & Bradstreet?
The way I like to describe it is – in order to achieve true data-driven decisioning, you need both a combination of volume and breadth of data. Whilst Greensill has been successful in adding to our data set, we recognised that we needed to widen the database further. So, we embarked on a project to find the right data supplier to help us broaden our understanding of the data we have in our database and integrate additional data to better support all the different functions of our business.
One of the main objectives is entity resolution and ensuring a thorough understanding of all the entities we do business with. This is beneficial from both a regulatory and a competitive perspective. From a regulatory aspect we need to carry out the right checks and be 100% certain we’re checking the right entity. The broadening of our data set also allows us to make progress in all our functions, whether that’s targeting prospects, our understanding of risk etc. to support growth and our competitive position.
Why was Dun & Bradstreet chosen to support Greensill with their data needs, and how will it help to solve your challenges?
We were particularly interested in the penetration depth of the Dun & Bradstreet data set. At Greensill we deal with a lot of private businesses and it was critical for us to find a supplier that could provide data for both publicly listed and private companies.
The breadth of the information in the Dun & Bradstreet Data Cloud was also a crucial factor. Not only do we get typical firmographic data items i.e. industry an entity is in, the number of employees they have, location etc. - but we’re also getting financial information and linkage data including company structure and parent and sub companies. We’ve also got access to data that helps us develop and enhance risk models. The Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) data is also useful from an AML (Anti-Money Laundering)/KYC (Know Your Customer) perspective.
The additional breadth of data will be a key enabler for Greensill as we will be able to develop solutions to support risk management, marketing, origination, and product development. The breadth of Dun & Bradstreet data will be incredibly useful to our Data Science team.
As a company with a presence in many jurisdictions, international coverage and data supply was an important factor and we were impressed with Dun & Bradstreet’s global network. From an entity resolution point of view, the fact that the Dun & Bradstreet D‑U‑N‑S® number was created in 1963 showed that Dun & Bradstreet has built a strong IP and has vast knowledge around resolving entities at a local level in different regions.
Perhaps most importantly, Dun & Bradstreet was prepared to work with us to develop a solution that would work for us – recognising where we are on our growth path. Greensill is growing very fast and we may not have much certainty on the volume of data we will be needing in six months’ time. Having a supplier who could design a structure that fits that uncertainty was very welcome.
What impact does Greensill expect to see once the project is complete?
It will enable us to improve performance across many of our functional areas that we do well today – we’ll be better at risk decisioning, we’ll be able to do more thorough and automated AML/KYC checks and improve targeting. By the end of the integration period, we’ll be able to deliver improvements across a range of business activities.
How are you managing the expectations of executives and other internal stakeholders following the investment in data?
We’re providing regular updates on our data ingestion process and are launching new solutions using the Dun & Bradstreet data. Nothing speaks to people more than actually seeing data in action. For example, we’re currently working hard on a complex entity resolution process and there are already demos taking place to show the progress – i.e. how we interrogate the Dun & Bradstreet entity resolution engine, how we receive data back, what it looks like, how it has a confidence score, and how we handle that data on the back of receiving it.
We use our internal communications channels to share and demonstrate how the data is being used to benefit the business. Progressively, we’re incorporating the data into things we do already for the various functions. For example, the Marketing team know about the progress we have made in getting access to data, ingesting it and working with it for the purposes of marketing. We already have Market Insight from Dun & Bradstreet too which, combined with the additional data from our new contracts, will be a really useful tool for them to be able to size prospective markets.
We involved a lot of the different departments in the procurement phase and included their input as we worked to develop the solution. A lot of people were aware we were getting the data and knocking on our doors asking when it would be ready for them to consume – the potential offered by the Dun & Bradstreet dataset was already well known across the business even before final signature!
Ultimately, once we’ve passed the learning curve and started delivering more solutions using the Dun & Bradstreet data, we’ll also work on demonstrating the ROI on the back of the initial investment.
What have you enjoyed so far about working with Dun & Bradstreet?
For Greensill, it was key to work with a supplier willing to be flexible and to help Greensill grow on its data journey. We worked together over a few months to design the right solution for us. I have to say I was really happy with the solution we arrived to in the end, because it really fits the needs of an organisation that is growing at a really fast pace. It really felt like we worked together rather than in a traditional customer and vendor relationship where price is typically the main goal of the transaction. Working in partnership with Dun & Bradstreet has been really enjoyable.
To others working on similar projects, I’d say – work with Dun & Bradstreet and tell them what your business needs. This worked particularly well for us. I think it’s important to let the Dun & Bradstreet team know your end goal and what you need, so you can develop the right level of access for your business that is relevant for the curve of maturity that your business is on. Ask them to help you interpret their data and its idiosyncrasies – ultimately no-one will know the data better than Dun & Bradstreet themselves. There’s a lot of knowledge there which can be leveraged, and that’s something I recommend people are not shy to tap into. Just share with Dun & Bradstreet what you want to achieve, what type of data you’re looking to use, and learn from them how to best achieve that goal.
If you would like to speak to Dun & Bradstreet about how we can help you on your own data journey, please contact us via phone, email or chat today.