Coface X Rel8ed: “Nowadays, Data Science is a key component of Risk Management”

Recently acquired by Coface, Rel8ed is a specialized North American data analytics boutique, which develops innovative solutions leveraging Big Data and AI.

How can our trade credit insurance and Business Information clients benefit from the pooling of expertise? How is capitalising on Data Science essential to address market trends and to meet the evolving needs of our clients? Bob Lytle, General Manager and founder of Rel8ed, explains it all.


Bob, can you introduce yourself and present Rel8ed?

I’m a technology executive and the former Chief Information Officer of Canada’s TransUnion Credit Bureau, a US-based company dedicated to collecting, managing and analysing financial and budgetary information on businesses and consumers for the purpose of managing credit files. The story of Rel8ed has something to do with that: due to my previous position in Credit Bureau for many years, I got awareness on both trade credit insurance, and a sense of the data that was not being connected. So, I built Rel8ed to connect the data!

Our company’s history is a real entrepreneurial adventure. Rel8ed is quite young: we started seven years ago in Canada, with an idea to fill a hole in the market by making public data analytics easily available to anyone and everyone, and it’s really taken off! Rel8ed is now a leading provider of commercial and unique specialty data for multi-national companies, governments and business associations.


What are your main areas of expertise and solutions?

We are specialized in the integration, cross-referencing, predictive analysis and inference from Big Data extracted from multiple sources. Our work shows how business data is interrelated to other companies, by connecting disparate information together. We use Data Science and predictive analytics and provide actionable insights for business and risk management to banks, insurers, and researchers who need to understand their market and grow profits. We now have more than 125 million of companies in our own global database and use Data Science to modelise global public-source data with proprietary algorithms, in order to reveal powerful insights and business information based on the links between business, owners, suppliers and competitors. Our innovative, easy-to-use data portal, called Diligence, makes all of these resources accessible to organizations of any size.

In the area of Risk Management, our information also contributes to strengthen the Compliance dimension of the business. We work on the Know Your Customer part, an information that is in strong demand from market players especially with the increased government sanctions and global interconnection of supply chains. Very often, we hear about Compliance as being a deal killer. For us, this is the opposite! Compliance is part of the set of indicators which allow to take appropriate risk. So it’s directly related to a global risk management and assessment approach.


Can you explain how Rel8ed has grown until now?

Our development has been fueled by many pilot projects. We grew in Canada, as a portfolio company of Niagara’s incubator program in Ontario. We have provided our solutions for organizations of all sizes across the public, private, not-for-profit, and academic sectors. And we’ve learned by walking…

In 2018, we moved across the border, we opened an office in Buffalo (USA). A few projects later, we quickly became a bi-national company, working for national governments or as well as major credit data distributors. These experiences have opened doors and put us in rooms that we only imagined we’d have access to. And one of those rooms was with Coface’s team, leading up then to the acquisition!

Today, companies need access to qualified insights, in-depth information and predictive analysis to steer their business decisions.


Why have you decided to trust Coface to support Rel8ed's growth?

As a small startup, you can only grow in two ways: either you take on big capital investment, or you find a partner. Coface presented a compelling opportunity to continue to grow: a large global footprint, a business information service poised for growth, and demonstrated investments in innovation over the past several years. For Rel8ed it is a significant milestone. Then, we already have been able to test the synergies, the complementary assets that each can bring to the other. The Coface-Rel8ed story began through a 1-year partnership focused on mid-market and small businesses for North America Region, where deep insights are difficult to acquire. This first collaboration largely met expectations! Above all, we quickly realized that combining our talents and industry knowledge could build something truly unique for the market.


What shared added values does this acquisition bring to both companies?

Our combination will allow expanding the database in volume and quality and leveraging each other’s analytics for lead generation and risk management. It will benefit both Trade Credit Insurance and Business Information customers. Today, companies need access to qualified insights, in-depth information and predictive analysis to steer their business decisions. Together, we can deliver a better client experience by helping them uncover new relationships, enhanced business intelligence, and stronger leads.

As a former start up, we’ll also bring our entrepreneurial spirit and innovative approach to solving new challenges. We are collaborating with Coface’s Data Lab to design new products and test new solutions. Our combined expertise allow us to quickly design proofs of concept on the solutions we plan to develop.

You can have the best ai in the world, but a human must tame the AI!


How is Data Science crucial for companies?

We have entered a new age where data and information services represent an essential development lever. In our fields, the ability to analyze and connect data is a key component for decision-making, risk management, and trade credit insurance.

Data and artificial intelligence (AI) are how the world is running! So, yes, we all agree, entering data into a CRM tool can be a pain but, nowadays, data is essential to selling! Imagine if you had insight on what made your prospects tick, so your marketing team could design content specifically to help the people you’re targeting. What if your sales outreach was so well-tailored that every prospect on your list was already an “A” prospect?

However, developing AI solutions without investing on expertise and talents would be a strategic mistake. We have the knowledge and the ability to develop very fast predictive models based on data and AI. Current technologies are powerful, but these do not truly solve a problem. They only help people make decisions. I truly believe in the balance – and sometimes limitations - of the AI machine and the importance to use both data and human intelligence in assessments. This is core to our belief in business: you can have the best AI in the world, but a human must tame the AI. At Rel8ed, we call it robot training!