by CIO New Zealand

CIO100 2018 #20: Nathan Scott, Valocity

Mar 28, 2018
Big DataDigital Transformation

Valocity transforms the mortgage valuation market by combining technology, data and analytics to deliver a valuation ecosystem which provides faster, better outcomes for banks when making everyday lending decisions.

The importance of security and reliability of the cloud-based platform, coupled with innovation, is paramount and its successful adoption already by a number of New Zealand banks is testimony of the quality of the technology it has created.

Its latest product, Valocity Agri, which was developed for the rural sector, has been taken up by many lenders in New Zealand and created excitement in the Australian market.

Nathan Scott, chief technology officer at Valocity, says Valocity Agri was developed in an agile fashion in close collaboration with their clients over last year.

Valocity Agri brings together rich data, robust platforms and spatial technologies to provide rural valuers expertise not available through traditional methods.

This map-driven view of properties provides valuers with a single coherent interaction experience, with visuals of the property, its services and environment and connecting that to related land blocks, he explains.

Valocity Agri challenges the traditional paper and multi-data source model of rural valuation and allows lenders to have a faster speed to “yes”. It also creates new opportunities driven by providing rich data in an easily accessible way, he says.

The product was a finalist in the NZ spatial awards, he says, as it leverages visual mapping technologies to provide unique new ways of understanding and interacting with data to create new services and better outcomes.

With Valocity Agri, the lender now can now work with rural owners to answer questions not possible before such as ‘which nearby land would be good for expansion?’

The product utilises new mapping technologies which were built in collaboration with an EU/US based vendor. Valocity deployed these platforms into this region utilising their Microsoft’s Azure Cloud technologies to consolidate data from multiple sources as a single view.

“Having key clients, in the room each week to collaborate, was a key to success for this project,” he says.

Valocity Agri transforms the way rural valuations operate, significantly digitising workflow to increase speed and efficiency while providing richer information. This challenged the traditional activities of rural valuers, he says.

Critical for success of the project was ensuring that the product exceeded expectations in terms of usability, security and quality. This required a highly collaborative approach with our customers, with design driven agile development being key, says Scott.

“A significant aspect of the journey was real world testing, and we had real lenders and valuers in multiple areas of NZ testing and providing feedback each week on both functional aspects and importantly any data issues.”

Building a beautiful product was only half the journey, he adds. “It also has to demonstrate that it had data superior to other sources.”

Internally this saw the technology team creating new roles in the data and spatial technologies area, new structures and new processes using new service tools to ensure they tracked and resolved immediate and root causes during pilots and production.“Our business is about using new technologies to innovate both our products and our service offering,” he says.

Our expansion into the international market has seen a focus on the possibilities offered by cloud technology to deliver both robust, scalable and secure technologies but also to build in ways where organisational or technology structure does not limit innovation, he says.

This has seen us introduce new approaches and tools to deliver products that can scale as required with minimal cost of infrastructure and management.

“This largely removes the need for traditional IT infrastructure services and empowers the engine room to go faster,” says Scott.

Using machine learning, Valocity provides an Automated Valuation model (AVM). This highly complex statistical model learns from thousands of data sources and billions of data points to determine and predict value of properties.

“We have begun to utilise machine learning to determine big data effects on statistical models,” he says.

Using spatial technology, the team built and deployed mapping technologies into the Azure datacentre to enable them to drive new spatial solutions

These innovations go beyond just using a new technology, to making it part of our product or how we do business. They are part of our DNA, he says.

For instance, serverless technology improves the velocity of our engine room, empowering developers to build faster and allows us to keep our DNA of agile and fast delivery as we grow.

Our spatial innovations are tightly coupled to our product; the platform, partnerships and knowledge is unique to our business and not easily duplicated by those using “off the shelf” technology.

“Good agile practices help significantly in this constant innovative environment, mentoring, retrospectives and design thinking are key to being constantly changing to keep pace with innovation,” he says.

Scott has held business technology executive roles in both government and the private sector, and says his greatest leader lesson from these is that: “People matter.”

“It’s a simple learning but surprisingly tough for CIO/CTOs who have come from a background of being the ‘star’ themselves,” he says.

“I built a career travelling international and taking the lead role as a developer in projects in many countries for large businesses

Through this process I was valued for my ability to quickly translate and build products as the key developer or lynchpin driving the technology delivery.

“With Valocity, it has become most clear it is all about the team,” he says.

“Valocity is a team of rockstars, I have earned the right to help coordinate and guide my people and align them to where we grow.

“Giving up the need to be in the driving seat is the critical lesson. Seeing the success and the passion for the team involved continues to demonstrate to me the power and importance of being part of a great team.”