António Monteiro, Country Manager, Iberinform Portugal, IberinformAntónio Monteiro, Country Manager, Iberinform Portugal
In 1947, two entrepreneurial Portuguese executives used their experience and in-depth knowledge of the business information industry and proceeded to start their own pure national information agency— Iberinform.

More than 70 years later, Iberinform continues to help businesses convert information into value, only at a broader scale. Today, Iberinform is an amalgam of two realities, two companies, and two countries that culminates in one brand and strategy. While the Portuguese branch has specialised in information and risk management since 1947, the Spanish division has served as the data bank for Crédito y Caución—a global credit insurance operator—since 1975. When the Portuguese firm was sold to Crédito y Caución in 2016, the two brands merged into one. “Since the merger, we have benefited from experience and information-sharing between two companies, countries, and markets. This has helped us globalise our clientele,” says António Monteiro, the country manager of Iberinform Portugal, while stressing that since Portugal is “a nation of explorers and exporters,” it is only fitting that Iberinform Portugal caters to customers that transcend borders.

Low-Risk, High-RewardBusiness Decisions

Iberinform serves a global clientele through three foundational risk management offerings—business information, advanced analytics solutions, and data integration tools. The objective is to equip businesses with authenticated, relevant data that can be harnessed to identify low-risk, high-potential business opportunities. Iberinform’s team of 200 data specialists gather and process information solely from official sources, interviews, and collections, before handling, analysing, and structuring the data to extract the most value out of it. The delivery of “relevant information” to customers is at the core of Iberinform’s solutions. Having closely observed how corporations in Portugal and Spain make critical decisions, Monteiro believes most firms lack access to pertinent data about their customers. “Businesses are making crucial decisions based on information obtained through historical relationships, and not actual fact,” he says. Iberinform, which conducts over 500,000 investigations per year, has observed that a majority of enterprises operate without customer data such as profitability, history, and financial stability.

When organisations do not utilise such data to influence their risk criterion, they are bound to make misguided decisions. This is where Iberinform brings tremendous value. Acknowledging that various aspects of a business give rise to different risks, Iberinform compartmentalises its repository of information, with each silo addressing a different area of risk, while making the information available across the organization. Monteiro explains, “We help customers meet the need for accurate information for each department, whether its finance, risk analysis, or production. We deploy our analytical solutions—which contain exclusive information sourced by us—to the various departments of an organisation, allowing them to make decisions that mitigate risk.”

Educating customers on the importance of relevant information is only the tip of the iceberg. Iberinform makes use of the latest technologies to address the various challenges and trends in the risk management landscape, ranging from the search and combined analysis of the full ledger, the lower value of historical data, and the democratisation of risk analysis tools. “Iberinform develops tools that can solve the prevailing challenges as well as adapt to emerging trends,” says Monteiro.

As a trendsetter in the risk management space, Iberinform—serving over 7,000 customers throughout Spain and Portugal—has a history of “answering to trends.” Over the years, the firm has developed a risk assessment model called SCORE, which measures the probability of a company’s 12-month default. Recognised as an External Credit Assessment Institution (ECAI), SCORE has emerged as a certified indicator of corporate credit risk measurement and has been adopted by several organisations across the world.

Analytical Solutions to Mitigate Risk

In what can be viewed as the culmination of its risk management solutions, Iberinform has launched Insight View, the world’s first fintech tool that incorporates functionalities for the identification of customers with low default risk, financial analysis of companies selected by the user, and management of their professional commercial assets. Essentially, Insight View empowers businesses to not just curtail risk but equally shore up their marketing efforts.

Iberinform develops tools that can solve the prevailing challenges as well as adapt to emerging trends

By leveraging Insight View, Iberinform’s customers can:

• Find new customers: Insight View’s 19 segmentation filters allow users to narrow the search of potential customers from tens of millions of organisations and entrepreneurs. The tool allows businesses to quickly and easily download a file with data such as address, telephone, contact person, number of employees, risk profile, and key economic figures.

• Analyse financial indicators: The software enables businesses to search and access the latest financial and legal data on global organisations as well as freelancers. This information helps companies safely define credit limits for customers and identify threats associated with implementing their credit policies.

• Compare companies: Insight View’s benchmarking tool gives firms the option of making cross-company comparisons, taking into account factors such as default risk, number of employees, maximum recommended credit, and working capital.

• Analyse customer portfolio: Businesses can segregate companies on the basis of customers, suppliers, or competitors, and analyse them individually. Users can also add labels to each company and include them in different groups of interest.

• Receive dynamic alert notifications: Iberinform’s risk management solution keeps users abreast of the latest changes that occur in companies of interest. A value-add that is free of charge, Insight View sends out four types of alerts to users: maximum risk, medium risk, positive, and informative.

• Streamline unpaid bills: Insight View’s collection interface, which serves as a professional debt recovery service, helps businesses improve their cash flow management. Users can select which unpaid invoices they want managed and Atradius Collections (a debt collection and invoice checking tool) does the rest!

To summarise, Insight View covers the entire customer management cycle, starting from a pure marketer perspective all the way to the collection of invoices and unpaid bills. By examining the data generated by the tool, businesses can also discover companies that are comparable to their existing customer portfolio, which allows them to define ideal marketing strategies to win over potential customers. This data also allows businesses to red flag inactive or high-risk potential customers.

Besides a plethora of information on global companies, enterprises can also access their in-depth legal or financial data such as balance sheets, profit and loss analysis, evolutionary ratios, and judicial information. In fact, Insight View users can use this data as a yardstick to judge their position in the market—by analysing and comparing the economic figures of up to five competitors, suppliers, or customers against their own.

“With this business intelligence tool, firms gain an integrated view of customers throughout their entire lifecycle. Also, we have combined our deep data lake with a visual layer so companies get the best possible UX and can share data between the various departments within their company,” elaborates Monteiro. Apart from a clean UX, the information offered by Insight View is equally user-friendly. He notes that the information can be “easily comprehended by anyone, even those lacking a financial background.”

A Plug-and-Play Solution that Scales

The approach that Iberinform takes to deploy Insight View to a customer’s system is drastically different when compared to other risk management vendors. The methodology is a direct result of the company’s early conversations with its clientele. When Iberinform introduced its flagship software, it approached big corporations, especially in the utility sector, and offered Insight View as an alternative to procurement platforms for identifying reliable suppliers and vendors in the marketplace. “Besides mitigating risk, we wanted to offer a solution that can help utility companies monitor customers, providers, and suppliers,” recalls Monteiro. Since Iberinform’s customers were already using third-party platforms for procurement tasks, Monteiro and his team realised that Insight View needed to have advanced integration capabilities.

The integration element, baked into Iberinform’s deployment strategy, results in Insight View becoming a hub for third-party solutions. However, the deployment process is not a one-stop arrangement. “In addition to following up with customers to ensure our solutions are functioning optimally, we are meticulous about the future direction of their technology. Insight View doesn’t just adapt to a user’s existing needs but is equally prepared for tomorrow’s possibilities.
The tool is oriented to offer our customers quick and easy access to the data they need on a daily basis,” stresses Ignacio Jiménez, managing director of Iberinform.

With Iberinform allowing customers to customise Insight View as per their needs, the risk management platform has emerged as the “only over-the-counter plug-and-play solution that can analyse and monitor a growing consumer base.” As narrated by Monteiro, Insight View’s plug-and-play capabilities were on full display when the biggest utility company in Portugal needed to integrate the platform into its complex environment. He recalls, “All their external provider platforms were based on their internal platform/intranet. Rather than integrating separately with each vendor/provider and thereby suffering from downtime, we created a single sign-on (SSO) solution that incorporated all their tools in one environment. This is a classic example of our plug-and-play solution principle leading to the development of a complex solution.”

In keeping with the same philosophy, Iberinform develops solutions that start from a standardised offering before adapting to specific customer needs. This level of quick customisation is enhanced by Iberinform’s integrated data solutions such as web services and APIs. Iberinform’s API ecosystem is driven by the integration of data and functionalities in a Data as a Service (DaaS) mode. The solution not only guarantees higher data quality but increases profitability while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Insight View users’ marketing actions.

Ignacio Jiménez, Managing Director

The integrated data solutions have additionally helped Iberinform’s customers simplify their business processes. For example, they can enhance the information held in their own management tools by updating the data on a daily basis. Also, it is possible to auto-complete customer forms and to avoid manual data entry and duplication of portfolios. Some of the other benefits include the updating of CRM with up-to-the-minute data and creation of products and services based on Iberinform’s data catalogue.

Ready for the Future

Driving ahead, Iberinform will continue to offer diverse, integrated, and complementary data solutions to enrich the quality of information at each level of a customer’s business life cycle—from segmentations to financial/risk analysis to the management of debt. A forward-thinking enterprise that strives to be available 24/7 to its customers, Iberinform has made sizeable investments and integrated reputed vendors into its value chain. “World-class providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) strengthen the foundation of our solutions, allowing us to guarantee close to 100 percent availability,” reveals Monteiro.

In conclusion, Iberinform will keep close tabs on the changes in the risk management landscape and appropriately design or re-design its solutions. According to Monteiro, Iberinform is particularly focused on five emerging trends, which include the concept of one-stop shopping, the integration (of its analytical solutions) with various ERP and CRM, and privacy concerns emanating from EU’s GDPR. Monteiro says, “Nowadays, what is viewed as a data privacy concern in Spain or Portugal can be perceived totally differently in France. We are focused on working through these challenges.”

The fourth trend is the emergence of alternative data (such as consumer behaviour) and its usage within risk management solutions. “Alternative data is already covered in a microeconomic way, but not in perception. We want to incorporate alternative information into our data models,” adds Monteiro. The fifth and final trend is the rich repository of consumer data accumulated by Google, Amazon, and Alibaba (and many other less-known global players but equally threatening to the incumbents), a resource that Iberinform hopes to tap into.

Iberinform, which invests a market-demanded €12 million annually to source business information from across the world, is brimming with excitement over its roadmap. The European company already updates over 175,000 data items per day while directly managing information for over 5.4 million companies and sole traders. Remarkably, Iberinform is just scratching the surface of its potential.
- Joe Phillip
    October 16, 2019

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