Innovation is us. We don’t exist without innovation.
Hi I’m Jim McClave, and I am founder and CEO of Infotech.
Starting Something New
The thing about Infotech that was innovative from the time that my partner and I founded the company is that we were the first to use statistical and computerized techniques to detect bid rigging.
Doing the innovation with the detection of bid rigging, it set the tone because no one else was doing it and we had very early successes using the tools. And so we happened to use it in the highway industry first, but since then we’ve used it in dozens, probably hundreds of industries in which there have been issues or problems. And so, I think just the fact that we were first into it into this area and developed the tools has allowed us to thrive.
A Tried and True Methodology
In the Consulting division we were doing the expert witness work on these cases developed by using our software tools. The cases we worked on early on and the methods we developed were truly innovative because we were finding patterns of collusion in bid rigging using not confessions, but in fact, data. Tom Rothrock and I strongly believed that you can’t make rigged bids look like competitive bids. And so, the innovative work in Consulting was putting that out there – the fact that we can take five years’ history of your bids and figure out whether you’re getting competition or not.
A case that comes to mind where we had to really innovate was the first time that our software was tested in court. Most of the early cases settled before getting to court. One very major contractor who was being accused of bid rigging decided to take it to trial and tried very hard to get hold of our software. When the contractor couldn’t get hold of it, [they] fought tooth and nail in this case. And so we knew this was going to be the first opportunity to be able to explain that this software really works and try to convince a judge and jury doing that.
And we went to trial, and again I could go on forever, but ultimately prevailed despite the other side putting up a big fight.
Balancing Truth and Discovery
In doing the expert witness work that Consulting does, we’re almost forced to use standard methodology because if you take something new to court, the first attack will be, “Well, that isn’t even tested yet.” So, the innovation in the Consulting work and expert witness work is: how do you apply those tools, those standard tools? Can you find innovative ways to do so?
The way that we have pushed innovation in statistics and econometrics, which is well established, is not in developing new tools – we use those tools – but it’s the manner in which we use them and, in particular, the way we’ve learned to explain them to our clients, which are primarily attorneys and judges and jurors who haven’t been trained in the same area that we have.
And so, we use these sophisticated techniques, but then we keep it simple for them. We graphically depict them. We put it in a way that we can, that I can be a professor again and explain them.
That’s what we try to do with our work. That’s where the innovation comes in.