Young Ryan helps executives cut through the numbers
September 4, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
If you buy a car this
Labor Day weekend, technology provided by Pat Ryan Jr. might help
you get a better deal.
convinced too many executives make seat-of-the-pants decisions.
His software company, Incisent Technologies, supplies software
tools that help car dealers better run their business. Ryan's
First Look software incorporates appraisal tools, search engines,
inventory management and business management modules that improve
Using First Look, dealers
have all the information to make a proper appraisal and offer
the best deal. Ryan integrates information from the Internet,
wholesale car auctions, dealership transactions and regional sales
The software doesn't
tell the dealership what to offer for your trade-in, but it assures
they know the realistic value of your transaction. That's good
for buyers and sellers. It makes dealerships more efficient.
"We saw an opportunity
to help businesses use data to drive decision making," said
the 39-year-old Ryan. "Executives are overwhelmed with data.
Data is like a foreign language. Some people aren't fluent. They
look at a numeric report like it's Latin."
to turn data into insight
Ryan is focusing on
an important issue. Today's computing technology puts hundreds
of parameters at a decision maker's fingertips. How do you process
all the information and turn data into actionable insight? Ryan
believes he's found the key.
puts critical information into a natural language format that's
easy to understand," Ryan says. For today's auto dealer,
Ryan's software is as important to business success as the power
tools used by the mechanics. It gives the dealer an edge, enabling
consistent, high quality decision making.
Ryan is the son of
legendary Chicago insurance industry entrepreneur and Aon Corp.
founder Pat Ryan Sr. Growing up in Chicago, the younger Ryan didn't
ride a chauffeured limousine. He took the Sheridan Road No. 151
bus to high school. Graduating from Georgetown University, he
pursued a passion for public service before embarking on a career
as an entrepreneur.
Ryan taught school
in the inner city, and then graduated from the Chicago Police
Academy. He worked for the Cook County state's attorney, assigned
to the Chicago police gang unit as a narcotics detective.
Ryan never told his
law enforcement buddies about his famous father. "One day,
the other detectives saw a newspaper picture of my father and
the president of the United States," Ryan quips. "They
asked if I was related. The detective was surprised, 'I thought
your father was a union guy named Ryan,' he said."
Ryan earned a law degree
and an MBA from Northwestern, and joined his family's private
equity business. He met the leading tech entrepreneurs of the
dot-com boom. Ryan knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur, not an
investment analyst. Yet, he marveled at the analytic tools he
used as an investment analyst. That gave him the idea for Incisent.
"I realized data
drives decision making," Ryan says, "but the data revolution
stopped short." Ryan launched Incisent in the summer of 2001
to put the power of data analysis in the hands of executives who
never had such tools. His first target is auto dealers, and it
looks like the right decision. He's signed up nearly 700 dealers
in 43 states. His West Van Buren Street office is bustling with
tech entrepreneur Michael Ferro, CEO of Click Commerce, is a big
advocate. "Pat Ryan Jr. practices enlightened leadership,
which will be a differentiator as he grows," Ferro says.
"Pat will have great success."
Ryan believes that
success will emerge right here in Chicago. He sees Chicago's diverse
economy providing opportunities for him to take his business model
into new industries beyond retail automotive.
Ryan sees Chicago as
a tech entrepreneur's kind of town. But he urges, "We have
to focus more on our tech mojo in Chicago. We have great tech
entrepreneurship, but we don't celebrate it."
After nearly three
years, this is my last "Tech Matters" column. I hope
you've enjoyed reading about Chicago's vibrant tech community.
Starting Monday, the
face at the top of the column will be Brad Spirrison. Brad's reported
on Chicago's tech and venture capital community for nearly seven
years in ePrairie, the on-line newsletter. Brad will do a terrific
job keeping you informed.
Thanks for reading
"Tech Matters" and special thanks to Darcy Evon, Howard
Wolinsky and Dan Miller. Darcy wrote the column before me, and
was a great model. Howard Wolinsky showed me how much fun tech
reporting can be.
SunTimes Business Editor
Dan Miller is a terrific adviser, coach and mentor. He always
improves readability and reminds me this column is about you,
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and president of Market Strategy
Group. He also serves as president of the Business Marketing Association,
and is co-chairman of the Mayor's Council of Technology Advisers.
He can be reached at Michael.Krauss@Mkt-Strat.com.