I was at the Business Rules Forum in Orlando yesterday to present and take in a few seminars otherwise. I'll report on a few here. First, I'll report on "Beyond Subject Matter Expertise" by Steve Demuth at ILOG.
What does business DNA look like? Process is heart and soul of how things get done. Then, decisions go into those processes. Similar to how we've evolved, you can change DNA without becoming a new business.
Process describes the how of the core activities of the enterprise. A decision determines the what of enterprise activity and it's typically automatable or human, but not a mixture.
Automated decisions are ubiquitous (i.e., commissions, cross-selling, fraud.) The talk then focused on how to automate a decision intelligently. Sometimes, it's a decision table, sometimes a rule flow (flowchart.) How to turn analysis into rules: model the landscape, understand the business goal, and formulate and formalize the solution. The last step is where your business rule management system (BRMS like ILOG, Fair Isaac) comes in. A value-added step at that point is to add simulation on historical data, perhaps in your data warehouse. Then, analyze the simulated outcome.
Then, Steve talked about numerically characterizing history to evaluate those outcomes and predict the best solution to take. It's about predictability and likelihood. For example, in a group of transactions, how many will be fraudulent or how many will take-up the cross-sell offer?
Then, Steve talked about planning and scheduling with BRMS and how it can create a (for example) optimized nurse schedule for a hospital and deal with the inevitable last-minute decisions that must occur based on last-minute no-shows. This is an example of creating the adaptive enterprise - one that adapts to business changes. However, to get there, we need to break down the hedgerows between business departments, specifically IT and business groups.
Finally, 80% of a business' problems are about being better at what you do. Business rules can help. 20% of the problems are about being something different than what you are. Both this "adaptation" and "creation" (potentially "destruction") are necessary.
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