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James Taylor

I will use this blog to discuss business challenges and how technologies like analytics, optimization and business rules can meet those challenges.

About the author >

James is the CEO of Decision Management Solutions and works with clients to automate and improve the decisions underpinning their business. James is the leading expert in decision management and a passionate advocate of decisioning technologies business rules, predictive analytics and data mining. James helps companies develop smarter and more agile processes and systems and has more than 20 years of experience developing software and solutions for clients. He has led decision management efforts for leading companies in insurance, banking, health management and telecommunications. James is a regular keynote speaker and trainer and he wrote Smart (Enough) Systems (Prentice Hall, 2007) with Neil Raden. James is a faculty member of the International Institute for Analytics.

Timo Elliot had an interesting post Gartner on Collaborative Decision Making in which he discussed a report from Gartner called The Rise of Collaborative Decision Making (and thanks to Nic Smith of Microsoft for the link). This kind of ad-hoc, collaborative decision making is critical in companies and technology to support it is thin on the ground. In fact this was the topic of an Andrew McAfee post, The Diminishment of Don Draper in which he made the point that unsupported, gut, expert or oracular decisions have some serious limitations:

  • Opaque - you can't explain them
  • Not amendable - they are take it or leave it propositions
  • Not disconfirmable - there's no explanation of how they are made that can be analyzed
  • Not revisited - because there is no way to "edit" them
This prompts two thoughts. The first is that the kind of technology David Ullman has been working on (Accord, reviewed here) is worth considering for this kind of collaborative decision making. A decision supported by Accord would be transparent - you could see why you decided the way you did - as well as editable over time so that new data, or new options, could be integrated and evaluated.

The second is that these same characteristics are true of decision made by your front line staff when they interact with your customers. They often can't explain them, not that anyone really asks, and they tend not to be amendable because the customer moves on afterward, happy or not. There is no way to analyze the thought process of these staff and so no way to revisit them to devise a better approach in the future. And these issues are more serious because we are not talking about the executive team (complete with lots of experience, assistants and analysts, deep business understanding etc) but about your least experienced, lowest paid staff.

In this second scenario one effective approach is to use Decision Management to put the decision making into your systems - into Decision Services that support your systems to be precise. Embedding the policies, regulations and best practices that you want applied as rules and using the data you have to drive analytic models with simply outputs (scores, for instance) gives better decisions to the front-line while ensuring transparency and an ability to analyze your decisions and learn what works so that you can constantly improve.

So figure out how to help your executives and managers collaborate around decisions effectively and use Decision Management to ensure you know what's going on at the front line.

Posted June 25, 2009 5:00 PM
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1 Comment

Really good point - there's a lot of focus on making sure that everyone across the organization has the same information. Standardizing what they do with that information so as to best serve their customers is a very important next step in service quality.

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