Analytics & Optimization Explainer: Data mining – Computerworld

Aug102005

Computerworld had a nice introductory article on data mining today - Explainer: Data mining - Computerworld. One of the great uses of this kind of data mining technology is to turn historical data into business rules. Thus, in the REI example in the article, one could turn the knowledge about which customers bought what into rules like "If purchased product types include at least two of 'camping gear', 'back pack', 'maps' then add 'Cycling' to customer's potential interests" allowing a catalog on cycling products to be sent using a rule like "If at least one of customer's interests is Cycling or at least one of customer's potential interests in Cycling then send Cycling Catalog" or something similar, depending on the rule syntax of your execution environment. Doing this takes two things, only one of which the article details. Firstly you need the kind of data mining tool mentioned in the article. Secondly, however, you need a way to turn the insight you get from this tool into something you can execute. A business rules environment, especially...

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Analytics & Optimization Finance Organizations Need to Improve Operational Efficiency But Don’t Know How

Aug092005

I saw this interesting post today on Yahoo - Majority of Finance Organizations Need to Improve Operational Efficiency But Don't Know How Technology Can Help Achieve Change, Accenture Survey Finds.  It is clear even from the summary in the press release that finance organizations, like most others, need to get to Straight Through Processing (STP). Of course like most organizations aiming to move to STP they struggle with how to eliminate manual review steps or, put another way, with how to automate key decisions within the process. Although workflow, OCR and the other technologies identified in the report are key, these will not eliminate manual decision-making. They might reduce or eliminate manual reviews for incomplete or poor quality data and should be able to eliminate manual re-keying etc. To eliminate manual compliance checks and manual decision-making about business issues, they will also need to use business rules technology. This would allow the finance department to specify the rules to enforce for compliance and the rules for making choices in a...

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Analytics & Optimization Different Perspectives

Aug052005

When developing systems, one often gets quite different perspectives from the business people involved and from the programmers. Many of us have seen this so often that we take it for granted. Yet this difference of perspective often results in serious problems when developing complex systems. Is it inevitable? Not with the right approach.So why do they fight? The basic issue when developing systems results from the different perspectives and skills brought to bear by business and IT folks. Business users are at the mercy of regulations, court rulings and business policies that must be enforced. They must also respond to an ever-changing business and competitive environment. This often means they can’t stabilize their requirements or explain them easily to developers – legal or business jargon does not always map well to Java code! Meanwhile the developers typically don’t understand the regulations or business environment well enough and so can’t develop necessary applications, systems and updates fast enough. As an Illustration let’s take the example...

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Analytics & Optimization Decision Management and Government

Aug042005

Although most people talking about decision management, business rules or predictive analytics are talking about their value to businesses, government agencies too can benefit enormously. Many agencies are adopting business rules for compliance and eligibility systems while predictve analytics and broader decision management are becoming popular too. A number of government agencies have started to use business rules for automating decisions such as licensing, fees, compliance or eligibility. One great example is the California Department of Motor Vehicles, recently profiled in Intelligent Enterprise - New Rules, Agile Government. DMV used business rules to replace the core decision making component of an old legacy system that took many programming hours to make each change with one where changes can be made quickly and easily. Having thus renovated their mainframe system they were then able to re-use the rules to power a web application that allows California residents to estimate their license fees - check out The Vehicle Registration Fee Calculator. The...

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Analytics & Optimization The differences between BI and EDM

Aug032005

I am often asked "What is the difference between Business Intelligence and EDM?" so it seemed worthwhile to write a little on this topic. The simple answer is that Enterprise Decision Management differs from traditional BI in that it is focused on execution of decisions and actions rather than reporting. Let's drill into this a little. One of the hottest topics in the field of business intelligence (BI) today is what many call “operationalizing” BI. At issue is how to bridge the gap between the insights BI brings to knowledge workers and decision makers in the back office and the tactical, everyday decisions and actions that determine an organization’s success. An enterprise drawing strategic intelligence from BI also needs a way to push the same degree of intelligence out into its operations and front-line systems. Phrases such as “operational BI” and “decision-centric BI” may reinforce the feeling that what’s needed to bridge the gap is a logical extension of business intelligence technology. In fact, as some observers have noted, the...

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Analytics & Optimization Are Business Rules the fastest growing market you have never heard of?

Aug022005

The two leading business rules vendors, Fair Isaac and ILOG, announced second quarter results last week. Both of them announced record results for their Business Rules products with growth around 60% year over year! These two vendors represent more than half the worldwide market for pure business rules solutions so you have to take these results as proof that the market is taking off. Add to that the fact that Gartner are on their third Magic Quadrant (see the most recent one at Gartner Business Rules Magic Quadrant 2005) and Forrester about to do a Wave Report on the market and you see clear signs that this market is hot. So why is this market doing so well? It seems to me that there are a number of key reasons. Compliance, and the need to demonstrate compliance, is more of a focus for large companies than ever. You have Sarbannes-Oxley, BASEL II, HIPAA and much much more. Business Rules engines are a great way to build systems that ensure and can demonstrate compliance. I wrote an article on this for Compliance Advisor. Personalization and customer management...

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Analytics & Optimization Business Rules – will programmers resist?

Jul292005

In some recent articles Stephen Swoyer at Application Development Trends suggests that programmers may not be ready for the business rules approach of empowering business users to change their own rules. In two articles, Proponents Push Business Rules, But Programmers Aren’t Buying, Yet and The Business Rules Approach—a Zero-Sum Game?, Stephen articulates both some of the benefits of business rules and some of the concerns raised by programmers. My experience has been that many programmers do resist allowing the adoption of a business rules fearing that users will break the system, that their job will go away or just that they will lose some control.  Customer cases, however, tell a slightly different story. In general the IT folks are initially resistant but are turned around by the realization that they are no longer going to be nickled and dimed to death with small changes and that the business users are increasingly learning that you can't tinker with a system continually without consequences to things like reporting of trends. Getting freed up to...

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