I was reading "How to Prepare IT for the Customer-Aligned Enterprise" by Michael Maoz of Gartner and thought he made some great points.
The impact on IT planners is that they will need to work more closely with business owners to invest in more-dynamic applications with declarative capabilities, integrated with (and/or gradually replacing) the task-based (procedural) applications in use today.
Absolutely. The need for dynamic, or agile, applications is going to grow as companies try and become more customer-centric.Building agility into applications means, at least in part, making sure that the decisions within the application can be rapidly evolved to reflect changing realities. The use of business rules to provide "declarative capabilities" is a key element of this.
Michael goes on to talk about the current generation of college-age people - like my slug for instance - who are intimately familiar with technology, used to getting all the information they want on the net and open to loose networks of Friends-Of-Friends. As Michael says "They are puzzled when an organization fails to recognize them when they return to a store, call center, ATM or Internet site" and so not only will companies have to provide much more information, they will also have to do a much better job of allowing customers to choose channels and for personalizing those channels.
Michael also makes some good points about the current generation of enterprise applications:
"Most business applications in the hands of employees who interact with customers are little more than data entry, presentation and retrieval systems."
"These applications fail, however, to dynamically reconfigure based on dynamic declarative rules."
These "dumb" enterprise applications must be given more "intelligence" if they are to help staff interact intelligently with customers who are both sophisticated users of technology and intolerant of process/organizational boundaries.
Enterprise Decision Management can deliver some of what's needed - even I would not pretend it can generate all of it - by improving the precision of decisions using analytics to better target and assist customers, by improving the agility of systems to make them easier to change so they can keep up with this kind of customer, and by delivering consistency across channels and time so that customers can choose how to get the service they want. The use of business rules and analytics can also deliver deep personalization and handle complex consequences of events as they happen. I presented on using EDM to improve the customer experience at the Teradata Partners show recently.