Does anyone remember when the term “Business Rule Management Systems” (or BRMS) was coined?
Think back…to when “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac was the musical theme of Bill Clinton’s run for the White House. Or when Beanie Babies were first introduced (how much are yours worth?). Laptop computers were roughly as portable as bowling balls, and odds were pretty good that if you had a 1 TB portable drive in your office, you acquired it from an alien life form.
Like the early ‘90s, BRMS is also getting a bit long in the tooth. Nobody in the early days imagined the impact that the internet, mobile devices, Big Data, and a shifting consumer paradigm would collectively have. In business, the “need for speed” – as well as regulations and customer-centricity – demanded that organizations think beyond business rules when it came to decision management. Like Business Intelligence, which provided organizations with a limited mechanism to predict the future based on past events, BRMS focused on rules but not necessarily other critical facets of decision management, such as predictive or prescriptive modeling, or optimization (solving large, complex business problems using mathematical solvers).
Over the last few years the decision management movement, described by Decision Management Solutions’ James Taylor, has restored high-level structure by focusing on the decisions. Within this paradigm, business processes are graphically represented, analyzed, and evolved as needed. By shifting the focus from rules to decisions, Decision Modeling adds the necessary structure that was missing in the business rules approach, without letting go of its benefits: rules are still declarative, modular and independent, but they only have meaning in the context of a decision. On top of that, Decision Modeling borrows some of the well-established ideas around Business Process Modeling: decisions, just like business processes, can be graphically represented, analyzed and improved over time.
The development of FICO business rules tool functionality has aligned with the shift to decision modeling. We recently rebranded our flagship solution to FICO® Blaze Advisor® decision rules management system (replacing “business” with “decision”). This reflects how our clients are using the software, as well as the continued interweaving of Big Data, cloud computing, prescriptive analytics, optimization, and other capabilities that organizations are deploying to turn insights into decisions and, ultimately, action. For organizations that still wax nostalgic about business rules (or Beanie Babies, for that matter), don’t worry – they’re not going away. They’ve just evolved to become the co-stars in a much larger production.