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EDM Helps Minimize Trade Offs Between Application Maintenance and Strategic Initiatives – So Says Forrester Research

(Posted by guest Blogger, Gib Bassett)

While Enterprise Decision Management (EDM) is not called out specifically in Forrester Research’s January 28 report, “The State Of Enterprise Software Adoption: 2007 To 2008,” it describes issues top of mind among technology executives addressable with EDM technologies, such as Business Rules Management Systems (BRMSs).  The report is based on results of a survey of 1,017 IT decision-makers in North American- and European-based enterprises.

One of the principal values of BRMS is that they streamline application maintenance by simplifying the process of changing application logic while also enabling others outside the IT organization to become involved in that process (i.e. the business domain experts most often familiar with that logic).  The net benefit to the IT organization is greater productivity while also being more responsive to organizational changes that typically cascades to applications.  For this very reason, IT decision makers should evaluate a BRMS as part of their technology initiatives, so that investments otherwise spent maintaining applications can be applied to strategic initiatives to grow and improve the business.  Consider this from the Forrester report:

“Overall, decision-makers at North American enterprises report that they will continue to spend an average of 29% of their total IT budgets on software-related costs (licenses, maintenance, operations, and development) in 2008. Unfortunately, critical IT dollars continue to be squandered on maintenance fees — accounting for 33% of the entire software budget.”

More money and human resources available for strategic projects would increase the probability of organizations meeting their objectives in 2008 and beyond.  Consider:

“Strategic and technology initiatives reveal need for long-term apps strategies. The top software priority for the third year in a row will be improving integration between applications (33%).”

By virtue of its ability to serve as a repository of rules and analytics governing interactions with customers and other critical business processes, a BRMS often serves a key role in application integration projects.  BRMSs compliant with Services Oriented Architecture principles are also seeing increasing use in what Forrester terms “Dynamic Business Applications,” next generation business applications engineered for change, architected with a services orientation, and which blend elements of rules management, analytics and business process management capabilities.

For organizations embracing SOA, BRMSs capable of delivering Decision Services to orchestrate interactions within and among enterprise applications should be on short lists for investigation in 2008.

“SOA has reached the tipping point for adoption. Close to a majority of enterprises now use SOA — either with an enterprise-level strategy (25%) or selectively without a clear strategy (24%). Internal integration (82%) and pure data or information access (51%) represent key usage strategies for SOA.”

Moreover, while SOA becomes increasingly pervasive, enterprises of all sizes are often forced into supporting multiple platforms in search of the best applications and technologies to suit their requirements.  To that end, EDM technologies such as BRMSs that support current and legacy environments should be an important consideration for IT organizations.

“Java and .Net battle it out for custom-development selection. A majority (89%) of respondents own custom-developed apps. The primary development platforms are .NET (65%) and Java (61%), followed by mainframe or midrange platforms (53%). The war continues as Java (65%) and .Net (65%) tie for language dominance, followed by server scripting languages (53%).”

It’s clear that IT organizations continue to spend a significant amount of money and time maintaining applications, often at the expense of providing an adaptive IT infrastructure the business continues to demand as marketplace conditions dictate.  Embracing EDM as a guiding principle for enterprise architecture can stave off the consequences of lagging behind others in creating a “built for change” culture, while laying the groundwork for an adaptive technology foundation.

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