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Enterprise Applications and decisioning

To quote Butler Group "Enterprise Applications tend to be pretty dumb. They collect data, store it and product reports on it". So if your enterprise application(s) is/are dumb, what can you do about it?

  • Look at the reports you generate. Talk to the people who read them (assuming someone does). Find out what prompts ACTION on their part and see if you could figure out the rules for taking the action and have the system use the data to take the action for them - automate the decision that is taken when the report is reviewed.
  • Look at the data you have. Talk to someone who understands data mining or predictive analytics. See what they think they could PREDICT based on your data. Decide if any of this would be useful in running the business. Better yet, talk to your business users and see if they think it would be useful. See if you could improve a decision being taken by leveraging your data.
  • While you are talking to your business users, ask them what they wish they knew. Maybe you can find a way to derive it from the data you have. Ask them what they would do if they knew that and see if you can automate the ACTION too (see above)
  • Look at the way you collect data. Talk to someone who uses the data. Do they get all the data they need the first time or do they have to go back and ask for more? What other data do they want and why/when do they want it (different circumstances are likely to make them want different data). See if you can figure out the rules that would let you collect the data they need (but no other data) the first time.
  • Read the procedures or cheat sheets your users have. Do they work around something in the system? If so, can you figure out which rules are wrong in the system because some are (otherwise they wouldn't need to cheat). How easy is to change these rules? If it is not easy, could (should) you externalize those rules so you could manage and change them more easily?
  • Look at the change logs. Are there pieces of the system that are always being changed? How much time and effort does this take? Is IT behind on these changes or do they take so long that the business has stopped asking? Perhaps you could externalize this part of the application and make it possible for the business to change these rules themselves.

There's more, but you get the gist. Automating and managing decisions can make your Enterprise Applications much less dumb.

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