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The Future of EDM - some notes from Business Rules Forum

(Posted by guest blogger, James Taylor)

At the Business Rules Forum last week the organizers assembled an illustrious panel - me, Mark Proctor (Drools, open source business rules), John Elder (well known data mining and analytic expert), Don Ames (CTO of Precendent Insurance) and Ron Ross, co-chair of the conference and well known rules expert. We were asked out thoughts on what made the EDM market exciting right now and what we saw in the way of new developments coming. As I was on the panel I did not take detailed notes but I did have a few thoughts.

  • To make real progress a market needs a "center" or focus and the consensus was that we had found that center by focusing in on the value managing operational decisions as enterprise assets - enterprise decision management. Unlike the industry's previous focus on business rules as an approach or as a technology, EDM focuses on the value of changing the way an organization does business. The combination of this center, the growth in product availability (including widely available open source products) and the need for exposed, managed decision making in industries that are consolidating all make the time ripe for EDM. Don Ames made the last point very eloquently - in many industries companies are acquiring and being acquired ever more aggressively. Unless you have exposed, manageable decision making it is very hard to merge two organizations effectively.
  • Increasingly the focus on a real knowledge economy and the realities of a highly dynamic world economy mean that more and more a business strategy must include the elements of decision management. The ability to embed your knowledge in your systems in a flexible, responsive way is critical and In an automated world only decision management can turn insight into (automated) action. SOA and BPM are valuable in this regard (and others) but better decision making and management are critical. Indeed the growth of SOA as an approach combined with BPM and CEP makes the need for smarter decision services urgent.
  • A small edge can result in an exponentially large return as the Internet allows everyone to find the best option so even a small advantage can be massively leveraged. As we once said before, "little decisions add up". If you take a decision hundreds of thousands of times a day then even a small advantage over your competitors makes a huge difference.
  • A focus on costs is being replaced by a focus on opportunity. Customer service departments are no longer focusing on reducing service costs with automation, they are also trying to create new sales opportunities with it. In general this change in focus takes decision management.
  • The power of mashups and other composite approaches is greatly increased if decisions are available to be included - otherwise they are totally reliant on people for decision making. The potential for inter-organizational decision making is especially exciting. It is hard to see how inter-organization systems or process or sophisticated mashups can possibly be delivered if all decision making is manual. It must be automated and that means decision management.

Interesting thoughts, I hope.


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