Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Business Rules Forum - Quick Notes

As Mark mentioned in a previous blog, we are attending the 10th Business Rules Forum in Orlando. Tuesday (October 23rd) was the first presentations day and I had the opportunity to watch a few interesting presentations.

In the morning I watched the keynote with Ronald Ross: "The Hitchhicker's guide: from Business Rules to Enterprise Decisioning"
It was an interesting presentation whose keyword, as emphasized by Ron was "balance". He presented the needs to change the current focus:
  • from BPM to balanced Enterprise Decision Management
  • from Data Quality and Accessibility to balanced Decision Deployment
  • from Business Rules to Balanced Decisions

The real deal, in his words is to understand that Business Rules are the means to an end, and as such we need to stop focusing and justifying the means and start focusing and justifying the ends, i.e., the implementation and deployment of complete Enterprise Decisioning solutions.
Another point I thought was also interesting was his statement, that I completely agree, that the decisions we need to automate are not the big strategic and broad company decisions, but the small, frequent, everyday, thousands of operational decisions, as these are the ones that will give us the greatest returns and allow us to quickly answer to trend changes.

Another great presentation I attended and worth mentioning was "Business Rules, Decision Management and Smarter Systems" by Neil Raden and James Taylor, authors of the recently released "Smart (enough) Systems".
They are very good presenters and talked a lot about what are "Smart (enough) Systems", the challenges and opportunities, but again, the highlight point for me was the realization that today, at least 80% of the decisions made everyday in a business environment are what they call "hidden decisions". I.e., the small decisions manually taken by people involved in the business that are not documented and automated that inevitably lead to inconsistencies and unpredictability on the business results.
The idea is that expert decisions will continue to be made by experts for a long time still, some big/broad decisions will continue to be made by people in charge, but to ensure consistency, predictability, trusted statistics and allow business optimization, these hidden decisions need to be uncovered and automated.

The other presentation I would like to mention and that was in my opinion the best presentation so far in the event was Stephen Hendrick's (IDC Group VP) keynote: "Intelligent Process Automation: The Key to Business Process Optimization".
Stephen presented us with the big picture for the coming years. Where to go, from a business process optimization perspective, what are the challenges and the gains of implementing IPA, a few success cases of companies that already have IPA solutions in place and an illustration case of what may happen to those that don't.
In his words, the key IPA constructs are:
- Event Processing
- Decisioning
- BPM
- Advanced Analytics
He also emphasized that solutions for all the key constructs above already exist, but we still fail in delivering completely integrated solutions that minimize risks and maximize gains of customers implementing them.

At least, we know that us in Drools development are heading to the right direction. As you probably know, we are tackling the Event Processing and the BPM integration side in our solution and improving our rules engine product to become more than a rules engine: a real Enterprise Decisioning tool in a complete Behavioral Modeling platform.
Anyone interested in helping us with the Advanced Analytics side? :)

Happy Drooling,
Edson