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Managing decisions as a corporate asset

One of the key values behind an Enterprise Decision Management approach is that of managing decisions as a corporate asset. When customers interact with you they consider every decision you take to be a corporate one - that is, a deliberate one. Thus if your website, your call center or your agents make a poor decision, an inconsistent decision or an out of date decision, it reflects on your whole organization. Yet, every day you must make decisions faster, across more channels and product lines. This makes it harder and harder to ensure that the decisions your organization takes are the best ones and the ones you intended to take. With the growth of information systems, data warehouses and business intelligence you have more data than ever and you want to use it to improve your business. This means finding new ways to derive insight from that data and push that insight into your operations. You are under greater regulatory scrutiny than ever and demonstrating that you are compliant costs more and takes more energy every day. Your competitors have got more numerous, smarter, and more aggressive leading to more complicated constraints and trade-offs. Your customers have got used to eBay or Amazon.com and the "always-on" world of the Internet and so want decisions from you when and where it is convenient to the customer, not when it is convenient to you.

A Decision Service isolates the logic behind these business decisions, separating it from the mechanical operations of procedural application code. Treating decision logic as a manageable enterprise resource in this way means you can reuse it across multiple applications in many different operational environments. A centralized approach to decision automation can also eliminate the time, cost and technical risk of trying to simultaneously reprogram multiple individual systems to keep up with changing business requirements. If you have identified and automated a decision in a single point it is much easier to improve this decision using analytics. By isolating the changes and improvements to decision-making inside a single component you can increase your return on investment by leveraging the best decision you know how to make everywhere.

Why is it that you must treat your decisions as an asset to be managed and exploited to get the return you want? As you move to improve, innovate, automate and even "off-shore" your processes you must face the fact that the differentiation of your company from others increasingly comes down to how you make decisions. You can inject sustainable competitive differentiation into your processes effectively only by identifying the key decisions and using an EDM approach to take control of these decisions. Even if your processes look like everyone else's, making your decisions unique (and better) will ensure customers understand why they should do business with you. "Smart" process techniques are becoming more and more common and are highly complimentary to this approach. Many of your processes remain fairly static over time while the risk assessment, value calculations, policies and regulations that determine the outcomes of decisions within them change all the time. You can use a decisioning infrastructure and an EDM approach to develop distinct Decision Services for critical operational decisions - what product to offer, how to price and underwrite a policy, etc - and so make decisions easy to manage, improve and change.

Focusing on decisions as specific components or services, not just as steps in a process, allows you to re-use them across business processes and systems. Thus a Decision Service that automates a cross-sell decision can be used in the customer account originations process, the client retention process, when agents are interacting with customers on your behalf, as part of the standard billing cycle and as part of the normal call-center operations. This maximizes the return you get on making this decision smarter while ensuring that you can control the consistency of this decision across your extended enterprise.

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