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Business Rules, Business Decisions, Intelligent Processes, Enterprise Decision Management

Two analyst reports and an article came together today to reinforce both the core concepts of enterprise decision management - EDM - and its timeliness. First there was When Rules Go Inside Out With BPM (subscription required) by Jim Sinur of Gartner, then there was Intelligent Process Automation: The Key to Business Process Automation (subscription required) by Steve Hendrick of IDC and last there was a piece on InfoQ on business rules and business processes. It seemed to me that, taken together, all three of these:

In addition, Steve's piece talked about the use of advanced analytics in this context, something Jim and others at Gartner are also doing. For instance, consider Gareth Herschel's presentation on Analytics: action based on integrating processes and applications recently. This allows you to create anaytically driven processes.

Jim's piece talked explicitly about managing policies/rules as an important business resource. Indeed he went further and said:

"Rules that are encased inside business processes are stealing business opportunities that depend on speed of change"

He suggested conducting volatility analysis to find the rules that should be externalized. This is similar to what was proposed in the InfoQ article. I think that decision volatility and reuse should be considered, not just rules. All processes contain decisions that must evolve and change and decisions are particularly prone to having most of their life be what has been called "change time" - that is time after they are first implemented during which they must evolve. Jim states, and I agree, that rules (decisions) buried in processes, or even worse in legacy applications orchestrated by processes, are not agile. Jim talks about scenario management - having different decision approaches "on the shelf" - as another advantage of separating out decisions and that this focus on rules/decisions separate from processes also allows personalized customer treatment through transaction or customer-driven processes (I blogged about how to get personalized or 1:1 communication that scales this way once before). Finally Jim talks about the value of empowering business users to manage rules themselves, something about which I have shared some secrets for success.

Meanwhile Steve's piece also talked about increasing your decision-making capabilities inside business processes by bringing together rules, processes, events and analytics. He makes the point that business process management (BPM) provides an effective context for advanced analytics and goes on to say:

"Intelligent process automation is an IDC term that describes the union of business analytics and business process management with a goal of achieving significantly better decision-making capabilities"

He discusses using business activity monitoring, BAM, as the start and then adding analytics and rules and event processing. His paper contains a neat diagram of how these pieces fit:


This made me think about my POV in terms of EDM. I think:

  • You need to consider performance management. If I monitor events and processes, what might I do in response to what I see (answer, change the way I make decisions)
  • I need to bring rules and analytics to bear inside a process. I would do this through a decision service
  • Some events trigger processes but others must be decisioned before I know what to do and for that I would also use a decision service
  • All the data I collect is turned into useful analytic insight, models, and injected back into my processes (through decisions)

Or something like this:



I have blogged before about the role of decision management, EDM, in BAM and at the intersection of BAM/BPM and SOA and I participated in an interesting ebizQ podcast on the future of BPM, and the role of decision management within it, here. I have also written an article about how focusing on decisions, and automating them with business rules, can enable you to make business processes more intelligent through embedding analytics here and discussed similar concepts to Intelligent Process Automation under the labels of transaction-centric processes or analytic process controlling.

EDM is how you can make all this work together.

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» Blending rules and process from James Taylor's Decision Management
My buddy Paul Vincent had a great summary slide on how rules and process (and related standards come together) in this post. Like him I am surprised there was not more discussion of events. Anyway, I was going to comment... [Read More]

» Why you SHOULD loosely couple processes and rules from James Taylor's Decision Management
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Hi. (This is more of a question that a direct comment to your post above.) I have just recently started reading your blog - I stumbled upon it a few days ago. What does an individual need to have in order to fully maximize the opportunities that there are in predictive analytics, fact-based/evidence-based enterprise decision-making?

I have not thoroughly explored your blog - so you may have written of this in your other entries. But it would be great if you could point me to any resources.

With regard to your blog, I share with you your views on EDM and predictive analytics. I have clients (I work in marketing consultancy within an ad/media agency company and I am getting frustrated by knowing that my clients have got so much data but they don't know how to use it. What compounds the situation, I think, is their perceived 'lack of experience' on my part [we live in a society of three-letter assurance - PhD, MSc, MBA - which as of today I am yet to earn, though getting there]. Anyway, I hope to read more of your blogs. And I hope you don't mind if I pick up on where you left off in somem of your blogs to make it relevant to my clients here in Asia.

With much thanks,



Check out my response to Phil

Progress Apama

I think there is a general misperception that BAM and BPM are linked inexorably; the modern interpretation and architecture around complex event processing (CEP) and business activity monitoring (BAM) is moving away from that assumption, which largely comes from the BPM community. Positive and constructive use of CEP does not require BPM tools; in fact, many firms that use CEP are skipping BPM and going right to a more robust, event-driven BAM through the application of complete CEP engines.

This point is made pretty deeply in the Apama event processing blog in our "10 Myths of EDA and SOA" which covers BPM, CEP, and BAM:

Roger Delatete

I've found some interesting topics on Business Rules at the European Business Rules Conference. This year held in Germany.




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