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Gartner’s 2008 Predictions Include Bright Future for Enterprise Decision Management

(Posted by guest Blogger, Gib Bassett)

Gartner recently issued two “Predicts: 2008” reports highlighting their expectations for Enterprise Architecture and the Business Process Management Suites (BPMS) Market.  Both recognize noteworthy and highly complementary trends reflecting the value of Enterprise Decision Management (EDM), particularly Business Rules Management Systems (BRMSs) supporting EDM principles.

In the most recent report, issued December 11, 2007, and titled “Business Process Management Alters Business and IT Collaboration,” Gartner predicts that “BPMS Subsumes the Business Rule Market,” primarily due to the fact a baseline rules engine is a required component within a BPMS:

“Strategic Planning Assumption: By 2012, the BPMS technology market will subsume greater than 80% of the pure-play business rule technology sector (for example, stand-alone business rule engines).”

Readers should not mistake this statement as implying the market for Business Rules Management Systems will be subsumed, which is not likely simply because a BRMS has applications and value beyond the scope of process automation, and supports an EDM approach to decision automation, a caveat noted in the report:

“The BPMS technology market will not subsume 100 percent of the business rule sector due to the fact that rule engines are used in many other technologies outside of BPMS, such as portal management technology and traditional applications.”

This section of the report also describes conversations Gartner has had with its clients, who claim to find it difficult to model processes and rules together.  This might make sense in a process-centric context, but when considering business rules on an enterprise basis that may be tied to the execution of analytic models and other applications, it is wise to consider a dedicated BRMS.  Again, Gartner recognizes this important distinction:

“For BPI (business process integration) projects that need extremely sophisticated rule-processing capabilities now, buy a BRMS.  Don’t wait for BPMS providers to catch up to BRMS functionality if they are currently lacking it.”

Gartner goes on to make two final points worth mentioning:

“Due to the increasing need to model rules and business processes simultaneously, it is going to be increasingly difficult to maintain separate rules and process repositories.”


“Enterprises need to understand the consequences of not managing rules and processes with a shared metamodel, as well as the effects this will have on their ability to create dynamic business models.”

The latter of these quotations is especially noteworthy, as it resembles Forrester’s prediction for Dynamic Business Applications which feature rich business rules management capabilities to enable the adaptive and agile composite applications of the future.  Gartner’s commentary seems driven by what it sees as limitations in many offerings today used in process and rules integrating projects.  BRMSs compliant with EDM concepts can overcome much of these problems via deployment of rules and analytics as Decision Services.

This leads to the other report, issued November 12, 2007, and titled “Emerging Trends Force a Clearer and Deeper Focus on Enterprise Architecture.”  In this “Predicts” 2008” paper, Gartner proclaims:

“By 2010, the primary focus of technology architecture will shift from defining product standards to identifying and describing shared and repeatable technical services.”

You can be assured these services will include Decision Services that will have the additional benefits of addressing these points discussed later in the report:

“…mounting legal and compliance pressures will require the EA teams to define methods to support organizational needs for the transparency of information assets, because data must be protected, validated and located as it moves from upstream transaction processing systems to downstream analytic environments.”

BRMSs compliant with EDM concepts include both enterprise-grade governance and analytic deployment capabilities.  All of which foretells a promising future for EDM.

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Paul Haley

James, it's really good to see Gartner getting your message (reiterated at their more recent BPM conference) that rules are necessary for BPM but that BRM (I prefer knowledge) has many applications that do not fall within BPM. More significantly, in my blogged opinion, the integrations of BPM and BRMS will remain awkward until models are indeed shared! This is great progress by Gartner that others should follow.

I hope you can share more thoughts in the future on this. How do you think it will play out? Can you imagine BPM and BRMS vendors collaborating on an interchange standard for this?

Gib Bassett

Thanks for comments Paul. My name is Gib Bassett, and am a co-Blogger along with James and Ian Turvill. Like a lot of things that happen in technology, some forcing function will cause the situation whereby standards are created (or at least a standard that others may be able to buy into). I think that a large and influential customer or technology services firm making a major commitment to the concept are the likely impetus for this to happen.

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