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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

How to tackle 10 excuses not to invest in decision automation

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I saw this interesting piece of research by Gareth Herschel over at Gartner - How to Tackle 10 Excuses Not to Invest in CRM Analytics- and it made me think about the excuses I get given for not adopting decision technologies and automating operational decisions. In fact they were so similar I decided to ruthlessly steal Gareth's ideas. Here goes.

  1. I would like to invest in decision automation, but my manager just doesn't get it
    This typically comes because "decisions" are too generic to focus on. Instead, focus on how it can help with more precise pricing, customer retention or cross-sell offers, better consistency when coping with staff turnover or multiple channels, better agility when trying to change to respond to competitors or new marketing campaigns?
  2. We tried it, but didn't get any results
    Over-hyping of decision automation along the lines of the old expert-system fiascoes is still out there but more problematic is misuse of the technology. You can get the business and IT to collaborate on managing the decision logic and you can inject the results of analytics into decisions to improve them and you can manage decisions as corporate assets. You can also use business rules as a programmer productivity tool, regard analytics as something you use to generate reports and treat rule reuse as something for another day. Get these things wrong and you won't get results.
  3. We tried it, but didn't get the results we expected
    This excuse gets used when no-one managed the change implications of automating a decision - how will it change call center rep training or the website, how will the business users be engaged in managing business rules and how will IT integrate testing and deployment with rules being edited by business users? As Gareth notes, data quality and availability often derail the analytic component.
  4. We're doing fine as we are; why fix what isn't broken?
    The core decision automation benefit that is being overlooked here is agility. Even if everything is going fine, how quickly and cost-effectively could you respond to a competitive issue, new regulations, a new channel, or some other major change? Decision automation technology like business rules helps reduce the odds that a change will derail you.
  5. We just bought an operational system and want to get that established first before making any new investments
    Why establish processes using the new system that involve time-consuming, costly, imprecise manual decisions? Why implement a brain-dead process? Inject decision automation now to streamline your processes, make the most of the data you have and reduce future data quality and completeness problems.
  6. Employees wouldn't know what to do with decision automation if they had it
    Decision automation must be delivered in the context of the employee's work. If there is not a good "cognitive fit" for the decision automation then it won't help. If the decision automation is used to deliver better decisions when employees are looking for them, then it will.
  7. We are too busy this quarter - maybe in the next planning cycle
    Decision automation can refocus energy from maintenance work to new development. Investing now can free up resources in all the subsequent quarters so you can actually start getting ahead, rather than further behind.
  8. It takes too long to get results
    Nope. Spoke to one of my customers last week who went from 100% manual review of auto policies to 1% manual review in less than a year. Start with low-hanging fruit and show the benefit.
  9. We already automate decisions
    In code (that the business can't read), script (that IT cannot manage) or what, exactly? Is the logic that makes decisions externalized and managed? Can you find it and reuse it?
  10. We are totally in need of decision automation, but it is someone else's problem
    The team of programmers is available but the budget to invest in decision automation is not. It is easier for some projects to write the next generation of legacy code rather than fix the decision automation problem. Establish the true cost of the "old way" and create an urgent need to change.

Decision automation works and if you are working with systems that handle interactions with customers, you should be going this.

James Taylor blogs about decision-management technologies such as predictive analytics and business rules, discussing how they deliver agility, improve business processes and bring intelligent automation to SOA.

James Taylor

James Taylor blogs on decision management for ebizQ, and is an independent consultant on decision management, predictive analytics, business rules, and related topics.

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