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James Taylor's Decision Management

James Taylor

Decision management at the heart of your digital business

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Randy Heffner of Forrester recently wrote A Taxonomy Of Platforms For Your Digital Business (subscription or payment required). I have blogged about the digital business architecture idea before, and about Concurrent Business Engineering, and commented on the need for more than just a BPM suite to deliver agility in response to another Forrester paper. I like where the Forrester folks are going with all this. As the summary of this paper says:

"As a top-level conceptual model for planning the future of your technology and architecture, Digital Business Architecture aligns your planning with a new reality: More and more, the design of your business must be directly reflected in the design of your technology."

Indeed this is a core premise of the book I wrote with Neil Raden recently, Smart (Enough) Systems. If your business is your technology and your technology is not smart enough then neither is your business! Randy's summary goes on to say

"The business goals for each technology domain are the basis for a taxonomy of seven major strategic platforms for digital business: SOA platform, information fabric, interaction platform, Information Workplace, unified communications platform, business service management platform, and business design platform."

This is a nice division - as he notes, any division has its issues, but this one seems pretty good. I think a big part of how an organization designs its business is reflected in how it manages its decisions so a focus on decision management would fit right into the business design platform or business metadata core. Randy goes on to emphasize a number of reasons for a digital business architecture and it seemed to me that a number of these would be enhanced by a focus on decision management:

  • Dynamic business applications
    • The ability to constantly adapt the decisions within your applications, and thus the applications' behavior, is one of the main outcomes of decision management. Not only does the use of rules as a platform for decisions improve their agility, the separation of decisions (as decision services) allows them to be properly identified and managed and the use of adaptive control makes controlled experimentation and evolution possible.
  • The new programming model for digital business
    • We know that traditional approaches to building applications, or even services, do not result in the business/IT collaboration we need. Using business rules and separating out the high-change parts of applications and processes as decisions makes a huge difference.
  • Strategic platforms for digital business.
    • Only a focus on decisions gives you a single place to bring expertise, regulation, policy and data-driven insight to bear on a single problem.

He goes on to discuss rules and analytics a little:

"Along with [the strategic platforms] are six subplatforms for event management, business process management, business rules, analytics, configuration management, and security. The strategic platforms for digital business provide focal points around which you can structure and design the future of your technology base."

So, as you can see, he identifies analytics and rules as sub-platforms that are embedded within one or more of the major platforms. While this is undoubtedly true - many of these platforms should have rules and analytics embedded, I don't think this is the same as using these technologies to deliver the ability to design and manage the operational decisions at the heart of a business. For that you need to make sure that your business design platform allows you to automate, manage and connect operational decisions. Enterprise decision management.

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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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