David Luckham, inventor of CEP
Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

What is CEP?

Complex Event Processing (CEP) is an emerging technology for building and managing information systems. The goal of CEP is to enable the information contained in the events flowing through all of the layers of the enterprise IT infrastructure to be discovered, understood in terms of its impact on high level management goals and business processes, and acted upon in real time. This includes events created by new technologies such as RFID.

Visit the comprehensive CEP website.

Other articles by Dr. Luckham:

BAM And CEP: A Marriage Of Necessity Or: Why BAM Must Use CEP
BAM Providers As Online Banking Fraud Preventers
The Beginnings of IT Insight: Business Activity Monitoring
Grand Visions For e-Commerce Require Solving 'IT Blindness'
Avoiding Disasters Waiting To Happen
"/> Grand Visions For e-Commerce Require Solving 'IT Blindness'
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My previous column tells how IT blindness prevents us from managing enterprises in real time. It also impedes our efforts to implement the grandest visions of future e-Commerce and our ability to use some of the latest technologies to their full potential. Here's why.

Business Visions in Need of a New Technology

From time-to-time, business visionaries tell us what to do next to gain competitive advantage, or to start a paradigm shift in the world of commerce. Here are three recent examples. I'll leave the names of the visionaries out -- they are highly respected in the e-Business and IT fields.

First, there is the instant insight vision. "Instant insight is a breakthrough analysis of electronic commerce you keep secret and use to beat rivals." An example of this vision is:

  • A bank detects a baby crib purchase on a customer's credit-card transaction.
  • Consumer behavior models show the majority of couples buying cribs are having their first babies.
  • The models show a predictable progression of needs and purchases, including a bigger home, life insurance etc.
  • The bank can exploit that knowledge to cater to the customer.

So, the bank can focus its marketing by instant insight, increase its hit rate, increase profits, and reduce marketing costs. But that's a very simple example. To implement instant insight, we have to detect patterns of many events on our IT layer, not just crib purchases, and then relate them to our business objectives - we have to solve IT blindness. The visionary didn't tell us that!

Then there's the Web services vision. One visionary says, "Web services will turn the Internet into a vast, omnipotent computer that executives can use to run their businesses and consumers can tap to organize their everyday lives."

His example is Web services for travel planning: "A Web service might alert you -- on your computer or cell phone, depending on where you are -- if a flight you're booked on is delayed. Then let you know how your connecting flight on another carrier might be affected." Just imagine: There you are driving to the airport and looking at your Blackberry to choose between the alternative plans and you run into the back of the Highway Patrol. Ah yes, Web services will help you with that, too! It's a good vision, and I like it, but the visionary didn't tell us how to make it happen.


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