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Learning is the difference between what you know now and what you’ll know in the future. It extends your current perceptions, knowledge and thought processes through the addition of new information and transforms the current state of a person or organization to a new—theoretically smarter or more intelligent—state. For most organizations today, learning is an important part of keeping ahead of business challenges, enabling organizations to find more efficient ways of doing things and enabling them to become better at identifying new product or service opportunities.

For organizations that are under the strain of meeting higher productivity, revenue, and execution expectations while their underlying resources such as budgets and personnel are being cut, learning how to improve their processes is critical. Making existing processes more effective and efficient, understanding how to monitor and manage the business metrics associated with business processes, and finding ways to implement, modify, or extend processes effectively are important ways for organizations to meeting these types of business challenges.

One of the big issues, however, is that constant change causes management decisions and changes in policies to outpace the existing operations and systems. New business requirements, new regulatory requirements, changes in business operation are typically difficult to tie directly to existing IT systems and applications. The lag between what what’s needed now and what the IT systems and automated business processes can deliver is called an “execution gap.”

Execution gaps can be particularly troublesome in certain situations. For example, organizations undergoing high growth often have trouble and serious lag times between their need for new process components or applications and their ability to deploy them. Another area where companies often see an execution gap open up is when compliance regulations change, and companies need to respond. Unfortunately, for too many years, applications and systems were designed to operate independently and alone. Changes that crossed applications or required input across them required Herculean efforts on the part of IT or integration departments to deliver on. And if execution was eventually possible, most integration or business process change efforts lagged seriously behind business requirements and needs.

That’s where business processes management (BPM) and business rules engines (BRE) comes in. Many of the organizations that I’ve talked with that are investigating and exploring BPM and/or business rules are doing so because of their need to address this execution gap issue. BPM and business rules technologies allow organizations to not only automate their existing (or new) business processes, but also monitor, manage, and—this is the most important—modify them in a timely manner in response to business change. Addressing the execution gap means decreasing the time between the identification of a need or change and implementation of the supporting process and IT changes needed to address it.


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