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February, 2010:

IBM Ilog JRules for business modeling and rule authoring

If you are considering the use of any of the following business rules management systems (BRMS):

  • IBM Ilog JRules
  • Red Hat JBoss Rules
  • Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor
  • Oracle Policy Automation (i.e., Haley in Siebel, PeopleSoft, etc.)
  • Oracle Business Rules (i.e., a derivative of JESS in Fusion)

you can learn a lot by carefully examining this video on decisions using scoring in Ilog.  (The video is also worth considering with respect to Corticon since it authors and renders conditions, actions, and if-then rules within a table format.)

This article is a detailed walk through that stands completely independently of the video (I recommend skipping the first 50 seconds and watching for 3 minutes or so).  You will find detailed commentary and insights here, sometimes fairly critical but in places complimentary.  JRules is a mature and successful product.  (This is not to say to a CIO that it is an appropriate or low risk alternative, however. I would hold on that assessment pending an understanding of strategy.)

The video starts by creating a decision table using this dialog:

Note that the decision reached by the resulting table is labeled but not defined, nor is the information needed to consult the table specified.  As it turns out, this table will take an action rather than make a decision.  As we will see it will “set the score of result to a number”. As we will also see, it references an application.  Given an application, it follows references to related concepts, such as borrowers (which it errantly considers synonomous with applicants), concerning which it further pursues employment information.

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Progress towards Knowledge-based Enterprises

I couldn’t agree more with these points from Giles Nelson’s article in CIO on BPM and event processing (as highlighted by TIBCO’s Paul Vincent): 

…we need to take a different view of BPM technology and try to see how it can be used to make knowledge-based business more ‘operationally responsive’… …the potential for creating real business value by bringing together the two disciplines of event processing and BPM is substantial…

As Paul notes, this follows Progress’ acquisition of Savvion (i.e., CEP vendor buying BPM vendor)

I am glad to see other leaders pursuing the vision of knowledge-based enterprise.  As I discussed, IBM is getting there (but SAP seems out of the picture).  Will Oracle take the lead?

Google vs. Facebook and Bing (again)

Almost a year ago, I wrote about semantics and social networking as threats to Google.  In that post, I referenced a prior article on investments in natural language processing, such as Microsoft’s acquisition of Powerset, which is now part of Bing.

Today, there are two articles I recommend.  The first addresses the extent to which Google’s Superbowl ad is a response to the threat from Bing.  The second addresses Facebook overtaking Google.

What could be more strategic than process or decision management?

The folks from Knowledge Partners have a post that I found thanks to Sandy Kemsley, whose blog often provides good pointers.  This article talks about the decision perspective on business rules.  It makes some good points, on which I would like to elaborate albeit at a more semantic or knowledge-level.

Every language has three kinds of statements: questions, statements, and commands.   There are also some peripheral types, such as exclamations (Yikes!), but in business processes and decisions only declarative and imperative sentences matter.

From a process- or decision-oriented perspective, decisions are always phrased as imperative sentences.  Otherwise, the statements reflected in any business process, whether you are using BPMN or a BRMS, are declarative sentences.

Decisions are imperative sentences because they state an action to be taken.  For example, decline a loan or offer a discount.  It’s really pretty simple.  A decision is an action.  Rules that don’t take actions are statements of truth.  Such declarative statements of truth are perfect for formal logic, logic programming, and semantic technologies.  It’s the action that requires the production rule technology that dominates the market for and applications of rules.

The authors of the aforementioned article use the following diagram to explain the benefits of the decision-oriented approach in simplifying business processes:

The impact of rules on business process complexity

The impact is very simple.  If you eliminate how you reach decisions from the flow that you diagram in BPMN things get simpler.  It’s really as simple as realizing that you have removed all the “if” parts (i.e., the antecedents) of the rule logic from the flow chart.

So who in their right mind would use a business process tool to express any business logic? (more…)

Accenture, Public Policy and Governance at Oracle

Some time ago I spoke with public sector leadership at Oracle and Accenture about  applications in Health and Human Services.   Oracle was already my client with what was then Haley Authority (now Oracle Policy Automation) integrated within Siebel CRM.  Lagan was also one of my clients who competed with Oracle and others, such as Curam Software, for public sector case management applications.  It was obvious then that then market-leading approach of Curam Software, which largely relied on IBM Global Services to codify the policies that determine eligibility and levels of benefit for various programs would not be viable for much longer.  Oracle and Lagan were going to change the playing field with a more accessible and knowledge-centric approach based in Haley’s natural language business rules management system. 

There was a current battle going on in one state (Kansas, as I recall) among these three companies which went Oracle’s way thanks to Accenture and support from Haley.  We were also working with them on a larger opportunity in Ontario.  (more…)

$50/hr for Ilog work?

I can hardly believe posts like this one in Charlotte requiring 6 years or more of IT.   Two weeks ago I talked with a recruiter looking for consulting-to-hire people with significant Ilog experience at under $100 / hr in the DC area.  Is this what happens when you cross the chasm?  I guess it never hurts to ask!

Is Freebase worth much?

There has been some speculation that Freebase is a vehicle for Metaweb to prosper from its semantic web infrastructure when used for commercial purposes.  As I recall, Metaweb raised over $40 million in Series B around the time they started building Freebase. The investment was led by Goldman Sachs.  Metaweb’s seasoned investors were unlikely to invest so much in a business that cannot project a return on that investment.  Almost certainly, Metaweb has firm plans for realizing over $100 million in revenues.  Most likely, for these investors and the amount of capital, target revenues by 2014, five years after the second round, would be in the vicinity of $1 billion.  Obviously, there is a lot of work to get there from around zero today.

Some of the bubble in raising those funds has burst.  The economy would crimp the valuation and investment if made today.  And the semantic web has yet to produce a winner, so with less enthusiasm, the investment would again be less favorable today.  All this is modulo the business plan.  If the business plan withstands scrutiny and the rate of return from credibly achievable projections justifies investment, they could get the money again, even now.  But no one that I have heard or read over the past few years can explain the business plan adequately – that is, concretely.  I would appreciate any insights or opinions on the topic.  I believe these are smart people, in the company and among its investors, so I am sure it is there.  I just don’t believe in the “we’ll figure out how to make money eventually” business plan in this case.

Some Freebase terms that are worth knowing but are commercially reasonable for any site that provides a free service include:

  1. The terms of service are subject to change (upon posting).
  2. The service may be changed or discontinued at any time and without notice.
  3. Limits concerning access to or use of the services may be established.
  4. Any disputes shall be heard in San Francisco and governed by California law.

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