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.
Continue reading “IBM Ilog JRules for business modeling and rule authoring”
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?
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. Continue reading “Accenture, Public Policy and Governance at Oracle”
On the heels of IBM’s acquisition of Lombardi comes Progress Software’s acquisition of Savvion. The salient similarities are that IBM is adding BPM applications to its middleware stack as is Progress, at least with regard to its enterprise service bus offerings. More interesting is the relationship between Progress’ complex event processing software and Savvion’s BPM. Also of note is the vendor-provided integration of JBOSS Rules within Savvion versus the unrealized potential of IBM’s Ilog with respect to Lombardi.
We’ve written several times about the artificial distinction between CEP and BPM, their inevitable convergence, and the immature integration of business rules with business process management and event processing that inhibits knowledge-driven governance and decisioning. Continue reading “Rule and event-driven business process M&A”
In preparing for my workshop at the Business Rules Forum in Las Vegas on November 5th, I have focused on the following needs in reasoning about processes, about events, and about or over time:
- Reasoning at a point within a [business] process
- Reasoning about events that occur over time.
- Reasoning about a [business] process (as in deciding what comes next)
- Reasoning about and across different states (as in planning)
Enterprise decision management (EDM) addresses the first. Complex event processing (CEP) is concerned with the second. In theory, EDM could address the third but it does not in practice. This third item includes the issue of governing and defining workflow or event-driven business processes rather than point decisions within such business processes.
Business applications of rules have not advanced to include the fourth item. That is to say, business has yet to significantly leverage reasoning or problem solving techniques that are common in artificial intelligence. For example, artificially intelligent question and answer systems, which are being developed for the semantic web, can do more than retrieve data – they perform inference. Commercial database and business intelligence queries are typically much less intelligent, which presents a number of opportunities that I don’t want to go into here but would happy to discuss with interested parties. The point here is that business does not use reasoning much at all, let alone to search across the potential ramifications of alternative decisions or courses of action before making or taking one. Think of playing chess or a soccer-playing robot planning how to advance the ball on goal. Why shouldn’t business strategies or tactical business decisions benefit from a little simulated look-ahead along with a lot of inference and evaluation?
Even though I have recently become more interested in the fourth of these areas, I expect the audience at the business rules forum to be most interested in the first two points above. There will also be some who have enough experience with complex business processes, which are common in larger enterprises. These folks will be interested in the third item. Only the most advanced applications, such as in biochemical process planning, will be interested in the fourth. I don’t expect many of them to attend!
The notion of enterprise decision management (EDM) is focused on point decision making within a business process. For enterprises that are concerned with governing business processes, a model of the process itself must be available to the business rules that govern its operation. I’ve written elsewhere about the need for an ontology of events and processes in order to effectively integrate business process management (BPM) with business rules. Here, and in the workshop, I intend to get a little more specific about the requirements, what is lacking in current standards and offerings, and what we’re trying to do about it. Continue reading “Time for the next generation of knowledge automation”
For those who are interested in my former company, they are still committed to natural language business rules management technology, as shown in their most recent press release. They have also picked up on the public sector activity, especially eligibility, as discussed here.
From the release, CEO, Dominic O’Hanlon, said:
- “With our natural language rule authoring capabilities and BRMS solutions, we are uniquely positioned to make our customers more competitive and agile in a fast-paced, highly-regulated world.”
- “For the government market, Haley is a worldwide leader in using natural language technology to rapidly transform regulations, policies and rules into automated decision-making systems, to determine eligibility for government services, and in the taxation and immigration arenas.”
As discussed here, this focuses comes from Continue reading “RuleBurst re-brands as Haley Limited”
Not long ago I posted on the need to understand common concepts well. My example then concerned the need to understand time well enough to answer a question like, “How much did IBM’s earnings increase last quarter?”. Recently, in contemplating some training issues related to the integration of Haley Authority within Siebel, I came across examples phrasings from the documentation on Siebel’s web site, including:
- if an account’s location contains “CA” then add 50000 in “USD” for the account
- if an account’s location contains “CA” then add 70000 in “USD” on today for the account
Two things are immediately obvious.
- Oracle does not understand location.
- Oracle has an interesting, but nonetheless poor understanding of money.
Of course, I am intimately familiar with Authority’s understanding of money. However, Siebel needs more than Authority understands. Continue reading “Oracle should teach Siebel CRM about location and money”
Some strategy folks in an enterprise architecture group recently asked for help making rules more relevant to their organization. Their concerns ranged from when to embed rules in their middle tier versus encapsulate them within services to identifying ideal use cases and reference implementations. They were specifically interested in coupling rules with BPM and BI.
Such questions occur every time a group or enterprise considers adopting rules technology for more than a specific application. They are looking for guidelines, blueprints, or patterns that will help them disseminate understanding about when and how to use rules. They have adopted a BPM vendor which will be integrated with their selected rule vendor, each as enterprise standards, so they are particularly interested in the integration requirements between the two.
Two high level understandings are critical for success in furthering adoption of rules technology.
- abstract activities for which rules technology well-suited and
- when and why rules technology is better than familiar alternatives
Continue reading “Business Rules Process Management”
Some recent correspondence with clients and prospective adopters of business rules technology indicates interested mainstream has become increasing concerned and confused by consolidation in the business rules market.
On the analyst front, they read advice such as the following from Gartner:
As Gartner has stated, the BRE market is a volatile technology sector, and market trends point to increased consolidation. In recent research, we stated that some consolidation will come from rules-to-rules acquisitions. Recent examples of this include Trilogy/Versata buying Gensym and now, RuleBurst purchasing Haley Systems.
Another form this consolidation will take is application vendors or business process management suite vendors buying much-needed rule technology, as seen in SAP’s recently announced intention to purchase Yasu Technologies. In either case, rule technology will persist, but the vendors selling the technology will often be different.
I agree with Gartner, enterprise app and BPM vendors desperately need rules technology. I also agree with the following analysis from Forrester:
SAP’s decision to purchase Hyderabad, India-based Yasu Technologies greatly improves its business rules management capabilities. Other large vendors would be wise to follow SAP’s lead in the business rules market. If you look at the big vendors, they’re all going to need this technology. SAP’s competitors are going to have to step up to these requirements also.
It’s encouraging that SAP bought Business Objects and is now buying Yasu. We’re seeing requirements to link business rules and business intelligence or analytics. SAP has told us they have seen these requests, and we’re encouraged that SAP is now acting.”
Unfortunately, Gartner’s concluding advice could have been more constructive:
Prospective BRE customers: Buyer beware – the rule engine market is a volatile sector. Choose your vendors carefully and be prepared to see more BRE acquisitions.
Continue reading “Business Rules Market Maturity”
A client recently asked me for guidance in establishing a center of excellence concerning business rules within their organization. Their objectives included:
- Accumulate requisite skills for productive success.
- Establish methodologies for productive, reliable and repeatable success.
- Accumulate and reuse content (e.g., definitions, requirements, regulations, and policies) across implementations, departments or divisions.
- Establish multiple tutorial and reusable reference implementations, including application development, tooling, and integration aspects.
- Establish centralized or transferable infrastructure, including architectural aspects, tools and repositories that reflect and support established methodologies, reusable content, and reference implementations.
- Establish criteria, best practices and rationale for various administrative matters, especially change management concerning the life cycles of content (e.g., regulations or policies) and applications (e.g., releases and patches).
I was quickly surprised to find myself struggling to write down recommendations for the skill set required to seed the core staff. My recommendations were less technical than the client may have expected. After further consideration, it became clear than any discrepancy in expectations arose from differences in our unvoiced strategic assumptions. Objectives, such as those listed above, are no substitute for a clearly articulated mission and strategy.
Continue reading “Managing Semantics, Vocabulary and Business Rules as Knowledge”