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Live from DIALOG – Dynamic BPM-Where SOA, Rules, Processes and Events Come Together

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I missed the customer panel with Travelocity, Equifax, Deloitte Consulting and Bank of America but hopefully the DIABLOGgers got that one too (they did, check here). Next up is Daryl Plummer of Gartner talking about Dynamic BPM—Where SOA, Rules, Processes and Events Come Together.  Daryl started with a great plug for my book and then got on with his presentation. He began by pointing out that the conversation around SOA and related technologies has changed from technical details to business details. Dynamic BPM, he says, is becoming a requirement not an option as the frequency of change is increasing while the amount of change (the amplitude) is also increasing. If we don’t keep up we get lots of chaos, more expensive governance as we react, business agility becomes harder and decision making becomes increasingly “seat of the pants”. Overall this drives up IT and opportunity cost. Gartner likes to say that it is more important to build systems to change not to last.

BPM is becoming more dynamic for various reasons:

  • Business agility
    Alignment is not the issue for agility, fusion is. Planning and execution must be handled by IT and the business in conjunction.
  • Better decision making
    Especially with rules-based scenarios to test and evaluate
  • Revenue opportunities
    More flexibility in product and service definitions and pricing
  • Customer satisfaction
    More customized and personalized offerings
  • Regulatory compliance
    Easier, more demonstrable compliance

Flexibility, adaptability and productivity are the key measures for these kind of agile business processes. Getting there from here involves a movement from distributed systems to service-oriented business. The growth of standards and frameworks, middleware and more has made it easier and provided a better platform. Adding event-processing, ESB and SOA meant that BPM could really deliver. Daryl had a nice definition of a service as something which does something for me without me having to do it or know how it was done – I ask, it does, it tells me its done. I like this as my definition of decision service (wiki) is a nice subset of it. SOA makes us more agile, BPM makes us consistent. I would add that Enterprise Decision Management (EDM) makes us smarter.

Daryl had a nice chart about the explosion of programs into pieces (check out this post on the decomposition of the application that looks just like it) showing how different aspects of a program into explicit management systems – rules management, process management, database management and portal management. Like other speakers at this event, he pointed out that decision points are a critical issue and that they should be implemented by business rules.

He reiterated the importance of becoming process centric – defining and managing processes effectively – and SOA and business rules enable this while remaining dynamic and agile. He also mapped events in by pointing out how natural the fit is between events and services. Services can support a process-driven or event-response approach. Daryl pointed out that event-based processing is inherently more declarative, just as rules are a more declarative approach to decision making. SOA opens the door to complex event processing and decision automation/rules are critical to moving from simple to complex events. Context Delivery Architecture was another phrase he introduced – and clearly decision management is a critical part of this kind system with prediction, data mining and rules playing their part in both act on context and in governance of the whole picture.

He wrapped by saying that you need to model middle-out not top-down (BPMS decomposition) nor bottom-up (SOA). This is what it takes to move up the maturity curve from awareness to intra- and then inter-process control and ultimately to an agile business structure.

Daryl is a great speaker and his presentation was wonderful. Check out these posts for more thoughts on this topic:

Don’t forget to look for more posts on DIABLOG.

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  • PatternStorm February 26, 2008, 2:13 pm

    Comment to http://jtonedm.com/2008/02/26/live-from-dialog-dynamic-bpm%E2%80%94where-soa-rules-processes-and-events-come-together/

    The definition of service you give is tradional request/reply: “I ask, it does, it tells me its done”, however event-driven services work different: “I don’t need to ask, it continuously does (it’s never done), it notifies me of new results as soon as new input it’s available”.

    SOA does not open the door to Complex Event Processing, these are independent technologies, however CEP does open the door to, for instance (1) event-driven processes, processes defined by rules triggered by occurrences of (complex) business events, and (2) BPM driven by the same kind of rules defining KPIs. To provide the these CEP can be combined with any enterprise IT architecture, be it SOA or not.

    It’s true that event processing is inherently more declarative, that’s a very important point when we are looking for a way to enable business analysts to directly define business processes, services and KPIs bypassing programmers. For example they can do that using rules triggered by occurrences of (complex) business events.

  • Paul Vincent March 7, 2008, 7:18 am

    Agree with PatternStorm: the “event driven decision service” does not rely on prior modeling of an explicit process path to determine “when” to invoke the decision service – it is effectively “on” for as long as it is connected to the event source(s) / bus. I see CEP overlapping with event-driven decision services, and providing a broader capability than simple invoke-respond decision services.