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Thoughts on Pega acquiring Chordiant


The news today is that Pegasystems (rules-based business process management) is acquiring Chordiant (decision-centric CRM). This is interesting news as it merges a company (Chordiant) with a very decision-centric/decision services separate from process mindset with one (Pega) that has mixed rules and process together much more.

Chordiant have been one of my companies to watch for a while, with a great decisioning platform. Their clear separation of decisioning, their support for rules and analytics in combination, their strong adaptive analytics engine for self-learning models, their recent integration of real-time conversations with decision management and their powerful business simulation tool (Visual Business Director, see below) are enough to put them at or very near the top of the decisioning vendors.

Pega, of course, have been best known for their business process management focus. They have always addressed this from a rules-centric perspective and we have had some active disagreements about the role of decision services and the value of a clear separate of processes and decisions (see this post and comment thread, for instance). Nevertheless we agree on the power of business rules to drive more agile and smarter systems and Pega has been one of the rules vendors active in supporting PMML (Predictive Model Markup Language) to allow the integration of business analytics with business rules.

The potential of this merger is real. Clearly the merged company will be larger, important as the big players (IBM, SAP especially) get more serious and rules and decisioning. Chordiant’s decision management and simulation components are, in my estimation, better than Pega’s for specific purposes but not as general purpose. An intelligent combination of the two is therefore potentially very powerful. In particular, bringing Chordiant’s adaptive analytics and simualtion capabilities to the broader rules-based platform that Pega offers could be great. In addition both are very focused on CRM or at least on customer treatment decisioning, and this should help give the merged company a clear focus.

The risk, of course, is that the fairly serious difference of perspective between decision-centric / decision management on one hand and rules-driven BPM on the other will derail the technical integration or cause the merged company to merge its operations without merging its products. Either will ensure that the talented people behind the products will not stay and that would be a pity. The merged company must figure this out and make some clear statements on product direction and positioning in this respect – though I appreciate that this can’t be done right now, as it must wait for regulatory clearance etc. There is a lot of overlap in technology. This could be good – giving the merged company enough of a common vocabulary to build a powerful solution – or bad, resulting in lots of infighting about which version to keep.

Check out these posts on Chordiant for more details. The folks at Pega have never seemed to want me to blog about them so I don’t have anything about them on the blog. Hopefully this will change…

Disclosure: Chordiant was a customer of mine in 2008/2009


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Allen Jackson March 24, 2010, 10:44 am

    Well done, James. I have followed Pega for a long time, and as an process+analytics guy, I think the marriage has a lot of potential. Their loss not wanting you to write about them…

    Hope you are doing well.