The nice folks over at IDC let me take a look at IDC – Worldwide Application Development and Deployment: 2010 Predictions. I have a somewhat narrow focus (Decision Management) so only two are really in my zone. First, #10:
10. Decisioning Products Will Be Unified to Deliver a Decision Management Platform
This is obviously right up my alley and something you might expect me to agree strongly about. And, at some level, I do agree. I agree there is a natural synergy between business rules and analytics – analytic techniques can improve the rules being used and can provide predictions against which rules can be written while business rules make analytics actionable (something that showed up pretty strongly in the research I recently did for BeyeNetwork). I also agree that business rules and CEP (Complex Event Processing) overlap in terms of their use of executable rules to make decisions. More importantly the move to automate decisions is, for many companies, tightly coupled with a move to real-time. This makes thinking about event-driven architectures and event correlation a common parallel activity for organizations using business rules to automate decisions.
Where I am not sure is in the focus on a platform. I agree that we need these products to come together and we need folks to develop an effective decisioning or decision management platform. We already see this with IBM (with WebSphere Business Events, ILOG Rules and SPSS) and Pegasystems/Chordiant, while folks like Progress, Tibco and others are rapidly doing the same. What I don’t believe is that people will BUY a platform for some time. In 2010 and 2011 I think the vast majority of organizations acquiring decision management technology/platforms will do so in the context of a pre-configured or at least template-driven solution: Decision Management allowing claims automation or customer-centric 1:1 marketing or automated loan origination. Most folks I speak to are not yet at the point of realizing that a common decision management platform is something they need – they want the consequences of such a platform in terms of automated decisioning but they are not yet buying the platform.
The other interesting one for me was
6. Configuration-Based Development Becomes an Important New Pattern for Application Development
I would say that any real configuration-based approach to development requires business rules to allow for the “configuration” of logic. If you use code or macros you are just going to add complexity or limit the configurability to simple stuff. At least, without rules/automated decisions, a configuration-based approach is going to be largely constrained to CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) and some workflow. This of course is the problem with many current ERP/CRM systems – they are as dumb as toast: all they do is manage the data and tell people when a decision is required. To be a “smart (enough) system” as Neil and I put it, they need to do more. If your configuration based approach cannot “stray too far from the ER [entity-relationship] model” as IDC puts it then it is going to create new, but still dumb, applications.
Finally, I also checked out the list of development technologies that companies listed as most likely to be used more next year. As an absolute percentage of responders, web development tools, app servers and messaging technologies were top. But if you only included those in each category those who were using the technology already, analytics and data warehousing leaped to the top. Lots of people are not using analytics, but those that are plan to use it a lot more next year. Perhaps those already getting an analytic edge expect to do so more while those who don’t get analytics will keep on not getting it 🙂 Food for thought.
It’s an interesting set of predictions (the other 8 are interesting too, just not in my space) and you can get the report here.