Brian McDonough has been writing (with Dan Vesset, Steve Hendrick, Henry Morris and others) on Decision Management at IDC for many years and he has recently published an IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Decision Management Software Platform 2014 Vendor Assessment. The report has an IDC MarketScape figure, IDC’s opinion on the Decision Management market, process and software as well as some essential guidance for buyers. The strengths and challenges of the five included vendors (FICO, IBM, Oracle, SAS and TIBCO) make up the bulk of the report.
Brian posted to the IDC blog on Making Analytics Actionable: Decision Management Software Platforms where he nicely summarized the current state:
Until this platform market emerged a few years ago, customers cobbled together rules engines, advanced analytic tools, interfaces and alerting capabilities to develop decision management solutions. These solutions used rules to enforce resource constraints or maintain compliance with external regulations and internal policies while applying predictive analytic models to generate optimal decision choices. These decision options could be automated if an event met acceptable confidence thresholds or served to front-line employees who could then take action based on recommendations.
Brian’s blog post – especially for the four bits of advice to adopters he includes- is definitely worth a read even if you are not an IDC client. If you are an IDC client you should get hold of the report and read it – it’s a great summary of these platforms and the market as a whole. The only (minor) complaint is that the report focused on IBM’s Analytical Decision Management product at the expense of their Operational Decision Management product (the more rules-focused one) but I guess you could argue that’s IBM’s fault for having two products in the same space…
In his blog post Brian shared the same experience we have every day working with clients to adopt decision management – this stuff works!
The gains in corporate performance from improving high-volume decisions among the customers I interviewed were impressive. In most cases, end users declined permission for IDC to publish their quantified outcomes as the solutions were considered to be competitive differentiators.
Overall, it’s great to see IDC’s coverage of Decision Management extend to include a formal MarketScape for integrated decision management platforms. As the title says, the focus recently on analytics (and big data analytics) and the need to make these analytics actionable is driving the Decision Management market forward. As it this focus on actionable analytics has grown the options for deploying analytics, and for combining them with business rules, has engulfed the existing Business Rules Management System market. As Brian says many companies have had to piece together a Decision Management platform with multiple products from business rules to analytic modeling, in-database deployment to optimization. While there are many great products in all these categories that can be used to build Decision Management Systems, as I document in the Decision Management Systems Platform Technology Report, the growing maturity of the market means that the number of integrated platforms has increased. More will soon come I am sure and I can think of a couple of vendors who should reach out to Brian right now to get themselves included in future reports!
A couple of closing thoughts. First, if you want to learn more about Decision Management, don’t forget my two books on the subject – Decision Management Systems: A Practical Guide to Using Business Rules and Predictive Analytics and the one I wrote with Neil Raden back in 2007 Smart Enough Systems: How to Deliver Competitive Advantage by Automating Hidden Decisions
Second, we have found that decision modeling is a key technique for success with these kinds of platforms and with Decision Management technology more generally. Understanding the decision you are focusing on and modeling it helps ensure you have the information you need (Brian’s first tip) and clarifies which systems and processes need to invoke which decisions (his second). These models can also be linked to organizational structure to clarify ownership and approval (his third point) and help you balance rules and analytics within your decision-making approach. Check out our paper on decision modeling with the new DMN standard and our decision modeling software DecisionsFirst Modeler if you are interested.
I’ll leave the last word to Peter Drucker. Like me, Brian used one of his classic quotes in the report. To me this quote explains why those organizations that want to be analytic competitors, to become data-driven, cannot only focus on executive and management decision making tools but should also adopt Decision Management Systems:
Most discussions of decision making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives’ decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.