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What does “Enterprise” mean in Enterprise Decision Management?


One of the biggest sources of confusion with Enterprise Decision Management or EDM is the worry that it requires enterprise-wide adoption to be valuable. That, unless a huge project is undertaken to adopt the technologies and approaches required, no value will be gained. “Enterprise” is, after all, one of the most overused term in the software development world. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

The “E” in EDM is about treating the decisions being automated as enterprise assets. As we said in Smart (Enough) Systems:

You should treat decisions as an enterprise asset. You should make even the most high-volume, operational decisions as though they are enterprise decisions.

After all your customers behave as though this is the case. If they get an offer from you, they assume you think it will be attractive to them. If you decline to authorize something, they assume you don’t think they are entitled to it. If you make them wait while someone checks something, they assume their business is not worth enough for an immediate response and so on.

You may think it is obvious that the way the IVR system or website or even a CSR treats a specific customer is more about how it was programmed or how they were trained but the customer, subconsciously perhaps, reacts as though it were deliberate. Enterprise decision management means focusing on operational decision making as an enterprise asset, not as a departmental one or an individual one. This can be done process by process, system by system.

All that said, there is a lot of value in making use of a common decision-making infrastructure across silos and systems. Enterprise decision management is often more effective when you can cross information “silos” and use all your information to inform decisions and share common decisions throughout your application portfolio. The use of decision services (wiki) as part of an overall SOA is key to this. It is also true that thinking about how a decision should be taken enterprise-wide, even if the initial implementation is more localized, can have real benefits. At a technical level, EDM projects are very additive and easily enhance existing systems and processes. Becoming truly decision-centric, however, will require a more systematic approach over time. In the book we lay out a whole adoption process in some detail to show how you can walk and then run with EDM.

This post was, in part, prompted by Dan Dolberger’s post From Add-on Analytics to Enterprise-Wide Decision Management. Thanks Dan.


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  • Gary Comerford January 8, 2008, 12:53 pm

    James – Another excellent post (as usual). Thanks for checking out my blog (process-cafe.blogspot.com)earlier this week. I’ve added jtonedm.com to my list of ‘Other blogs I like’ on the site.

    Thanks.. Gary