Steve Cranford of PwC wrote an interesting piece called Bringing Order to Chaos (brought to my attention by Alan over at Tibco) that made me think. Steve’s focus is on the next software suite for enterprises (something he calls an Intelligent Business Performance Platform) consisting of business intelligence, business process and business rules. Reading this it seemed to me very like the concept of dynamic business applications seen recently from Forrester, though with a somewhat different focus.
While I agree that organizations need a platform for running their business more intelligently and more “by the numbers”, I think the components of such a platform are not BI, BPM and BRM but:
- Performance management
Using reporting and especially event-based dashboards to actively and effectively monitor ongoing business performance.
- Process management
To manage and improve the workflow and processes that deliver value.
- Decision management
To combine policies, regulations and analytic insight into continuously improving decisions.
I don’t like to use “BI” as a component as it is such a broad term and we are mostly talking about dashboards/monitoring and data mining/analytics rather than reporting. I also think business rules is too broad as it is a useful component of many elements (something Steve recognizes later in the article when he talks about all the different things involved). Splitting out the combination of data mining/analytics/business rules/optimization (decision management) makes it clearer, I think, what is required. After all I need to run efficient processes that rely on effective decisions and can be monitored reliably.
I also liked the drivers Steve outlined – a move to real-time, increasingly extended enterprises and a flat world though I have a longer list that I use when discussing the need for smarter systems. I would also add that it is not just about efficiency – actually also about effectiveness.
Steve sees this new platform having many of the characteristics I see with real-time data feeds, better use of data with data mining and analytics not reporting, dynamic dashboards for performance management, business control and all built on a service-oriented platform. Indeed I see decision services as crucial in all of this. Like Steve I also believe that this approach does not require a “rip and replace” mindset but allows you to add value to existing systems – essentially making existing systems smarter (hence the book title).
A final comment. Unlike Steve I don’t think such a platform requires a heroic effort. Lots of rules vendors have integrated analytics with rules, the best way to integrate Business Process and Decision Management integration is pretty well established and several vendors have integrated pieces of the puzzle well. Most of the rest can be done using standard service interfaces, portals etc. The products are, mostly, ready. Whether companies are is another question…