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Decisions matter to Complex Event Processing


An old colleague asked me to explain a little about the difference between Complex Event Processing or CEP and decision management. In particular he referenced a recent series of articles by James Kobelius in which the last one (titled Really Happy in Real Time) discussed how “Complex event processing empowers the contact center to manage the customer relationship”.

Interestingly enough this whole topic – of rules, decision management, analytics and CEP – has been going on in the blogosphre recently. Check out theses posts by me on my ebizQ blog as well as related ones elsewhere:

I am not going to repeat the whole discussion here but suffice it to say that Complex Event Processing involves Complex Event Detection/Correlation, Decision Management and Process Execution. Thus a CEP product may well have many, if not all, of the capabilities you need for decision management. Similarly, the difference between a decision management platform and a CEP one is simply the degree to which the underlying platform “understands” events and has capabilities to make it easy to detect and correlate them.

Me, I think that few companies will find that ALL decisions are part and parcel of CEP applications (any more than they will find that all decisions are tied to business processes) and will find it useful therefore to consider a CEP environment that handles decisions well, a Business Process Management environrment that does likewise and a core decision management environment. This might all use the same rules engine or analytic execution engine but from an enterprise architecture point of view it is important to think of them separately.


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  • Mark Palmer September 6, 2008, 6:38 am

    Yes, it’s hard to argue that at some level all decisions are part and parcel of CEP applications. But I think the fidelity of the statement does repay deeper exploration. For example, the real practical differences between the way that a BPM tool is designed and a CEP tool make them a better fit for different types of applications. Since I run a CEP company, I’ll argue the other side – that is, a workflow oriented tools are likely better to manage decisions that involve humans in the middle of the process, and where latency is not an issue. In other words, I’d say human workflow applications are OUTSIDE the current state of the art of CEP platforms. Sure, you can express those decisions in CEP, but you’re probably better off with BPM in that case.

    Anyway, I added another post to the discourse about Smart Order Routing here, to add to your list: