Not really live this post as I am working from notes I took – after all I was on the panel and it’s hard to participate and blog at the same time. Joining me on the panel were Don Baisley of Microsoft, Ron Ross and Jim Sinur (of Gartner) – Neil had to leave. We were all asked to comment on a few topics and what follows is a collection of our thoughts with attribution only when it seems absolutely necessary.
- Global financial meltdown
In response to the global financial meltdown the panel suggested a number of things might be on the cards. A focus on customer retention and growth in existing customer base was one as was a search for what-if simulation capabilities to manage development of potential scenarios to try and be ready in the future based on a determination not to get caught again. Less innovation because less money will be available and more pressure on ROI and spending were expected as was an increase in Mergers and Acquisitions as companies become cheaper. Some companies will just try to survive, some to thrive at the expense of those just trying to survive and some to outpace others by innovating. Overall the crisis offers a long term prospect for growth in rules and decisioning as a potential solution to some of the problems exposed by the crash.
- Decisions v Rules
Decision management was discussed as a convergence of events, process, rules, policies, data among other things. Business rules it was said have business value but the key artifact is a decision. In addition the move to the knowledge economy will make the intangibles, and thus the decisions, of a company more important. Making good decisions has obvious business value and rules are a key part of this in the context of repeatable decisions.
- Danger of relying on statistics when the world changes
If your data does not have a record of a similar event then models will not respond to the new event. That said, rules and models may still do better than people would, even if they don’t adapt automatically. Models clearly are not enough, need a valid strategy also and creativity in thinking through the potential scenarios so they can be planed for and tested because you need to have scenarios ready to hand when the world changes.
- What will it take to expand the decisioning market
Business owners who feel ownership of their systems and tooling aimed and non-technical users as well as process owners handling larger processes, more complex ones see value in decisions
- Natural language rules
- This was one topic with some disagreement – Don on one side and me on the other. There is a general need, it was agreed, to be able to get from natural language rules to systems and from natural language queries to answers. While Don felt that this required a narrow business domain in the short term I was more cynical arguing that we will required such a focus for an extended period. After all, how do you get “unambiguous rules in natural language” when lawyers, business people, customers and technical folks all talk differently. We did all agree that we must keep moving solutions toward the business and eliminating IT impedance
There was also an interesting discussion of whether EDM was important to strategy or strategy to EDM, a broad agreement that business issues are the key ones and a recognition that we need people comfortable at the intersection of business and IT.