Model Builder 7.0, Decision Optimizer 6.1, Blaze Advisor 6.9
Decision Management remains the core focus for FICO with both a Decision Management platform and decisioning applications. The applications are increasingly built on top of the platform, sharing execution and modeling infrastructure. FICO still sees business rules as the basis for decisions, being improved and extended with both optimization and predictive analytics. These new releases of Model Builder, Decision Optimizer and Blaze Advisor are FICO’s most recent steps to an integrated Decision Management platform.
Model Builder 7.0 shipped earlier in 2010 and included analytic visualization and productivity tools as well as integration with Blaze Advisor. Decision Optimizer 6.1 shipped with more Model Builder integration as well as improved scenario management. Blaze Advisor 6.9 also shipped in the spring with a focus on business rules management for business users.
Model Builder 7.0 is a big step forward specifically focused on analytic productivity (visualization was a particular focus as well as reducing the learning curve) and enabling a white-box, full-fidelity model deployment in Blaze Advisor (reason codes, model, supporting elements in a shared repository). Model Builder is also the first 7.x product and showcases the go-forward integrated platform. Finally it supported extension by customers.
Model Builder 7.0 is all built on the Eclipse framework, the basis for all the planned 7.x products in the FICO platform. Model Builder has new features in both the access/prepare/explore process and in the discover/model/deploy process. For instance:
- Generating deployable Variable Libraries through integration with Blaze Advisor
A new data browser allows easy access to the data and the first step is usually to extract potentially predictive variables. The new Variable Libraries are available in the interface in a hierarchical form and contain the logic (in SRL, the same syntax used by Blaze Advisor) that calculates the variable. These are little snippets of calculation that can be selected and then applied to an analytic dataset to add the new calculated fields to the dataset. These Variable Libraries integrate directly into a shared repository, allowing the model to be deployed into the business rules environment without recoding. Once in the repository they can be reused from project to project and managed using Blaze Advisor’s extensive repository facilities.
- Rapid scorecard development
Better visualization of things like variable contribution, weight of evidence as part of developing the scorecard is integrated right into the scorecard development component. Also integrated is a history view that is maintained over time so that prior iterations and versions can be examined and selected. The analytic scripts that drive automation have been streamlined and made friendlier using Groovy. Scripts are maintained in the background behind the interactive editors and there is a certain amount of back and forth between the scripts and the editors.
- Instant deployment
Deployment too is supported by the script environment. Execution object models can be generated from datasets and, more usefully perhaps, the execution object model being used in Blaze Advisor can be brought into Model Builder as the basis for a modeling exercise. Everything can be pushed into the repository shared with Blaze Advisor and accessed using rule maintenance like interfaces. This could be a platform repository or the repository behind TRIAD Customer Manager, Capstone Decision Accelerator or Debt Manager.
Blaze Advisor 6.9 brings new technology to the rule management/maintenance environments for non-technical users. A new and stronger API was developed as well as re-architecting the user interface. All based on the current repository structure. Drivers were for a faster means to generate more intuitive rule maintenance tools with more support for testing, validation, verification and bulk actions. In addition customizing the look and feel, adding 3rd party components and adding Blaze Advisor rules maintenance components as widgets embedded in other applications all got easier.
The new rule maintenance applications work off the same repository as Model Builder 7.0, enabling shared models and variables to be accessed. Rule flows, the flow between rulesets within a decision, are fully integrated into this release and can be versioned, edited and compared. Groups of objects can be selected and manipulated as a group and the user interface for searches, filters and queries has been improved so these are more accessible.
The interface is skinned and allows the integration of external news feeds etc – a more open architecture for web-based editing and viewing of business rules. The ability to use Blaze Advisor widgets and link them with third party components using the API allows for rule maintenance to be pushed into a composite environment. This, to me, is the most important item as it allows rule maintenance to be delivered in the context of a business user’s work. For instance, allowing the rules behind a decision to be accessible within a dashboard that shows the results of that decision. Decision Simulator to follow in these footsteps and things like verification are integrated.
More PMML imports are supported and the way these imports are handled can be tweaked by customers, helping with the issues of multiple PMML versions and variable support by different modeling tools. Some of the changes mean that new versions of a model could be matched to existing variables that are being managed in Blaze Advisor, making it possible to do ongoing updates of models in a more practical way.
BA 6.9 is available on all FICO supported platforms (Java, .Net & COBOL).