Industry

Modeling decisions: Making decision automation as easy as choosing what to wear

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Decision automation modelingWhat should I wear today? Well, it depends. What’s the weather like? Better check the weather report. Any special occasions? Check the calendar. What’s in the closet? Let’s take a look.

It may seem strange to compare decision modeling to what-to-wear choices, but there is a connection. It’s about identifying smaller, intermediate decisions, and the information needed for each of these, then bringing them together to make a final decision, which is, hopefully, an effective one.

For example, someone can calculate the final price of an item in an online shop by assembling the various pricing elements: promotions, sales tax, the shipping address and so on. Each element depends on an aspect of the sale, and some will depend on the result of other elements. Sales tax is applied to the shipping costs, which in turn depends on the weight, address, options and so on.

It can seem complex depending on the use case — more complex than deciding what to wear — but when decisions like these are represented visually, it becomes easier to see the forest for the trees.

Making decision automation easier

Organizations make thousands of decisions every day as part of their business operations. The competitive business environment demands change in operational decisions, just as it requires agility and efficiency for immediate action.

Simplified decision models, driving business logic and validating them in a few clicks and modifying the decision-making process as and when it’s needed to stay in line with business policies and objectives are just a few things that businesses need. For example, if you wanted to represent just the part that calculates shipping costs for your online shop, imagine if you could show the dependencies between the intermediate decisions and the input data in a visual representation like this one.

Decision Automation

IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM) V8.10 brings this power of decision modeling into the realm of business experts. Now, in the Decision Center of ODM 8.10, users can express business decisions as decision models. The image below shows an example of the decision-making process being simplified in the airline industry.

Decision Automation

Of course, expressing decisions in models like this might be a challenge for very complex decisions such as processing health insurance claims. Yet even for these complex cases, a decision model is a good way to get early traction on your project by rapidly prototyping the system, or parts of it, before you apply a more traditional approach that reflects the transactions within the organization and their outcomes.

Putting the business experts in the driver’s seat

With ODM V8.10 you can create a decision service and determine which applications to use, rather than embed the decision logic in your code, from scratch without typing a line of code. This puts business experts in the driver’s seat.

Using familiar methods, they can:

  • Discover the decision space. Start with exploring what’s involved in making the decision.
  • Describe how decisions are made. When you know what influences your decision, you can look at how to the put the pieces together.
  • Prototype solutions and lightweight execution. The fun begins when you start trying out your ideas on real data to see what works and what doesn’t. You can revise your model as needed to account for contingencies.
  • Execute at the enterprise level. When you’re happy with the results, you can keep things lightweight or develop a more robust, enterprise-level solution based on your prototypes.

If you want to get a head start with decision modeling, you can sign up for an IBM id and try it for yourself with , a free, standalone environment where you can explore the decision modeling and validation process, then share the decision services you create. You can also access hands-on demos of IBM ODM and IBM Decision Composer in the video resources here.

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