Business rules has proved itself to be a key enabler of the agile enterprise. One of our major challenges for 2012 is how to best expose business rules (which often implement decisions) to a range of IT and business systems in an efficient, intuitive and safe manner. Decisions do not operate in a silo, they are often triggered by events or processes, make use of data managed by Master Data Management and may kick off processes or fire events. Making good decisions sometimes means referring to past outcomes, expressed as predictive models.
Simultaneously I am seeing an explosion in the number of rules (Big Rules) as well as the size of the simulation datasets (Big Data). 5 years ago a customer with 10K rules was pushing the envelope. Today we have customers requiring 5M rules and running simulations against 400M records. Many of the use cases for extreme numbers of rules are driven by requirements for mass-personalization: a bank has 20M customers and each customer has 10 personalization rules. We move from a few very large rulesets (e.g. mortgage approval) to millions of very small rulesets. Some of these rulesets may be very personal indeed, perhaps even running on a personal device.
The good news however is that we have already made significant progress!
- At IBM, WebSphere Operational Decision Management (WODM) is part of the BPM division and we've worked very hard to make rules easier to invoke from processes. Customers can start-small, embedding a few dozen rules in their processes and then scale-up to enterprise BRMS as needed.
- Using the just announced WODM v75 release, customers can govern transactional and event rules using a single repository and governance tools.
- We built a Support Pack that integrates SPSS predictive models and JRules so that customers can easily invoke predictive models from rules or convert PMML into Decision Trees.
- A Support Pack for WebSphere Business Monitor provides easy monitoring of decisions using a powerful dashboard, providing real-time IT and business insight.
- We've done a huge amount of work for the z platform to help our customers move their business logic out of CICS/COBOL applications and into reusable and agile decision services.
In fact, every week I get inquiries from customers and product teams who are integrating business rules into their solutions: Master Data Management, Smarter Cities, Smarter Government, Adaptive Case Management, Health, Stream processing... the possibilities and opportunities are enormous!