BPM and Business Rules Technology Provide A New Paradigm for Business and IT

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In many organizations today there exists a communication gap between the business community and the IT organization that is so commonplace that its existence is virtually taken for granted. This gap exacts a heavy toll on an organization by preventing business domain experts from knowing how their business is really working. This undermines their ability to respond to changes in the business that they would otherwise be prepared to act upon, and, in turn, breeds a culture of slow response and disempowerment that undermines an organization’s ability to reach and remain on that arc of the pricing power curve where margins are highest and competition is minimized. However, with the adoption of technology enablers like BPMSs/workflow engines and business rules engines, it is now possible to construct business and software architectures that utilize new methods, approaches and technology that help bridge the communication gap. Closing the gap has primarily evolved from a maturation of analysis and modeling methods, the advancement of key software development and management technologies, and a new paradigm for enterprise business and software architecture. It is important to understand enterprise business and software architecture, which must be viewed in the same light, are more interrelated than most people think.

With the marketplace’s intense focus on business processes, it is now possible to consider an architecture that has its very foundation in an organization's business processes. Devoid of the technology that is the focus of most architectures, this new view is a major step forward in changing the fundamental economics of software development by providing a framework that, when fully deployed, should allow skilled business analysts rather than developers to shoulder a significant portion of the tasks of maintaining software applications as business changes occur. By doing this, a company can respond more quickly to changes in the marketplace and in the regulatory environment. It also reduces the inevitable overhead involved requiring software professionals to develop detailed specifications on how to implement an organization’s business logic. This is a significant leap forward in software lifecycle management, where the IT organization manages the IT side of systems and the business analysts manage the business side.

This new paradigm is enabled by a composite of existing architectural frameworks, a convergence of message brokering, messaging, message transformation, business design/workflow, enterprise integration architecture (EIA), and business rules engines. Beginning in the late 1990s, EIA applications first showed what might be possible with technology to integrate processes across applications. But as many of those early vendor offerings matured, the overlap with existing technologies (such as message hubs and workflows) began to increase. Consequently, vendors began addressing functionality somewhat haphazardly and introduced narrowly conceived product offerings. Vendors trotted out new product offerings that were compelling in particular areas, but their market impact was diluted by ambiguous market positioning and often thin financial backing.

Trying as those times have been for customers attempting to enhance or expand their IT infrastructure, what we are beginning to see now is a consolidation of those product offerings in a cohesive vision of what a business process-centric architecture can provide both business leaders and IT practitioners.

Today, there are product offerings that IT professionals can feel comfortable betting on for the long run and that provide the business with the ability to make significant strides towards a business process-centric architecture.

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