A Step Towards Revolution

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Managing Partner, Knowledge Partners International LLP
Larry Goldberg has over forty years of experience in building technology based companies, focused on rule-based technologies and applications. Prior to joining KPI as Managing Partner, he was Senior Vice President of Sapiens Americas, Inc., which he joined when he sold his company, PowerFlex Software Systems, Inc to Sapiens. Larry is co-editor of “The Business Rules Revolution” (Happy About, 2006), co-author of “The Decision Model - A Business Logic Framework Linking Business and Technology” (Auerbach, 2009) and co-developer of The Decision Model. Larry also served as the Editorial Director of BPMInstitute.org's “BDM Bulletin” until 2013.

In preparing an anthology on “The Business Rules Revolution” with entries from many contributors, several common themes emerged. Business rules are an under-valued asset at most organizations. Business rules may hold the key to organizational agility, consistency, and organizational knowledge, if not organizational intelligence and integrity. Business rules are related to, but separate from, process and information (or data). The “decision” is the missing link in methodologies by which business rules become visible and manageable. The business rules approach has many versions in practice, requires new skills, and aims to bring IT and the business closer together.

The major discrepancies that we found across chapters in this book contain the answer to the one key question: Who ought to be the operational managers and authors of business rules as those rules are to operate in the business and in its systems? There is great tension among those who see the rule analyst asan intermediary between the business and IT. The answer is that it is a business policy maker who serves both as the business source of business words and as translator, without the intervention of a rule analyst. This distinction is critical regarding the ultimate impact of the Business Rules Approach and technology on a business. It will differentiate market leaders from followers and losers.

Business policy makers must see the power of their enhanced role and have the willingness to accept responsibility for it – and have a technical platform that enables them to manage their rules in a form consistent with their skills. Still, conflict in this area remains in most places and it is one key in assessing the maturity of the organization in adopting the Business Rules Approach.

Moving Toward Revolution

If there is a Business Rule Revolution happening, we can compare it to other intellectual advancements that caused upheaval. Let’s look at one of the great innovations of modern times – the joint stock company. So much of the wealth of the world has been created because of this ingenious solution to the issue of individual investment risk. As a consequence, corporations have evolved into immense organizations of great complexity. Now, as markets liberalize across the world, new economic powers are emerging, driving global economic growth. Corporate organizations, unknown before, are suddenly familiar: Lenovo, Tata, Rosneft, and so on.

What has this to do with The Business Rules Revolution? Well, everything. As large – and as complex – as our organizations have become, they have to react to the disruptive changes brought about by this economic revolution. Outsourcing is part of the story: a harbinger of the storm to come. New competition in almost every field of economic endeavor will become the norm.

During the most recent period of technologic disruption, the advent of the Internet, we saw great successes among those organizations that were able to rapidly adjust. As great an upheaval as technology disruption may cause, it pales against that forced by economic disruption. This leads to the belief that agility is the single most important quality for a competitive organization today; not technological agility, but business agility.

How does an organization achieve agility when it is bound by systems that are old, predicated on static operating processes and rules? The book did not find glib answers: but the discerning reader will grasp an outline of a path forward. The great promise of the Business Rules Approach is corporate agility, but there are many steps that must be taken, one by one, to reach the goal.

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