Advanced business rules address complex challenges

At Bosch Software Innovations, we have added some interesting new customers including Green Charge Networks and Prosper. In addition to many other projects, these development shows how Visual Rules modeling approach can solve complex challenges in our Big Data, customer-focused social ecosystem.

From our discussions on the Internet of Things (and here) and other developments, we know that today’s world of mobile-networked-social-media presents new opportunities for business models and customer engagement. Example models include freemium, where a service is provided free of charge, but a premium is charged for advanced features. Another style is gamification, where game thinking is applied to non-game applications to encourage people to adopt them. These seemingly simple, yet powerful concepts often require deep layers of implemented business logic.

This ecosystem is also being extended by sensors and edge devices in the IoT. For instance, heart monitors provide data to doctors, or fitness appliances through ordinary smart phones. Sensors, e.g. on bicycles provide detailed data. These products are a visible outgrowth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Yet, to create applications one must leverage the extreme granularity of this.

In addition to the exotic, new world of the IoT, traditional data sources have exploded in granularity and accuracy. Most of the decisions of the inputs into the operational decision include time based vectors of:

  • Location, derived GIS stored locations, and proximities
  • Awareness of proximal individuals and groups of individuals,
  • Edge device feeds, heart rate, temperature, video, weather

Emerging business models use applications: mobile, cloud and on-prem, to operationalize decisions. The decisions will tell customers what to do best, optionally automate decision-making right away – this is critical.  This means that companies must make effective use of this highly dimensional and time dependent data, often in nearly real-time. To achieve their objectives in this new world, these business require perception of environmental elements with respect to time and/or space or situational awareness. A company building applications in this complex, operational world faces the dilemma of hand coded solutions or using visual modeling paradigms. These problems often entail a huge number of logic steps with the need to make subtle changes at deep levers. At Bosch Software we believe that only the latter is sustainable: using visual models.

In our experience, visual metaphors are mandatory for solutions in this ultra-complex, highly evolving world. The business analyst must be able to use her intense focus on business aspects while the technical teams provide a mastery of the technical aspects for a seamless transfer of logic changes. As a demonstration of this, Visual Rules, business modeling has recently solved problems in these domains:

  • A consumer products company seeking to operationalize decisions about fitness and health on an increasingly sensor-based product roadmap
  • A company with an innovative financial model built a multi-dimensional, dynamic pricing engine
  • A financial institution created dozens of credit score cards, each with over 90 equations and 190 dimensions.

In solving these problems for many customers we have learned the following:

  • Complex dimensional decisions can only be understood when they are ‘chunked’ into simple visual metaphors, otherwise business analysts get lost in code or simply give up.
  • Visual paradigms including decision graphs, decision tables, state-transition diagrams and composites of these are the only way to quickly solve these challenges.
  • Decision table-only approaches tightly constrain the type of problem that can be modeled and miss important dimensional aspects of these classes of problems.

In summary, businesses operating in this new realm should expect change and build methods that create the proper agility.

Note: On September 27, 2012 at 2:00PM (EST), Troy Foster, our CTO for the Americas will cover these topics in detail. You can register for this webinar here.


About the author

Tom Debevoise

Tom Debevoise

Tom Debevoise was a regular contributor to our blog until 2013. His interest is in building practices that empower the business analyst or expert to use a framework of software and methods to create their own process, services and managed events. Tom is the the author of several books, “The Data Warehouse Method,” “Business Process Management with a Business Rules Approach” (2006), and “A Microguide to Process Modeling in BPMN”.