The Decision Dilemma #brf

The Business Rules Forum has started here in Las Vegas, and I’m here all week giving a presentation in the BPM track, facilitating a workshop and sitting on a panel. James Taylor and Eric Charpentier are also here presenting and blogging, with a focus more purely on rules and decision management; you will want to check out their blogs as well since we’ll likely all be at different sessions. I’m really impressed with what this conference has grown into: attendance is fairly low, as it has been at every conference that I’ve attended this year due to the economy, but there is a great roster of speakers and five concurrent tracks of breakout sessions including the new BPM track. As I’ve been blogging about for a while (as has James), process and rules belong together; this conference is the opportunity to learn about both as well as their overlap.

We kicked off with a welcome from Gladys Lam, followed by a keynote from Jim Sinur on making better decisions in the face of uncertainty. One thing that’s happened during the economic meltdown is that a great deal of uncertainty has been introduced into not just financial markets, but many aspects of how we do business. The result is that business processes need to be more dynamic, and need to be able to respond to emerging patterns rather than the status quo. At the Appian conference last week, Jim spoke about some of their new research on pattern-based strategies, and that’s the heart of what he’s talking about today.

One of the effects of increased connectivity on business is that it speeds the impact of change: as soon as something changes in how business works in one part of the world, it’s everywhere. This makes instability – driven by that change – the normal state rather than an exception. Although he focused on dynamic processes at the Appian conference, here he focused more the role of rules in dealing with uncertainty, which I think is a valid point since rules and decision management are much of what allow processes to dynamically shift to accommodate changing conditions; although perhaps it is more accurate to consider the role of complex event processing as well. I am, however, left with the impression that Gartner is spinning pattern-based strategy onto pretty much every technology and special interest group.

The discussion about pattern-based strategies was the same as last week (and the same, I take it, as at the recent Gartnet IT Expo where this was introduced), covering the cycle of seek, model and adapt, as well as the four disciplines of pattern seeking, performance-driven culture, optempo advantage and transparency.

There’s lots of Twitter activity about the conference, and it’s especially interesting to see reactions from other analysts such as Mike Gualtieri of Forrester.

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