Building applications with decisions, processes, and insight
MARTIN KEEN 1200007VU3 MKEEN@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  rules bpm martin_keen odm process cognos events
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These days you can build some incredibly smart applications that behave dynamically based on rules and events, complete tasks in a process oriented way, and provide insight on how they are being used. But these fundamental ideas are nothing new.
In fact, back in the 18th century, Scottish moral philosopher Adam Smith was already thinking about process management. He described the production of a pin, breaking down the tasks to make a pin head into eighteen distinct operations. By the time of the Industrial Revolution, process management was helping thought leaders to create streamlined processes to produce goods, using role specialization to get ever more goods to market at a lowering cost.
And we've never stopped refining what can be done. Today, IBM offers a set of products and solutions to build processes that provide decision-making capabilities that are based on real-time data analysis.
We recently built a sample application using these technologies for the IBM Redbooks publication Implementing an Advanced Application Using Processes, Rules, Events, and Reports. This sample application is a warranty reporting solution that processes post-puchase warranty claims for product repair. In the warranty reporting solution, IBM Business Process Manager, IBM Operational Decision Manager, and IBM Cognos Business Intelligence are integrated to create situational awareness, action, and insight.
IBM Operational Decision Manager
This is the decision management product that defines the rules for the warranty application. It includes business rules (such as if the value of a warranty claim is greater than $1,000 then set manager approval to mandatory) and business events (if the number of warranty claims of the customer within the last month is greater than 4 then send a request to the call center to contact the customer). The decision management capabilities are combined with Business Process Manager to incorporate business rules through a decision service.
IBM Business Process Manager
This manages the core business process flow of the warranty solution and acts as the choreographer of process steps and activities. It includes coaches to aid with tasks to be completed by people, calls to external services, and integrates with the decision management components to ensure the process behaves in a certain way based on a set of rules and events.
IBM Cognos Business Intelligence
This is where the insight comes in. We use Cognos Business Intelligence to elicit insight through the creation of reports that are gathered from the data and events collected by the warranty reporting system. This information is presented through dashboards and allows us to track metrics such as the number of claims being approved, and the products with the most approved claims. We can use these metrics to make changes to our business, such as altering the pricing of warranties, or dropping support for a frequently failing product altogether.
You can see step-by-step how we built this solution in the Implementing an Advanced Application Using Processes, Rules, Events, and Reports Redbooks publication, or read a summary in the IBM Redbooks Solution Guide Building an Application with Decisions, Processes, and Insight.
We've certainly come a long way since defining how to build a better pin head!
Martin Keen is an IBM Redbooks Project Leader. He leads publications on many areas of IBM middleware. Follow Martin on Twitter at @MartinRTP.