Making the Contextual Enterprise Possible with ODM
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In this recent JT on EDM blog post -- Big Data in IBM’s Research Outlook – James Taylor summarizes the R&D agenda that was presented at the recent IBM Big Data Management Launch 2013. The agenda features two sets of topics:
1. Rapidly evolving infrastructure
2. Future of Big Data and Analytics
According to Taylor, two of the sub-topics – Contextual Enterprise and Multimedia and Visual Analytics – received some additional attention from Michael Karasick, the speaker. Given my focus on Operational Decision Management (ODM), I was intrigued by the sub-topic: “Contextual Enterprise – fusing data and processes.” I would’ve said “fusing data and decisions" because I tend to take a decision-centric as opposed to a process-centric approach from the get-go.
So what does “contextual enterprise” mean? Taylor summarizes here: “The contextual enterprise is all about building context from data dynamically at scale, discovering new value and combining structured, unstructured, static and streaming data. Combining in particular what IBM calls systems of record and systems of engagement. To make this work, IBM sees a pipeline that gathers data from lots of different sources, connects this so knowledge and learning can happen, reasoning on this to make decisions and take action. Finally you must adapt, improving over time.”
This is interesting for two reasons:
1. Context and understanding are inextricably linked. Context provides the setting, a relevant surrounding, for information so that information can be better understood relative to its circumstances. We hear a lot today about the lack of context in a sound bite-addicted, data-driven world and how information is distorted, decisions are impaired and truth is elusive if something is taken out of context. So, building a contextual enterprise where meaningful data fuses with decisions and processes should improve strategic and operational effectiveness because actions take the surrounding information into consideration.
2. ODM is a contextual tool. Operational Decision Management technology combines business rules and events capabilities. The combination of these technologies enables organizations to flexibly build solutions that can detect and react to data patterns as they occur within a specified time period, and then provide context-specific, automated decision responses to transactional and process-oriented business systems.
For example, utility companies can use ODM software to power smarter grids that can react contextually. The business events processing capability is used for detecting events and event patterns from smart meters as they occur. The business rules management capability is used to automate better follow-up decisions (actions) based on the context of the smart meter alerts coupled with subject matter expertise around best practice and policy.
ODM makes a contextual enterprise possible by controlling operational decisions based on individual transaction criteria and awareness of historical and point-in-time business activity, and by combining enterprise-wide visibility with the ability to quickly and safely modify business rules based on changing business requirements.
There are several ODM business use cases where the ability to fuse data and decisions is particularly advantageous. For starters, here are three:
1. Product and Promotional Offers
2. Case and customer prioritization
3. Fraud determinations and risk mitigation
And, finally, ODM can enable context-specific operational decision control for fully automated interactions, for decision support in the back-office, or for human-assisted interactions with customers.