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September 12, 2008

Bosch drives into the rule engine market

Bosch has joined the club. On September 8, 2008 The Bosch Group acquired Innovations Software Technology. Both companies are based in Germany. This move heats up the BRE/BRMS market consolidation that was already sizzling:

Sep. 2008 –The Bosch Group acquired Innovations Software Technology
Jul. 2008 - IBM announced their intent to buy ILOG
Nov. 2007 – RuleBurst acquired Haley Rules
Oct. 2007 – SAP acquired Yasu
Aug. 2007 – Trilogy acquired Gensym
Oct. 2006 – Planet Group acquired ACI Worldwide
Jan. 2006 – Trilogy acquired Versata
Jan. 2006 – MDA acquired Mindbox
Sep. 2005 – Fair Isaac acquired RulesPower

(click to see the new BRE Family Tree

Oracle and Microsoft entered the business rule engine (BRE) market by building their own rule engine technology. Competitors, however, took a different approach. Global technology leaders IBM and SAP acquired BRE vendors ILOG and Yasu. Insurance software vendor MDA acquired BRE vendor Mindbox. And rule engine vendors Fair Isaac and Trilogy acquired smaller BRE vendors RulesPower, Versata, and Gensym.

I asked David S. Kim, Managing Director and CEO of Innovations Software Technology, to share his thoughts and tell us what this means to customers, end-users, and to the rules market. Here’s what he had to say in our email discussion.

How does the Bosch acquisition of Innovations compare to the other acquisitions and consolidation in the rules industry?

“The big difference is that we were not acquired to have our product line integrated into a stack of other software. We were acquired to be the core of a new software and systems company within The Bosch Group. We will be creating new technologies and value chains within Bosch and open the door to new lines of business,” Kim said.

Continue reading "Bosch drives into the rule engine market" »

July 29, 2008

BRE Family Tree update shows IBM ILOG acquisition

The latest BRE Family Tree update is here. There you can download the new family tree in jpg, png, or tif formats. We have redesigned the family tree to show a lot more information than before. To make the chart less commercial, we got rid of the colors that indicated which BRE vendors were BIZRULES partners. Now the chart can be used by anyone, vendor, salesman, consultant, or customer who wants to see "the state of the BRE market" or who wants a guide to help them select their BRE vendor.

This new diagram also shows the connection to Rete, CLIPS, Jess, and Drools. Rule engines that use the Rete algorithm have an "R" flag. Engines based on CLIPS have a "C" flag. and engines based on Jess have a "J" flag.

We also show what environments each rule engine runs on (i.e. COBOL, C++, Java, and .Net), and whether it runs natively on that environment. This section is still under construction. We've asked BRE vendors to confirm this information, so we can finalize this section. We planned to present this chart for the first time at the upcoming October Rules Fest conference in Dallas, TX.  But now that IBM and ILOG are uniting, I thought you would like to see this chart now.  If you are a vendor representative, please take a look at your product data and let us know if we missed anything or if you'd like to update your product information. 

This is a guide to many of the leading BRE vendors that we are familiar with. It is not an exhaustive or complete list - there are probably other BREs on the market and not on the list that we haven't even heard of yet. Let us know who you are!  This guide is a good start for companies trying to evaluate and assess the BRE market. 

If you need more information about these BRE vendors, or if you need help selecting the best and the right rule engine for your particular needs, call BIZRULES at 305.994.9510. Some of you have asked for the BRE Family Tree poster... Call us for info about that.

BRE Family Tree 2008

March 13, 2008

Introducing the BIZRULES® RuleMap™

Documenting business rules is a good first step on the path towards the business rules approach.

But sometimes that's not enough.  Taking the next step and getting to the next level requires simulating business rules so they are easy to review and verify.

Over the past few months BIZRULES has been working on a new product that lets us do both. It's a visual tool that lets us not only draw diagrams of business rule models, it also lets us simulate the rule logic. This tool helps us speed up the rules harvesting process and improves the quality of our rulebooks.

BIZRULES® RuleMap™ is an interactive rulebook that models business rules and simulates business logic.  This logical model lets you see how your business rules really work. It lets you visualize the Reasoning Chain™ that leads to smart conclusions and right decisions.


We use this tool to document your business rules independent of any BRE - yet it can be implemented using any BRE. Again, this is a logical model of your business rules.  It can be used as the rulebook or specs for authoring the rules in any BRE.

Take a look at a sample RuleMap. And let us know what you think. Contact us for pricing or a web demo.

 

 

Visible Knowledge LLC helps companies prevent Brain Drain

10,000 baby boomers are retiring today.

10,000 more will retire next Monday. And Tuesday. And so on. That's the way it's going to be for the next 20 years. Key personnel and subject matter experts with 20 to 30 years of experience are going to clear their desk and head down to Florida. As they walk out the door, invaluable corporate knowledge will simply disappear.

Intellectual capital, a vital corporate asset, will melt away unless companies do something to stop the brain drain and to retain critical knowledge.

Visible Knowledge LLC (www.visibleknowledge.com) has a solution:

  • An interactive RuleMap™ that models business rules & simulates business logic
  • An interactive Expertise Blueprint™ that transforms knowledge into Visible Knowledge™
  • A Legacy Interview(sm) 

Visible Knowledge helps companies retain vital corporate knowledge before it melts away. They focus on documenting invaluable critical knowledge from your top domain experts and key personnel, before they retire. It can take companies years and millions of dollars to recover from losing this type of knowledge.

A traditional exit interview is just not enough when you're dealing with subject matter experts or super experts. So Visible Knowledge has developed a Legacy Interview(sm) process that extracts and documents critical knowledge before experts leave or retire. They use a rapid knowledge acquisition process to extract maximum amount of knowledge in a minimum amount of time. Visible Knowledge focuses on capturing critical knowledge.

If Know It All Ken just gave you two weeks notice, and he's the only one who knows how to fix the $5 million widget making machine, Visible Knowledge can help. They can spend a few days with Ken and document the crucial knowledge you need to keep the business running.  

If Super Expert Sally is retiring in a few months, Visible Knowledge can spend a few weeks with her to elicit as much vital and critical knowledge as possible before she leaves.

If your entire Dept of Super Experts is retiring next year, Visible Knowledge can work with your team over the next few months or years to document the critical knowledge you need to retain.

Later, if you need to automate the knowledge that was captured and retained, companies like BIZRULES can help you do that. BIZRULES works with leading knowledge software vendors to design and build knowledge-based and rule-based solutions.

November 14, 2007

Haley Rule Bursts into the business rules market

Business Rules Management and Business Rule Engines at a tipping point

Haley Rules was acquired yesterday by RuleBurst. Previously, RuleBurst seemed to position itself as an up-front rule modeling tool or rule management tool, especially for government applications, that integrated with the Microsoft Business Rule Engine for rule execution. With this acquisition, RuleBurst acquires one of the fastest rule engines on the block. Now they don't need the MSFT rules engine because they have their own! And instead of taking a few more years to build a stronger presence in the U.S., they established a strong presence in the US market overnight.

RuleBurst is a natural fit for legislative rules. As a matter of fact, they used to market their tool as Legislative Rulebase Technology years ago, when the company was called SoftLaw. They talked about the idea of Electronic Legislation. E-Government is a great niche, because government is good business.

Now it seems clear that RuleBurst is ready to go after the corporate / private-sector market just as hard. Ruleburst is very serious and methodical. They plan ahead strategies like international expansion (done), government rules market leadership (done - can you spell I R S?), and long-term expansion into the corporate rules market as well (well underway with Haley acquisition).

Adding the Haley Rules Engine could improve performance for deployment. Not sure what they would do with Haley Authority - that is very impressive natural language technology that is like nothing else on the market. There's a good reason Haley is based in Sewickley, PA: Carnegie Mellon University and A.I. expertise. Softlaw was one of the first companies to get into the rules market, and they are among the few who are still around today (under the name RuleBurst of course).

The new BRE Family Tree 2008 (as of yesterday) shows a quick summary of that history:BRE Family Tree 2008

Here's the official press release about the acquisition.

Here's the rest of the story:

In September 2001 I met with a SoftLaw executive (not sure if he was CEO at the time or if he became their CEO later) in Orlando, FL to brief him on the U.S. rules market and advise them on their expansion plans and strategies. We talked about challenges faced by government agencies such as the IRS, and their search for business rule engines and business rules management solutions. At that time I was working for IBM on the IRS Modernization project. Back then the IRS was looking at CA AION, Sapiens, etc. It took a few years, but SoftLaw (RuleBurst) finally broke through and is now one of the tools used on the IRS project.

During those meetings we also talked about marketing opportunities in the US. I told them about the Business Rules Forum and other rules conferences that they should attend and exhibit at. They started attending, and are now regular exhibitors.

This year at the Business Rules Forum it was a little odd that Haley Software did not have a booth. Now we know why.

 

July 12, 2007

JOBS: Business Rule Anaysts & BRE Developers/Architects

BizRules is looking for

  • Business Rule Analysts
  • Business Requirements Analysts
  • BRE/BRMS developers & architects fluent with rule engines, especially ILOG JRules, PegaRULES PRPC, Haley Rules, and Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor
  • IBM WAS WebSphere Application Server / J2EE architects

for permanent full-time and long-term contract opportunities nationwide. If you have experience as a rules analyst, developer, or architect and are looking for challenging projects with Fortune 500 clients, contact BIZRULES or send your resume to

JOBS [at] BIZRULES.COM

305.994.9510

(See http://bizrules.com/us/page/careers.htm for more detailed job descriptions)

April 05, 2007

Why business rules? Why not expert systems?

James Taylor over at Fair Isaac has a really good list of "Why business rules?" I agree with most of the points, except the stuff about expert systems.

Maybe the question should be "why not expert systems?"

The dirty little secret is that a lot of the rule engines out there were originally called "expert systems" or "inference engines", then they were called "business rule engines", and today they are known as "business rule management systems. (See the business rules hype cycle)

Of course, everything is better today. And faster. And connected. When expert systems first came out, the Web wasn't even born yet, and PCs were running at 10 mHz. 

The biggest problem we had at Mobil Oil between 1988-1994 when we were building the Global Expert System Strategy and Lube Knowledgebase Strategy was making and mailing floppy disks to all our affiliates.

I remember one day we were showing the customer (an executive in Mobil Marine division) a demo of the expert system, his comments were:

  1. This is like an intelligent checklist, it never asks un-needed or dumb questions!
  2. I like that I can click on an underlined word (a hyperlink) and popup a definition, photo, go to the next page, or whatever!
  3. This is not like our other DOS or mainframe apps. Our users will not like the fact that this works on a "one page at a time" metaphor,
  4. because we're forcing users to fill out information or answer questions on the page (screen), then they have to press enter to go to the next page (screen).

That one page at a time metaphor he described was basically how the World Wide Web works. We were doing this in a business rule engine (BRE), aka an expert system (ES) in 1988. Before WWW. Before Windows.

(Want proof, go here and click on the photo on the right. There's a picture from back then, in my younger days... the program on the PC behind me is 1DirPlus or something like that.... Definately B.W. Before Windows). And so back then we built expert systems that did reasoning, chaining, hypertext / linking, and of course inferencing. Basically they would fire rules exactly the same way a modern rule engine would today. And give the same answer the expert would give,

Even after the experts retired long ago!

We did that in AION. We could have used Neuron Data (which evolved into Fair Isaac Blaze Advisor), or we could have done it in ILOG. Or any number of other ES tools at the time. Some of them are still around today. (See BRE Family Tree)

Distribution of expert systems, and access, is one of the reasons they "never took off". People used to say expert systems were a solution looking for a problem. Deploying expert systems on the web solves those problems.

I think the Web is "the problem" that expert systems were looking for. The Semantic Web is reigniting a lot of the good stuff from the AI/ES days. Adding intelligence and reasoning to applications is what expert systems have been doing all along.

And by the way, not everyone agrees that expert systems never took off. I certainly don't.

As Richard Barfus, CEO of MindBox, (an ES/BRE/BRMS firm) likes to say, "Expert systems didn't really go away. They went undercover."

 

March 14, 2007

New Power for Management: Business Rules

Understanding and managing business rules is vital to the corporation. It is just as important as managing people, processes, and information.

Nevertheless, business rules are often misunderstood and poorly managed.

Many rules remain unwritten – they are known only to and retained by subject matter experts who sooner or later leave the corporation, causing brain drain. When business rules are written, they are seldom shared and reused throughout the corporation, which increases operating costs. When business rules are automated, they may not be aligned to the business strategies and policies, leading to quality problems.

In order to program business rules, programmers often rely on unclear business rule specifications that are incomplete or incorrect. Then they usually hard-wire the business rules in computer languages that only programmers can understand and change.

Because programmers are not directly involved in the day-to-day operation of the business, they often make assumptions about what the rules are and what management intended. That leads to mistakes or bugs in the programs, which requires further programming and re-programming.

There is a solution.

Some corporations use advanced business rules technology and business rule management methods to take business rules out of IT and bring them back into the business. Now management can finally manage and change their business rules.

Business rules management techniques help management clearly describe and communicate business rules to employees, partners, and customers. Business rule management software helps automate the rules that should be rule-based.

Business rules improve the condition of the corporation. They prevent business mistakes and minimize risk. They solve many critical problems facing business and IT.

Business rules are like the glue that holds together all the parts of the corporation, ensuring that the automated rules align with goals and strategies.

Business rules integrate and align all the moving parts of the corporation into a cohesive enterprise architecture and operating system that works, changes, and lasts.

Business rules give new power to management.

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Continue reading "New Power for Management: Business Rules" »

November 03, 2006

BRE Family Tree 2007 is now available

If you're going to the Business Rules Forum in D.C, next week, I invite you to download your copy of the brand new BRE Family Tree™ 2007.

This year for the first time BizRules has printed out flyers of this popular slide, which shows the history and current state of the BRE market.

If you are attending the show to learn about your BRE software vendor options, be sure to pick up this handout at the Business Rule Experts Group booth (www.BRxG.com).

Take it with you to all the vendor presentations and booth demos. It will help.

June 10, 2005

It's Too Good to be True

A short time ago one of our Knowledge Engineers went to a Business Rule Engine software vendor training course with IT People and Business People from one our clients.

Surprise! The client's business people loved the rule engine software (BRE #1) because they could write rules in an English-like language. The client's IT people didn't like it as much because they could write rules in an English-like language. It had something to do with, uh, you know, hey, if we actually used this thing we wouldn't need some of our IT business analysts because the tool is so good that the Subject Matter Experts / Domain Experts could author the rules themselves without IT Business Analysts... And if we ever figured how to really use this engine, we may not need some of our IT Programmers either... (See: "the usual suspects")

So, the client decided to use another BRE software package (BRE #2) that:
  • Required the larger IT infrastructure investment and ongoing IT support that this client was used to

  • Didn't have as "English-like" a language. Because it was more like a typical "programming language", it would be eaiser to the IT People to learn

  • The rules were written in a "Java-like" language that IT People understood better
BRE #2 tool enabled Business People to write their own rules just like BRE #1. It opened up some of their simpler rules so they could be authored by Business People instead of IT Programmers. The more complex rules will still require IT assistance. The Business People believe they will be able to write most of the rules themselves (without IT) using this powerful tool. The IT People see it diferently - they believe that the most of the rules will require some IT support, or that the Business People will call and ask IT to write the rules for them. Time will tell how this plays out.

Now both the Business and IT are happy. BRE tool vendor #2 is happy. BRE tool vendor #1 is not - They lost this sale because their tool was too good to be true.
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