Every year Lustratus digs out its crystal ball to identify the key trends in the global infrastructure market place for the next twelve months.
The latest set of predictions for 2011 can be found in this Lustratus Insight, available at no charge from the Lustratus store. However, one in particular deserves further mention. Lustratus predicts that in 2011 the use of Business Rules software (BRMS) will continue to grow rapidly.
To me, business rules represent the peak of business / IT alignment. For the uninitiated, the idea of Business Rules and Business Rules Management Systems is to enable a repository of rules to be created that control how the It implementation of business operates. These rules are written in non-technical (or at least non-IT technical) language, and can be authored and edited by business professionals. As a simple example, a bank might have a business rule governing how it charges its customers for their bank payments activities. This rule might say something along the lines of
“If payee is a personal customer, charge x per transaction. If payee is a business customer, charge y per transaction”.
Now, suppose the bank decides that it wants to have a marketing campaign to try to encourage more small businesses to start using its services. it might decide that as an incentive it will offer free payments processing for any business payments of less the £5,000. Most larger business clients would probably far exceed this number. Changing the IT systems to support this new initiative would involve no more than a business user editing the rule setting payment charges, and modifying it to
“If payee is a personal customer, charge x per transaction. If payee is a business customer and the amount is > £5000 then charge y per transaction. If payee is a business customer and the amount is <= £5,000 then set charge to zero.”
When the rule is altered, the BRMS would interpret this change into the necessary technical implementation to achieve the desired aims.
This is the root of Business Rules popularity. They provide the ultimate means for business users to change and adapt their business approach without having to involve heavy IT investment each time a change is made -efficient agility if you like. However, this business rules-based approach to IT implementation has another extremely useful by-product; it becomes much easier to demonstrate compliance with corporate or external policies and regulations. A compliance officer can review the easily-understandable business rules to validate that the company is correctly implementing regulatory requirements, without needing an IT translator.
I expect to see a lot of activity in 2001 in the area of Business Rules.