Business Rules Platforms 2011: 3 Vendors Have Strongest Positions

John R. Rymer

After two years of vendor consolidation, which are the best business rules platforms for application development and delivery professionals to consider? In our judgment, based on growth rates, market presence, strength of product, and client interest, three vendors have risen to the leadership positions in this market, with two others coming on strong. IBM's ILOG has the strongest market position, but a surprising new alternative has gained strong initiative, and a one-time leader has lost momentum.

Although many application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals have experience implementing business rules platforms, Forrester's AD&D team has been receiving a continual flow of inquiries on this topic that suggests that clients want to know how the vendor landscape is changing and how those changes affect product choices. In fact, before evaluating a vendor's product features, clients consider the vendor's market momentum and the size of its customer base.

Our conclusion: The choices in business rules products have in fact changed, because the vendors have consolidated, expanded, and/or retrenched. Here is a picture of those changes:

As a result, the number of leading products has declined since we last evaluated business rules platforms. Some business rules vendors have expanded into other product categories. As a result, the decision to choose these vendors for a business rules product is more complex because business rules management is no longer their primary focus or their product sets include additional capabilities not directly related to business rules management. Within this category, there are:

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Do We Need A Hydrocarbon Smart Grid?

Holger Kisker

The Oil And Gas Information Technology Innovation Dilemma

The hydrocarbon logistics chain of natural gas and crude oil connects globally distributed exploration and production sites with industrial and private consumers via pipelines, tankers, rail cars, and trucks with massive intermediate buffering storage and conversion facilities (tank farms, refineries, gas plants); it is the lifeblood of our energy supply chain today and for the coming decades.

 

More than 75 million barrels of oil and 300 billion cubic feet of natural gas are produced, transported, and consumed all over the globe — every day. Along the complex transportation chain, these special bulk products, both liquids and gases, are transferred between the different modes of transportation, resulting in a number of challenges based on complex measurements of product volumes and masses:

  • Measurement accuracy. In an ideal world, we would always determine the mass of crude oil and natural gas at each measurement point; however, due to the large quantities involved, weighing is possible only at the very end of the logistics chain. Consequently, we have to live with measurement data that typically carries an uncertainty of 0.1% to 0.5 %, depending on the measurement devices’ intrinsic accuracy.
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RFQ For BI Software Pricing Research

Boris Evelson

On my Q3 research agenda is a document reviewing typical BI software pricing configurations. Unfortunately, I find that just asking vendors whether they have this or that pricing policy (by number of named users, number of concurrent users, server type, etc.) usually just gets me “Yes, we have it all” or “It depends” answers. Not really useful. So this time I plan to nail down the vendors to three specific quotes given three very specific configurations. Here’s my first cut at the RFQ. I plan to send it out to:

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DevOps Is About Collaboration; NoOps Is About Automation

Mike Gualtieri

NoOps Is The Peak Of DevOps.

DevOps is a noble and necessary movement for immature organizations. Mature organizations have DevOps down pat. They aspire to automate to speed release increments. 

NoOps will not replace DevOps; rather, it is an evolution of the release management aspects of DevOps. NoOps is the goal of DevOps.

DevOps Versus NoOps

Are you ready to shoot for NoOps?

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Multichannel Needs Strategy, Tactics, And Speed

Jost Hoppermann

For the past couple of months, we have been working on identifying best practices for application development and delivery teams executing on multichannel strategy. The related report will get published soon. We found that application development and delivery teams need to be successful in the magic triangle of delivering a multichannel solution: 1) tactically; 2) in a strategic way; and 3) fast.

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Oracle Acquires Another Piece of the CXM Puzzle With FatWire

Stephen Powers

Oracle announced yesterday that it has agreed to buy web content management (WCM) vendor FatWire.  The prominent vendors in the WCM market have been flying off the shelves – relatively speaking – over the past few years as larger vendors recognize the value of content management and delivery platforms as part of an overall digital customer experience management (CXM) portfolio. After all, you can’t really manage experiences without a content foundation, can you? To this end, Adobe acquired Day, Autonomy acquired Interwoven, and now this latest deal. Oracle didn’t reveal how much they paid for FatWire (too bad, because there’s nothing we analysts love more than debating whether or not someone overpaid/underpaid for a company).

FatWire’s acquisition has been a foregone conclusion in WCM circles for some time now, since it was one of the last independent vendors with a proven enterprise track record. Many have speculated on possible FatWire suitors over the past few years, a list that has included at times IBM, and fellow WCM vendor Interwoven, prior to its own acquisition by Autonomy. FatWire has had a dalliance with enterprise content management vendor EMC over the past year or so; the two began a strategic partnership, with EMC acquiring a minority stake in FatWire and promoting it as its solution in the CXM space. However, EMC later struck another partnership with SDL Tridion, so it appeared that the bloom was off the rose in the EMC/FatWire romance, and prospects for EMC’s full acquisition of FatWire grew dim.

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Forrester's Best Practice Framework For Customer Service

Kate Leggett

How do you know how well your customer service offering compares with best practices? How do you know what to do to differentiate yourself from your competitors? To answer this question, I put together a Best Practices Framework that you can use to assess your current capabilities. There’s an associated tool in the form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that allows you to evaluate yourself against 150 best practices, organized in eight different categories grouped into the four dimensions of strategy, process, technology, and people. Here’s a quick synopsis of the eight categories:

Strategy

  • Customer service strategy. What is your customer service strategy across all the communication channels you use to interact with your customers and how does that strategy incorporate the voice of the customer (VoC)?
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Maturing Social Media Initiatives

Kate Leggett

Forrester’s book Groundswell made the power of social media tangible with real-world examples and laid out a framework to help onboard organizations. However, many companies today still struggle to benchmark their social media journey, manage bottom-up social activities, and prove the ROI of social media activities. The new chapters published in the just-released expanded and revised edition of Groundswell highlight some best practices. Here are some of them:

  • Understand why you are embarking on the social journey, and connect social media objectives to the company strategy. Ask hard questions like “Will my social presence help move the customer satisfaction needle?”, “Will it help sell more products?”, and “Will it deflect costs from my service center?”.
  • Treat social media as another channel in which to engage customers. Customers still want to call you (a surprising 67% of the time), email you, and chat with you. Make sure that your processes, policies, and communicated information are the same across all channels — traditional and social.
  • Connect your social media efforts. There may be many social media technologies used within your company. Ensure that there is some level of coordination between internal organizations so that you can uphold a consistent experience and brand for your customers.
  • Start small and staff social media initiatives with existing employees who understand your customers and your business. This is important to help extend your brand — your DNA — to your social channels.
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The Promises Of Vendor Service

Jost Hoppermann

Just recently, I had an interesting customer experience — or, to be more precise, my daughter had it, as it involved her laptop computer from one of the top international Internet PC vendors. It was only a little defect — more an annoyance than a real fault. Since we bought “next business day service,” it should have gotten fixed right away. It played out differently in real life.

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Choosing The Right Metrics For Your Customer Service Operations

Kate Leggett

Measuring the success of your customer service by using a single metric is impossible. It’s like flying a plane by just looking at your speed without taking the altitude into account. You need to measure a set of competing metrics to make up a Balanced Scorecard that includes the cost of doing business and customer satisfaction. Service operations that have sales responsibilities should also track revenue generated. And in industries with strict policy requirements, like healthcare, insurance, and financial services, compliance with regulations is yet another set of metrics to track.

Choosing the right set of metrics to measure also depends on the stakeholders that use this information. For example:

  • Service managers need operational data that tracks activities, while executives want strategic KPIs that track outcomes of customer service programs.
  • Service managers need granular, real-time data on their operations, while executives need to see only a small number of KPIs on a periodic basis.  

I always think of it as a two-step process to pinpoint the right metrics for all your stakeholders:

  1. Understand the strategic objectives of your company; choose the high-level KPIs for your contact center that support your company’s objectives. These are the metrics you will report to your executives.
  2. Choose the right operational activity metrics for your contact center that map to these KPIs and which the customer service manager uses on a daily basis to manage operations. Here’s an example of this mapping:
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