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Software // Information Management

Closed Loop

Sounding Off; Follow Up

Sounding Off

Data representation ["The Information Cannot Speak for Itself," July 10, 2004] is the biggest challenge to any analyst — and it changes with each project. You can't talk about it enough.

The next topic to consider is writing — not all BI is communicated with graphics. And of course, there's the implied issue of addressing your audience correctly.

Carl Brenner

Follow Up

I read your article ("Embedded BI: Intelligence at Your Sevice," June 1, 2004) and found it very thought provoking.

Your statement "EBI relies heavily on distributed, autonomous intelligent agents that travel along the business process streams, facilitating the collection of key information and making the right decisions along the way." is insightful and very desirable from a business perspective. However, implementing this kind of solution relies on surmounting four major barriers:

  • Creating enterprise business process models that are aligned with the existing systems and applications.
  • Creating enterprise data models that allow the computation of process metrics.
  • Implementing agent-based monitors that can understand context, compute KPIs on the fly, and make good decisions.
  • Synchronizing the EBI system with changes in the real world.

We can use agent-based technology to overcome these barriers, and organizations that implement EBI will gain tremendous competitive advantage. However, this effort will be costly, and organizations might not be prepared to invest in this effort right now.

Arka Mukherjee, Ph.D.

Naeem Hashmi responds
Thanks for the feedback. We had to trim the article down significantly due to space limitations, and the points that you outlined couldn't be included within the feature. Figure 1 tells the story behind the four major barriers that you've outlined. It shows how business applications are tightly integrated with the process repository, the intelligence rules (KPIs, routing intelligence, and metrics), and the SLA repository. Such information must travel with agents that move along with the business processes. Without an intimate relationship among these three areas, you're correct: EBI isn't possible.

Specific to your second point, I believe the enterprise data models that employ true EBI won't look like today's enterprise data models, because the concept of "enterprise" will have evolved to the enterprise services model and corporate document and legal record repository model as shown in Figure 1. As to your fourth point, although a synchronization BI metamodel is important today, in a services paradigm, the intraservice rules will be based on your KPIs and business processes, not the actual application metamodel. Therefore, the need for a pure EBI system metamodel synchronization is eliminated.

Agent technology has been around for a long time, but the time has now come to truly implement distributed autonomous intelligent agents to work for new services-oriented business solutions. I see it happening, but a few people, like you, are really internalizing the challenges and benefits such implementations will bring to the business. Keep on plugging!

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