Futures trader Nick Leeson was able to continue losing money at Barings Bank in 1995, even after building up $1 billion in losses. That's because there was no watchdog for abnormal events in the bank's underlying software. If there had been, the bank could have spotted and halted Leeson's trading before it went so far awry.
Applying business rules to routine processes being run by software applications is the latest way for enterprises to capitalize on their complicated and expensive IT infrastructure. In effect, anything that happens in the business will leave a trail in the company's messaging middleware where system agents or monitors can watch for normal and abnormal business events.
Tibco Software Inc. is one supplier of such messaging middleware. Now it has added the Tibco BusinessEvents application on top of its middleware products to monitor what Stanford University professor David Luckham calls "complex events processing."
Luckham is the author of the book The Power of Events (Addison Wesley, 2002), and Tibco has taken his insights and tried to capture them in its latest business-process-management software. The goal is to let events in a company's underlying software trigger a business-rules engine that can tell whether those events ought to be occurring or not.
Part of the idea, says Tibco's Alan Lundberg, senior product marketing manager, is to spot how seemingly unrelated events in the software are actually signals that a customer is looking to complete a major deal, or, conversely, a customer may be thinking of no longer doing business with a company, or an employee is behaving in a pattern that departs from previous norms.
By watching events, Tibco BusinessEvents can learn from experience what the normal flow of a business process is, then sound an alert when there's a departure from it.
"It's the ability to sense, prioritize and respond to both threats and opportunities," says Lundberg. The system can be oriented to provide operations security, to speed up the supply chain, or to watch for fraud. Tibco's telecommunications customers are early implementers and are seeking to use it to assure service levels, Lundberg says.
BusinessEvents is available immediately at a price of $100,000.