Articles & White Papers

Articles, white papers, and other content that doesn’t fit into the blog.

Outsourcing in an increasingly complex world

Pressure on margins is driving organizations to increasingly rationalize and externalize supporting functions as they search for more efficient and flexible delivery approaches. Crafting a successful outsourcing engagement in this environment requires us to align the supplier’s incentives, and therefore their objectives, with the client’s business drivers. It’s not enough to take a piecemeal approach, imposing additional requirements and constraints in the hope that these will shape supplier behavior.

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Beyond Rules Engines

Agent technology represents a new generation of software that brings the power and sophistication of goal-directed reasoning and planning to business applications for the first time. The technology was developed during the early 80s in reaction to the perceived limitations of the rule-based systems (expert systems) that were in wide use at the time. Goal-directed technology builds on the rule-based technologies that preceded it, overcoming their limitations by integrating support for procedural reasoning; the step-by-step, trial-and-error approach that a person typically uses to solve a problem.

Goal-Directed technology enables the development of more flexible and robust applications; applications that are aligned with the business and that allow enterprise systems to adapt rapidly in the face of changing requirements.

Product Meta-Models

Imagine the future. Not the distant future, we’re talking about next week or maybe the week after rather than an eventual future where we all have flying cars. A new business competitor has emerged on the market, coming out of nowhere with a business model that makes it impossible for your company to compete. They have half the cost to serve of their competitors, half the time to revenue, they seem to be able to introduce a new product in a matter of days rather than weeks, and their products are incredibly customisable. They seem to have halved the business metrics that you want to go down, doubled the ones you want to go up, while as the same time supporting a product portfolio of impressive depth and complexity. And they claim to be able to do this with conventional technology. How did they do it? And how are you going to respond?

The problems we’re facing

Companies are engaged in an arms race. For years they have been rushing to beat competitors to market with applications designed to automate a previously manual area of the business, making them more efficient and thereby creating a competitive advantage.

Today, how we manage the operation of a business process is becoming more important that the business process itself. Marco Iansiti brought this into sharp relief through his work at Harvard Business Review when he measured the efficiency of deployment of IT, and not cost, and correlated upper quartile efficiency with upper quartile sales revenue growth. Efficiently dealing with business exceptions, optimizing key decisions and ensuring end-to-end consistency and efficiency will have a greater impact than replacing an existing application.

What will it take to deliver the next generation of business applications?

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