Hi there! As an expert consultant in business rules engines and enterprise AI, let me walk you through everything you need to know about using business rules engines in 2023. I‘ll explain what they are, how they work, top benefits, and key trends shaping the space. Let‘s get started!
Many companies face a common challenge – critical business decisions and processes are hardcoded into complex application code across fragmented systems. This makes them slow to change. Just tweaking a business rule like pricing thresholds can take months of expensive IT projects!
This is where business rules engines (BREs) come in. BREs are software tools that externalize and automate business logic to drive agility. Leading enterprises like Goldman Sachs, Tesco, and UPS rely on BREs to quickly adapt to market changes without coding.
What Exactly is a Business Rules Engine?
In simple terms, a BRE is enterprise software that houses and executes your business rules.
What are business rules? Essentially business policies, guidelines, and decision logic codified into IF-THEN statements like:
IF order is over $5000 THEN offer 5% discount
IF driver is under 25 THEN increase premium by 10%
Instead of embedding thousands of rules like these across various systems, you consolidate them into a BRE.
The BRE acts as a brain that receives data, evaluates it against rules, and makes decisions automatically. Non-technical users can easily make rule changes without involvement from IT or developers.
This separation of business logic from core code is the key value of BREs.
A Brief History of Business Rules Engines
The concepts around managing business logic externally from systems can be traced back to the 1970s. But BREs really emerged as a defined software category in the 1990s with early tools like ILOG JRules.
Initially BREs were on-premise software suites focused on rules management and execution. Over the last decade we‘ve seen BRE capabilities incorporated into broader platforms like Pega and major cloud migrations. AI integration is the next frontier as BREs embrace decision intelligence.
Industry analysts size the BRE market at over $1 billion annually with growth forecasts of 10-15% driven by digital transformation.
How Do Business Rules Engines Actually Work?
Let‘s quickly explore the key capabilities that make up a business rules engine:
- Rules Authoring – A graphical interface allows business users to define, update, categorize and manage rules in natural language without coding.
- Rules Repository – The central repository stores approved rules and their attributes like priority for governance and reuse.
- Execution Engine – This is the brains that runs rule-based logic against data inputs to infer decisions. The Rete algorithm is commonly used.
- Integration – APIs and connectors allow ingestion of data from other core systems like ERPs for the rules engine to evaluate.
- Management – Capabilities to test rules against test cases, get alerts on conflicting rules, analyze rule performance, and version control.
- Explanation – Tools to explain the rationale behind rules-based decisions to end users.
So in summary – BREs provide the tools to codify rules, execute them for decisions, and manage the rule lifecycle.
Why Are BREs Critical for Enterprises? 5 Top Benefits
BREs offer considerable benefits across industries when used properly:
1. Business Agility
- Adapt quickly to market changes by modifying rules rather than recoding applications.
- Shorten time to update products, pricing, offers, eligibility criteria etc. from months to days.
- Centralize thousands of business rules to ensure consistent decisions across channels, products, and customer groups.
- Align decisions to broader business objectives.
- Codify regulations and internal policies into rules for traceability.
- Reduce audit costs and risk. Critical in regulated industries like banking and insurance.
4. Cost Savings
- Lower development costs by ~40% by eliminating lengthy IT change requests for business logic changes based on a Forrester study.
- Reduce manual errors and inefficiencies.
- Improve visibility into rules governing decisions compared to logic buried in code across systems.
- Explain rationale behind automated decisions to customers and regulators.
Business Rules Engine Use Cases
Virtually any high-volume process that relies on business logic is a potential target for BREs. Here are some common examples:
- Claims assessment – Validate claims against policy terms and conditions
- Underwriting – Standardize risk assessment rules for quotes and approvals
- Fraud detection – Identify suspicious claims patterns based on rules
- Loan origination – Apply credit risk models and lending policies as rules for automated decisions
- Customer engagement – Determine next best offer or interaction based on customer data
- Regulatory compliance – Monitor trader activity against financial regulations
- Patient triage – Triage patients based on symptoms/risk rules
- Billing – Validate billing codes and amounts against medical policies
- Utilization review – Assess treatment plans based on evidence-based standards
- Pricing – Define dynamic pricing rules and promotions
- Order brokering – Route and split orders based on availability, margin, and cost rules
- Recommendations – Determine product recommendations based on purchase history
- Inventory planning – Optimize target stock levels based on demand forecasting rules
- Warranty claims – Validate warranty claims against product warranty rules
- Predictive maintenance – Schedule maintenance based on equipment usage rules
These use cases demonstrate the breadth of processes that BREs can optimize across industries, from core operations to customer engagement.
Top 8 Business Rules Engines on the Market
Choosing the right BRE depends on your specific requirements and use cases. Below are leading options:
1. Pega – Part of the Pega Platform combining BRE, AI, RPA, workflow, and case management. Powerful enterprise-grade capabilities.
2. FICO Blaze Advisor – Feature-rich BRE focused on financial services, insurance, and risk management.
3. Red Hat JBoss BRMS – Open source BRE integrated with BPM and decision management. Flexible and scalable.
4. IBM Operational Decision Manager – Mature BRE from IBM targeting operational decisions and regulatory compliance.
5. SAP Business Rules Management – BRE solution natively integrated with SAP application portfolio.
6. Trisotech Digital Enterprise Suite – Model-driven BRE with collaborative workflows and simulation.
7. Bosch IoT Things – Specialized BRE optimized for IoT devices and edge automation.
8. Decisions – Intuitive cloud-based business rules engine ideal for citizen developers. Low code.
I look at various factors when recommending BREs like capabilities, total cost, scalability needs, and ecosystem. Test drives are invaluable before committing.
How Much Does a Business Rules Engine Cost?
BRE pricing varies significantly based on:
- Perpetual license vs. subscription-based pricing
- Number of rules/decision points
- Production and non-production environments
- On-premise vs. cloud deployment
- Additional capabilities like AI, RPA, simulation etc.
As a ballpark, licensing starts from $25,000 for limited environments and decision volumes. Large enterprises spending millions annually is also common for extensive projects. Just be sure to analyze ROI – BREs often deliver rapid payback through operational improvements.
Emerging Innovations in Business Rules Technology
BREs continue to embrace cutting-edge capabilities:
- AI assistance – NLP interfaces for rules authoring. Recommended rules actions using ML. Explainable AI for transparency.
- Cloud deployment – Agility, elastic scale and usage-based pricing from SaaS/cloud BREs.
- IoT focus – Lightweight BREs optimized for sensor data inputs and edge automation.
- RPA integration – Use BREs for hyperautomation by triggering RPA bots. Vice versa also possible.
- Customer engagement – Apply rules in real-time interactions for contextualization and personalization.
- Decision intelligence – Augment rules with data science models for optimized actions and predictions.
The lines between BREs and broader decision automation platforms will continue to blur with these innovations.
Best Practices for Implementing Business Rules Engines
Based on my consulting experience, here are tips for a successful BRE rollout:
- Get executive sponsorship – Critical for stakeholder alignment and budget.
- Take an iterative approach – Start with a targeted pilot project before enterprise-wide rollout.
- Invest in rule design – Involve business SMEs to codify the rules correctly from the start.
- Build a governance process – Validate rules for consistency, redundancy, and performance.
- Monitor usage and insights – Track key metrics to showcase adoption and value.
- Plan for rule maintenance – Keep rules current through frequent iterations after deployment.
- Integrate into CI/CD pipelines – Accelerate delivery by integrating BREs into DevOps toolchain.
- Focus on total cost – Consider multi-year TCO including maintenance, infrastructure, and team costs.
The Bottom Line: Why Now is the Time for Business Rules Engines
Most large organizations still embed thousands of business rules across legacy systems and new apps. This fragmentation leads to slow responsiveness to market dynamics, inconsistent decisions, and poor visibility.
BREs offer a proven approach to unify the business rule layer for agility and compliance gains. Mature technology and integration capabilities make implementation smoother than ever.
Forward-looking companies are complementing BREs with real-time analytics, AI, and automation to transform into Intelligent Enterprises. The business advantage from digitizing operations using BREs as a foundation is compelling.
As an expert in this space, I highly recommend investing in a pilot BRE project to demonstrate value and start your decision automation journey. Feel free to reach out to discuss how BREs can help your specific organization!