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Business Rules Forum Tutorials: Analytics and Events

This was the second of two pre-conference days offering a set of interesting tutorial sessions.  Although the choices were tough, I decided on Eric Siegel’s and David Luckham’s sessions.  Both were thought provoking.

Eric’s session, “Driving Decisions with Predictive Analytics: The Top Seven Business Applications” caught my attention due to its focus on analytics.  I have taken two data analysis courses as part of the Master’s program at Union Graduate College.  The courses, “Systems Modeling and Optimization” and “Data Mining” really piqued my interest in this field.

What was different about Eric’s presentation was its focus on real-world use of these techniques.  Understandably, he could not delve into the detail of a semester-long course.  He did a great job of introducing the basic concepts of data mining and then explored how these can be leveraged to build models that can then be used to drive business decisions.

Beyond explaining the basics around creating models (formatting data, algorithm choices, training, testing) he discussed how the resulting model isn’t a magic bullet that will generate business rules.  Rather from the model comes the ability to make decision, but those decisions must be created by the business.

I believe that leveraging predictive analytics will continue to grow as a key differentiator for businesses and a key feature leveraged in business rule engines.  Having a keen interest in this area, I look forward to assisting businesses derive value from the growing set of analytical tools and techniques.

My afternoon session choice, delivered by David Luckham, was titled, “Complex Event Processing in An Event-Driven, Information World.”  Complex Event Processing (CEP) is not an area with which I am familiar and David’s presentation covered a broad cross-section of the field.

Professor Luckham (Emeritus) at Stanford has an amazing amount of knowledge regarding CEP.  He discussed its market, history, technology and his predictions for its future.  He flew through several presentations that make up a CEP course he teaches.  Given the amount of material he has on the topic, he allowed us to help tune his presentation based on our particular interests.

It is clear that he has a passion around CEP and a strong belief that it will grow into a core, hence transparent, feature of all service-based networks.  He refers to this end state as “Holistic Event Processing”(HEP).

The power of the platform he describes would be amazing.  Although he did not compare the vision to Mashups and environments such as Yahoo Pipes, the power of HEP would seem to extend and go well beyond the operation of those tools.

It will be interesting to see how this field and the products being created become part of our standard enterprise infrastructure.  There is a long way to go before we reach David’s vision.

Tomorrow the Business Rules Forum launches in earnest with lots of presentations and vendor demonstrations.  I’m looking forward to a variety of interesting discussions as the week goes on.


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