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Smart Enough Systems: How to Deliver Competitive Advantage by Automating Hidden Decisions Paperback – 29 Jun 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 1 edition (29 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0132347962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132347969
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,226,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Author

James Taylor and Neil Raden are the authors, Barbara von Halle wrote the foreword.

From the Back Cover

“Automated decisions systems are probably already being used in your industry, and they will undoubtedly grow in importance. If your business needs to make quick, accurate decisions on an industrialized scale, you need to read this book.”

Thomas H. Davenport, Professor, Babson College, Author of Competing on Analytics

 

The computer-based systems most organizations rely on to support their businesses are not very smart. Many of the business decisions these companies make tend to be hidden in systems that make poor decisions, or don’t make them at all. Further, most systems struggle to keep up with the pace of change.

 

The answer is not to implement newer, “intelligent” systems. The fact is that much of today’s existing technology has the potential to be “smart enough” to make a big difference to an organization’s business. This book tells you how.

 

Although the business context and underlying principles are explained in a nontechnical manner, the book also contains how-to guidance for more technical readers.

 

The book’s companion site, www.smartenoughsystems.com, has additional information and references for practitioners as well as news and updates.

 

Additional Praise for Smart (Enough) Systems

“James Taylor and Neil Raden are on to something important in this book–the tremendous value of improving the large number of routine decisions that are made in organizations every day.”

Dr. Hugh J. Watson, Chair of Business Administration, University of Georgia

 

“This is a very important book. It lays out the agenda for business technology in the new century–nothing less than how to reorganize every aspect of how a company treats its customers.”

David Raab, President, ClientXClient

 

“This book is an important contribution to business productivity because it covers the opportunity from both the business executive’s and technologist’s perspective. This should be on every operational executive’s and every CIO’s list of essential reading.”

John Parkinson, Former CTO, Capgemini, North American Region

 

“This book shows how to use proven technology to make business processes smarter. It clearly makes the case that organizations need to optimize their operational decisions. It is a must-have reference for process professionals throughout your organization.”

Jim Sinur, Chief Strategy Officer, Global 360, Inc.

 


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary on 7 Sep 2007
Format: Paperback
Up until recently, operational systems have been separated from decision support systems. The former manipulate data to control and support business functions while the latter transform and enhance data for the benefit of knowledge workers. These workers must then analyze the results and submit change requests to IT to get any requisite changes actioned. It is a slow and unpredictable process. As a result, process improvement only takes place at a coarse (or strategic) granularity; and the millions of customer-facing micro-decisions embedded in operational systems cannot be upgraded.

This book considers the appropriate response of modem companies to the convergence of several technologies around the issue of operational decision automation: BPM, data mining and analytics, SOA, Business Intelligence (BI) and performance monitoring, BAM (Business Activity Monitoring), data warehousing and business rules. Having said this, the book's clear emphasis is on the benefits of using business rules (separated from procedural code) enhanced with feedback from predictive analytic and monitoring software. Predictive analytic software comes in a variety of styles: statistical regression and clustering algorithms, neural nets and even good old linear programming (optimization) routines.

Although the authors clearly understand the technology side of things, they do not present it to the reader in sufficient depth for this understanding to be transferred. The technically inclined reader will therefore have to bone up on business rules management and analytic techniques in other volumes. Thus, the main beneficiaries from this work will be project managers and the like.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Why didn't I think of that? 4 Aug 2007
By Dave Mccomb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've been in the enterprise software business for a long time, and for a long time I've had several related intuitions about how requirements, rules and SOA fit together. But frankly, I never managed to get to a coherent whole about them. Many times while reading this book I kept saying "yes of course, why didn't I think of that?" There are so many excellent insights in this book.

Taylor and Raden may have created a new movement with this work in Enterprise Operational Decision Management. The central theme is that organizations are known by the decisions they make, and not just the major strategic decisions, but the myriad small decisions that their thousands of employees make on a day to day basis. Up until now we had to make due with Decision Support, Knowledge Management, Business Intelligence, Data Warehouses and other off-line aids for manual decision making. In the last few years the maturation of Rules Management systems and the near universal adoption of SOA, Work Flow and BPM are making it possible to more the entire decisioning process into real time, whether human assisted or fully automated.

Two other profound ideas I want to comment on are the champion/ challenger concept, and the role of hypothesis and prediction. Each alone is worth the price of the book.

The champion/challenger concept says once you have a decision model in place and working you owe it to yourself to constantly challenge it by setting up a series of alternate models and running some percent of the decision flow through the challenger model and testing the outcome against the current (champion) scenario. This wasn't really viable until the advent of SOA. They make a great case for how this arrangement allows firms to continually improve their decision making.

A traditional rule system runs off what the experts think the best thing to do in the face of uncertainty. But unless and until a system makes predictions about the outcome of its decisions and closes the loop with the actual results (which of course are often not known for quite some time) it will not be able to improve. This is the heart of their prediction driven decision model.

The book is obviously based on a wealth of information: there must be nearly 100 case study/vignettes sprinkled throughout emphasizing the points just made.

Excellent and inspiring piece of work.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Disjointed wisdom 24 July 2007
By T. Sawhney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
James Taylor knows the Enterprise Decision Making space and has a lot to teach the rest of us. The first several chapters make an excellent business case for the use of decision systems. I found myself underlining and marking content on several pages. His message, however, gets muted by his disjointed writing style, a problem compounded by a poor graphic layout. The disjointedness is mostly a distraction in the first few chapters, but becomes more critical as the content becomes deeper and more technical. (One of my current job responsibilities is leading a business rules system implementation at my company.)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A book that spans two worlds and helps you make better decisions 28 Aug 2007
By Mark P. McDonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Smart Enough Systems is a book with one foot in two worlds. At one level, it is a business book addressing the issues of using information and decision support. On the other level it is almost a BI/DSS for the less intelligent in terms of its step by step guidance on working through these issues. Fortunately the books premise regarding automating hidden decisions requires a bit of both.

As a business book, Smart Enough covers the need to explain the concepts in business terms and provide a framework for generating ROI. It does not talk in great depth about how decisions drive competitive advantage. It is also a little weak on the explanation of where to apply this technique as I doubt enterprises will make the funding available to automate all of their decisions.

As a technology book, the author focuses on Enterprise Decision Management (EDM) is the primary focus of this book and it is described as applying a services approach to decision making. This looks to take business rules out of IT systems and put them into something akin to a decision service broker/service so the same situations are handled with the same set of rules.

The book is a solid and complete explanation of the author's ideas. Taylor and Raden focus on the systems aspects of EDM and their automation. This leads into a discussion of decision types and how they are automated. Here Taylor and Raden do well to illustrate these concepts, although the reader often encounters graphics and statements that are more than a bit dated.

The book would have been greatly helped with a clear and consistent case study application of its concepts. It also would have benefited from understanding the nature of decision systems support (DSS) a discipline that has been around for more than 30 years which is only discussed in a single sentence and again from a technology perspective.

This is a solid book by a professional who certainly understands the technical implications of his ideas - enterprise decision management. However, by trying to stand in both worlds it excels in neither. I would recommend this book more as a technical and implementation guide rather than as an executive business book. In that regard it has a place in IT but probably not in the Boardroom.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read For Anyone That Makes Business Decisions - i.e. Most of Us 17 July 2007
By M. Sheina - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Well structured and written, this book could be the first definitive bible for enterprise decision management (EDM). Taylor & Raden cover all the EDM bases; explaining its business need, core tenets, and technical underpinnings. However the authors avoid the temptation to dwell too much in technology detail, and manage to strike a nice balance with tips on practical implementation in real-world business environments and even offers a mini-methodology to help your company take its first step into the bold new world of EDM.

A must read for any company or IT practitioner that's frustrated with their current business intelligence and analytic systems and wants to focus more on value-creating decisions rather than managing data per se.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A Blueprint for How To Close the Business-to-IT Strategy Gap 22 July 2007
By Jacqueline Bassett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When we hear the word "systems" we naturally think of Information Technology - not a subject most CEOs, CFOs or CMOs care to deep dive into.

But Taylor & Raden have filled this book with such indisputable logic and so many engaging,relatable business cases that I recommend every CEO,CFO and CMO use it as a blueprint of how to close the business-to-IT-strategy gap.

When corporations are drowning in data yet starved for information on what customers want, in an increasingly competitive world, every company will benefit from this game-changing way of competing that the authors share here.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This book reminds us that in a "Long Tail" world, the ultimate role of technology in a global economy is to recapture those time-honored business benefits we once could only find in the "corner store".

Jackie Bassett, CEO
BT Industrials, Inc.
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