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November 10, 2008

Process Intelligence, CEP and Operational BI

In case you haven't heard it yet, here comes a new product category - process intelligence. But what does it mean? All of these terms overlap: Operational BI, Pervasive BI, Operational Intelligence, Process Intelligence, BAM, CEP (Complex Event Processing), Decision Management, Decision Services. Arguments over definitions tend to be vigorous for two reasons. First, the taxonomy of product classes tends to be pretty leaky and second, the stakes are so low.

The reason it is important to get some clarity on the definitions is that the wider BI industry (and I don't know what to call it) is driven by marketing, not by function or requirements. Software vendors invent things, acquire or get acquired by other vendors and a name is given to the combined capabilities they possess. Then it's packaged and sold to companies.

There is a vigorous debate going on Sandy Kemsley's blog Column2 about the meaning of CEP and whether it is different from Process Intelligence, a concept John Patton and I have been developing.

As far as I'm concerned, CEP is a loosely defined set of capabilities that can "abstract" events in real-time and make decisions based on rules. Process Intelligence is designed to take BI a few steps farther by reading process logs directly, adding robust timing calculations, understanding of process steps (preferably directly from BPMN/BPEL) and using an object model that is based in distributions of event/values instead of discrete instance values.

Process Intelligence, like BI, is inherently analytical. But, if PI becomes actionable, how does it differ from CEP? At this point, I think they are pretty close, with the only difference being how events are "abstracted" for action. CEP uses a pattern language, which is a result of its original application on Wall Street.

So Process Intelligence and CEP derive from different sources, but they're pretty close and getting closer.

Neil Raden
twitter: nraden

Posted by Neil Raden at 3:15 PM | Comments (4)