Demystified: IBM ODM Advanced – Decision Server Insights (DSI)

Demystified: IBM ODM Advanced – Decision Server Insights (DSI)

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We are in an era where new businesses including their competitors are emerging every day. To stay in competition and to mark your presence, business performance is key i.e. knowing how efficiently are you helping out your customers.

When you understand what “Business Performance” truly is, you are on the verge of winning a lion share of your market. One of the first few aspects that spring up when you talk about business performance is improved responsiveness, agile decision making, minimizing risk and seizing opportunities.

IBM Operational Decision Manager (ODM) software bridges the gap between business and IT. ODM reduces the reliance of business managers on IT and gives them the independence to create and manage business rules outside the application. Business managers can conduct predictive analysis on their data and based on their observations they can take decisions. It empowers them to manage and automate business rules, events and operational decisions to fully explore business potential.

Since its initial release, ODM has had various versions. The latest version is ODM Advanced – Decision Server Insight (DSI).

What is Decision Server Insight?

To fully understand what Decision Server Insights is, we need to know two important components which are as follows.

IBM Decision Centre:It provides an integrated repository and management components, allowing subject matter experts to maintain and govern their business decisions. Powerful simulation capabilities empower business stakeholders to evaluate the impact of rule changes and validate business outcomes without support from IT. Decision Centre includes a rule repository and collaborative web consoles for business users to author, manage, validate, and deploy rules.

IBM Decision Centre helps in:

  • Rule Editing
  • Synchronization
  • Deploying Rules
  • Decision governance framework
  • Validating Rules
  • Security access and permissions
  • Administrator responsibilities
  • Customizing

IBM Decision Server Advanced: It provides the runtime components to automate decision logic and enables near real-time, context-rich decision automation to support pro-active decision in the business moment. Decision server advanced is decision server insights, a scalable transactional event processing system with rule-based temporal reasoning and analytics capabilities.

Decision Server Insights provides the tools to build scalable solutions that listen for and respond to the events that affect your business. You can use this insight of your business activities to make informed decisions and initiate the corrective action.

Decision Server Insights uses a four-step approach to help your business decide what actions to take at the right time:

  1. Sense what is happening
  2. Build a context of your situation
  3. Decide what to do when something happens that affects the situation
  4. Act on the changed situation by taking necessary actions

Basics of Decision Server Insights:

On IBM Knowledge Centre we can find the whole description for DSI stated with examples. To understand those examples and to get good understanding of how it works, it is very important to understand the basic terms and concepts that will crop up frequently during this journey. We have tried to define the concepts and terminology in a very simple language below:

Solution:
A solution is a deployable unit of DSI and it represents what we are building. In layman terms, we can say that a solution is project or application. ODM – DSI has an ultimate goal of deploying this solution into the production environment. Solution is built using Eclipse environment supplied by IBM called Insight Designer.

ibm odm dsi - solution transparent

Once a solution is built, it is exported as “solution archive” and deployed into a server component known as Decision Server.

Concept:
In DSI, a “Concept” is a generic object that has properties defined against it. It is not instantiable by itself but rather forms the base for other types. When we further talk about things called entities and events, we will find that they can both be derived from a concept definition.

Entity:
An instantiated “Entity” is a unique instance of a named “Concept” and may have relationships to other Entities. Think of an entity as a model of a “specific thing”. For example, we have the “concept” of a car but we have an instance of a real car; that real car instance would be an example of an “Entity”. Every unique entity has a unique identifier associated with it to allow us to distinguish one entity instance from another. In our example of cars, the car’s unique identity may be modelled as its number plate or VIN. The structure of an instance of an entity must be modeled before it can be used and is modeled using the notion of a “Business Model”.

Event:
Think about something happening at some point in time. This is the core notion of an event. An event carries with it a payload of data. This payload is considered to be the “attributes” of the event. Each event must have a mandatory attribute that carries the date and time at which the event is considered to have happened, events are defined in the “Business Model”. Each different event type that is modeled is considered to have a corresponding “Event type” that allows ODM DSI to know what kind of event it is.

When an Event is processed, the goal is to relate that Event to an Entity.

ibm-odm-dsi - event transparent

Events don’t simply “appear” out of nowhere. We call the source of an event the “event producer”. Conversely, events do not just disappear into the ether. They are usually destined to be given to something else for processing. We call the destination of an event the “event consumer”.

Solution Gateway:
The concept of the Solution Gateway is the entry point for events arriving from external systems. When sending events to external systems, the Solution Gateway is not utilized. ODM DSI must be able to receive events from all the external systems which may be the sources of events arriving. These events are termed inbound events. An inbound event is one which is sent from outside of ODM DSI and is “inbound” into ODM DSI.

Similar to events arriving at ODM DSI, we may also want to transmit outbound events to an external system. All systems, whether they be used for inbound or outbound processing will be modeled as “endpoints” and the target destination for an outbound event will be bound to such an endpoint.

Agents:
The idea here is that when an event arrives, some logic processing is performed by ODM DSI to reflect what that event means. The “thing” in ODM DSI that performs this processing work is called an “Agent”. During the development of an ODM DSI solution, you will build out one or more Agents to perform these tasks. It is the Agent that hosts the business logic that determines what should happen when events arrive.

ibm-odm-dsi - agents transparent

There is a relationship between agents and solutions. When we get to building an agent, we will find that it is constructed as an Insight Designer project and that the project is referenced by a Solution. We can loosely think of a solution as being a container for a set of agent projects and as such, becomes the deployment technique for agents.

ibm-odm-dsi-explained

 

How is DSI different from other ODM versions?

The answer is simple. DSI helps to build and shape customer-centric business moments. It gathers data from different sources to recognize patterns and trends. DSI offers pattern configuration. To fulfil the market demands in a more improvised and in an efficient way, DSI helps in managing and automating context-rich business decisions. DSI processes event-driven business rules which help us predict the near future change in business and take the steps accordingly. In a nutshell, think of DSI as your resourceful friend constantly giving you information to take well-informed business decisions.

Before start using ODM – DSI, it should be clear that what limitations DSI has. It will help you design the technical architect accordingly and also reduce the scope of reworks. The limitations can be found here: DSI Known Limitations.

We at Princeton Blue have effectively leveraged DSI in our solution Actionable Customer Insights, you can read more about it in our blog: Customer retention through Actionable Customer Insight.

We hope our blog helped you get a clear picture of IBM ODM Advanced – Decision Server Insights. Feel free to share your thoughts and observations in the comments below. Do follow Princeton Blue on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Google+ to get updates about BPM and related technologies.

Infographics Courtesy: Kolban’s Book on IBM Decision Server Insights & IBM

Puja Joshi
Puja Joshi
Puja Joshi is a Consultant at Princeton Blue.

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