Call to Action

Webinar: Take a tour of Sparkling Logic's SMARTS Decision Manager Register Now

Digital transformation

Understandable Decisions with Vienna, the new version of SMARTS


Understandable Decisions with Vienna
This blog post presents the latest version of SMARTS, Vienna. Vienna expands SMARTS capabilities by strengthening the ease-of-use and clarity of implementing business decisions, allowing business analysts to more effectively manage complex, automated business decisions. The new version demonstrates continued innovation in the pursuit of Understandable Decisions, an integral part of Understandable AI.

Introduction

At Sparkling Logic, innovation never stops. Version after version, we push the boundaries of simplifying decision management technologies to make it even easier for business people to use them without heavy training in data analytics, machine learning, and business rules. The new version, Vienna, is no exception to the rule: it comes with a multitude of innovations that we group under the name of “understandable decisions.”

After Uhusia, here is Vienna

Since its creation, SMARTS has provided context to business analysts authoring their decision logic. They have been able to instantly see the impact of changes in their business strategies. With the Vienna version, Sparkling Logic has taken this approach to the next level, as their users can now better understand and explain to the team how the decisioning operates step by step. The dual objective is to ensure that the current logic complies with requirements, but also to foster conversation on ways to improve it over time.

To accelerate the implementation and understandability of decisions, Vienna comes with new enhancements and innovations for all the stakeholders.

For business analysts who build the decisioning application, Vienna further simplifies the low-code environment to easily combine data augmentation, pre- and post-data acquisition decisioning, and model operationalization. It also further simplifies the creation, visualization, testing, and debugging of decisions, and therefore reduces errors and biases in decisioning. In addition to these simplifications, Vienna adds new high-level expressions to make decision logic more compact and therefore easy to understand and modify. Decision tables, decision flows, and lookup models have all been affected by these enhancements, enabling projects, large and small, to take full advantage of these improvements.

For business users who operate the decisioning application, Vienna adds dedicated interfaces for them to not only author, but also test, promote, measure, and experiment on their decision logic. With an increasing number of automated tasks within the tool, business users’ productivity rises to higher levels. Business rules can drive the verification and processing of decision logic changes, automatically and seamlessly.

For IT people who first install SMARTS, Vienna comes with new interfaces to connect even more easily to external systems and services, whether on-premises or in the cloud. It also introduces new versions of all the REST decision service invocation SDKs, as well as for the .NET framework and . NET core decision components.
The Vienna beta-testing program has proven to be a success, as customers have provided significant input in the fine-tuning of the new capabilities. Sparkling Logic recognizes and thanks all the companies that actively participated.

Wrap-up of Vienna

  • Further simplification of the low-code environment to easily combine data augmentation, pre- and post-data acquisition decisioning, and model operationalization
  • Augmented user interface to further simplify the creation, visualization, testing, and debugging of decisions, and therefore reduce errors and biases in decisioning
  • New high-level expressions, making decision logic more compact and therefore easy to understand and modify
  • Dedicated interfaces for untrained users to author, test, promote, measure, and manage business apps
  • New interfaces to connect even more easily to external systems and services, whether on-premises or in the cloud

If you want to learn more about the new version of SMARTS, register for this webinar or contact us for a demo or a free trial.

About

Sparkling Logic is a company at the forefront of technological innovation in decision management. We help businesses automate their operational decisions with a powerful decision management platform, designed for business analysts first.

Our motto is “your decisions, our business.” Using SMARTS, organizations have automated complex decisions in days, not weeks, or months. Our mission is to enable customers to implement the most demanding decisioning requirements and to easily maintain and improve them over time.

Sparkling Logic SMARTSTM (SMARTS for short) is a decision management platform that enables creating, testing, deploying, and improving automated data-based decisions in an integrated easy-to-use environment.

Unlike other tools that focus solely on the authoring and maintenance of business rules, SMARTS is decision-centric and focuses on measuring and improving business outcomes in the context in which our clients work, especially with complex regulations. Major enterprise customers like Equifax, First American, SwissRE, Centene, and NICE Actimize integrate SMARTS in their core systems.

The SMARTS Way for Personalization


SMARTS for Personalization

Personalization has always been the holy grail of marketing, advertising, sales, and customer relationship management. So far, two approaches have been used. The most fashionable today uses statistical data to make recommendations, the second oldest but which is coming back to the fore uses coded knowledge to make these recommendations. In this blog, we will show when one is preferable to the other as well as when the two approaches can be combined in SMARTS.

Personalization

Personalization can play many roles in marketing, advertising, sales, and customer relationship management such as identifying good prospects for a specific product or service, choosing a communication channel to reach prospective customers, and picking appropriate messages that fit both customer and channel.

So far, two approaches coexist. Data-based personalization and knowledge-based personalization. You may wonder which one is the best. In fact, it depends on the sector in which you are.

Data-driven personalization works well when you have a lot of data to draw insights from and when the new data doesn’t deviate too much from the old data you based your insights on. We find this case in fast-moving consumer goods sectors such as retail, as people tend to consume the same consumables every week.

On the other hand, knowledge-based personalization works well when you don’t have enough data but want to offer a product, service or content based on the knowledge you have about the prospects and your offer. We find this case in premium sectors such as luxury, wealth management, and high-touch hotels, where customer intimacy is a must.

By design, SMARTS treats both data and knowledge equally. After all, what is often called data comes from knowledge of the subject matter – It is always someone knowledgeable about the subject who labels or explains the data collected. Thus, SMARTS supports both data-based personalization and knowledge-based personalization.

The SMARTS way

SMARTS is a low-code platform that enables creating, testing, deploying, and improving automated decisions in the form of decision tables, business rules, and other representations. I will not detail it here, but you can find a brief overview of SMARTS on our blog page and a full description on our resources page. Instead, I will focus the rest of this article on how to use SMARTS for data-based personalization and knowledge-based personalization.

Data-based personalization

For data-based personalization, you can import recommendation models developed by your data scientists and leverage them in SMARTS. The models could be in Python, SPSS, SAS, or Project R among others. SMARTS integrates them if they are compliant to PMML, a standard for sharing and deploying predictive models.

SMARTS supports importing as PMML neural networks, multinomial, general, and linear/log regression, trees, support vector machines, naïve bayes, clustering, ruleset, scorecard, K-Nearest Neighbors (KNN), random forest, and other machine learning models.

There may be situations where the model must be called as an external service. SMARTS provides support for remote functions, which makes it possible to invoke the model through JSON-RPC or REST services.

Knowledge-based personalization

RedPen. For knowledge-based personalization, you can use our rule authoring tool RedPen to write decisions in the form of rules using a use-case driven approach. A loaded data sample supplies the context for the rules and enables immediate execution and testing of each rule. RedPen mimics what subject-matter experts do when they flag decisions. When you activate RedPen, you can pin an existing rule, a field of this rule, or a rule set and change it as if you were using a real pen on real paper. You can also create new rules with RedPen, SMARTS automatically turns them into executable rules.

Pencil. You can also use Pencil, our DMN compliant graphical decision design tool for uncovering, documenting, and sharing decisions with colleagues and partners. With Pencil, you just drag and drop graphical shapes to form a complete personalization diagram. Then you add logic to the graphical shapes and let SMARTS execute it.

SparkL. Finally, you can also use SparkL, Sparkling Logic’s language for writing rules in a natural language fashion. SparkL comes with everything you need to write rules and calculations —mathematical expressions, string manipulations, regular expressions, patterns, dates, logical manipulations, constraints, and much more. You can express any imaginable personalization logic and symbolic computation, making it the choice for highly sophisticated personalization applications.

Personalization based on data and knowledge

BluePen. As said before, SMARTS treats data and knowledge equally. When you have both, you can use BluePen, our machine learning tool.

BluePen lets you explore and analyze your data using your domain knowledge to find predictors. Then, using these predictors, you can generate a model in the form of legible rules and integrate them into your decision logic.

Using BluePen, you can engineer or change the models anytime you need to. Without heavy investment in data analytics tools and efforts, you can evaluate BluePen models in simulations and quickly deploy them in the context of an operational decision.

Wrap-up

  • Personalization has always been the holy grail of marketing, advertising, sales, and customer relationship management.
  • So far, two approaches have been used: data-based personalization and knowledge-based personalization.
  • No one is superior, it depends on the sector in which you are: mass marketing vs. intimacy marketing.
  • SMARTS treats data and knowledge equally. So, you can use it for both data-based personalization and knowledge-based personalization.

About

Sparkling Logic is a company at the forefront of technological innovation in decision management. We help businesses automate their operational decisions with a powerful decision management platform, designed for business analysts first.

Our motto is “your decisions, our business.” Using SMARTS, organizations have automated complex decisions in days, not weeks, or months. Our mission is to enable customers to implement the most demanding decisioning requirements and to easily maintain and improve them over time.

Sparkling Logic SMARTSTM (SMARTS for short) is a decision management platform that enables creating, testing, deploying, and improving automated data-based decisions in an integrated easy-to-use environment.

Unlike other tools that focus solely on the authoring and maintenance of business rules, SMARTS is decision-centric and focuses on measuring and improving business outcomes in the context in which our clients work, especially with complex regulations. Major enterprise customers like Equifax, First American, SwissRE, Centene, and NICE Actimize integrate SMARTS in their core systems.

SMARTS for data marketplaces


SMARTS for data marketplaces

In my earlier blog post, I explained how decision management and business rules were suitable for micro-calculations, the type of computations that businesses often codify into large spreadsheets and use to score, rate, or price items. In this post, I explain how they are also suitable to simplify data integration, aggregation, and enrichment when building and running data marketplaces.

Data marketplaces

Data marketplaces are a shift from data warehouses where the goal is not only to store large volumes of data, but to make that data be consumed as a service without resorting to IT or prior knowledge of a query language. Data marketplaces are often organized into three layers:

  • At the lowest layer, we find raw data stored in the form in which it was ingested from the data sources. Data sources can be global ERP and CRM systems, or even local MySQL databases and shared Excel spreadsheets.
  • At the middle layer, we find integrated data from multiple sources that is reconciled to resolve disparities and inconsistencies found in the original data. Often, the source systems do not have the same format for dates, names, phone numbers, and addresses. Sometimes the same object can have different attributes in different data sources.
  • At the topmost layer, we find aggregate data expressed in summarized forms, often to inform about groups rather than individuals. It is at this level that we also find data enriched by external data to make them directly consumable by the businesspeople.

To learn more about data marketplaces, I recommend the Eckerson Group white paper: The Rise of the Data Marketplace – Data as a Service by Dave Wells.

Easy to define, hard to construct

Defining a data marketplace as we have just done is simple, its construction is complicated for two reasons:

1) Data heterogeneity. It is not enough to bring together all the company’s data in a data marketplace for the data to be transformed into knowledge, forecasts, and decisions. Indeed, all data does not have the same age, the same structure, the same format, the same quantity, the same quality, and above all the same utility. If an attribute is important for a business line, it is not automatically important for another business line, yet within the same company.

Each business line has its vision of the product, of the customer, and of any entity managed by the various actors of the company. In the luxury sector for example, a dress, a bag, or a piece of jewelry, although it is a unique object, is seen through different attributes according to the databases where this same object is stored. Looking to exploit all the data available in a company to extract predictions and then decisions not only require integration but also transformation, unification, harmonization, and enrichment.

2) Data reorganization. A data marketplace would work better if data, information, and needs were always stable. But in a dynamic and rapidly changing business world, groups are reorganizing, and companies are acquired, merged or separated. For example, to simplify finance reporting, a country can change the region it was in a year ago, and it’s a safe bet that it will change yet again if a new boss is appointed, or a region is split or added. To be successful, data marketplaces must be implemented as change-tolerant projects.

These two reasons are representative of situations where decision management technologies are used: piecing together things that move independently to each other. Under the name of decision management, we group all the technologies that help organizations to automate all those simple but plentiful granular decisions and calculations that businesses often codify into decision tables, decision trees, or business rules.

Decisioning technologies to the rescue

Decisioning technologies can be used here. But one can use a database programming language or a general-purpose scripting language to automate the loading of data from the data sources into the raw data layer if the original format is kept. There is no real value using a business rules engine to do this straightforward job. The value of using a decisioning technology starts at the integration data layer, where attributes of objects are grouped together to form an updated version of an existing attribute or a new attribute.

Take the example of customer data from two different databases. Suppose that customers have their home address and business address in a first source database, and that they only have their home address in a second source database. Suppose also that the format of the addresses is not the same in the two databases. What should the integration data layer hold? An address? So, which one? And what format? Two addresses? So, what professional address to put for these customers who are only present in the second database with the home address? These questions can be easily answered through decision rules.

Now, suppose at the aggregate data layer, we want to add an average turnover with a client that buys from two business units. Here again, calculation rules can be easily used. One can use SMARTS’ look-model engine to automate such calculations.

SMARTS

SMARTS is our all-in-one low-code platform for data-driven decision-making. It unifies authoring, testing, deployment, and maintenance of micro-decisions and micro-calculations described in this article. SMARTS comes in the form of one product, four capabilities:

SMARTS has been extensively used for decisions and calculations in finance, insurance, healthcare, retail, IoT, and utility sectors. To learn more about the product or our references, just contact us or request a free trial.

Wrap-up

  • Data marketplaces promise to change the way data is consumed by businesses. Contrary to data warehouses, they are more complex to build and therefore deliver on their promises.
  • Decision management technologies simplify data integration, aggregation, and enrichment when building and running data marketplaces. They make decisions and calculations explicit and therefore easy to change whenever situations change.
  • SMARTS supplies multiple graphical representations* and engines to make such transformations, integrations, and enrichment easy to design, implement, test, deploy, and change according to situation changes.

* The following table, tree, and graph show three different representations of the same decision logic so that developers can use one that they are familiar with or that best fits the task at hand.

DecisionDecision treeDecision graph

About

Sparkling Logic is a Silicon Valley company dedicated to helping businesses automate and improve the quality of their operational decisions with a powerful decision management platform, accessible to business analysts and ‘citizen developers.’ Sparkling Logic SMARTS customers include global leaders in financial services, insurance, healthcare, retail, utility, and IoT.

Sparkling Logic SMARTSTM (SMARTS for short) is an all-in-one low-code platform for data-driven decision-making. It unifies authoring, testing, deployment, and maintenance of operational decisions. SMARTS combines the highly scalable Rete-NT inference engine, with predictive analytics and machine learning models, and low-code functionality to create intelligent decisioning systems.

Hassan Lâasri is a data strategy consultant, now leading marketing for Sparkling Logic. You can reach him at hlaasri@sparklinglogic.com.

Software industry trends behind the digital transformation revolution


This article presents the three software industry trends driving the digital transformation revolution: DevOps, low-code / no-code automation, vertical integration with digital decisioning.

Introduction

The pandemic changed tech priorities for many people both at work and home making a ‘hybrid’ work a top initiative. Where and how we do the work accelerated the need to improve customer digital experiences and efficiency across work, shopping, and everyday chores.

The data supports this new trend. The independent research firm Omdia compiled over 300 responses from executives at large companies indicated that working away from traditional offices will become the new norm. 58% percent of respondents said they will adopt a hybrid home/work. Even more interesting is that 68% of enterprises believe employee productivity has improved since the move to remote work.

Similarly, adoption of everyday on-line activities such as shopping, banking and entertainment further accelerated the pace of digital transformation. The need for improved applications increased the pressure on companies to relaunch efficient, friendly front-end customer apps with more intuitive UX. The back end now needs to support faster turnaround with the need to automate processes for the new on-line community of users demanding faster, cleaner, and more intelligent offerings.

To respond to this digital transformation, companies are rapidly adopting easy-to-use integrated enterprise software tools to optimize and accelerate development of these efficient digital products.

Several trends like DevOps, Low-code/automation and vertical integrations with integrated digital decisioning have emerged to help enterprises take the digital transformation journey faster and cheaper.

DevOps

DevOps is a software development concept bringing together historically disconnected functions in the lifecycle of the software development. Traditionally, business analysts would define the problem, developers would interpret the concept and build applications, and operations teams would test, report bugs and provide feedback. The disconnect between the functions, silo’d approach created inefficiencies, increased costs and slowed down application releases.

The emergence of integrated tools and processes which integrate this multiple aspect of software development and promote collaboration between these different functions supported growth of the DevOps industry.

In fact, the market data shows that these trends are supported by the investment community and exit activity. According to Venture Beat, in 2Q 2021, Venture funding for global DevOps startups reached $4 billion and the exit activity deal value was dominated by the IPOs of UiPath (robotic process automation) and Confluent, (data / application integration platform).

Low code / no code automation

Application development is also coming closer to non-developers with low/no-code approach and automation.

Software engineering, traditionally owned by IT and software engineers, has always been coveted by other, non-IT stakeholders in the enterprise. In 1991, Powerbuilder introduced a revolutionary concept of a development framework, aiming at democratizing development by allowing non-software professionals to get access to application development. Perhaps ahead of its time with clunky UX, WYSIWYG, Powerbuilder started the revolution of introducing emergence of ‘citizen-developers’, people who originally participated alongside IT in shaping the application and business models but could not code and create the applications themselves. It also introduced data integration with application logic and object-oriented concepts like inheritance and polymorphism and encapsulation, bringing software engineering to the masses.

Fast forward to 2020’s, virtually every enterprise tool platform and enterprise customer have adopted a low-code/no-code approach. The mission is the same as 30 years ago – to provide easy to use, graphical UI/UX, drag and drop concept to application development and allow business analysts, ‘citizen-developers’ and non-software engineers to create, test and even deploy enterprise applications.

Vertical integration with digital decisioning

The perennial challenge of allowing non-developers to create applications is the conundrum of how deep they can develop without coding and to what extent they can customize complex enterprise cloud applications without IT and coding.

To accelerate digital transformation, enterprise software vendors are emerging mostly from the workflow / BPA world, such as Pega and ServiceNow. They are applying a two prong approach – core tool collection and vertical integration. The workflow vendors have developed (or acquired) a collection of point tools in a core-component framework. Those components typically include AI/ML, reporting, workflow, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), case management, rules engine, decision management, knowledge bases, BPA (business process automation) and process orchestration. Those components typically feature common UI and work across a normalized data model and unified architecture.

But that is not enough. To satisfy modern rapid digital transformation needs, in case of fintech enterprise customers (i.e. banks, insurance companies and financial services) also now require pre-built workflow, data and application models. These vertical templates are higher level and more specific, providing out-of-the box, drag/drop solutions like credit card operations, loan management and payment operations. Using the low-code approach, a business analyst can graphically drag/drop pre-defined steps into a loan origination workflow with pre-defined commonly used tasks, created using best practices defined by the ‘centers of excellence’. Companies like UIPath have created a 3rd party marketplace for additional steps and templates created by analysts and consultants. (Those steps could be ‘get customer data’, ‘OCR input form’, ‘scrub customer data’, authorize user’, ‘assess risk profile’ etc.).

Beyond the top level tasks, the functionality ultimately becomes more complex and the sophisticated customer needs powerful decision capabilities to introduce their own business rules and implement proprietary features. The ‘secret-sauce’, which separtes most common steps from proprietary concepts distinguishes top corporations from the competition, requires more sophisticated digital decisioning tools. These digital decisioning tools enable non-developers to customize and manage decision logic, implement AI/ML features, run A/B testing and visualize performance results on training and production data in real time.

To satisfy most common customer base, digital workflow vendors typically provide rudimentary business rules integrated in their low-code platforms and further integrate them with the downstream workflow platforms and vertical ecosystem vendors (i.e. FiServ, Jack Henry, SAP, Salesforce and FIS in banking for example).

The most sophisticated and demanding customers, however, need a more sophisticated set of digital decisioning tools like standalone professional DM platforms. To simplify and visualize this complex decision management, a new generation of low-code digital decision management platforms like Sparkling Logic emerged. These platforms integrate historical business rules engine, data and AI, demystifying machine-learning and providing low-code approach to development and monitoring of application logic performance, continuously as the business logic and training data change and drift.

The pandemic, hybrid work and pervasiveness of the cloud computing have irreversibly changed the software application development. Enterprise customers are seeking and deploying better, faster, more integrated software tools. DevOps integration, low-code, vertical templates, integrated AI and digital decisioning are becoming a new normal while defining the next generation of applications, created not only by software engineers, but by mere mortals across the enterprise.

About

Davorin Kuchan is the CEO of Sparkling Logic, Inc, an AI-driven digital decision management enterprise tools platform. Major enterprise customers like Equifax, Centene, First American, Nike, SwissRE and Enova deploy and integrate Sparkling Logic SMARTS digital decision engine. Sparkling Logic, Inc is based in Sunnyvale, California. http://www.sparklinglogic.com


© 2022 SparklingLogic. All Rights Reserved.