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BAM gives companies a real-time edge

BAM technology is providing real-time alerts for companies that want to stay ahead of the curve.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Imagine pulling into a toll booth five years from now. The payment for the toll is automatically deducted from your bank account, just like it is today. But now that same smart chip can determine how many tolls should open, or close, and cut the time you spend waiting. And if there happens to be a warrant out for your arrest, that chip will also shorten the amount of time the police spend looking for you.

Business activity monitoring (BAM) makes this all possible.

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BAM tools allow real-time access to business indicators by using alerts to communicate problems and opportunities to business owners. Although it hasn't taken off as quickly as once predicted, Gartner Inc. principal analyst Bill Gassman expects BAM to become a component of every business process management suite in just a few years. Microsoft BizTalk contains a BAM component, and other vendors such as SAP AG and PeopleSoft Inc. are entering the market with their own BAM strategies.

The value of BAM lies in its ability to rapidly detect and respond to events that are being monitored, resulting in higher productivity and lower costs.

For example, using BAM tools, an organization can be alerted that they're about to lose a customer who is exhibiting behavior similar to other customers who have left. BAM also allows organizations to get rapid feedback on the results of an action, for example, lowering the price of an item for sale on a Web site.

At this week's Gartner Application Integration and Web Services Summit, Gassman offered best practices and recommendations for designing BAM tools.

From a process perspective, the first step is to define the key performance indicators. Ask yourself, "What event do I need to know about earlier to help me do a better job?" Next Gassman suggests acquiring event sources and building rules.

Gassman offered the following recommendations for deploying a successful BAM system:

1. Start with a simple, low-risk BAM project and promote the results.

2. Invest strategically in real-time culture. Gassman suggests using the first BAM system as a learning tool. Even if the original tools aren't used for more than two years, it's important that users come to rely upon real-time results.

3. Expect product and vendor churn through 2006.

4. Define who will use BAM tools and what they'll do with the results.

Gassman also noted that deployment typically takes six weeks to six months, and more than 50% of BAM projects are deployed using existing tools.

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