Business Rules: Knowledge for Knowledge Workers

Ronald G.  Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC) Read Author Bio       || Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

This column originally appeared in the May/June 1995 issue of the Data Base Newsletter.

I am excited by business rule products I anticipate appearing in mid-1995 and beyond.  Of particular interest are anticipated offerings by ReGenisys (Rule Finder) and Asymetrix (InfoModeler extensions).

Apart from the technology -- which looks good but remains to be proven -- I find particular irony in the ReGenisys case.  This is a product that employs a complex engine based on predicate logic to transform mainframe COBOL to decision tables ('decision vectors' in the vendor's terminology) to 'mine' for lost business rules.  Think about that:  lost business rules!  Your company may pay a software vendor a significant sum (the product will not be cheap) to help you 'find' business rules in that black hole of legacy systems.

Why should such products be appearing in the market just now?  If you were to move your family from one city to another, you would want to take at least the essentials with you.  In 1995, companies are on the move -- in the most extensive migration to new hardware/software platforms in computing's brief history.  Not to belabor the obvious, that migration (stampede?) is to portable laptops, client/server, data warehouses, OO/GUIs, workgroup computing, application packages, etc.

When you move your family, you leave behind you house, your yard, perhaps your furniture, maybe your car, and so on -- those things constituting your living 'platform.'  What you do not leave behind are your personal papers and records, your family albums and images, your momentos, etc. -- in short, the stuff that makes you who you are.  With your company's business rules, the same is also true -- only this move to a new platform is in cyberspace, rather than real space.

As far ahead in computing as we can foresee, this process of migration will continue.  In a journey of unending journeys, the only baggage the company should carry forward is its essentials -- that is, its business rules.  Unfortunately, expressing (and protecting) those essentials in a platform-independent manner is not something we currently know how to do very well.

The Newsletter predicts that over the next five years the problem of expressing and managing business rules (and perhaps finding them as well) will become the highest priority for database development professionals.  Business rules will be the central prerequisite for business and computing success in the next millineum.  The Newsletter thus continues its persistent search for new approaches and ideas concerning business rules; in this issue's Business Rule Forum, David C. Hay provides the latest.

Underlying the potential market for a product such as ReGenisys lies a profound message.  After thirty+ years of intense automation, many companies now actually may be far less in touch with their business rules than when they originally started on their journey.  That progressive amnesia is perhaps the greatest irony of the information age.

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Standard citation for this article:

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Ronald G. Ross, "Business Rules: Knowledge for Knowledge Workers" (Nov./Dec. 1995)

About our Contributor:

Ronald  G. Ross
Ronald G. Ross Co-Founder & Principal, Business Rule Solutions, LLC , Executive Editor, Business Rules Journal and Co-Chair, Building Business Capability (BBC)

Ronald G. Ross is Principal and Co-Founder of Business Rule Solutions, LLC, where he actively develops and applies the BRS Methodology including RuleSpeak®, DecisionSpeak and TableSpeak.

Ron is recognized internationally as the "father of business rules." He is the author of ten professional books including the groundbreaking first book on business rules The Business Rule Book in 1994. His newest are:

Ron serves as Executive Editor of and its flagship publication, Business Rules Journal. He is a sought-after speaker at conferences world-wide. More than 50,000 people have heard him speak; many more have attended his seminars and read his books.

Ron has served as Chair of the annual International Business Rules & Decisions Forum conference since 1997, now part of the Building Business Capability (BBC) conference where he serves as Co-Chair. He was a charter member of the Business Rules Group (BRG) in the 1980s, and an editor of its Business Motivation Model (BMM) standard and the Business Rules Manifesto. He is active in OMG standards development, with core involvement in SBVR.

Ron holds a BA from Rice University and an MS in information science from Illinois Institute of Technology. Find Ron's blog on For more information about Ron visit Tweets: @Ronald_G_Ross

Read All Articles by Ronald G. Ross

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