The Dirty Secrets About Your Company's Business IP That Nobody Wants to Talk About

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

Dirty Secret #1.  If your company uses an external service provider or COTS package to run core business processes, your intellectual property (IP) is essentially hostage.  Should you need to re-platform and/or move to the next generation of business functionality (maybe because the competition is eating your lunch, for example), you are likely to find yourself in dire straights.  Get at the IP quickly?  Don't kid yourself.  Thinking you can recapture complex business IP in a form that can be understood, reinvigorated, and repurposed in less than 2-3 months of intense work is a pipedream.  And that's before actual design and implementation under the new platform.

Dirty Secret #2.  Do you think that IT really knows how to undertake an IP recapture and re-engineering project with effective business-side involvement?  Don't kid yourself there either.  The prevalent IT methodology features use cases.  With respect to business IP, that's like bloodletting to heal disease.  Its main benefit is simply appearing to be very busy doing something.

Dirty Secret #3.  Will the 'next big thing' in IT provide an easy solution?  Not a chance.  You've probably been hearing a lot about the semantic web recently -- and all those really nifty things beyond XML.  Newsflash.  Cool things that permit the world to get at your stovepipe semantics quicker do nothing to eliminate the stovepipe semantics.  The world-wide web is one thing, but businesses depend on well-coordinated value chains.  In the everyday business world, closely-targeted value add is achieved by business workers seeing eye-to-eye and mind-to-mind about the meaning of core things and what rules apply to which things when.

Put simply, all is not rosy in IP land.  There is a lot of very painful experience out there.  The risks are mega, and so are the bucks.  If you throw 'transition planning' for mass babyboomer retirement into the mix, things get downright scary.  And a thousand use cases have yet to add up to a workable solution.

Fortunately, business rules do.  A focus on business vocabulary and rules offers scalable way to extract, understand, catalog, reevaluate, and reengineer business IP as a business proposition.  There's no secret to that -- just common sense and a measure of hard work.

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Standard citation for this article:

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Ronald G. Ross, "The Dirty Secrets About Your Company's Business IP That Nobody Wants to Talk About" Business Rules Journal, Vol. 7, No. 7, (Jul. 2006)

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

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