Business rules software gives lens firm clear view

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Business rules software gives lens firm clear view

Opthalmic lens maker Essilor has embarked on a five-year project to roll-out business rules software to enable it to better manage its customer base and evolving product ranges for markets across Europe.

It is using Ilog Rules for .net to give its sales managers the capability to manage optician customers’ contracts and related pricing policies. The software will enable them to manage promotions with minimal manual intervention.

Presenting at Gartner’s ITxpo last week, Philippe Marchan, ¬finance portfolio manager in the information systems group at Essilor, said the roll-out would be a long process. It was likely to need expertise in Ilog for an extended period because of the complexity involved in creating unique sets of rules for multiple regions and different customer types.

By using Ilog Rules for .net, Marchan said all of Essilor’s pricing policies and customer contracts affecting each region would eventually be managed in a single platform, where they could be accessed and changed as often as necessary. This would provide greater business agility and improve time-to-market for offers negotiated with the company’s customers.

But he said there was no way to speed up the creation of the sets of regional business rules to get the platform up and running across Europe. “We could not standardise the business rules across the regions,” said Marchan.

To ensure Essilor has enough technical skills in the short term, Marchan has been given direct access to ¬Ilog’s internal development team. However, since work on the project will last for five years, Marchan said the company would also need to develop internal expertise in Ilog.

As well as getting a handle on its pricing, Essilor plans to use the Ilog tool for a product routing app¬lication that will determine which lab can most efficiently produce each customer order based on resource availability, skills, delays and costs.

Ilog is able to let end-users define business rules, which can then be run by the Ilog software. The benefit of this approach, according to Ilog, is that since business rules are not built into an application, it is easier to adapt them later on.

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This was first published in November 2006

 

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