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Embedded Rules

by Matt Manning

IEI works with some of the world’s most successful company and executive information services. Our in-house research teams work on our customers’ projects via custom applications and we embed as many rules as we can into this software in order to prevent errors.

Some examples of the ways we embed rules include:

  • Preventing the submission of an alpha character in a numeric field and vice versa.
  • Alerting operators when they enter values that are not of the proper character length.
  • Not allowing certain text strings to be entered (e.g., if a research source is not allowed and a URL from that source is entered then a ‘validation’ routine rejects the value).

This approach to embedded rules can be used when designing the functionality of information services as well. Generally, this involves automated enforcement of the ‘terms of use’ and subscription agreements, but other types of routines can be triggered by particular usage patterns.

For instance:

  • If a user shares their UN/PW (evidenced by two concurrent log-ins from devices with different machine addresses) their account’s access status can be set to ‘off,’ requiring the subscriber to call the service to un-lock it.
  • Downloading a suspiciously large amount of information in a short period of time can trigger an alert or suspension.
  • If product usage is low prior to a subscription renewal period, then the customer retention team can be alerted to schedule training sessions to spur usage.

The most significant difference between rules enforced in a commercial product and those used by in-house workers is that external customers need to be handled with a firm but gentle touch. Scolding a customer for an inadvertent mistake can easily affect subscription renewal rates, so the messaging accompanying the functionality has to be positive. Internal communications with staff users of applications, however, can be more basic and direct.

But while the ‘messaging’ aspects of these applications (alerts, recommendations, etc.) do vary significantly, the software mechanics of using embedded rules to make business processes more efficient are virtually identical. So whether it’s a matter of protecting your data’s integrity or improving your renewal rates, automated rule enforcement plays a critically important role in the design of all modern business processes.

posted by Shyamali Ghosh on August 27, 2019

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