The market's demand for increased business agility is forcing organizations to drive cost and inefficiencies out of their application development cycles in order to better serve their customers and do so more profitably. Companies across a wide range of industries are tearing down the silos of information that have separated their lines of business. This often means abandoning the outdated method of "hard-wiring" business logic into applications, which cannot accommodate rapid and frequent changes without a heavy burden on IT staff that slows down the modification process and raises its cost.

Over the past five years, two technologies have been gaining widespread popularity due in part to their ability to alleviate the problem of inflexible applications: business rules management systems (BRMSs) and Web services/service-oriented architecture (SOA). Rather than competing, Web services and business rules are best viewed as complementary technologies. By combining the loosely coupled approach of Web services/SOA with the de-coupled approach of BRMSs that externalizes business logic from applications, organizations can achieve business agility by better representing business logic in more flexible forms. 2006 will be the year in which these two worlds start to combine, and both business decision-makers and IT management will benefit through greater business agility and lower total cost of ownership of both new and existing applications.

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