Flexible business rules, a competitive advantage

The Swiss Chemical multinational Ciba Geigy (current: novartis.com) had a special deal with KLM Cargo (klmcargo.nl). The contract had several favourable conditions such as a fixed price, fast connections, and guaranteed capacity. The contract also included a number of conditions, like a limited number of destinations, minimum taking, etc.

The Ciba general manager was very impressed. How could these Dutchies process customer specific rules? Why couldn't Lufthansa and Swiss Air offer similar service? The answer was a unique expert system. This system automatically booked cargo, if all contractual conditions were met.

The Swiss manager would like to have a look at that system. He insisted on a personal demonstration. The Dutch objected. They were a bit afraid that the demo would be a disappointment for their customer. The system was not so impressive to look at. A humble PC was working silently, somewhere in a corner between plants and coffee machine.

The customer insisted. In the end, the customer watched the PC for some time.
Change business rules in a couple of minutes The manager asked "How flexible is this thing?" "Suppose I call in the morning, would you have implemended the changes in the afternoon?"
"No, no" the rule manager responded. "You don't have to wait that long. Just hang on and we'll deal with it immediately!"

A few days later KLM was happy to implemend a large extention of the contract.