Open Decision is an automation tool for the digitalization of repetitive processes, specifically designed for non-coders.
Applications can be designed using a tree graph. Open Decision converts the created decision tree into an autonomous application at the click of a button. The created application can be freely exported and integrated on a website or intranet.
The fields of application are manifold. Both simple dialogues with customers and complex document generators, fee calculators or onboarding processes have already been digitalized with Open Decision. We are constantly working on new functions so that there are no limits to your creativity.
Open Decision is developed open source and is freely available to everyone.
The video can also be accessed at https://www.eu2020-bmjv-access-to-justice.de/en/pages/videos.
We were pleased to be invited as speakers to the high-profile Conference "Access to Justice in the Digital Age - Perspectives and Challenges" which was held by the The Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection in the framework of the German EU Council Presidency. Even though the conference had to be held online due to the current circumstances, we were able to record our presentation in advance and show it to you now.
It involves a short description of our project and concludes with a detailed walkthrough through our prototype. Enjoy!
We thank the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection for this opportunity!
How it works
With Open Decision, applications can be designed using a decision tree which determines what the application does. Possible actions include: Ask questions, perform calculations and logical operations, send emails and create automated forms.
The user-friendly decision tree structure is suitable for various cases. Especially repetitive processes, queries and dialogues can be created with Open Decision.
The user is guided through the creation process by an intuitive interface. A graphical representation of the decision tree ensures that the user stays on top of things. All possible actions are clearly illustrated so that the focus is on the actual content.
The designed applications are created automatically. They can be used independently online on any website or offline.
Vision and FAQ
The idea for Open Decision originated from work at a non-profit legal advice centre (Law Clinic). Most Law Clinics are constantly working at the limits of their capacity. In many cases, small digital solutions can considerably accelerate the process. A simple dialogue application on the website could collect the clients information either generate a first advice or forward the case to a consultant. However, software development tends to be cost intensive and was not an option due to a tight budget.
This is exactly where Open Decision comes in. Open Decision enables the consultants to create their desired applications themselves, without the need for programming skills. Thus, Open Decision ensures that the advantages of the digital world are no longer dependent on a large budget.
Who we are
Meanwhile we have grown into a diverse and interdisciplinary team. Together we want to spread the open source idea also outside the coder community. We are always delighted about new companions and contributors! Simply leave a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or join the growing community in our Slack Workspace!
In our view open source software is simply better software. Since everyone with technical knowledge is able to view the source code underlying the software, the exact functionality can be understood security deficiencies can be discovered more quickly and the handling of personal data can be traced. In addition, open source software is more democratic and sustainable since the software can be used by anyone, modified as desired and further developed for various purposes. Our software is geared towards data portability and privacy by design. As a non-profit association, we have no interest in binding users to our platform through technical restrictions or selling their data. We want to promote open access and collaboration in order to strengthen civil society. We believe that especially in sensitive areas such as legal advice, the availability of free and transparent digitalisation software is essential to ensure that access to justice is possible for everyone, regardless of economic status or level of education, and that not only financially strong players benefit from digitalization.
Why Open Decision?
Decision automation software promises great efficiency gains in process and knowledge management. The user can develop her software solution without the need to code. With an easily accessible, intuitive interface, many more people can benefit from the advantages of digitalization.
Unfortunately, the interest of commercial providers in retaining their customers regularly means that users cannot freely access their data. This is known as the lock-in effect. This is particularly problematic in the field of digitalization software as the entire infrastructure that a user creates remains in the hands of the provider. If the provider disappears from the market or changes its conditions, the user loses access to its applications. This can pose a considerable risk, especially in the case of business-critical processes.
Free data portability and an open source approach ensure that the user is not dependent on one platform. The problem is that previous open source solutions in this area require certain programming skills. Digitalization is once again reserved for an exclusive group. Open Decision combines the user-friendly approach of commercial software with the advantages of strict open source development. Anyone can design software solutions and use them as desired. The software solutions can be freely exported, integrated and modified.
Digitalization is imposing itself in all areas of life. The development in the sectors concerned is regularly dominated by only one or a few providers.
This leads to a central administration of user data by the providers. The data is withheld from the user, which promotes the concentration of innovation potential. In addition, the providers are far less able to reconstruct the processes to be digitalized than the people who are confronted with them on a daily basis.
In contrast, Open Decision is based on the concept of decentralized digitalization. The user is empowered to carry out the digitalization of her field herself and can retain control over her knowledge. Each user can create individual tools according to his or her specific requirements and, thanks to data portability, can freely use it. This encourages competition of ideas between individuals and prevents the digitization process from being passed on prematurely to large players (who tend to follow the same scheme).
The concept of such bottom-up digitalization also reduces the risk of a single point of failure. If digitalization is carried out by just a few providers, even small mistakes by these providers entail comprehensive (security) risks. If, on the other hand, everyone contributes to the digital evolution with their own concepts, errors made by individuals are corrected among one another.
Are humans being replaced?
This question may sound a little far-fetched - but we are confronted with it regularly. The answer is - of course - no.
Open Decision enables the automation of simple, frequently occurring processes. In the foreseeable future, an individual assessment will not be replaced by an automated dialogue.
Moreover, a system is only as good as the people who put their knowledge into it. Even though developments in machine learning and natural language processing are advancing rapidly, there is no technology in sight that can replace a human being.
Through automation with Open Decision, idle and repetitive tasks can be automated. Such a technology will therefore only do one thing: Make work easier for humans.
Research on automation
We are constantly doing research on how processes can be automated through simple applications. The idea is always the same: How can processes be abstracted? What are the basic frameworks of our thinking? The decision tree is such a framework - an abstract concept that allows the digitalization of numerous use cases.
In this way, Open Decision can already store knowledge in a clearly structured format: The user of the created application will receive the appropriate result by answering some questions.
Open Decision can also be used to automate dialogues. Instead of a clumsy form, the initial contact with customers, citizens, patients or clients can be carried out in an interactive dialogue.
This research is still in its infancy. We are firmly convinced that we can support decentralized digitalization with additional tools.
Join our growing community and socialize in our Slack Workspace!
If you want to contribute to the project, be part of our next joint call, which we will announce regularly in the Slack Workspace.