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IBM Pure App – Create VSP for Mobile First v7.0

IBM delivers Mobile First in a series of Virtual Application Pattern(VAP). Mobile First VAPs are a great way to implement mission critical Infrastructure. A VAP encapsulates the details of the infrastructure topology. The details of the build out are hidden from users and administrators. Basically not much can be tampered with so failure is keep to a minimum, which is great.  The IBM delivered VAPs(Mobile First, WODM, BPM … etc.) do have scaling policies built-in so they can be scaled to meet a Production load.

The issues some customers have with VAPs are the lack of control. For example VAPs do not expose the root user so OS changes are keep to zero. The number of virtual machines used with a VAP will not be known until deployment. This can lead to licensing issues.

In this exercise we will build a virtual system pattern using Mobile First v7 and the base WAS and DB2 patterns that come with IBM Pure Application System. This will give the IT administrators full control of every level and aspect of the software stack and all system interconnections.

 

IBM Pure App – Create CustomVirtual System Pattern using Pattern.next for Mobile First v7

Posted in News

“Messaging in a Box” – Sounds Like Something Magical

This offering from IBM lets customers focus on what is best for them (solution, which solves their real-world problems) and tasks they are best at (developing solutions) while taking everything else away (managing operating systems, fine tuning, managing storage, upgrades, etc.) and putting it “in a box.” Wait a minute, to a extent, it is a magical box.

mq-messaging

To put it in a metaphor, it would like be like this: You moved into a house, and you found that your lawn is cared for, and your major housekeeping is done automatically, leaving you with valuable time to spend with your family.

It comes with the cost, and although we may not agree with this metaphor all the time, there are four use-cases suggested, and there will be circumstances where it makes more sense than others.

I personally feel it will lower cost of ownership with better ROI and will add value to customers, who want to embrace this new offering from IBM.

Here are some nuggets on the topic and key points I got from an IBM webinar:

Key Points: Read the rest of this post »

Tags:

Posted in MQ

Perficient Wins Collaboration Trailblazer of the Year

This has been an exciting first half of the year with another IBM award announced at last week’s IBM Amplify Event. This award recognizes Perficient for groundbreaking solutions leveraging the IBM Commerce portfolio to help clients improve business operations, increase sales revenue, reduce cost of services, and help deliver the best customer experiences. It was a great honor especially with many of our clients attending and speaking at the event it was fascinating to hear their journey and how we have been and continue to be a part of it.

View More: http://narrativeimagesphoto.pass.us/sample-galleryOne of the groundbreaking solutions we were awarded on was with a leading US retail home improvement and agricultural company who with Sterling OMS and our expertise helped eliminate bottlenecks. Before, they had no inbound shipment visibility so the company often experienced bottlenecks at its distribution centers. Now the company manages container flow and knows exactly where all shipments are at any given point in time and have been able to reduce pickup lead time to one day. This has translated into less safety stock in the system and a huge net transportation savings.

In addition to the success above, three of our clients were selected to share their stories at Amplify. Some highlights include:

  • Varsity Spirit Fashion –  Did you know Varsity Spirit Fashion clothes over 1 million athletes? That’s a lot of uniforms and accessories all of which were being sold via a cumbersome paper catalog. The reps had no tools to create customized visuals of proposed uniforms, except for paper based, ad hoc tools. Working with our technology experts and a solution built on IBM Commerce, Varsity developed a Design Studio that the sales team could use to really present a customized visual for the customer. With a 100% adoption rate, and extremely happy sellers – Varsity transformed their business. Click here to read more about the session from one of our experts, Mark Polly
  • Next stop, Carhartt, a 126 year old work wear company. They are known for their rugged, tough, high quality wear, (one audience member had a hand-me-down jacket over 40 years old). While the clothing line was indestructible, Carhartt was strategically focusing its business initiatives towards a more aggressive eCommerce and social analytics model to “provide a best in-class personalized online experience for hard working consumers to learn about and buy Carhartt.” The speaker showed Carhartt’s hip new site, cool new videos, including their very own social media hashtag (#carhartt). They have come a long way…READ MORE HERE
  • And finally, we joined Urban Outfitters who continue to deliver superior customer experiences with IBM Sterling Commerce. Urban selected Perficient to manage the complex multiphase project to implement the Sterling DOM, COM and SOM solutions to fulfill the long-term vision of Urban Outfitters. The team rationalized multiple business processes across brands and channels to create unified processes with flexibility, seamless integration across channels, and a high level of visibility and control across brands. Some of the many benefits they have seen:
    • Consistent seamless customer service (inventory visibility, returns etc.)
    • Support for the consolidation of DtoC and retail merchandising functions in the brands
    • Increased revenue by reducing lost/missed sales due to stock outs via an enterprise-wide view of inventory to fulfill demand
    • Purchase on-line and pick up in the store
    • Browse on-line and hold in store
    • Customer can have items shipped to the store free of charge to pick up
    • Improved drop ship capabilities; vendor-managed inventory and fulfillment
    • Improved home delivery capabilities with customer-managed scheduling

Dr. Jonah Berger, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, talked at Amplify about the importance of using triggers to keep your company at top of mind with customers and how it’s the secret to generating good word of mouth. “Any company-generated communications, they don’t believe it as much as they trust their friends,” Berger says. This award is a great “trigger” for Perficient. Our clients successes being shared is the best word of mouth we could hope for, and being rewarded for it is the icing on the cake. IBM knows we get it – our customers come first and we are partners in their continuous journey to stay ahead of the competition and continuously deliver the best client experience in this ever changing digital world.

Achieve Success by Aligning Data and Analytics

Many organizations have adopted solutions with descriptive and diagnostic analytics capabilities that provide static reports and dashboards. However, these reports only provide a snapshot of the existing environment, answering the “What” and “Why” behind historical data. Advanced analytics, the next phase of the analytics adoption lifecycle, deals with uncovering insights from trends and patterns to determine the impact of operational adjustments and market forces on organizations. Statistical analysis, forecasting, and predictive modeling expand on the findings gained through business intelligence solutions to answer “What will happen?” given certain business situations. For example, retail stores can use advanced analytics solutions to determine the best product mix for a particular customer, banks can optimize loan origination processes and upsell additional financial products, and healthcare organizations can lower the total cost of care and reduce patient readmissions.

AnalyticsAdoption

While the benefits of advanced analytics solutions are numerous, one critical (and often overlooked) first step behind any implementation is transforming the way your organization manages data, to best serve analytics applications.  Creation, storage, movement, usage and archiving are all facets of data management that must be aligned to your overall analytics strategy.

On Thursday, Perficient is hosting a webinar on Aligning Business Data & Analytics for Digital Transformation to help organizations get started with or fine tune their data management and governance strategy. Our subject matter experts will cover:

  • Five information management pillars necessary for digital transformation
  • Stages of digital information maturity, reflecting the typical path of an organization implementing this new data ecosystem
  • Issues, challenges, and approaches to governing this new architecture

If analytics, big data, information governance or data-driven digital transformation are focus areas for your organization, I encourage you to attend:

Meet with Perficient next week at IBM Vision

Perficient is proud to be a sponsor of IBM Vision 2015, the premier business analytics and performance management conference for finance, risk management and sales compensation professionals.  Visit us next week at booth #3 in the EXPO Hall, where you can learn how we’ve leveraged our extensive expertise in business analytics and performance management to deliver exceptional solutions for our customers.

Vision2015

We’re excited about two great customer presentations that will showcase successful performance management implementations.

Chickasaw Nation Implements Governance and Financial Performance Management Using Mobile Analytics – 1184A

Patrick Waldrop (Chickasaw Nation), Abhisek Majumdar (Perficient)
Monday, May 18, 2015
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Hilton Bonnet Creek, Taylor

Chickasaw Nation has incorporated mobile distribution to Apple iPads into its monthly close reporting. This mobile distribution and platform has enabled instant access to help track multiple legislative programs and enabled more proactive administrative decisions. Chickasaw Nation’s need for mobile reporting capabilities, while still applying security at the account level, is what establishes governance for distributed analytics across the board. The implementation uses IBM solutions to manage user attributes and IBM Cognos Mobile for end-user applications. This session details the mobile deployment at Chickasaw Nation and best practices for mobile reporting package development, mobile security and mobile report consumption.

Case Study: Vibra Healthcare Improves Capacity Management, Charting and Billing Accuracy with IBM Business Analytics – 1179A

Kevin Peters (Vibra Healthcare), Dominic Sagar (Perficient)
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Hilton Bonnet Creek, Orange

Vibra is a specialty healthcare provider dedicated to developing freestanding medical rehab and specialty acute care hospitals to meet the unique needs of our patients and physicians. Vibra implemented patient census reporting to better understand and manage hospital capacity, followed by a Clinical Documentation Improvement dashboard to improve charting and promote more accurate billing. In addition, Vibra used IBM Cognos TM1 to reduce manual re-key efforts and automate the production of hundreds of corporate and departmental balance sheets, income statements, and cashflow reports. Vibra is now analyzing referrals in IBM Cognos Business Intelligence to understand how relationships with other facilities are converted into new business.

Beyond these two sessions, Perficient recently implemented Cognos Incentive Compensation Management in our own sales organization, and we’re happy to share our implementation experiences with attendees at Vision. Dominic Sagar, the project lead and a Vision presenter, posted a blog article on his experiences with the project. Stop by our booth to hear and discuss lessons learned and implementation best practices.

If you can’t make the conference, but are interested in our experiences building world-class performance management solutions, check out two of our recent white papers:

 

Varsity Spirit Achieved 100% Adoption and Transformed Themselves

Shannon Ahern from Varsity Spirit Fashion and Greg Schaller from Perficient spoke at IBM Amplify 2015 about how Varsity Spirit Fashion achieved a 100% adoption rate internally and transformed their business.   Varsity Spirit Fashion outfits more than 1 million athletes. usa-camp-confidence

Previously Varsity Spirit’s 300 person sales team faced several challenges including a huge catalog offering. However, customers could not really visualize their uniforms from just the catalog images.  The reps had no tools to create customized visuals of proposed uniforms, except for paper based, ad hoc tools.

In a customized, made to order business, orders are not returnable and customers become unhappy when the final product doesn’t meet what they expected.  To create a better experience for the customer and the sales rep, Varsity decided to develop a Varsity Design Studio based on IBM Commerce and Adobe Scene 7 that the sales team could use to really present a customized visual for the customer.

Now the Visual Design Studio allows the sales rep to show exactly what each uniform would look like when customized for each customer.  Every component of the wardrobe can be displayed and customized through Visual Design Studio.  Sales reps can use this technology to pre-package design ideas that can then be used to market to customers who may not need a fully customized solution.

70% of the business comes between March and June, so reps are using Design Studio as a consultation tool during the sales process.  The Visual Design Studio interfaces to Varsity’s order management system which eliminates mistakes when ordering the custom products.  The studio is also integrated with Salesforce.com and pulls customer data, including color schemes that have been identified.  All of this integration makes it easier for the sales reps to deliver a personalized design to each customer.

Shannon has said this tool has been amazing in helping the sales rep sell and upsell customers.  The response to the tool was so positive that Varsity created a lightweight version of the studio for use by the customers on the Varsity web site.  This light version doesn’t have all the functions available to the sales reps, but helps the customers get started with an order or explore the various options.

In terms of technology, Perficient helped Varsity implement WebSphere Commerce, WebSphere Application Server, DB2.  Adobe Scene 7 was implemented to vignette all the images to provide the color options, striping options etc. All of these systems were implemented following Perficient’s best practices to make sure Varsity had a first class implementation.  Perficient also provides managed services to support the installation at Varsity.

Greg shared some challenges they had to overcome:

  • Photography process required Varsity to establish lots of standards and processes to make sure images were usable in the Design Studio
  • Need to introduce new styles quickly and efficiently
  • Adoption to overcome resistance and get feedback from the sales rep during the change
  • Training hundreds of sales reps
  • Pushed the limits of the Scene7 rendering server engine
  • Integration to back-end Order Management Services
  • Performance of rendering all the customizations

For business results, Shannon shared the following:

  • 100% adoption by sales team even when they added new workfor the sales rep
  • Increased Order Volume and Order Size  due to the visualization and accessories
  • Using images in plants to ensure accuracy in the manufacturing process
  • Increased efficiency in sales process by closing sales quicker
  • Reduced return rates
  • Reduced custom silhouette requests – things that don’t show up in the standard catalog

One quote from a sales rep:

I can’t tell you what a game changer the studio was for me! The look on a coaches face when they see their vision come to life is amazing.

 

Carhartt’s Successful Implementation of carhartt.com

Greg Schaller of Perficient and Gretchen Crockford of Carhartt discussed how Carhartt successfully implemented B2C on the IBM iSeries.  Carhartt is a 126-year old work wear company.  Carhartt now has 17 new company owned stores, but also sales through retailers and their IBM Commerce Carhartt Logowebsite.

Running on iSeries is not something you hear a lot about, but this allowed Carhartt to leverage the capabilities and systems they already had running on the iSeries.  Carhartt’s website vision is to “provide a best in-class personalized online experience for hard working consumers to learn about and by Carhartt. ”

They wanted to take advantage of ESite Model, responsive design for mobile users and empower marketing to manage the site.  They also wanted to use Page Composer templates to improve business content.  The new WebSphere Commerce platform gave IT new infrastructure that

included new source code control, build and deployment processes, true staging and production environments, high availability and redundancy.

Gretchen seemed clearly happy with the commerce site they have built.

Greg showed the complexity of the integrations that Carhartt needed for the solution.  I counted over 17 different systems that were integrated into the commerce site. These systems included ExactTarget, Tealium, Limelight, BazzarVoice, SAP, Adobe Site Catalyst, Needle, CyberSource and Chase Paymentech, UPS, FedEx, Olapic, and more.

Challenges included:

  • iSeries platform is different than Linux and AIX and the team had to learn to do things the iSeries way rather than rely on how implementations are done traditionally in Linux.
  • Responsive Design – having access to all the various devices to test
  • Page Composer Customization learning curve
  • Carhartt was an early adopter of Feature Pack 7, which helped IBM make Fixpack 8 really good.

Carhartt’s results included:

  • Increase in conversion and AOV
  • User Sat if trending up
  • Business users lover that they can tell a story through the site.
  • IT likes the ability deploy new code without downtime.  Since Feb 5, the site has not been down except for applying IBM APARs.

Next steps include building sites specific for Canada and EMEA.  They will also migrate a B2b site from another platform to commerce.

What is the new IBM Marketing Cloud?

At Amplify 2015, IBM has formally announced their new IBM Marketing Cloud.  Throughout the day IBM is releasing more information about what is in the Marketing Cloud.  Here is what I learned just now.

IBM Marketing Cloud is a combination of SilverPop Engage, Xtify and new features including Journey Designer, Journey Analytics, a single customer ID across all platforms, a new budget planning application and an easy to use data exchange facility.

Marketing Cloud will be available in several editions including the following:

  • B2C Standard will include essential marketing features including the new Journey Designer
  • B2C Advanced will have the standard features plus new features like Journey Analytics, Budgeting and Planning and more
  • B2B Standard is similar to B2C Standard but will focus on the needs of B2B marketers.
  • B2B Advanced will focus on the needs of B2B marketers.

IBM hasn’t announced specific pricing yet, but it will be based on the number of users and a number of events.  Users would be marketing people that access the system directly. Events would include things like email messages, push notifications, etc.

IBM is planning to release the first Standard versions this summer (2015) with the Advanced versions coming later in 2015.

For data exchange, IBM is focusing first on exchanging data between its own systems and its partners’ systems and will then expand to other platforms over time. Integration with Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics is in the plan.

Amplify 2015: Deliver the Experiences Your Customers Want

Day 2’s opening session continued the theme of “A New Way to Engage” and started with Chris Wong, VP of strategy and Product Management in IBM’s Commerce group. IBM now has 30,000 users in their Marketing Cloud. Chris said that IBM thinks the way for marketers to move forward in the rapidly changing technology landscape is to collaborate better and take advantage of the technologies that enable collaboration while simplifying the ability to get things done. 

Acxiom CEO Scott Howe talked about how we don’t have perfect information to make perfect decisions. Even if we had perfect data, we don’t have the ability to analyze the data completely enough to make perfect decision.  Acxiom has been working with IBM to build out a seamless environment to deliver insights to third parties like Facebook and others. 

Chris formally announced the new IBM Marketing Cloud. The Marketing Cloud is based on SilverPop technology that IBM recently acquired. The Marketing Cloud is fully multi tenant and subscription based. 

IBM Marketing Software is the on premise version of IBM marketing tools. These tools are getting enhanced with predictive capabilities. 

IBM is also delivering share capabilities to bridge the on premise and cloud systems. The share capabilities include Journey Analytics, Journey Designer and more. 

For planning and budgeting, IBM is integrating Allocadia’s cloud based platform into the Marketing Cloud and Marketing Operations. 

To solve data integration challenges IBM is creating a data exchange capability that will allow customers to set up integrations to both IBM and third party systems. 

Amplify 2015: How Urban Outfitters Delivered Superior Experience with IBM Sterling

  

Urban Outfitters worked with Perficient to implement IBM Sterling multichannel fulfillment system and the result has been superior customer service. Jas Singh with Urban Outfitters and Subroto Majumdar with Perficient presented this case study titled “Ensuring Successful Order Management Implementation” at IBM Amplify today.  

Urban Outiftters is an apparel retailer with annual revenue of $3.3b.  They own Anthropolgie, Urban Outfitters BHDLN, and other brands.  Urban has 238 stores, Anthropologie has 204 stories and each brand has its own commerce sites with multichannel, multi fulfillment and other complexities. Urban started seeing hyper growth with global expansion and led them to replace another order management system with IBM Sterling. 

Urban started small and spent 5 years migrating capabilities out to each brand.  Some achievements they gained:

  • International orders implemented in 3 months
  • Disaster recovery implemented in 3 months
  • Upgrade from 8.5 to 9.2 with no downtime
  • Process over 50,000 orders per hour
  • Full inventory sync of 1.2 million Skus in 30 minutes

Urban prepared for the journey by creating a multi year roadmap, hired the right resources, had a strong IT and Business partnership, and created a go-getter culture with ownership and accountability for both employees and consultants. 

Things they learned over 5 years:

  • Begin training before implementing
  • Clearly identify business and software requirements
  • Build change management procedures 
  • Align process across departments and document baseline process
  • Define business objectives of implementation
  • Establish collaboration between IT and business 

Jas talked about other best practices. He reminded the audience that the tool does more that just order management and you should plan on taking advantages of all the features over the long term. You need a layer of governance over the development team to make sure the big picture is taken into account. The team must make sure that customizations need to be made in a way to make future upgrades possible.  For developers make sure you use the services framework and reusable components. 

Testing is also critical.  Testing must be thorough and take into account the long term. In the beginning you need a test strategy and determine what and how to test the system. Also consider who is going to test and when. Operations people should be able to develop test cases and exercise the tests.  

 Subroto talked about how Perficient helped Urban thought the implementation. Perficient started working with Urban in 2011 and the team has been tightly couple with the plan. With Perficients scale they were able to run parallel projects and used a multi-shore development model. Continuity of the team has been great because resources don’t have to learn Urban all the time. 

Ruth Minj of Perficient talked about Perficient as a company. The reason Perficient has been successful is that we are flexible while being very responsive to Urban’s needs.