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WebSphere Commerce: Omni-Channel Experience

What is Omni-Channel?

Have you heard of Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel? Why e-Commerce retailers are moving towards Omni-Channel implementation? Let’s understand what it is and why it is important.

Today’s tech savvy and smart shoppers expect the same price, the same merchandise, same promotions and discounts across every channel, regardless of how they come into contact with the brand. They want to shop the same merchandise with seamless integration across all the channels.

OmniChannel11

Omni-Channel Retailing is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels in an integrated way. It tracks the customers across all channels. Merchandise and promotions are not channel specific, but rather consistent across all retail channels.

 

OmniChannel2

Benefits of Omni-Channel

Below are the benefits of Omni-Channel. As you can see, each channel drives the revenue of each other.

OmniChannel3

Omni-Channel: WebSphere Commerce Components

OmniChannel4

Omni-Channel Experience: Online Shopping shopping

I believe that following features can be implemented online in IBM’s WebSphere Commerce to support Omni-Channel experience to buyers.

  • Check product’s availability in Store
  • Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS)
  • Reserve Online Pickup In Store (ROPIS)
  • Ship from Store
  • Browse In-Store products Online across different categories
  • Shop the Store: Store specific view to browser ALL items within particular store
  • My Store View based on Geo-location
  • Barcode Scan using end-user’s iPhone and check the availability in-store as well as online
  • Track customer’s moment in store using Mobile App & In-Store sensors, and make recommendations Online based on departments that customer visit and the time that customer spends in specific department.

What’s New in IBM Operation Decision Manager V8.6

IBM Operational Decision Manager enables flexibility within organizations to quickly respond and adapt to changing business conditions. The release themes of V8.6 are Instant, Seamless, and Insightful.

  • ODM is Instant, providing automated governance and operational decision-making at internet speed responsiveness.
  • ODM is Seamless, it provides consistency through integrated operations decisions across lines of business and IT, and delivers compliance around automating business processes. By eliminating manual interventions through automating decisions, organizations speed up response time, improve customer satisfaction, and in turn save money.
  • ODM is Insightful, validation capabilities enable business teams to define their own test scenario. In V8.6, they can now perform validation on non-production testing environments through the Business Console. This, along with the ability to directly deploy decision service with embedded decision management monitoring, permits organizations to act quickly for scenarios such as building customer specific marketing, or fraud detection sensors.

The following is an overview of some of the features introduced in Operational Decision Manager V8.6

Decision Services

IBM has introduced a unit of rule management called Decision Services, which is a grouping of rule projects. This is an improvement to the management of decision governance by providing consistent deployment of rule applications between IT (Rules Designer) and Business (Decision Center) environments. The rule sets are now managed through decision operations which contain the rule set signature, or rule set parameters, and source rule project references. As part of the decision service, you can now create a deployment configuration which contains RuleApp configurations and properties, decision operations and target environments for testing or production. The introduction of decision services means deployment configurations and target environments can now be synchronized between Rules Designer and Decision Center. Previously business users would rely on technical developers or rule administrators to deploy rule sets. In V8.6, business users can deploy the decision service from the Business Console into defined deployment target environments, allowing more control around change management.

Synchronization and deployment (c) IBM Corporation 2014

Synchronization and deployment (c) IBM Corporation 2014

Rule projects defined from prior releases of ODM are required to be migrated into decision services before they can be synchronized in the V8.6 environment. Operation Decision Manager V8.6 comes with the capability to migrate these rule projects into decision services.

Rule Testing in Business Console

Business Console

Validation Activity in Business Console

The automated governance framework was introduced in IBM Operational Decision Manager V8 with a completely new Decision Center Business Console web interface. The purpose was to enable business users to author, edit, organize, and search for rules in a collaborative environment. The latest generation of ODM has introduced new testing and deployment capabilities in the Business Console. Business users are able to easily and rapidly test and validate rule updates within their work activities. This provides business users with the ability to perform end-to-end decision updates with a more comprehensive governance workflow that includes testing and deployment from within the Decision Center Business Console.

Business Rules Embedded

The Business Rules Embedded component in V8.6 makes component installation and integration easier and more flexible than previous releases. More API documentation is provided and the enhanced web sample demonstrates a complete lifecycle scenario for embedding rules in a host application. Learn more….

Streamlined Installation

The installation manager has been enhanced to begin with the installation process with the selection of Decision Center and/or Decision Server. This is followed by the product purpose, server and sample selection. This installation does not require multiple Launchpad UIs or profile augmentations, thus providing a simpler and quicker installation.

New and Enhanced Features for z/OS

More functions and capabilities are added for the z/OS platform. With the PL/I BOM mapping support, you can now share and deploy a rule project in Java, COBOL, and PL/I applications. The results in simplified Java batch configuration and new COBOL and PL/I batch execution feature vastly reduce the general practitioner utilization and greatly increase the performance.

In addition, more application server types and database versions are supported in this release. The Eclipse level is also brought up to V4.2.2 so that the Operational Decision Manager designers are compatible and offer shell sharing with Rational brand products.

In summary, IBM Operational Decision Manager V8.6 enables organizations to build highly flexible solutions which can detect and react to threats and opportunities, and quickly adapt to changing business conditions by providing business users with end-to-end decision governance framework through the Decision Center Business Console.

What Next?

Contact Perficient to schedule a live solution presentation. Perficient also offers on-site workshops with business and IT stakeholders to evaluate the applicability of Business Rules and Business Events for your operational decisions.


Support Information

Application Servers

  • WebSphereApplciation Server V8.5.5.1
  • Support JBoss 6.1 Enterprise Application Platform and 7.2 GA

Databases

  • DB2 V10.5 database (Distributed System)
  • DB2 V11 database (z/OS)

Rule Designer and Event Designer – based on Eclipse 4.2.2 and compatible with

  • Rational Application Deverper for WebSphere Software, V9.0.1
  • Rational Deveoper for System z, V9.0.1
  • Rational Software Architect for WebSphere, V9.0.0.1

Posted in News

What’s new with IBM InfoSphere Information Server Version 11.3

 

Well I know I’m a little late on this but I figured if you haven’t heard already this would be a great blog post to inform you of the latest update to IBM’s InfoSphere Information Server Version 11.3.

What's new with IBM InfoSphere Information Server Version 11.3For those that don’t know IBM’s InfoSphere Information Server Version 11.3, the following platform is made up of the following applications, Blueprint Director, Information Governance Catalog, DataStage, InfoSphere Data Architect, Discovery, FastTrack, Information Analyzer, Information Services Director, and QualityStage.  With the latest updated IBM has improved and enhanced the already powerful InfoSphere Information Server.  Now one major thing to point out is the huge upgrade jump from 9.1.2 to 11.3.  Now personally I just believe IBM packed in some many updates version 10 would have not done this any justice.  But with the new 11.3 version I want to go through a few new features that should get you really excited.

 

The thing I’m most excited about is the new features and updates to DataStage and QualityStage with the version 11.3.  A few of these new features and updates are listed below.

REST web services

You can use the Hierarchical Data stage (previously called XML Stage) to design jobs that interact with REST (Representational State Transfer) web services by using HTTP methods. For example, you can design jobs that perform tasks such as posting message to social networking sites, interacting with systems such as Microsoft Sharepoint, or using maps and directions. For more information, see REST web services.

-url option for commands

The InfoSphere DataStage CLI now includes a new option, -url, for the logon clause of the dsjob and dsadmin commands. The option specifies a full format URL for the domain to log on to. For more information, see The logon clause.

Operations Console

If the capturing of monitoring data is enabled, the AppWatcher process is automatically started when the engine tier computer is started. For more information, see Managing the data collection processes.

Workload management

The workload management system is now enabled by default. For more information, see Administering workload management.

Big Data File stage compatibility

The Big Data File stage is now compatible with Hortonworks 2.1, Cloudera 4.5, and InfoSphere BigInsights 3.0.

Read the rest of this post »

Manage data better with IBM InfoSphere

IBM states, “The InfoSphere Platform provides all the foundational building blocks of trusted information, including data integration, data warehousing, master data management, big data and information governance.[1]”  They cannot be anymore right!  Managing data has been more complex through the years as companies are trying to bring in more data (Big Data) for their business needs.  But the biggest hurdle in managing data is the how, and what tools can help lay the proper foundation in managing data.

Manage data better with IBM InfoSphereNow what is the proper foundation you may ask?  Well of course we all know this is to be the solution that is put in place that meets our clients our company needs.  But before a solution can be implemented correctly, you will need the right team and tools to take on this initiative.  So what is the right tool to handle and mange your data needs?  My personal opinion is IBM’s InfoSphere platform and within this blog posting I will list out a few reasons why.

One great product of the InfoSphere platform is InfoSphere Information Analyzer.  In 2012 I was working with client who wanted to initiate a SAP data governance and data-cleansing project for the procurement team.  I remember when I arrived on the first day of the project the tech lead and business SME were on vacation for the week.  This was perfect as it allowed me to work with the infrastructure team to install InfoSphere suite (DB2, Information Server 8.5, Information Analyzer, DataStage 8.5, QualityStage 8.5, Business Glossary and etc) on the clients network.  Once the install was complete, I wanted to show some true value while the client was away.  Again, not knowing the major data issues besides the high level SOW statement “Data-cleanings needed” I utilized IBM’s Information Analyzer and ran some information analyzer reports such as “Column Analysis” on KNA1, MARA, LFA1 tables to first do some quick reports on possible duplicate data, counts, data type details and etc.  I remember when the client’s tech lead and business SME came back I provided them the reports and they were blown away!  I urge you to check out the following video, “InfoSphere Information Server: Create a new Information Analyzer Analysis Engine” created by IBM’s education group.

Read the rest of this post »

What do your tea-leaves say about your online experience?

A tea-leaf fortune reader uses the symbols and the patterns formed by the residue of tea in a fine light-colored china cup to predict one’s fortune or future. The art of tea-leaf reading is an intuitive and creative form of divination.

See through the eyes of your customersIn today’s world, we have a much more sophisticated approach and no longer have to predict but can actually see through the eyes of our customers with a different kind of tea-leaf.  IBM Tealeaf®,  a leading provider of digital customer experience management and customer behavior analysis solutions, allows organizations to replay the interaction of every web & mobile customer to visually recreate their complete, actual experience.  This qualitative insight affords a proactive approach to optimizing the online channel and allows the quick resolution of problems that erode customer satisfaction and online revenues.

  • Do you have a good understanding of why customers abandon before completing a purchase or performing a self-service transaction?
  • Do you have complete insights into the experience of your mobile users and how they interact with your mobile site / app?

If the answer to the above questions are a “no”, your tea leaves should be telling you to attend a Webinar on August, 20th at 3:30 PM CT to learn how an IBM Tealeaf solution can:

  • Increase Conversion Rates,
  • Increase Average Order Values,
  • Improve online customer Retention Rates,
  • Reduce Problem Resolution Time,
  • and help companies identify & eliminate “Million Dollar Problems”, rapidly

Find out why 30% of Fortune 100 companies rely on IBM Tealeaf to help them become customer-centric organizations that deliver better digital customer experiences and how companies see >500% ROI within the first 3 months.

Posted in News

Converting BSO member formulas to MDX

Overview:

MDX (Multi-Dimensional query Expression Language) is the data manipulation language for Essbase which is used to convert the BSO outline Calculation scripts to ASO outline calculation. Aggregate outline performs calculations dynamically and  can be compared with the BSO dynamic formulas. MDX language is supported by ASO and BSO but the Calc language is specific to BSO.

Differences between ASO and BSO

  • Storage options “Dynamic Calc and Store” and “Dynamic Calc” are not available in ASO.
  • BSO calculation depends upon the order they are placed in the Outline hierarchy. ASO formulas are executed based on the order of their dependencies in ASO but the order also can be defined using the “Member Solve Order” property.
  • BSO separates the dense and sparse dimension for certain calculations but there is no such method in ASO.
  • ASO Attribute dimension calculations support only “Sum”.
  • ASO outline allows formulas only in account dimensions or dynamic hierarchies.

When to use MDX??

  • Any formulas which are attached to a BSO member belong to “Account”. dimensions.
  • Expense reporting is not available in ASO. Use of VAR (Arg1, Arg2) function can be replaced as Arg1-Arg2.
  • Any Essbase calculation functions referring to dynamic time series members or shared members.

Common Scenarios

Scenario 1: Converting Q-T-D BSO Functions

Solution: Create a new member “QTD” under dimension which is tagged as “Time”. Add sibling members as shown below

Scenario-1_MDX

Scenario 2: Converting Time Balance Functionality

Solution: Time Dimension member hierarchy should be defined as “Stored” to use the time balance functionality. If the member hierarchy is not “Stored” then create a formula member as shown below

WITH MEMBER [Measures].[Starting Inventory] AS
‘IIF(IsLeaf([Year].CurrentMember),
[Measures].[Opening Inventory],
([Measures].[Opening Inventory], OpeningPeriod ([Year].Levels(0),[Year].CurrentMember)))’

OpeningPeriod

The purpose of the function is to return the first sibling among the descendants of a member at a specified level. All function parameters are optional. If no member is specified, the default is [Time].CURRENTMEMBER. If no level is specified, it is the level below that of member that will be assumed.

To know more about opening period refer
http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E26232_01/doc.11122/esb_tech_ref/frameset.htm?mdx_openingperiod.html

Posted in News

Digital Experience Conference: More Than a Name Change

Mark Polly, Director at Perficient, is packing his bags to head out to the renamed Digital Experience Conference next week.

In the past this conference has been called “Exceptional Web Experience” and “Portal” conference and the new name reflects not only the market changes taking place, but also IBM’s approach to the market.  The market is no longer a “Portal” market or even just a “Web” market.

I think that “Digital” explains that we are focused on more than just the web.  We have to be just as concerned with other channels, such as mobile, kiosk, TV, game console, etc).  And “Experience” broadens the scope to include customer experience, employee experience, patient experience, member experience, and so on.  So Digital Experience is a good name for this conference.

In this latest blog post, Mark talks about what you can expect from IBM at the conference as well a wrap-up of the multiple sessions that Perficient will be presenting at the conference next week. You can read all of the details here and you can follow us during the conference on Twitter.

Introduction to Decision Modeling Notation

Decision management is increasingly becoming an important facet of Business Process Automation. This means that building decision models as a way to specify the requirements is more critical in business rules projects. The Object Management Group Board of Directors voted to publish the Decision Model and Notation (DMN) as a specification earlier this year. It provides a graphical notation to accurately describe decisions by both business analysts and technical users in process models.

Another goal of DMN is to provide a standard for execution similar to Business Process Management Notation’s Web Service Business Process Execution (WSBPEL) and interchange of business rules. This article will focus on the graphical notation of DMN.

The Necessity for Decision Modeling Notation

The DMN standard is designed to work alongside the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN), providing the mechanism to identify and describe business decisions within the process model. While BPMN is great for process modeling, it does not provide an easy ability to capture decision requirements in a BPMN diagram. Capturing decision requirements in the process model makes them complex and difficult to maintain.

The Value of Decision Modeling Notation

The DMN value proposition to business process improvement software and business rules projects are the following:

  • Bridge the gap between requirements and technical implementation by mapping the graphics of the notation to the underlying constructs of execution environments such as business rules management systems.
  • Specify standard Decision Requirements diagrams by Business analysts that communicate process information which is easily understandable to all.
  • Link business rules and analytics to business objects using a common framework of interchange standard to deliver Business Rule Management Systems or Analytic Workbenches in order to easily share and tune decision information across process implementers.
  • Provide a format to share decisions and copy decision models between process improvement tools.

The Impact of Decision Modeling Notation

Software will be required to match applicable compliance or conformance points in order to claim compliance to the DMN’s standards. There will be several levels of Decision Model Notation compliance, however, since this information is still being published, it will not be covered within this article. Decision discovery tools based on the Decision Modeling Notation graphical notation has already been released from IBM.

Decision Model Notation in IBM BlueWorks Live

Decision Model Notation in IBM BlueWorks Live

 

The latest release of IBM’s cloud-based IBM Blueworks Live is ideal for capturing and managing decision models as part of the process analysis in a collaborative environment. Users can take advantage of the tool to identify, understand, and document key business decisions within the organization. This will allow them to acquire knowledge necessary to determine what is driving key business operations. The features of IBM Blueworks Live in decision discovery are a topic of future articles. The application does not have the capability to import and export decision models which limits it to decision discovery.

The Satisfaction of Decision Modeling Notation

Decision Model and Notation provides a common language and bridges the gap across business, IT, and analytic departments within organizations. The result is better attention paid to modeling decisions in processes. This brings the opportunity to improve collaboration, increase re-use, and easily implement accurate decision management solutions, resulting in lower cost and improved time to market for business rule projects. Organizations can also achieve cost reduction by standardizing skill sets, common notation for easier training and use, and reducing support for business rule management initiatives. The end results in a more agile business with complete, accurate decision making.

 

Exposing a BPD as a WebService in IBM BPM Process Designer

There are two common scenarios in IBM BPM Process designer while integrating with Web Services. It can be either inbound or outbound integration.
Outbound Integration involves the Business Process Definitions (BPD) invoking external Web Services as part of the process. It is a straight forward configuration – Giving WSDL url in web service integration activity embedded in Integration Service component.
This document focuses on inbound integration and involves exposing the BPD as a web service for external users. For Process Manager to kick off a service, you need to build several IBM BPM components and corresponding services.
Below is the diagrammatic representation of interaction between different components in inbound integration.

sample

Below is the sample BPD that need to be exposed as a WebService

2

 

An Inbound integration configured to kickoff BPD has the following components

1. Web Service – It is created for an external system or application to call into Business Process Manager
2. Integration Service – A service with appropriate inputs is created to call the undercover agent (UCA) to send the event

3. Message Event

4. UCA – (Under Cover Agent) The UCA tells IBM® Business Process Manager what service to run when the message event is received

5. General Service – The UCA that you attach to the message event needs a service to pass the parameter values from the runtime message to the BPD

 

Web Service
Create a new Web service implementation as shown below.

3

 

4

In the Operations section, press Add for each operation that is desired to be exposed on the WebService. For each operation added, an IBPM Service needs to be associated with it. This implies that the service must be created before adding the operation. When deployed, a call to a named operation will result in the invocation of the corresponding IBPM Service. Any parameters defined as input on the IBPM Service will be exposed as parameters on the Web Service call. Any parameters defined as output on the IBPM Service will be returned as parameters on the Web Service call.

WSDL URI in the behaviour section is the Web URL that can be used to retrieve the WSDL file that describes the exposed Web Service.

Integration Service
A Web Service definition created above need to be associated with a Integration Service. It is this Integration Service that will be called when the Web Service is invoked. This Service should cause the invocation of the UCA. A suitable Service may be designed as below:

5

 

UCA
The UCA tells IBM® Business Process Manager what service to run when the message event is received. The message can be triggered by IBM BPM itself or by an external system as in this example.

 

6

 

7

Associated with a Message Start Event node is a UCA. A UCA acts as the “trigger” to the Start Message Event. Before we can define a UCA, we need a General Service that is to be associated with the UCA. The result (output) of the General Service is the “value” passed by the UCA to its associated partner which in this case will be the Start Message Event Node in the BPD.

A suitable General Service may just pass the input to the output

8

Now that the UCA is available, you can attach it to the message event in BPD.
Message Event
When an event occurs, that event must be matched against the correct instance of the process for which the event is destined. The ability to match the event against the correct instance is called correlation. You must specify one variable in the message event that has a value that matches the value of the incoming event’s UCA payload (the correlation value). If there is such a match, the message is received. If not, the message is not received, and the event continues to wait.

9

As all the components are configured and ready for testing , we can employ any web service testing tools like soapUI to send a request to the BPD and could see the tasks getting initiated in process portal.

Posted in News

Upcoming Webinar: Transform Unstructured Data into Relevant Data

Recent studies indicate more than 90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years, and the cost of maintaining that data is increasingly becoming a liability for IT, Legal and Business groups. As the amount of structured and unstructured data dramatically expands, the expense of maintaining data stores is outpacing the reduction in storage costs.

StoredIQ Blog Image - Statistics 2

To help your organization address the issues associated with growing data capacity requirements, IBM offers StoredIQ, a leading unstructured data management and intelligent eDiscovery solution. Join us for an upcoming webinar on July 9, 2014, Transform Unstructured Data into Relevant Data with IBM StoredIQ, where our experts will cover:

  • Data governance challenges
  • Information lifecycle governance implementation options
  • The benefits of early action when uncovering redundant, obsolete and trivial (ROT) content
  • Typical industry use cases

Our speakers Sibito Morley, worldwide Director of Information Lifecycle Governance at IBM, and Christine Livingston, Perficient’s Advanced Case Management practice leader, will discuss how to most effectively deploy IBM StoredIQ in order to:

  • Analyze data sources in-place
  • Identify ROT content
  • Uncover personally identifiable information and sensitive data
  • Limit your compliance risks and reduce storage costs

To register for the webinar, click here.
Transform Unstructured Data into Relevant Data with IBM StoredIQ
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
10:00 am CT