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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

 

The Power of IBM Cognos Framework Manager

Jim Miller, Senior Solutions Architect at Perficient, recently wrote a blog post about sessions, calculations and filters in Framework Manager:

In Framework Manager, an expression is any combination of operators, constants, functions, and other components that evaluates to a single value. You can build expressions to create calculation and filter definitions. Acalculation is an expression that you use to create a new value from existing values contained within a data item. A filter is an expression that you use to retrieve a specific subset of records.

In his blog post, Jim goes into great detail on how to use IBM Framework Manager to perform your calculations. You can read his full blog post here.

Posted in News

Digital Disruption….Are you moving fast enough?

We have just signed our silver sponsorship agreement to this year’s IBM Digital Experience conference coming up in July and I found this great blog from Brendon Jones with an IBM video on digital disruption and the importance of building digital into your business model.

Digital Disruption - Are you moving fast enough?The video explains the 4 transforming principles for new digital business models:

  • Orchestrated
  • Symbiotic
  • Contextual
  • Cognitive

I have also reviewed the preliminary session directory for this year’s event and am impressed with the line up of clients, IBM experts, and of course Business Partners presenting.  Perficient has 4 sessions including a joint session with our client Florida Blue, where we will show how they continue to engage consumers using the portal platform with content management, analytics, personalization and social interaction to deliver multichannel exceptional customer experiences with measurable ROI.

Check out Brendon’s blog post and video here.

event logo

And don’t forget to register for the IBM Digital Experience Conference. 

 

IBM announces Cloud Business Solutions: A new packaged offering

IBM announced yesterday a new all-in-one packaged offering to enhance their current cloud based solutions for the enterprise. This is in addition to their existing cloud-based solutions such as IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. Here is a snippet from the announcement

IBM announces Cloud Business Solutions: A new packaged offeringCalled IBM Cloud Business Solutions, the portfolio includes multiple components packaged into a single client agreement and delivered “as a service” for speed and simplicity. This includes consulting services, pre-built assets from IBM Research, software, advanced analytics, ongoing support and cloud infrastructure delivered via Softlayer, an IBM company. Pricing is based on a subscription model. Clients pay a set-up fee up front, and then ongoing subscription or usage-based fees.

What is interesting to me here is that this is a “packaged” solution –  which includes consulting services to customize the solution based on the needs of the individual customer, analytics driven industry research assets, and industry-specific version for each solution. It is a pay as you use model (with an up-front set up fee) which could considerably reduce the trial costs and help drive adoption. I’d be curious to dig a little deeper into this over the next weeks.

You can find the current list of customizable solutions offered here. A few solutions highlighted in the press release include:

  • Care Coordination – With a goal of improving patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs, this solution enables different stakeholders in a healthcare ecosystem to collaborate across the continuum of care. It integrates the capabilities of care coordination, management, analytics and patient engagement.
  • Customer Data – To help clients gain insights and apply them rapidly to business processes, this solution brings together disparate, internal and external data sources to improve marketing operations and planning performance across all channels. By leveraging analytics, clients maximize marketing return on investment.
  • Mobile – Mobile initiatives increasingly span enterprises and spur business transformation. This suite of solutions for industries such as banking, retail, healthcare, insurance and travel and transportation provides clients the assets and agility needed to re-imagine and define mobile engagement models with employees, customers and partners. It includes mobile accelerators, mobile designs and development models that support an agile, iterative development process.
  • Predictive Maintenance – A lack of visibility into equipment health and inability to accurately forecast downtime results in expensive, unscheduled maintenance. The Predictive Maintenance solution enables a proactive analysis process using equipment and application data to plan, monitor, manage and mitigate equipment failures.
  • Smarter Asset Management - Asset management is critical to business operations, but not an area in which business leaders want to invest significant capital. Smarter Asset Management provides clients with minimal resources and low capital investment, optimized for maximum performance.

BI or BPM – what’s a CIO to do?

I came across this blog post from Andrew White, a Research analyst at Gartner controversially titled BI’s days are numbered – Here comes BPM again. The core message of the post is this that BI and data analytics are a means to an end – and it is the change in processes (effected through BPM) that will result in impact on the business.

BI or BPM - What's a CIO to Do?The insight gleaned from information about customers, markets, and trends and intentions is a good thing, but actually taking action and doing something about that insight, and impacting the actual outcome, is the real deal.  Thus BI is being seen for what it is – a means to an end, not the end itself.  CIO’s need to wise up, I think, and lessen their focus on BI in isolation, and talk more about how business processes need to become more intelligent.

In my opinion , the emphasis around BI and big data analytics is well deserved. While BPM has been around for a while – the impact of big data (and I use that term loosely) on gathering intelligence consumer behavior is still in its infancy. Just a few years ago – enterprises did not know or in many cases did not care about this data. Even today, most enterprises are not gathering any sort of consumer intelligence data, and the few that are … are still trying to figure our how to make sense of the data. A recent survey by VoltDB concludes that Big Data goes to waste in most organizations. The same data is presented graphically here. So, yes – the “”extra” focus on BI in these current times is well deserved and probably even necessary.

That said, I completely agree that BI is truly a means to an end. Perhaps, in about 5 years time – if big data analytics and BI in enterprises mature enough to enable companies to interpret the data gathered and translate them into actionable process changes – the role of BPM in implementing those changes is unquestionable.

I invite you to leave you questions, thoughts, and comments here. If you like this post, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

The Right Steps to a Simpler Digital Experience!

It has been almost a month since IBM announced the release of Digital Experience 8.5 and I just read a blog post from one of our Senior Solution Architects, Shyam Sunter who gives a great tutorial and highlights as he installs the new WebSphere Portal V8.5 Extended Addition.

Downloading the Installables
IBM made it easy for me to search for WebSphere Portal v8.5 installables and find all relevant e-Assemblies. The only thing that I find slightly irritating is that the relevant WebSphere Portal v8.5 e-Assembly was right at the bottom of the page. No worries – a quick browser text search for got me to the right e-Assembly.
Expanding the eAssembly – you can immediately see that IBM has change the packaging a little bit. The e-Assembly only has WebSphere Portal images.In the past, you would have to wade down through a whole list of other supporting software components (TDS, DB2, etc.). This has confused users (both new and old) in the past. No longer the case this time.  The right step towards a simpler “Digital Experience” perhaps? Excellent!
Click here to read the full post and share your experience and give us some feedback.
Another great reason to attend IBM’s Digital Experience Conference in July.  Hope to see you there.

Posted in News

WebSphere Message Broker integration with Netezza using ODBC/JDBC

What is Netezza:

At an extremely high level Netezza is a massively Parallel Process Database Appliance designed to process and analyze large amounts of data. Netezza’s core value is to keep the things simple and accelerating high performance analysis of data to help clients uncover insights into their business. One of the reasons of it’s performance is that it is deeply integrates hardware, software and storage to simplify and accelerate deployment to deliver business analytics value in few days. This data warehouse appliance requires nearly no to minimal tuning and administration – e.g., no storage administration, less database/system administration – further reducing the cost of deploying and total cost of ownership.

WebSphere Message Broker integration with Netezza using ODBC/JDBCIBM Netezza appliances are now part of IBM PureSystems – expert integrated systems with built in expertise, integration by design and a simplified user experience. Part of the PureData family, the Netezza appliance is now known as the PureData System for Analytics. It has the same key design tenets of simplicity, speed, scalability and analytics power that was fundamental to Netezza appliances. With simple deployment, out-of-the-box optimization, no tuning and minimal on-going maintenance, the IBM PureData System for Analytics has the industry’s fastest time-to-value and lowest total-cost-of-ownership.

What is Message Broker:

IBM WebSphere® Message Broker is an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) built for universal connectivity and transformation in heterogeneous IT environments. WebSphere Message Broker distributes information and data generated by business events in real time to people, applications, and devices throughout your extended enterprise and beyond.

Read the rest of this post »

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Posted in Message Broker, News, WMB