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Overcoming 5 of Today's Top File Transfer Challenges with MFT

By Lori Angalich | Mon, Jul 16, 2018

File transfers between an organization, its business partners, and customers can be fraught with challenges.

Today, organizations must support ever-increasing file sizes, types, volumes, and user numbers under severe budget constraints. Also, they must address extensive security requirements and compliance challenges, meet strict SLAs, and support the rapidly-changing needs of the business.

In the past, these challenges may have been viewed as technical problems, approached with an assortment of technologies and file transfer methods—including “free” technology such as FTP.  However, to keep pace with the evolving needs of the business, protect a wide variety of data, and mitigate risk inside and outside the enterprise, organizations have realized the need for enterprise-class managed file transfer solutions

In this post, I’ll explore these common challenges and the vital role these solutions play in overcoming them.

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APIs vs EDI: Internal vs External Communications

By John Hawkins | Thu, Jun 07, 2018

In a previous post, APIs vs EDI: Complementary, Not Competitive, I shared my perspectives on the evolution of APIs along with EDI.  I'm going to expand on this topic with the idea that agile methodologies may have more to do with the current proliferation of API Management than the usurping of EDI. 

Let's be clear…EDI is most certainly here to stay for a long time to come. I've read many articles and debates on this subject but, for me, what it comes down to are those well-known business interchanges. 

We can't just ignore the fact that EDI has evolved to where it is today because business needs well-known formats so that they can communicate with each other in a standardized manner. APIs, at the moment, simply don't have those standardized formats. When a company creates an externally-facing API they are, today, writing their own business interchange format (i.e. trying to reproduce an EDI interchange).

Now, that's fine, however, if each company is going to create its own format then communication between companies is going to revert back to being a spaghetti mess of protocols. This is exactly what EDI was meant to overcome, and why EDI has been so successful for so many years.

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7 Great Outcomes of Optimizing Partner Onboarding and Management

By Lori Angalich | Tue, Jun 05, 2018

How Simplifying Trading Partner Onboarding Generates Many Surprising Competitive Advantages

The average enterprise’s B2B trading community includes hundreds of trading partners and requires IT support for managing a wide variety of connections, protocols, and formats. Unfortunately, when it comes to setting up and managing trading partners, many companies are still hobbling along with cumbersome, error-prone manual processes.

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5 Ways Cognitive Technologies can Optimize Your B2B Network

By Lori Angalich | Thu, May 31, 2018

If you aren’t already leveraging cognitive technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) in your business network, you may be missing out on critical supply chain improvements.

Cognitive and AI systems use natural language processing and machine learning to understand, reason, learn about and analyze all types of data. Also, they can interact with users in a more natural, conversational manner.

For B2B networks and supply chains, these capabilities can be leveraged for a wide variety of improvements including:

  • Providing greater visibility and insight—from high level to granular detail
  • Enabling split-second decision making based on the best data available
  • Increasing awareness of critical issues
  • Suggesting the best courses of action 
  • Fostering collaboration among departments and partners

With these capabilities like these, you can plan for (or avoid) disruptions, proactively handle potential issues with suppliers, and ensure you can meet or exceed customer expectations (among many other benefits). Let’s take a closer look at some of the AI and cognitive capabilities available for B2B operations and supply chains today.

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API Management Best Practices: Create and Facilitate Communities

By Lori Angalich | Thu, Apr 26, 2018

As discussed in our previous post on API Management Fundamentals, the success of an API initiative is dependent on much more than developing great APIs. One of the most important components of a successful API program is diligent monitoring and measurement.

Performance metrics—such as the number of downloads, uptime, and amount of use—help gauge the success of your API with hard numbers. They can alert you to problems from the outset. For example, you may notice a steep drop in data flow that can indicate a bug in the API.

The metrics may also help pinpoint misuse of the API, such as excessive requests for certain data. Ideally, you will provide unique API tokens for users, which will identify who is making calls to your API. An API Management platform can provide these insights and capabilities.

While this is all very important information, the primary focus of these metrics is on trends and usage patterns. These metrics don’t help to determine precisely how to improve APIs for users, fix the problems they may be encountering, or identify the functionality they would like to see. Without a means to capture this feedback from users, the success of the API program may be hindered, and companies miss out on tremendous opportunities. 

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API Management Fundamentals: View APIs as Products, Not Projects

By Lori Angalich | Tue, Apr 03, 2018

If you build the API, they will come…and then what? Building an API doesn’t stop at releasing the API. While an API is not a piece of software in the traditional sense, API management is critical to ensure that it is helping your organization meet its intended goals.

An API needs the proper controls in place, as well as routine maintenance and monitoring to make sure it’s operating the way it was envisioned. Issues that crop up can be dealt with before they become big problems. Additionally, managing and monitoring the API can help determine ROI and provide valuable user information that helps your organization optimize the API for its audience.

According to an Enterprise Management Associates survey on the API economy, most organizations use API gateways and platforms as their primary methods of tracking API transactions. Additionally, almost half of the companies surveyed have created a dedicated API Manager role within the organization, often under the IT umbrella.

This has become necessary as most of the companies surveyed are delivering and managing dozens of APIs to both providers and consumers. 

The API process is a lifecycle, and that requires ongoing testing, upgrades, and post-deployment support, among other services.  Let’s explore some the basics around managing APIs.

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3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Improves Omnichannel Order Fulfillment

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Mar 21, 2018

Omnichannel commerce brings new challenges to order fulfillment. Think of all the channels your customers use to shopyour website, online marketplaces, stores, paging through a catalog, or calling your contact center.

Add in all your inventory locations—including DCs, warehouses, fulfillment partners, and retail locationsand you may run into difficulty fulfilling orders as flawlessly as customers expect. All the order touchpoints such as point-of-sale systems, contact centers, and e-commerce platforms need to sync with your order, inventory, warehouse, shipping, and reporting systems. Otherwise, orders may need to be canceled or delayed, which affects customer loyalty and chips away at profitability.

Flexibility is key when it comes to omnichannel order fulfillment and order management systems that enable it. Static business rules—such as a customer located in California should receive products from the nearest fulfillment center in Arizona— no longer makes sense when inventory is sourced from retail locations as well.  Now, you also need to consider the store inventory, as well as the demand for a product in that geographic area.

That same customer, located in Northern California, orders a popular product online that sells out quickly in the retail store in his area. Instead of shipping from the store in his area that has low inventory (and risking losing an in-store sale as a result of being out of stock), artificial intelligence can determine that it’s better to ship the product from a store in an area that isn’t experiencing the same level of demand.

Sound confusing? It can be. But this is the next generation of order management and fulfillment, which uses artificial intelligence and cognitive capabilities to determine the best source for items and ship them in the most profitable way possible. These capabilities can transform the way orders are fulfilledreducing costs and increasing profitability, while ensuring customers are happy. Here are a few examples of how this works.

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How Artificial Intelligence Can Transform Supply Chains

By Lori Angalich | Mon, Mar 19, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer the province of science fiction: it’s here, and it can be leveraged by your supply chain to transform the way your company sources materials and delivers finished products.

For many companies, AI and cognitive computing are becoming necessities in their supply chain operations, as these capabilities can help them overcome significant barriers to success.

First, we collect a plethora of data in our supply chains, but often, we miss important opportunities for cost savings and efficiency because we aren’t using that data effectively. 

Additionally, artificial intelligence and cognitive capabilities in the supply chain become even more important as Baby Boomers—with their wealth of supply chain knowledge retire. The new Millennial workforce is packed with tech-savvy workers, but they often do not have the supply chain experience of their senior counterparts, nor do they tend to stay in one position for decades, as previous generations did. 

Globalization also presents new challenges to the supply chain. As companies continue to grow, they generate and collect even more data, implement more policies and processes, and add many new employees, suppliers, customers, and locations. Consequently, they struggle with analyzing all of this data, bringing new supply chain employees up to speed on policies and best practices, deciding what actions to take when issues arise, and getting relevant insights into the right hands at the right time. 

While AI and cognitive capabilities can help companies overcome these challenges and many others, they can also help companies improveeven transformtheir supply chains. Let's explore how. 

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APIs in Action: How Innovative Companies Leverage APIs

By Lori Angalich | Thu, Mar 15, 2018

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are changing the ways companies do business. From integrating deeply with legacy backend systems to pulling in new data sources, organizations are finding new uses for existing data—and with it, more opportunities for revenue.

As the Internet of Things (IoT), omnichannel strategy, and hybrid cloud continue to evolve, APIs will be the glue that holds systems together and the key that simultaneously unlocks the door to opportunity.

Many organizations are looking to APIs to solve their integration challenges and move toward a more digital organization. According to MuleSoft’s Connectivity Benchmark Report, 72 percent of enterprises already have an API strategy−and generating revenue is the top priority.  

As your organization moves forward with its own API strategy, it may help to draw inspiration from some of the most forward-thinking companies already leveraging APIs to better serve customers, employees, and partners—including the world’s most popular music streaming service, a logistics company that needed to serve a new market efficiently, and a retailer that needed to create better in-store and online experiences for customers.

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IIB Becomes App Connect Enterprise: More Than Just a Name Change

By John Hawkins | Tue, Mar 13, 2018

"App Connect" ring any bells at all?

In case it doesn’t, App Connect is an IBM integration product suite released a couple of years ago. Now, IBM has announced that IBM Integration Bus (IIB) V11.0 is now IBM App Connect Enterprise  

There's more to this than just a renaming of IIB—IBM has added in some IBM WebSphere Cast Iron capabilities and they've created a new IIB GUI as well.

In this blog entry I’ll go through these changes and look at what it means in the long-term.

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