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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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Choosing the Right Order Management System for Great Customer Experiences

By Lori Angalich | Wed, Mar 07, 2018

It’s no secret that customers expect a seamless and personalized experience, whether interacting with a company via a mobile device, computer, in-store, or on the phone with a customer service representative.  As consumers (and B2B customers) ourselves, we have little—if any—patience for inconsistent information and impersonal interactions.   

This not only applies to our shopping and purchasing experiences, but to our post-purchase experience as well:  timeliness and accuracy of order status updates, if our order was delivered or available for pick up as promised, the quality of our interactions with representatives, and the ease of returning items.

Sounds obvious, but if you’re reading this blog post, you understand that meeting these expectations consistently is no small feat. Delivering flawless omnichannel shopping and post-purchase experiences can be exceedingly complex from technology, process, and training perspectives—especially for companies with multiple business models and brands, multiple marketplaces, a large number of items, and numerous store locations, warehouses, distribution centers, and fulfillment partners. 

An omnichannel order management system (OMS) can play an essential role in meeting these expectations.  Today’s sophisticated order management and fulfillment systems are capable of much more than capturing an order through and sending it to a back-end system for processing.  Some can meet a wide range of customer demands, orchestrate order fulfillment across channels, facilitate an experience that engenders customer loyalty, and assist in maximizing profits for the company as well. In addition, these systems can provide critical business data to better inform decisions surrounding merchandising, returns, inventory, marketing, and other functions. 

Most likely, if you are selling products online, you are already employing some sort of an order management system. It might be part of your ecommerce platform, ERP, or CRM system—or perhaps a home-grown, proprietary solution. However, as you may have recognized, these systems often fall short of meeting customer expectations.

If this is the case—and you want to improve the customer experience by leaps and bounds—consider some of the most critical components of an omnichannel order management system as you evaluate your options.  Here are some questions you should be asking.

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Unleashing 3 Key Benefits of Greater Supply Chain Visibility

By Lori Angalich | Tue, Feb 27, 2018

 It’s 11:00 p.m. Do you know where that critical shipment is?

When an important shipment containing parts essential to your flagship product is delayed in transit, the delay can resonate throughout your manufacturing process and impact orders. If you don’t know the problem exists in your supply chain, you’re left scrambling to fulfill orders and maintain production levels. Lack of supply chain visibility puts your business at risk, affecting not only your bottom line but also your company’s reputation.

According to research firm Gartner, supply chain visibility is a top priority among supply chain leaders and Chief Supply Chain Officers (CSCOs) across a wide range of industries and geographies. And for good reasons: visibility into your supply chain not only lets you mitigate late shipment scenarios but also helps you proactively mitigate these problems. Supply chain visibility can also help you identify risks and potential savings.

When visibility is combined with business intelligence, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI)—organizations can gain unprecedented supply chain insights that can transform their operations.

While there are too many benefits to cover in a single blog post, let’s explore three benefits of supply chain visibility that are top-of-mind. 

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API Basics for Business: What They Are And Why They're Important

By Lori Angalich | Tue, Feb 20, 2018

With all the chatter about digital transformation and digital economy, application programming interfaces (APIs) have moved into the spotlight. As organizations are striving to transform by connecting their disparate systems, adding new capabilities on top of legacy software, and expanding into new channels, geographies, and business models—APIs can help solve integration challenges and enable organizations to focus on growing the business…not on IT issues.

APIs can open up numerous business opportunities and play a critical role in a company’s digital strategy. However, many enterprises aren’t leveraging them effectively to make their data stores and applications more accessible—and are therefore missing out on opportunities to serve internal and external customers better.

Also, this can mean missing out on significant revenue opportunities. The 2017 MuleSoft Connectivity Benchmark Report reports that over 50 percent of companies surveyed already are making money from their APIs or plan to in the near future. Additionally, 80 percent of large companies—those with over 10,000 employees—already make more than $5 million a year from APIs. If your organization doesn’t have an API strategy, it’s time to look at what APIs are and what they can do for you. Let’s explore this.

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8 Great Reasons to Attend IBM Think 2018

By Lori Angalich | Thu, Feb 15, 2018

Did you know that IBM merged a number of their top conferences—Interconnect, Amplify, World of Watson, Edge, and Connect—into one in 2018?  If you haven’t already heard about it, IBM Think is IBM’s new flagship business and technology conference, taking place March 19–22, 2018 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

It’s a global event where over 40,000 business and technology innovators, leaders, and thinkers will gather in one place to share ideas, discuss topics like Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Supply Chain, Blockchain, Omnichannel Commerce, Data Analytics, Integration, Security, IoT, and more—and enjoy some exceptional networking, entertainment, and fun along the way.  

While there are many reasons to attendincluding a few mentioned in the video belowyou may be most interested in reading the highlights so that you can make plans quickly (the event is just weeks away). So, as someone who has attended quite a few conferences over the years, I’ll share in this post what I believe are some of the best reasons to attend. These are in no particular order.

 

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The Blockchain Primer — Without the Bitcoin

By John Hawkins | Tue, Feb 13, 2018

Every time I see a "Blockchain 101" post, inevitably, it mentions Bitcoin. That’s telling you about a specific use of a blockchain technology rather than describing what blockchain technology is and what it can do for you in general. So, I figured I'd write the more general “what is” version. I’ll also touch on what it takes for you to work with blockchains.

By the way, I'm going to try not to mention Bitcoin again here. So, let's go...

The Problem

Traditionally, if parties wanted to track assets—let’s say cars—these assets would be tracked by separate parties keeping their own individual records. Those parties can alter those assets (buy the car, sell the car, be the insurer for the car). However, this is inefficient and prone to error.

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Stop Driving Blind: Why Supply Chain Visibility is so Critical for Growth

By Mike Warvel | Fri, Oct 06, 2017

Have you ever driven your car with your eyes closed—for just a second?  Pretty scary, right? The same goes for driving your business.

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API Management 101: A Functional Overview

By John Hawkins | Thu, Jun 22, 2017

API Management is a hot topic at the moment. Many have heard about it and have seen the flurry of products that have been introduced into the market in recent years. However, when speaking with our customers, it's clear to me that many do not know exactly what all the elements are that make up API Management. This can lead to a lack of understanding of the architecture and sometimes the benefits of API Management for their business. To help address this, we have created this post to help break down API Management into its constituent parts and help you see how your organisation might benefit.

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IBM Amplify Spotlight: Are You Causing Your Customers to Shop Elsewhere?

By Lori Angalich | Fri, Mar 17, 2017

IBM Amplify 2017 kicks off next week, and we're excited to be participating again as sponsors and presenters.  

For one of our sessions, we've teamed up with John Stelzer, IBM Senior Omni-channel Strategist, to share insights gained from comprehensive research on the topic of omnichannel retail. This includes several studies:

  • IBM Consumer Expectations Study, which covers what consumers expect
  • IBM 2016 Customer Experience Index, which describes how retailers are actually doing
  • IBM/Aberdeen Group 2016 InBalance Retailer Survey, which describes how retailers think they're doing

This session offers a rare opportunity to hear correlations and comparisons between these studies, see what's most important to consumers today, understand what has changed in recent times, and (if you're part of a retail organization) assess how your capabilities compare to other retailers.  

If you're attending IBM Amplify, read on to learn more about this session and add it to your agenda.  We hope to connect with you at Amplify and see you at the session!

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IBM Amplify Spotlight: DHL Shares the Formula for World Class Fulfillment

By Lori Angalich | Thu, Mar 16, 2017

We're excited to be presenting at IBM Amplify with our customer, DHL eCommerce and our partner, IBM on the topic of omnichannel order management and fulfillment. If you're attending Amplify, we hope you'll add this to your agenda. 

The session is timely because today DHL eCommerce announced the expansion of their e-Commerce Fulfillment solution in the US.  This solution enables retailers to accelerate fulfillment and delivery without increasing costs, which has been a challenge for most retailers due to the required capital and complexity.

The quote contained in the announcement provides an excellent background for our session on Wednesday morning:

“The e-commerce market in the U.S. is estimated to have grown by 15.6% in 2016 with sales topping $531 billion1, and increasingly e-tailers are seeking fulfillment solutions to enable an omni-channel experience for end consumers,” said Lee Spratt, CEO DHL eCommerce Americas, “We see a huge demand from U.S. e-commerce players needing best-in-class e-commerce logistics solutions and we’re expanding our capabilities to support these growing demands."

The Amplify session will provide detail on how the solution helps retailers improve their omnichannel commerce operations and the customer experience. If you're heading to Amplify, read on to learn more about the session and add it to your calendar.  

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