Digital Developer Conference: AI & Cloud

About the conference

Looking for hands-on experience and real-world examples of application modernization? Do you want to infuse AI in your business processes? Then register now for the first IBM Digital Developer Conference: AI & Cloud. At this free, half-day online conference, you can participate in:

  • Keynote sessions featuring client success stories and applicable insights from leaders in AI and cloud technologies
  • Breakout sessions and hands-on labs covering microservices, open source data and AI technology, cloud-native apps, and more

At the conference, you’ll configure your own container-based cloud environment, solve challenging problems with deep learning, and identify model bias in AI through collaboration with industry experts.

Sign up today – and encourage others to attend as well. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to advance your development skills, earn cloud-native and machine learning badges, and collaborate with many industry experts.

Who should attend?

Cloud developers

The cloud-native developer track will give developers insights into key technologies to rapidly build secure applications that can be managed and optimized across multiple cloud providers. Get up to speed with new open source tools for native container-based development, testing, and deployment, and learn best practices for creating secure microservices-based applications. You’ll also get hands-on with the IBM Kubernetes service and learn how to deploy containerized applications.

Machine learning developers

The machine learning developer track is ideal for developers and data scientists interested in collaboration across teams, using top open source tools and scaling at enterprise speed. Learn how to build, train, deploy, and manage effective models while getting experience in recognizing and avoiding model bias.

Important dates

Registration for the conference opens Friday, October 4, 2019. The conference is held on different days in different regions, so see below for the date for your region.

  • North America: Saturday, November 2
  • India: Saturday, November 9
  • Europe: Thursday, November 14
  • Asia: Saturday, November 23

Register for the Digital Developer Conference: AI & Cloud

Get acquainted with Supply Chain Insights

When everything is going well, details like which route your carrier took to deliver the package to your customer seem completely immaterial. But what happens when a massive storm hits and you realize that all of your carriers are stuck in it, and none of your packages will be delivered on time? You’ve just broken your promise to your customers, and more likely than not, you’ll have to deal with demands for refunds. This is where IBM Sterling Supply Chain Insights with Watson™ comes in.

Supply Chain Insights provides your organization with end-to-end visibility throughout all stages of the supply-chain life cycle – from planning and sourcing to delivery and service and everything in between. With its news integration, Supply Chain Insights can inform you, the supply-chain manager, that a massive storm will likely affect many of your shipments, so you can then advise your carriers to alternative routes, as well as let your customers know that delays are possible.

Operations Center – The dashboard

With a dashboard that offers an easy way to visualize your end-to-end supply chain, Supply Chain Insights can help you prioritize the items that require your attention, and give you all the information you need to make an optimal decision in the face of disruptions.

dashboard

Operations Center – The dashboard, detailed view

What’s really great about the dashboard is that at first, you get a nice high-level picture of your business, but if necessary, you can also get into the details and drill down for the specifics. For example, you can see that there are some problems with the open sales orders. If you click on the Open Sales Orders widget, you can see the exact percentage of orders and the amount of revenue that’s affected. From there, you can see all of the unscheduled sales orders and get a list by sales order number. If you drill down even further and select a sales order number, you can view the order summary and a timeline on the right side of the screen. You can see any concerns with the order, such as if there is no shipping date. This is just a quick example, but you can see how much detail you can get from this platform.

opscenter

Ask Watson

Another great feature of Supply Chain Insights is the capability to talk to Watson in natural language and get real-time responses. For example, instead of looking for widgets on your dashboard, you can tell Watson to show you all of the open sales orders, and Watson will provide you with links to details on those orders in real time. Not only that, but Watson is trained on a multitude of supply-chain questions, and you can train Watson on your own skills as well — but that’s a topic for a future article.

talktowatson

Resolution Rooms

Supply Chain Insights is a collaboration platform that enables businesses to set up resolution rooms to discuss and take action on problems that inevitably arise during the supply-chain process. Let’s say there is a problem with supply order ZB-PO-0001924. You want to get in a room with all of the stakeholders, so you can easily invite people to discuss the details of the problem and come up with a resolution. The rooms allow you to have all of the details of your order available, take and save notes, and resolve your problem before it’s too late.

resroom

Learn more

This is just a high-level overview of some of the features that come out of the box with an IBM Sterling Supply Chain Insights trial, but there are many more to explore. You can also learn how to get started uploading data through APIs.

Discover how to build intelligent, self-correcting supply chains

The IBM Sterling suite offers solutions for supply chain and B2B collaboration. For complete product documentation, including information on how to extend the solutions, check out the following product Knowledge Centers.

Supply chain

IBM Sterling Order Management — Enhance cross-channel efficiencies, improve and streamline complex product order management, and fulfillment operations across commerce systems.

IBM Sterling Store Engagement — Extend access and control of store operations to store associates through intuitive mobile applications that enable omni-channel offerings like “buy online, pick up in store” and “ship from store,” as well as managing returns across channels.

IBM Sterling Call Center — Provide solutions to the challenges found in typical customer order management business scenarios.

IBM Sterling Configure, Price, Quote — Present product information throughout all channels and let employees, customers, and partners accurately configure, price, quote, and order products, services, and solution bundles.

IBM Sterling Inventory Visibility — Process extremely high inventory supply-and-demand update activity and present an accurate real-time availability picture across all e-commerce channels.

IBM Sterling Fulfillment Optimizer with Watson — Formerly known as Watson Order Optimizer, this solution provides insight into your business by analyzing big data with the goal of minimizing the total cost to serve your customers using both stores and distribution centers.

IBM Sterling Supply Chain Insights with Watson — Provide visibility across your supply chain to help you manage constant change. Quickly detect potential disruptions and collaborate with colleagues and IBM Watson™ to resolve issues.

IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Network — Establish reliable connections with suppliers and business partners. Then, using cognitive technologies, achieve deep visibility into B2B transaction life cycles and partner performance. Depending on the edition, also includes IBM Sterling Business Transaction Intelligence, InFlight, IBM Sterling Delivery Transaction Intelligence, Sterling Information Broker, IBM Sterling e-invoicing, and IBM Sterling Web Forms.

IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant — Use the best techniques to bring AI to your applications. IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant presents a unique and proven model based on modern approaches to machine reasoning.

B2B collaboration

IBM Sterling B2B Integrator — A transaction engine that runs the processes that you define and manages the processes according to your business requirements. Supports high-volume electronic message exchange, complex routing, translation, and flexible interaction with multiple internal systems and external business partners.

IBM Sterling Secure Proxy — An application proxy between nodes or between a client application and a B2B Integrator server. It provides a high level of data protection between external connections and your internal network. Define an inbound node definition for each trading partner connection from outside the company and an outbound node definition for every company server.

IBM Sterling File Gateway — A framework for movement of large and high-volume file transfers, with end-to-end visibility of file movement in a process-oriented and highly scalable framework. This framework alleviates file transfer challenges, such as protocol and file brokering, automation, and data security.

IBM Sterling Connect:Direct — A point-to-point (peer-to-peer) file-based integration middleware meant for round-the-clock unattended operation, which provides ensured delivery and secure high-volume data exchange within and between enterprises.

IBM Sterling Partner Engagement Manager — A system that enables faster onboarding, collaboration, interaction, monitoring, and visibility of activity flows between an enterprise and their partners, customers, and suppliers.

IBM Sterling Transformation Extender — A powerful, transaction-oriented data integration solution that automates the transformation of complex high-volume transactions. Supports EDI, XML, SWIFT, HIPAA, and other standards-based B2B integration, as well as the real-time integration of data from multiple applications, databases, messaging middleware, and communications technologies across the enterprise.

IBM Sterling Control Center — A centralized monitoring and management system that enables operations personnel to continuously monitor business activities across the enterprise. IBM Sterling Control Center also enables the management of Connect:Direct servers configuration and licenses.

Deliver the power of data visualization to every user

As a developer, if your organization is deploying IBM Sterling Order Management software on the cloud or transitioning to the cloud from our on-premises solution, you’re probably wondering how you can help users get the most benefit from the service. Can you help fulfillment and offering managers make the best use of this data for reporting and alerting? Is there a way to enable IT professionals to troubleshoot and triage possible issues, and monitor system performance?

The data collected in the Order Management database is immensely valuable. But as you know, a picture is worth a thousand words. It is easier for the human brain to process information, grasp difficult concepts, and identify emerging patterns in a visual format like a chart or a graph vs. raw data. Data extraction combined with visualization helps users to not only understand the insights from the underlying data in a clear and cohesive fashion but also draw conclusions in a timely manner. And that’s where you have an opportunity to be a hero!

In this blog, we’ll look at the how you can help users tap into the data collected in the Order Management database — which can include thousands of variables — to establish relationships between different data points (including those from other applications) in order to:

  • Identify areas that require immediate attention, such as a store not performing well
  • Clarify what could influence buyer patterns, such as the introduction of a new product
  • Identify needs for different markets (regions)
  • Perform planning around inventory and operations

Below are seven ways that the Order Management cloud-based service allows you to utilize the data, including options to visualize and extract data into an on-premises system.

Event Sourcing — As an order moves through the Order Management system, events are triggered in real time –- create an order, schedule an order for shipment, ship an order, etc. Many users within the system can use this near-real-time data to take immediate action. For example, events may trigger the sending of a series of emails to the customer. Customer service reps can monitor events, like orders and returns, via a dashboard and receive alerts. Product management can track orders for specific products for analysis and reporting.

Event sourcing utilizes the Order Management Events framework to provide a near-real-time data stream to support reactive analysis (short loop) workload or build data visualizations based on near-real-time data. This approach requires some amount of extension, as shown below.

flow

Note: Introduction of IBM MQ and Integration server provides better transaction integrity and reduces the impact of latency for remote communication to prevent long-running transactions.

This option can be used not only with events supplied in the offering but also with other data sets within the Order Management application.

Data Extract Service — This service is a good fit for extracting stable and cold data, including data related to closed orders, time to fulfill orders, number of new orders. In other words, anytime real-time data is not required. The process allows you to extract data from a set of predefined database tables and publish the data in a flat file to an external SFTP site. The extract service can be set up to run at a recurring interval — to support the creation of daily, weekly, or monthly reports, for example. Users can combine the data with data from other systems, such as shipping, or billing, order capture or job scheduling systems and generate reports that include visualization.

The extract service uses the last modified timestamp from the database table to extract data on subsequent execution. This ensures the consistent delivery of data.

flow

Given that this is a separate, dedicated-agent, server-based process that extracts data from the standby/backup database. It does not add any workload to the transactional application ecosystem. Since this is an asynchronous process that runs on its own schedule, this process extracts data in its current state at the execution time. As an example, if order status changed from A to B and B to C, the extract may capture the order with state C because that’s the state at the time of this process. The visibility into states A and B will not be available. If there is a need to track status changes, this can be done using Event Sourcing, as described above.

As a limitation of Db2® read-only database, CLOB and BLOB cannot be extracted. However, custom tables can be created to populate the data in non-CLOB format. These custom tables can then be extracted. However, to ensure optimal performance and dataset size, these tables should be purged.

Order Management API — GET APIs are provided so organizations can perform READ operations. The details of the APIs are provided in the SaaS developer toolkit. API requests are processed synchronously in the application server JVM, and responses are sent back to the client. This option can be used to query data on an ad-hoc basis — to perform triage on what happened with a specific order, for example — but is not recommended for large volumes of queries because it puts additional load on the application and transactional database.

flow

Note: API Input should be examined carefully to avoid retrieving large datasets.

Order Management DB Query Client — This browser-based client, an alternative to using GET APIs, allows you to query the Order Management database securely and on demand. This client should only be used for troubleshooting and not for data extraction or reporting of large datasets. For example, an IT manager may need to quickly query data from an application to understand an issue, such as an order or shipment delay, and perform triage.

flow

Cognos with OM SaaS — This option allows you to create and schedule reports using IBM Cognos®, available as part of the Order Management cloud-based service. The reports are created against the backup/standby copy of the transactional database. Therefore, it does not add any workload to the transactional system. IBM Cognos offers out-of-the-box operational reports and allows users to build their own if they choose. The reports include visualization to quickly see answers to questions regarding order status, inventory, top-selling or most-returned products, and more.

flow

Note: This option allows you to create and schedule reports from the OM database only.

OM Key Performance Indicators — Our new UI provides a view of KPIs around key business objects in Order Management. Customizable dashboards can display fill rate, SLA rate, over-capacity, ship-from-store utilization rate, and pick-up-in-store utilization rate. More KPIs will continue to be added, so check back regularly.

Application Monitoring — Available from OM SaaS Self-Service Tool, these charts provide systems integrators and IT administrators the capability to monitor the health and performance of the Order Management application and collect metrics around how it is being used. Typically, cloud-based services don’t provide this level of visibility, but with Order Management software on the cloud, you can be a hero and provide this to your IT team.

Take advantage of these available IBM Sterling Order Management options to make your life easier and address a wide range of users’ data visualization needs.

Welcome to the IBM Sterling open developer platform

As you work across supply chains, it becomes immediately obvious that no two supply chains are the same. They consist of a system of systems that span value-added network (VAN) services, purpose-built applications, BPMs and RPAs, and myriad data formats with unique data mappings. So, what happens when you are charged with integrating across these unique supply chains to form a network of networks; when data, access, and processes are disjointed; and participants want to keep everything within their four walls?

This is the challenge for developers and system integrators as we enter the era of the multi-enterprise business network. The arrangements made between trading partners now need to be done in a way that unlocks the data to controlled parties so that supply chains can provide end-to-end visibility, allowing corrective actions to be taken before disruption occurs. To craft these unique, self-correcting supply chains, developers need an open platform of purpose-built services. They need access to the right data and AI to solve problems. They need the right tools and technologies to help customize and configure a solution and even reach outside of the supply chain to solve issues connected with other parts of the business. And the platform must be able to take advantage of all the systems and processes they have in place today, while helping them bridge to future technologies.

That is the promise of the IBM Sterling supply chain open platform suite, unveiled today. Here at the IBM Sterling developer hub, you’ll discover:

  • A set of composable and extensible, purpose-built business services that are accessible through various surface areas, such as APIs, graphs, and event systems.
  • Extensible AI, through orchestrated business agents, where you can teach an AI agent how to reason and take action against your unique set of networks and applications that form your supply chain.
  • Foundational services that allow you to manage and govern access to your supply chain.

But it doesn’t stop at IBM Sterling. With an open platform, you can bring in other IBM technologies, such as IBM Cloud Pak™ for Integration to reach any number of systems, including IoT and weather signals, and data for crafting track and trace solutions. Use IBM Cloud Pak for Data to build your own AI pipelines from the IBM Sterling data. And incorporate IBM Blockchain technology to build secure and transparent solutions for trading partners. Coupled with Red Hat® OpenShift®, you can run your supply chain virtually anywhere you choose.

Need to interconnect with other technologies that aren’t IBM? No problem. The IBM Sterling platform is truly open. Your data and insights are yours, so you should be able to use them throughout your business as you see fit.

In the coming months, you will see the IBM Sterling developer hub grow with activity. This area is unique in that you can access code, patterns, articles, and tools that span technologies and industries, so you can build and customize your supply-chain solutions. Check it out and continue to come back as it evolves and expands over time.

Developing supply-chain solutions just got better for developers

Sterling supply chain suite image

Over the last few months, IBM has significantly aligned our portfolio to optimize for open development, while better addressing customer needs. Today, we announced the open IBM Sterling supply chain suite, which comes with a developer hub and advocacy support. This announcement is exciting for me because it makes life easier for the developer — both through product enhancements and through our developer offerings.

An open platform for you to build what you need

Traditional supply-chain products keep data and functions within their suite of products. For speed and efficiency in a supply chain, you need end-to-end visibility of data and access to services to innovate and build the intelligent, trusted business networks of the future.

The new IBM Sterling supply chain suite eases the burden on developers by giving greater access to the data and services you need to do your job. Our entire stack is in the open platform, meaning that you can easily extend all applications, business services, and microservices. You can build exactly what you need, with greater access to the underlying technology.

Resources you need to succeed

Helping developers do their jobs better, faster, and more efficiently is at the crux of everything we do through IBM Developer advocacy. The IBM Sterling developer hub gives you access to the code, content, and community you need to succeed on the platform.

In the hub, you will find:

  1. Tutorials, blogs, and articles to help you understand the technology and how to get started
  2. Code patterns that you can extend in your own environment to immediately get started coding
  3. Events, meetups, and workshops where you can meet our developer advocates, ask them your questions, and learn in person

A great day for developers on the supply chain

Our IBM Developer team is excited to support the IBM Sterling supply chain suite through our advocacy and content efforts. Be sure to check out the conversation with Stephen Kenna and Marshall Lamb to learn more. We hope you’ll visit our hub, where you’ll have access to a vast library of knowledge resources to help you build and extend apps, and get started developing your next supply-chain solution.

Create a personalized AI bot to identify whatever you say

blog-image

Ever wanted to create your own personalized artificial intelligence (AI) bot to identify whatever you say to it? You probably must have at some point, but you might have dropped the idea because either it’s too complex or time-consuming to train it or create it. In this blog, I’ll explain how you can create your own custom speech models using IBM® Watson™. The best part is that you don’t have to write a single line of code for this.

The blog summarizes the steps to create an acoustic model by using a few curl commands along with a data set that includes accented speakers and audio files with background noise. It also shows how easy it is to create a language model by using a corpus file containing domain-specific terms.

Be sure to read it if you are interested in speech recognition and want to create custom models for clients such as the oil & gas industry.

Putting AI to work with Watson

Navigating IBM data and AI products

Many enterprises are now looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and how to use their own data. Enterprise needs vary. Depending on what data is being stored and sent, the data might be required to be kept on-premises. IBM is a great fit for enterprises with strict business needs (like HIPPA or GDPR) because IBM keeps these requirements in mind as the software is written. IBM also provides on-ramps with free-to-use offerings, learnings paths, tutorials, and videos.

In this blog, I’ll look at these sets of data and AI products from a developer’s point of view:

Product families

Before looking at each set of products, let’s take a quick detour and see how they can be used.

Deployment options

Most of the IBM data and AI products can be accessed through:

  1. IBM Cloud: The IBM public cloud offering that offers lite and pay-as-you-go plans
  2. IBM Cloud Pak for Data: A bundle of data and AI add-ons that can be installed on Red Hat OpenShift

The following image shows a representation of each stack for consuming the data and AI offerings on both IBM Cloud Pak for Data and IBM Cloud.

IBM Cloud IBM Cloud Pak for Data
alt alt

NOTE: The Watson Machine Learning Accelerator product suite requires Power hardware.

Watson APIs

These services are the most easily understood, and knowing AI concepts is not required to use them. They each have a REST API that can be called, and are meant to be called at the application level by SDKs. These services use pre-built models and provide a user-friendly way to create user custom models.

alt

Watson APIs:

  • Include services such as Assistant, Discovery, Tone Analyzer, and Visual Recognition
  • Have well-maintained APIs
  • Have SDKs for popular languages (such as the Java language, Node, Swift, and Go)
  • Have generous free tier plans that let you get your hands dirty without excessive costs
  • Are available on the IBM Cloud and as add-ons to IBM Cloud Pak for Data
  • Are truly a great place for developers to start their AI journey

Watson Assistant

The main “chatbot” offering and so much more. Watson Assistant comes pre-trained with industry-relevant content. It has an intuitive editor; provides middleware for integrating with Slack, Facebook, and many other platforms; and can even be integrated with Watson Voice Gateway so that you can talk to your assistant over a phone.

Watson Discovery

The “AI search” offering. Simply put, use the Discovery tool or API to load a bunch of documents (such as .pdf or .doc files) and have Discovery build a model for you. You can query this model with natural language, and Discovery pulls out relevant parts of the documents. You can make Discovery smarter by using “Smart Document Understanding” to ensure documents are read properly or by using “Watson Knowledge Studio” to build a domain or industry-specific model.

Watson Visual Recognition

Explaining this service is pretty simple. Step one is to upload an image and step two is to read the output from the service after it tried to classify the image. That’s it! By default, Watson Visual Recognition comes with two pre-built classifiers (general and food). But where it excels is letting you create your own classifiers. You can use the Watson Visual Recognition tools to upload your own images to serve as “training data,” and Watson Visual Recognition creates the model for you. This model is callable through a REST API or can be exported as a Core ML model for iOS devices.

And more

  • Watson Text to Speech: Text goes in, audio comes out
  • Watson Speech to Text: User’s voice goes in, text comes out
  • Watson Translator: Text goes in, select your source and destination languages, more text comes out
  • Watson Natural Language Understanding: A short string of text goes in, and concepts, entities, keywords, emotions, and sentiment comes out
  • Watson Natural Language Classifier: Build text classifiers based on training data, and then classify text against the models that are built

Tabular representation

Offering On Cloud On Prem Free tier (on Cloud) SDK support
Assistant
Discovery
Visual Recognition
Text to Speech
Speech to Text
Translator
Natural Language Understanding
Natural Language Classifier

Now onto the hard stuff, no more pre-made models. So, let’s move on to Watson Studio.

Watson Studio

Watson Studio gives you an environment and tools to collaboratively work with data. Data can be imported (through connectors), viewed, refined, and analyzed. Models can then be created with the Watson Studio Deep Learning and Machine Learning tools.

Watson Studio image

Watson Studio:

  • Is based on various open source technology such as Jupyter Notebooks and R Studio
  • Provides tools based on popular open source frameworks such as Tensorflow, Keras, and Pytorch
  • Includes 2 GB of free storage on IBM Cloud Object Storage
  • Is available on a public cloud and as add-ons to IBM Cloud Pak for Data
  • Is an excellent platform to begin your data science journey

Jupyter Notebooks

Watson Studio provides support for running Jupyter Notebooks. There are several environments to choose from (Python 3.x, R3.4, and Scala 2.11), and each has the option to add a Spark kernel as well. You can share your Notebook collaboratively, add data from your Object Store as a data frame, publish your Notebook, and use many other of the features you’ve come to expect.

Watson Machine Learning

The Watson Machine Learning service is a major part of Watson Studio. It provides a set of APIs that can be called to interact with a machine learning model. The model can be created using a Jupyter Notebook, SPSS Modeler, or AutoAI, and then deployed to an instance of the Watson Machine Learning service. After it’s deployed, you can score data by using a REST call against an API that the service provides.

OpenScale

Watson OpenScale allows monitoring and management of machine learning models that are built on various platforms: Watson Studio, Amazon Sagemaker, Azure Machine Learning, and other popular open source frameworks.

And more

  • AutoAI: A graphical tool in Watson Studio that automatically analyzes your data and generates candidate model pipelines that are customized for your predictive modeling problem.
  • SPSS Modeler: Watson Studio offers a variety of modeling methods taken from machine learning, artificial intelligence, and statistics.
  • Data visualization: Watson Studio provides the ability to visualize data with Data Refinery.
  • Cognos Dashboards: A dashboard for viewing and analyzing data, instead of using pandas or pixiedust.
  • Connections: Watson Studio provides connections to import data from IBM Services (Db2, Cognos, Cloudant, Cloud Object Storage, and many more) and for third-party services (Amazon S3, Hortonworks HDFS, Microsoft SQL Server, Salesforce, MySQL, Oracle, Google BigQuery, and many more).

Watson Machine Learning Accelerator

IBM Watson Machine Learning Accelerator is geared toward enterprises. It is a software bundle that is optimized to run on Power hardware. It bundles IBM PowerAI, IBM Spectrum Conductor, IBM Spectrum Conductor Deep Learning Impact, and support from IBM for the whole stack including the open source deep learning frameworks. It provides an end-to-end, deep learning platform for data scientists.

Watson Machine Learning Accelerator

PowerAI Vision

IBM PowerAI Vision provides a video and image analysis platform that offers built-in deep learning models that learn to analyze images and video streams for classification and object detection. PowerAI Vision is built on open source frameworks and provides sophisticated methods to create models with an easy to understand user interface.

And more

  • Spectrum Conductor: Deploys modern computing frameworks and services for an enterprise environment, both on-premises and in the cloud.
  • Snap ML: A library developed by IBM Research for training generalized linear models with the intent on removing training time as a bottleneck. Snap ML scales gracefully to data sets with billions, and offers distributed training and GPU acceleration.