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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Tushar Agrawal

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.

Stephen Kenna