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MIT Technology Review

Building smarter supply chains

Modernizing historically closed systems will require open, integrated platforms that can be extended and enhanced to meet business needs.

November 1, 2019
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Most supply chains are closed systems locked behind four walls.

Usually they are a stitched-together series of heterogeneous systems, networks and applications, with many different data formats. Because no two supply chains are the same and are comprised of man different systems, developers and partners tell me that one of their biggest challenges is orchestrating solutions to enable end-to-end transactional flows, like order to cash, seamlessly.

Marshall Lamb is CTO for IBM Sterling.

At IBM, we believe the only way to create end-to-end supply chain solutions is with an open platform that you can extend and enhance. This platform should provide customizable building blocks so you can configure solutions and bridge to other networks and services involved in the supply chain, enabling you to bring in data and insights from other domains to solve supply chain problems unique to your business.

What open means for supply chain

This commitment to open technology is in our DNA, and that’s why I’m excited to tell you about the new IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite. It’s part of our broader multi-enterprise business network (MEBN) strategy that acknowledges there are many types of networks and applications that must work together across different enterprises—with applications and expert services on top of data to bring added value—to not only solve problems but get ahead of them.

As part of the launch of the Suite, we’re introducing the Sterling Developer Hub and Developer Advocacy Program to provide support across the entire development lifecycle and as you engage in the ecosystem.

How open works for you

The IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite delivers the following new extension points:

  • Business service creation with public APIs. You can access public APIs for data ingest and query. A canonical map for data insulates the services from the particulars of the data origin, and new data origins don’t require changes to your applications.

  • Open AI to build your own AI agents. The IBM Sterling Supply Chain Business Assistant gives you access to our AI agents, which are pre-trained in supply chain, as well as the ability to build your own supply chain business agents and introduce machine reasoning skills against external data sources. This allows you to teach the AI platform about problem domains specific to your supply chain.

  • Assets for interconnecting with API-driven systems. Most new apps, services, and networks are API-driven. As part of our network-of-networks strategy, the developer platform has iPaaS-based reusable assets to help you create the connective tissue to interconnect with other applications and services that are important to your supply chain.

  • IBM Cloud Paks to run services wherever your business is. You can use the IBM Cloud Pak for Data to host custom analytics, AI, and data science services using our InfoHub as a data source. You can also use the IBM Cloud Pak for Integration to interconnect your networks with other networks and systems. With Red Hat OpenShift you can run these Cloud Paks anywhere—in any cloud or on-premises.

Want to experience the power of truly open?

Watch this brief discussion between me and my colleague Stephen Kenna to learn more.

Then visit our IBM Sterling Developer Hub to access open source programs and a library of knowledge resources to help you build and extend apps. There, you can join our global community so you can ask questions in forums and hear from your peers and our supply chain experts. Our Developer Advocacy Program is being unveiled there too, so you’ll be able to learn about and register for events, conferences and meetups in your region.