Becoming an IBM Cloud Developer, the easy way.

The IBM Cloud, previously know as IBM BlueMix, seems to be getting a lot of press lately. More and more of our commerce customers are asking about Watson and this development platform. The platform has been greatly expanded over the past few years and is now considered a first class cloud development platform. As outlined here, this has turned into $15 Billion of revenue for IBM and seems to be growing each quarter. The IBM Cloud is now ranked in the top 5 cloud platforms by Bob Evans, displacing Google and Oracle and Bob seems to hint it will probably be moving further up the list. It is no coincidence that one of the key elements to this platform is Watson and the cool API’s it brings to the table. I am seeing some amazing integrations being done into existing applications with some of these Watson API’s. But what is more interesting is the full life cycle development a team can do 100% in the cloud.

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Video: Enhance applications with Watson APIs

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I get a lot of questions from customers for how they can enhance their applications with Watson API’s.  Well, as part of the Cloud Application Developer Certification Preparation course on IBM’s developer site, is this great video with a high level view on how you can do this:

 

Out-price the competition with Watson and Dynamic Pricing

Are you tired of the internet price wars? Are you sick of managing prices across all of your channels and competing with the likes of Amazon and other retailers? Do customers browse your brick and mortar store and use smartphone applications like RedLaser and QR Code scanners to scan your bar codes only to find it cheaper on the internet?

If so, then you may want to see how Watson and Dynamic Pricing can help you stay competitive across all of your channels. Here are some of the key benefits you get from IBM Dynamic Pricing:

  • Re-price in real time
  • Bring together online and offline prices
  • Sense and react to out-price competitors
  • Empower business users

Best of all, you get intelligent pricing at digital speed while getting competitive data in real-time enabling you to create customized strategies using product groups and rules. You can also schedule pricing strategy run times and it all quickly integrates with the IBM Digital Commerce platform.

Watch this video below to see how it works or go directly to the Dynamic Pricing page to read more about this cool new product.

IBM Skills Gateway: Refreshing your technical arsenal!

I have been hearing a lot about the different courses offered on the IBM Skills Gateway so I decided to try one. Since I have been working with BlueMix for a bit I figured it would be easy to go through the BlueMix Essentials course and earn the badge, I squeaked by the test with a 90% (you need an 80% to earn the badge, so make sure you REALLY pay attention as there are only 10 questions).

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I have to say I am pretty impressed with the way the course played out; mixing video, text, and lab content into a seamless straightforward experience. You can stop and start as you will, it will just keep track of where you left off. I got a little impatient with a few videos but that was only because I was familiar with most of the material, however it makes you finish watching each video – so no skipping around! I really like this course because if anything, it teaches you how to setup an application, make code changes locally, and then deploy those changes to the BlueMix cloud. Make sure you before you actually do the lab you watch the lab video. I kept making the mistake of just doing the lab as described and then I was forced to watch a 10-12 minute video of the instructors walking through the lab. It explains how to install the different tools you may need, walks you through all configurations, using the command line Cloud Foundry tools (cf), and using Eclipse as your IDE for your project.

Finding courses is very easy and many are free! You can filter courses by duration, category, product group, and skill level.

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You can take courses that are instructor led or self-paced. Some courses are a combination of reading material and videos, while others may contain hands on labs, or may just be a simple article like An introduction to InfoSphere Streams. If you really like the concept of badges, which in my opinion are similar to certfications, then you can search for them here. The badge system is a partnership with Acclaim and it uses Open Badges which can then be posted to your social profiles, like on LinkedIn.

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I am still waiting for my first badge, I guess some badges could take from 1-2 weeks to get. I would be interested to hear others experience with this process. Meanwhile, I think I might earn a few more badges and beef up my own technical arsenal!

Is the future of photo libraries with auto-tagging and Watson?

Tagging digital content is time consuming for a person and very hard for a computer. Who remembers when Flickr’s auto-tagging was called out? (read more here) So needless to say its not a trivial task, unless you are Watson…

I am fascinated by this technology. To be able to actually pull apart an image and apply tags that describe what is in the image is amazing. If you think about the applications here, they are endless. I was thinking about how I constantly look for images on my Mac. I have over 10,000 photos on my mac and the only way I can find them is using the map if I recall where I took it or I remember the time frame and find it based on date. Imagine if you could do a search based on tags!

Since Watson Content Hub(WCH) does the auto-tagging for me I decided to whip up a short video showing the power of this amazing feature using WCH. Remember, you could always build your own application like this article explains using OpenWhisk and the API’s on BlueMix. To get you started, below is a screen shot of the Watson API’s on BlueMix:

Now for the video. Like I mentioned, I was really just playing around with various photos in my collection to see how well Watson did at tagging. All in all, I am very impressed…

Where do you think this technology is going? Will you expect your photo albums to have this ability in the future?

 

Using Watson Content Hub as a central repository and tag generator

Want to learn how to integrate Watson into your applications? Well, it’s as easy as clicking on this link and getting started. From image recognition to financial services API’s there is an entire catalog of Watson API’s right at your finger tips. I personally have been playing with the Watson Content Hub API’s and they are very cool. A project I worked on used the Watson Content Hub(WCH) API’s with WebSphere Commerce where we used WCH as not only a central repository but also extracted the tags Watson generated for product images and pushed them into the product record in WebSphere Commerce. This enhanced the searching for products by a customer greatly. Watson generated key words we didn’t think of at first, making search and type-ahead much better.

Here is a quick video where we used a City Cool product called Minimals Moped. We pushed the images to WCH, Watson generated new tags, then we used those tags in the products keyword field. The search indexer did the rest and viola, the search experience was greatly enhanced to have a broader set of key words per product.