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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A retail Watson Customer Engagement story

Retailers have five common business problems executing across multiple channels and their brick and mortar stores:

  1. Personalization across all channels leveraging company data
  2. Common user experience from unstructured content
  3. Full circle learning / input reintroduction
  4. Connected commerce and digital experience
  5. Online / in-store inventory execution & Supply Chain Management

In this video I tell a story about the Aurora company and walk through their new summer Albini dress campaign. The Aurora team uses the Watson Customer Engagement platform to drive a successful campaign. The story centers around Katie, an avid Aurora shopper, where the Aurora team has visibility into activity across all channels and drives customers into their brick and mortar stores to drive additional sales.

Watch how the Aurora team uses the Watson Customer Engagement platform to execute an email campaign and learn about their shoppers across their web site, mobile application, call center, and stores.

Circuit Breaker design pattern and library for Swift

Working with REST services can be extremely error prone. You could have latency, network failures, or at worse case even total down time. I have been writing a lot of code as of late that requires extreme error handling and graceful failing when dealing with remote REST services and in general web calls – like parsing or loading external web sites for DOM evaluation as an example. The issue is you can’t trust the performance or even trust the service is even available and knowing what methods are failing or causing the bottlenecks could be extremely cumbersome. You could implement network profilers to capture what is going on, or, you could implement a CircuitBreaker design pattern and take control of your calls yourself.

Welcome the Circuit Breaker design pattern. This pattern allows you to monitor a specific function call and “break” gracefully if it has taken too long or even fails. This is usually symptomatic with asynchronous calls that may require calling other code on completion, fail, or timeout. Methods like jQueries ajax where you supply the various error, complete, and done methods work great and even languages like Swift and Java have similar callbacks but it lacks data around the calls. The CircuitBreaker design pattern will make your code easier to follow for race conditions and it can even track statistics around the calls…

If you are a Swift programmer you can check out the Swift CircuitBreaker project on GitHub. It has complete documentation and makes using this design pattern very easy and straightforward.

Now, what sets this package apart in my opinion is it also gives a large set of statistics around the calls. Capturing how long calls take (latency), how many successes, failures, and even average response times.  From an SLA perspective this is great! You can then quickly identify what remote calls to “other” services are the primary bottlenecks or problems in your application.

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.

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.

Trilibis PSD to HTML converter

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In this segment of Partner Connect I demonstrate how the Trilibis PSD2HTML API is used to create responsive HTML from three versions of the same PSD. The new Triblibis API can take a Web, Mobile, and Tablet version of the design along with a configuration file to identify HTML elements at a very granular level.  Watch this video to see the new API in action.