July 8, 2024 By Venita Glasfurd 5 min read

As your business evolves to meet future goals, it becomes essential to use a flexible, composable order management system (OMS) that enables you to modernize your application stack and grow at your own pace. An IBM IBV study shows 85% of executives agree that modernizing applications and data is key to their business strategy. However, only 27% say that their organization has modernized many necessary workflows, including applications, data and systems.

Industry analyst Gartner emphasizes a continuous modernization approach, where applications are updated and improved regularly, rather than a one-time rip-and-replace strategy. The continuous modernization approach minimizes disruption while providing modernization benefits that drive success and help businesses achieve their strategic goals, such as:

  • Unlocking new opportunities for innovation and growth.
  • Future-proofing themselves against challenges and opportunities.
  • Maintaining compliance and avoiding costly penalties.
  • Gaining a competitive edge in rapidly evolving industries.
  • Minimizing costs by optimizing resource usage, streamlining workflows and eliminating inefficiencies.
  • Mitigating security risks.
  • Scaling efficiently to handle growing workloads and user demands without sacrificing performance or reliability.

This blog outlines a potential framework for mapping your modernization journey by using IBM Sterling® Order and Fulfillment Suite. The new generation of this suite supports modernization with improved user experience, quicker integrations, business agility, AI and analytics, and flexible cloud deployment options. Learn how to align your organization’s business objectives with modernization decision points across three domains: hybrid by design, composable by design and simplicity by design.

Hybrid by design

Organizations are changing their approach to hybrid cloud strategies. There was a time when they rushed to get their services online, cobbling together cloud environments; they took a hybrid cloud by default approach. Now, organizations are intentional about their hybrid cloud architecture to align with long-term business priorities and to ensure a consistent experience across public cloud, on premises, hybrid cloud or edge architecture. Enterprises need to adopt a hybrid by design strategy to unlock value. 

A seamlessly integrated and connected hybrid cloud empowers enterprises to build on existing investments and gain cloud benefits incrementally, often starting on premises rather than waiting for a complete rebuild on public cloud. With hybrid deployment, businesses can keep sensitive data on premises while using cloud scalability and flexibility for smooth operations.

A modern hybrid cloud approach can also break down silos, freeing processes and data across disparate environments. For example, a leading retailer integrates their on-premises IBM Sterling® OMS with a cloud-based deployment of IBM Sterling Intelligent Promising optimization service for AI-based order fulfillment. As a result, they can assess and optimize product margins, shipping speeds and fulfillment costs while matching those factors against inventory data across multiple distribution centers and stores.

The container offering of IBM Sterling Order Management, deployed through Red Hat® OpenShift®, provides flexibility to use a cloud of your choice to reduce the friction of developing, modernizing, deploying, running and managing applications. Whether it’s on Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud or another vendor, IBM guides you through technical considerations, such as choosing between a new installation or an upgrade, selecting the right database and broker, managing partner access, sizing your resources and controlling licensing costs.

With this hybrid deployment freedom, you can take your solution where you choose while still architecting for on-demand scalability to meet business commitments. Balancing these two aspects is crucial for maintaining business continuity during application modernization.

Composable by design

Composability allows supply chain teams to quickly design applications by assembling existing capabilities to rapidly launch innovative products and services. As a result, organizations can adapt to market changes and customer needs while promoting innovation and offering a competitive advantage.

To accelerate business innovation through composability, IBM has extended its prior leadership in service-oriented architecture principles to incorporate a microservice-based, API-first approach to creating a composable OMS architecture. This approach allows businesses to compose an OMS platform that fits their needs based on our platforms’ services.

Composability is not just limited to services; it can also help you choose whether you want to install and configure the database tier on either IBM® Db2®, Oracle or Postgres. Take it one step further and decide what middleware to integrate with, Kafka or MQ. The choices are numerous.

Scalable optimization with dynamic orchestration of AI workloads, advanced generative and predictive AI, and built-in data governance also provides a high degree of adaptability. This adaptability allows for quick responses to fluctuating supply chain conditions, such as sudden changes in demand, disruptions or emerging trends. For example, organizations can extract meaningful insights about optimal inventory stock levels, order cancellations and labor efficiencies to implement improvements and drive tangible results with IBM Sterling Intelligent Promising.

By making composability a key aspect of OMS modernization, organizations can gain unmatched flexibility when selecting or composing the solution to meet challenges or business goals, driving competitive advantage now and in the future.

Simplicity by design

Simplicity in software architecture promotes clarity, efficiency, reliability and cost-effectiveness, contributing to successful software projects. Achieving simplicity by design requires deliberate and intentional efforts to make business processes straightforward and eliminate ambiguity.

Simplicity also enhances user experiences, which makes business processes intuitive and easier to execute. By empowering store employees and call center associates with digital tools, you can drive efficiency, reduce inventory costs and deliver exceptional omnichannel experiences. 

What does digital empowerment for store and call center associates look like?

As store operations shift to tablets, smartphones and mobile tools such as IBM Sterling® Store Engagement, clients can use store operations and inventory data at an enterprise scale. Store Engagement helps ensure efficient and impactful operations, support and communications. Store employees can standardize tasks, recommend cross-sells and up-sells, and offer customers suitable fulfillment options for their purchases.

With IBM Sterling® Call Center, customer service representatives can create, view and modify complex orders with a comprehensive view of all transactions. This seamless omnichannel experience reduces call handling times and improves overall customer satisfaction.

Built using IBM® Enterprise Design Thinking® and the award-winning Carbon Design System, these user interfaces noted above are intuitive and approachable for business users. Modernized user interfaces better support users, providing the freedom and flexibility to work as they prefer, unlocking operational efficiency and innovative growth.

Next steps

After you’ve decided to modernize, assess your application portfolio to determine which applications need to be retired, transformed to software as a service, containerized, refactored, rewritten, or just left alone. This step helps in determining potential ROI from modernization and prioritizing which applications to migrate first while understanding how that would affect coexistence with other legacy applications. 

Modernization occurs in three stages:

  1. Initial stage: The legacy application operates independently, possibly with outdated technology and architecture.
  2. Interim stage: Both legacy and modernized applications run simultaneously, possibly interacting or sharing data. This stage often involves integration efforts for smooth communication between the two.
  3. Final target stage: The legacy application is replaced or phased out and the modernization process is complete. The modernized application operates independently by using updated technology and architecture.

Generative AI applied to processes such as order management makes high-value modernization feasible in areas that were previously off-limits. For example, generative AI can accelerate refactoring and reduce the application transformation time from months to weeks, while radically streamlining workload migration to the new architecture. 

Modernizing your existing systems might seem daunting, but you don’t have to go at it alone. With various assessment tools, methodologies and programs designed to help, get ready to start your app modernization journey today with IBM Sterling Order Management.

Read the ebook to learn how IBM can modernize your order fulfillment operations
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