IBM Decision Optimization
In an article in today's Wall Street Journal with the same title as this post, the authors argue that the economic conditions in this recovery are going to be different than the years prior to the recession. Specifically, they mention that capital is going to be much more expense to come by; globalization will continue to put pressure on margins, and rising world demand will drive up commodity costs.
A key part of the article argues that companies will have to learn to finance their growth and investments with their own cash flow.
We are seeing how companies are now adjusting to this reality:
More companies are implementing advanced inventory optimization to reduce inventory to free up working capital for other parts of the business. And, this is not a one-time exercise. These firms are making inventory reduction an on-going part of the business. Our inventory optimization solutions are allowing firms to uncover new strategies to reduce inventory and allow them to maintain optimal inventory levels by integrating this technology with their ERP systems.
This blog has often commented on the price of oil. Oil prices have a big impact on the supply chain. As oil prices change, it impacts the cost of raw materials, productions, and transportation. The change in these costs impacts the trade-offs that a firm needs to make.
For example, as the increase in oil prices drives up transportation costs, it can change where product should be made, the mode of transportation used, and the inventory strategy.
Several years ago during the big run up in oil prices, we wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal that discussed how the supply chain strategies needed to adjust to the new prices. As oil prices fell, we wrote an reminder that it was still important to analyze the impact on the supply chain. In both cases, it is important to understand the trade-offs between transportation costs, sourcing decisions, and inventory and adjust the supply chain accordingly.
As oil hit $100 a barrel this week, it is worth recalling these lessons. More firms have invested in more flexible operations, but the basic lessons remain. It is important to adjust your supply chain to fit the realities of the market.
This map shows a classic network design case. This client was producing most of its product in northwest Mexico with some product coming from the Virginia plant.
Like many firms, they were just distributing product from the plant where the product was made. The baseline map shows the current situation.
They wanted to do an analysis to determine a better distribution strategy. The result on the right shows the optimal distribution strategy. Thy shipped full trucks loads from the plant in Mexico to the warehouse in Virginia and then on to the customer.
This solution has much more expense in transportation from the plant to the warehouse. However, this is more than offset by the savings on shipments to customers. The optimal solution resulted in $5MM in savings (about a 25% reduction in transportation costs).
Although this case looks rather simple, it wasn't clear at the start whether the best solution would have one warehouse in the center of the country, two warehouses not located at the plants, or a third warehouse. And, it wasn't clear how the country should be split. And, finally, with a lot at stake in terms of savings, and moving capabilities, it is important to do a robust study to make sure you have covered all the angles.
MichaelWatson 270002K5FS Tags:  sterling_tms ilog optimization transportation_analyst 2,030 Visits
Finding good routes can reduce transportation costs by 5-15%.
Finding great routes can reduce costs by a further 5-10%.
These savings can add up fast.
However, finding these great routes can be difficult.
On one level, routing seems trivial. If you have 75 shipments to make, you can easily look at a map and come up with routes. If analyze the routes, you can probably make changes to reduce costs. But, how do you know if you've found good solution? How do you know if you've found a great solution?
What is not obvious at first glance is how many total possible routes exist in a routing problem. In a problem with just 75 shipments, if you allow up to 10 stops per truck, the total possible routes exceed 10 to the 100th power (10 followed by 100 zeros)! Even with today's computing power, there is no way to evaluate each of these options.
And, the problem becomes harder when you consider delivery windows, different types of trucks, the ability to do backhauls, making making multiple trips with the same vehicle, and so on.
This is where IBM's optimization expertise comes in. Both the IBM ILOG Transportation Analyst and Sterling TMS use the ILOG CPLEX Optimizer to find great routes. The ILOG CPLEX Optimizer product contains a module for Constraint Programming (CP). CP is well suited for tough scheduling and routing problems, especially routing problems with time windows. It is this optimization technology that allows to you to find great solutions.
ThomasDong 270002GM71 Tags:  smarter_planet analytical_decision_suppo... optimization advanced_analytics cplex opl odm_enterprise 2,920 Visits
Last week, IBM hosted another Connect to Win event for business partners at it's northern California IBM Innovation Center. The event focused on business analytics and featured IBM Distinguished Engineer Jeff Jonas, a dynamic and highly sought after speaker. Among his many accomplishments, he is known for developing the technology used by the Las Vegas gaming industry featured in the book "Bringing Down the House", the recent movie "21", and numerous documentaries on the Discovery Channel, Learning Channel and the Travel Channel.
Following the keynote by Jeff Jonas, IBM hosted a panel discussion. Some 30+ partners came to learn how to leverage analytics in their offerings, and naturally a wide spectrum of analytics sophistication was represented, generating a vibrant discussion on everything from Smarter Planet to Artificial Intelligence to Decision Management.
The panel was made up of:
During the panel discussion I had the opportunity to first share IBM's vision for business analytics, using an adaptation from Tom Davenport's book "Competing on Analytics", to explain why, how and where IBM has invested $14B since 2005 in business analytics. Several partners thanked me afterwards for presenting this visual, as it provided them with a blueprint for how they might evolve their own analytics capabilities.
In fact, this gave me an opportunity to define a new software category for many - Advanced Analytics, which applies statistical and mathematical techniques to provide forward-looking capabilities, beyond the insight commonly extracted from historical data and information. It can be viewed as a subset of Business Analytics, and provides an interesting convergence opportunity, between the IT-based "analytics" world, and this emerging world previously reserved for specialists in statistics and Operations Research-related disciplines (Management Science, Industrial Engineering, Financial Engineering, Systems Engineering, Applied Mathematics, etc.). As the business world evolves its analytics agenda beyond business intelligence and performance management capabilities, the desire to not only look back in time, but forward in time as well, is driving awareness for Advanced Analytics - and creating many opportunities for SPSS and ILOG Optimization at the point of business impact.
To learn more about Advanced Analytics for a Smarter Planet, start here:
A new case study is available showing how Südzucker, Europe's leading supplier of sugar products with an annual revenue of approximately €7 billion, uses IBM ILOG LogicNet Plus to help meet their goals of a cost-effective and flexible supply chain:
Here is a quick summary of the case:
Yesterday, IBM announced that Indeval, Mexico's central securities depository (CSD), is using IBM ILOG CPLEX. Indeval settles $250B of securities trades per day, one fifth of Mexico's GDP. The innovative new system allows Indeval to settle securities in near real-time. This has saved financial institutions more than $240 million in daily interest in eighteen months.
Indeval won the 2010 Edelman Award from INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) for this work.
DC Velocity Videocast: IBM Cloud Computing Optimization and Analytics in the Transportation Industry
aeortiz 2700024WMF Tags:  chain ilog smarter logistics optimization transportation ibm commerce distribution supply scm 2,229 Visits
Question: What is IBM Cloud Computing Optimization and Analytics?
IBM Watson Answer: Learn how companies are dealing with transformative events in their logistics network and managing uncertainty in a turbulent market.
Despite the turmoil of the transportation market there are advanced technologies to help steward firms through rate hikes, oil prices, driver shortage, congestion, and capacity constraints while managing today's network complexities.
The imperative for companies who want to outpace competitors is to reconsider how they apply optimization to take advantage of limited resources. Executives are looking to technology solutions to provide the tools they need for daily execution and long term strategic transportation decisions.
Executives Walter Heil and Dan Vanden Brink will discuss how the application of business analytics in conjunction with "as a Service" (SaaS) Transportation Management Systems helps optimize distribution and logistics decisions capabilities to:
This webcast was recorded on the show floor at ProMat 2011.
Registration is not required for this free event.
Decision Optimization Enables Financial Institutions to Manage Risk, Innovate and Improve Operational Efficiency
aeortiz 2700024WMF Tags:  ibm finance business optimization industry solutions banking cplex mainframe analytics 1,369 Visits
Though constrained by economic pressure and increasing security concerns, banks are leveraging IT investments to drive business growth. In industries characterized by heavy mainframe usage, such as banking and finance, it’s crucial to maintain customer data security, scalability and performance, and reduce hardware and software maintenance costs. Deploying optimization on the mainframe helps tackle these IT goals through simplified architecture that assists in automating and streamlining transactional decision making while lowering costs for both firms and customers. Learn more: ttp://www.ibmsystemsmag.com/mainframe/Business-Strategy/BI-and-Analytics/cplex_optimizer/
aeortiz 2700024WMF Tags:  chain optimization ilog business scm ibm advanced supply analytics 1,743 Visits
Date: Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Time: 11:30 EST, 10:30 CST, 9:30 MST, and 8:30 PST
Optimization in and of itself is nothing new but it is
often overlooked by Line of Business and Information Technology
professionals since many instances of it are embedded inside "classic
supply chain management applications". Optimization allows companies to
make sense of the massive amounts of data across the extended
enterprise. By applying this data in unique and innovative ways, firms
can optimize business outcomes by anticipating, controlling and adapting
to a dynamically changing and chaotic environment, using the insights
from visibility, analytics and trading partner collaboration to direct
and control operations more intelligently.
With the advent of "Optimization 3.0", firms now have the ability to layer or integrate key advanced analytics technology on top of existing supply chain planning and execution systems to support both long-term (strategic) and short-term (tactical) planning goals as well as detailed scheduling while continuously improving operational efficiency, reducing costs and ultimately enhancing the overall customer fulfillment experience. This new combination of State-of-the-Art advanced analytics and B2B integration gives businesses the unprecedented ability to quickly model and solve across the most complex systems and implement solutions in near real-time, creating truly adaptive supply chains.
aeortiz 2700024WMF Tags:  spss ibm optimization ilog cplex business chicago analytics advanced 2,389 Visits
IBM Advanced Analytics Summit
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
9:00 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile
Chicago, Illinois 60611
This live complimentary event will show you how IBM, through its ILOG® Optimization and SPSS portfolio and Business Analytics & Optimization service line, enables organizations to quickly and confidently answer fundamental business questions, from: Who will be our most profitable customers tomorrow? to What price will maximize profit from sales?
Learn and share best practices in implementing advanced analytics to your most critical business decisions.
Breakfast and lunch included.
It is often difficult to explain how difficult it is to come up with an optimal solution to a vehicle routing problem.
I am convinced that part of the problem is that it is so trivial to come up with feasible solutions to a vehicle routing problem: just send out a truck to make every stop or group stops and send a truck to make multiple stops. And, an experienced dispatcher can often quickly improve upon a given schedule by looking at the routes. And, what we've found in practice, the constraints that would make the problem harder (like deliver time windows) are often simply ignored.
However, being about to find a solution to the problem (and maybe even an infeasible one), is not good enough. We've found that using advanced optimization can lead to routes that shave 5-15% of costs (on routes that are already deemed pretty good) and meet all the constraints.
What makes this interesting, is that the optimization is actually very difficult. Mike Trick's recent blog post highlights some of the difficulty with routing by writing about a Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) a politician might face in Iowa trying to visit all 99 county seats in the shortest amount of drive time. Mike Trick quotes Bill Cook:
For vehicle routing (with multiple vehicles, capacities, time windows, and so on), the story gets more complicated. In a 2009 paper by Gilbert Laporte titled "Fifty Years of Vehicle Routing" discusses the progress that has been made in this field. He mentions that the vehicle routing problem "is considerably more difficult to solve than the TSP." Over fifty years of research has led to significant advances in different approaches and algorithms. But, he mentions that the field still has a long way to go to solve larger (and more realistically sized) problems found in industry.
This mirrors our experience with the ILOG optimization for vehicle routing-- these problems can be mathematically challenging. To solve these problems in practice requires an optimization-based approach. We have been working on this since the mid-90's. Some readers may remember the ILOG routing engine called Dispatcher or the tool Transport PowerOps. This routing engine has found its way into to the product called Transportation Analyst. And, the underlying optimization engines are now part of the CPLEX toolkit.
David F. Carr of Forbes Magazine recently wrote an article based on an interview with Steve Sashihara, the author of the new book called "The Optimization Edge: Reinventing Decision Making to Optimize all of Your Company's Assets".
The article does a great job of explaining how firms need to embed mathematical optimization deep into their organizations to really take advantage of their investment in IT and data.
The article mentions that IBM and IBM's ILOG CPLEX have the ability to address the need for more automated optimization. This article confirms the value we've seen in Optimization:
And the list could go on. We are finding that firms who push optimization deep into their organizations see significant returns on their investment.
As a complement to the Forbes article, we have just released a short educational video to explain the value of mathematical optimization to business leaders. Click here for a link to that video.
In the recent letter from the chairman in IBM's 2010 Annual Report, Sam Palmisano discussed business analytics and optimization as a key part of IBM's future growth strategy:
IBM spotted this emerging need early, building the world’s leading analytics practice, with 7,800 expert consultants, the world’s premier nonacademic mathematics function, leading‑edge software and offerings integrated by industry.
As a reminder of a detailed explanation and definition of analytics from an IBM team, click here.
MichaelWatson 270002K5FS Tags:  tms network_design optimization inventory ilog routing sterling 1,968 Visits
IBM's ILOG and Sterling supply chain teams have been named to the Top 100 Logistics IT Providers for 2011 by Inbound Logistics.
This echos the comment from last year from SupplyChainDigest that" Somewhat quietly, IBM is building a formidable portfolio of supply chain software solutions that has the potential to shake up the existing market."