Yin meets yang
Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
This week get to know Mike Watson, a blogger who writes about ILOG and Supply Chain Management. Learn more about Michael and connect with him on his My developerWorks profile and his blog.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm Mike Watson. Our group joined IBM when IBM acquired ILOG in 2009. Our group within IBM focuses on optimization and supply chain solutions. For example, we help companies determine the correct inventory levels, determine the best number and location of their warehouses, figure out the best place to make a product, figure out how to schedule the factory, determine what should be stocked on the shelves at your local retailer, optimally route trucks, and get empty shipping containers back to where they are needed. The IBM community has been very welcoming and right now, we are working with these various groups in IBM so they can bring these solutions to their clients.
What is one of the most interesting or creative projects you've seen use ILOG Optimization and Supply Chain management solutions?
We've worked on a lot of interesting problems over the years. What I'm always impressed with is how our projects help companies perform better and how much visibility these projects bring in an organization. For example, we recently helped with a large merger and our results were taken past the Board of Directors and on to the US Dept of Justice. A large retailer recently redesigned their warehouse network and the project was mentioned in the Letter to Shareholders. We've helped several national banks figure out how to move their trucks full of cash around most efficiently (lots of people would like to know where those trucks were going!!), A commodity gas producer had to figure out how to best swap customers with their competitors. Our ILOG optimization was featured on a NBC news piece when it was used to better figure out how to allocate kidney's to patients.
Are you noticing any new developments or trends in Supply Chain Management?
It is interesting how the field of Supply Chain Management keeps moving. Over the last several years, we've seen more emphasis on measuring and optimizing the carbon footprint of the supply chain and better incorporating tax rates into strategic decisions. Technically, we are seeing firms apply more advanced analytics on a more regular basis. For example firms used to do advanced analytics on their supply chain every couple of years. Now, they are able to apply this technology on an on-going basis.
But, most recently, we see supply chain managers thinking about flexibility in their supply chain. The founder of our group, David Simchi-Levi, has a book coming out this summer where he talks to this issue. Specifically, flexibility is a key concept that lets firms link the value they provide to their customers with their supply chain strategy. The products we offer help customers better understand flexibility in their supply chain.
Tell me about your blog on developerWorks - the IBM ILOG Optimization and Supply Chain Solutions blog...
With a worldwide set of customers and clients, partners, and IBMers wanting to know what is going on with ILOG Optimization and Supply Chain, we have found that the blog is good way of keeping everyone up-to-date. We get a lot of feedback on the blog and a lot of ideas on what people want to hear about.
- Thanks Michael!
This week, get to know Erwan Paccard a product manager for IBM ILOG visualization products.
Connect with Erwan on:
His My developerWorks profile
IBM ILOG Elixir blog
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I’m Erwan Paccard, a product manager within the IBM ILOG visualization group which was acquired by IBM in 2009. My day-to-day job is to plan out the future of our user interface products: we develop and sell software components used by developers to expedite their application development. To get a better idea of what we do, you can look at some live samples.
What's your favorite aspect of your work?
The sum of it all in fact. From feeling where the technology is going, to market needs evolutions, to business cases creation and talks with as many customers and prospects as possible, to close interactions with R&D to see concepts and ideas come to life, to interactions with sales and customers to see how a large team efforts lead to great revenue for us and achievements for our customers.
Tell me a little bit about ILOG Elixir - what's the coolest thing about it? What is the best-kept secret about ILOG that you wish more people knew?
The end user reactions, hearing end users saying "that's what I've been waiting for so long" is truly rewarding. That comes from a complex set of steps: from focusing on people's need (both from a feature and user experience standpoints, to having the right implementation to deliver features and performance) to having the right price and go to market. Fail one step and the whole value chain is broken.
Tell me about one of the most creative or interesting uses of ILOG that you've seen?
Eye catching and fun to use energy consumption dashboards. An engaging experience help people use it so it helps achieve the goal of having less energy consumed. I also came across some developers who made some mobile applications: can't say in how many pockets we are now :-)
You blog on the IBM ILOG Elixir blog - what do you think about blogging so far?
Overall it's good experience and rewarding to see that you have hundreds of readers a few hours after you did a new post.
How do you use developerWorks?
We use it as an essential ingredient for the sales process. We have demos , a blog and a forum and all of that adds up to convey as much information as needed to our customers. When they come to contact us, it's usually only to know the price, that means a better experience for our customers.
What publications / websites do you read / visit?
I follow 50 accounts or so on Twitter for the "real time aspect of it". I also track blogs in the market segments we're in.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
Google TV caught my attention lately, I would definitely like to have those features in my next TV.
When you're not working, do you have any special interests you like to spend time on?
It will sound like a French cliche but good friends at home with a nice meal and fine wine is one of my favorite occupations. Having said that, having two young kids will help keep you busy after work hours.
- Thanks Erwan!