Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Jyoti Bansal, Elizabeth White, AppNeta Blog, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: Agile Computing, Microservices Expo

Agile Computing: Article

An SCM Case Study: Social Networking in the Enterprise

Social Computing and Agile Enterprises

We are in an era where consumer social networking in the form of Facebook and Twitter are a part of everyone's life. There are several uses for these social networking tools in one's personal life; however, not many tools and the associated use cases are seen as effective for social networking in the enterprise, which in a way should be a facilitator for high productivity within the enterprise.

Two Forms of Communications Within the Enterprise
Over a period we have seen that individuals within an enterprise are connected by two contrasting means:

  • The one connected by automated processes and machines: In this scenario even the individuals who sit next to each other are totally driven by binary processing within the servers. Typical example is a workflow or approval cases, whereby a simple approval from a person in next seat has to traverse through a set of complex workflow processes and human interaction take place behind the scenes abstracted by machines.
  • The one connected by personal means: Realizing the importance of social networking, enterprises have implemented an enterprise class messenger platform that enabled employees to chat and share information. However, over the years these communications have become disconnected from the real enterprise and become more like a personal communication tool, not really resulting in the kind of enterprise collaboration that is needed.

However, today's enterprises need social networking which should be a combination of both individual / personal communication that's supported with enterprise class intelligence that is typically enabled by systems and processes. To explain how this kind of social networking will help in enterprise productivity, we can take a typical use case for a manufacturing supply chain and bring the value proposition of social networking in improving the productivity of the players involved.

Manufacturing Supply Chain Scenario
In a typical manufacturing process, the following is the sequence of operations in which the need for parts and supplies from the manufacturing shop floors drive the initiation of purchase orders with the vendors and subsequently the receipt of the parts are matched in various warehouses, which ultimately reach the requested shop floors, thus completing the manufacturing process. For the sake of simplicity this examples does not involve the consumer-side supply chain where the finished goods reach, however, this example can be extended to accommodate that scenario also.

While it is seen as a typical machine-driven process, it is an underlying fact that various human roles are involved in the complete chain of operations as explained below:

  • Pre-Production Operators: These individuals assess the requirements for production and calculate the quantity of parts to be procured based on the parameters like available quantity at hand. These operators directly or through their supervisors raise the purchasing request based on the parts needed.
  • Purchasing Supervisor / Buyer: Based on the approval workflows, the generated purchase orders are validated and approved by these supervisors. Typically the $$ amount of the purchasing and other strategic considerations take place in this human workflow for approval.
  • Suppliers / Vendors: These are external players who received the purchase orders from the enterprise and print them and review for shipment. Typically suppliers validate the details of the purchase order and make arrangements to ship the parts by the desired commitment date as agreed between the buying enterprise and the supplier.
  • Warehouse Personnel: Once the parts are shipped to the respective warehouses, these individuals receive them, validate them against the purchase orders, and place them in respective bins or racks for utilization. Logistics also play a major role if there's a need to move the parts from one warehouse to another based on the needs.
  • Material Inspection Analyst: Shipped parts need to be checked several times for quality like shape, color, appearance and other attributes. These require a specialized inspection much more than typical warehouse personnel can do and hence a specialist material inspection analyst is needed.
  • Accounts Payable Personnel: After the goods have been approved and received into the warehouse, these people validate the invoice against the purchase order and pay the vendors. They take care of other issues like general ledger accounting, foreign currency issues and tax implications.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide of the supply chain process as there are several variations and some of the large manufacturing houses employ a more complex supply chain process; however, the above scenarios represent a fairly generic need for a connected enterprise in terms of people and machine based processes.

The following diagram explains the supply chain process and players.

As mentioned, this does not aim to depict a perfect supply chain diagram, however, it is evident from this diagram that there is a combination of machine processes (depicted in red) and human interactions (depicted in green) that together take care of the entire supply chain process.

Typical Issues Without Enterprise Social Networking
The above process, which has been traditionally followed in many large and medium enterprises, have the following pitfalls.

  • Batch Jobs and Latency: Most of the processing in the chain of events are taken care of by the machines and servers through batch jobs that typically involve latency as they run only at certain time; this makes the humans outside of the process wait for the results, even though the desired event would have happened. For example, a purchase order would have been approved by the PO supervisor but the supplier may have to wait one day to see the actual PO.
  • Lack of Visibility Due to System Generated Identification Numbers: The entire process is tied through system-generated numbers like PO numbers, engineering request numbers, warehouse receipt numbers, etc. While it is meant to be remembered by the individuals, sometimes this could hurt the visibility of the flow of events if they are not properly tracked.
  • Lack of Human Touch in Communicating Extraordinary Events: In a typical enterprise scenario where there are preferred vendors and preferred warehouses, it is likely that the same players may serve operations over a period of time. Sometimes there could be extraordinary events outside of system control, for example, a supplier would have shipped the materials from his warehouse and commit on a delivery date to the system; however, there could be some sudden natural disasters like a flood that may delay the proceeding. However, this kind of information may not have been reflected in the system.

Agility Enabled by Enterprise Social Networking
Enterprise class social networking tools bridge the gap between the human and machine processes though the intelligence they gain from understanding the business processes of the underlying systems while providing the much needed human touch to the flow of events, which provides much needed agility and increased productivity to the whole process. Let's look at how the scenario can change if an enterprise class social networking tool is used.

  • Using an enterprise class social networking platform, stakeholders like a pre-production material requestor, a purchase order approver, and a material inspector all can connect with each other using the out-of-the-box search features and standards-based integration with organization LDAP directory. Also these tools provide options to collaborate with external stakeholders like suppliers who are part of the chain of events.
  • Unlike the consumer social networking tools, enterprise social networking tools have a seamless integration with CRM, ERP and other legacy back-end systems. This means virtually any kind of information that's needed for the flow of events can be pulled from the respective systems. For example, a purchase order number can be tagged #PO2329 in a Twitter-like fashion and the social networking platform can obtain more detailed information like shipping address by understanding the intelligence of it.
  • The entire communication is a combination of organizational events like receipt of a goods in a warehouse along with the much-needed personal touch like a particular receipt may be delayed by a day due to traffic issues in the respective region.
  • Advanced features like video and webcast can be utilized to facilitate processes like material inspection that require a visual inspection of the goods. Think how easy it is for the material requestor to view the parts received in a remote warehouse and provide a verbal conformation much before the actual system-related data entry takes place. This will definitely reduce the delays. If, for example, the product is faulty it will not even wait for the inspector to find them; rather things may happen sooner than that.

As evident even from this sample scenario, the enterprises enabled by social networking will be much more agile than the traditional enterprises, and enterprises can consider adopting them to improve their business process efficiency.

Summary
While the advantages of this platform are obvious, one issue may be the lack of proper platforms that understand the enterprise application integration scenarios from the system processes point of view, while providing a human touch to complete enterprise social computing.

However, we find that the tibbr social computing platform for business, which has been created by TIBCO software, has a long and successful history in enterprise application integration and business process enablement for enterprises.

  • The tibbr social computing platform makes it easy to find the right people and information in real time
  • Supports a virtual enterprise with support for mobile platforms and iPad devices
  • Integrates with existing enterprise access managers to make the social interactions more secured
  • Supports collaboration through options like tibCast, tibVoice and tibChat
  • As a tool from a traditional EAI/ESB tool vendor, it integrates relevant data and information across the enterprise
  • To make documents more relevant and accessible, tibbr allows people to share and collaborate on documents that live in their core content management systems, including Microsoft SharePoint.
  • Tibbr is also available as SaaS service model in the Cloud to facilitate enterprises that do not want to invest in the hardware and other resource needs
  • Further information about the vendor can be obtained from their site: http://www.tibbr.com/

As mentioned in several of my articles on SaaS / BpaaS adoption, the aim of the article is to provide a value proposition for the enterprises in incorporating social networking appropriately and one such vendor product that has the required features is also mentioned as a reference. Enterprises are requested to go through their standard evaluation process to pick up the correct products that fit their needs.

More Stories By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

Highly passionate about utilizing Digital Technologies to enable next generation enterprise. Believes in enterprise transformation through the Natives (Cloud Native & Mobile Native).

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, vice president of DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing at CA Technologies, has been named co-conference chair of DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017. The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Is your application too difficult to manage? Do changes take dozens of developers hundreds of hours to execute, and frequently result in downtime across all your site’s functions? It sounds like you have a monolith! A monolith is one of the three main software architectures that define most applications. Whether you’ve intentionally set out to create a monolith or not, it’s worth at least weighing the pros and cons of the different architectural approaches and deciding which one makes the most s...
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing be...
This recent research on cloud computing from the Register delves a little deeper than many of the "We're all adopting cloud!" surveys we've seen. They found that meaningful cloud adoption and the idea of the cloud-first enterprise are still not reality for many businesses. The Register's stats also show a more gradual cloud deployment trend over the past five years, not any sort of explosion. One important takeaway is that coherence across internal and external clouds is essential for IT right n...
Back in February of 2017, Andrew Clay Schafer of Pivotal tweeted the following: “seriously tho, the whole software industry is stuck on deployment when we desperately need architecture and telemetry.” Intrigue in a 140 characters. For me, I hear Andrew saying, “we’re jumping to step 5 before we’ve successfully completed steps 1-4.”
A Man in the Middle attack, or MITM, is a situation wherein a malicious entity can read/write data that is being transmitted between two or more systems (in most cases, between you and the website that you are surfing). MITMs are common in China, thanks to the “Great Cannon.” The “Great Cannon” is slightly different from the “The Great Firewall.” The firewall monitors web traffic moving in and out of China and blocks prohibited content. The Great Cannon, on the other hand, acts as a man in the...
When you decide to launch a startup company, business advisors, counselors, bankers and armchair know-it-alls will tell you that the first thing you need to do is get funding. While there is some validity to that boilerplate piece of wisdom, the availability of and need for startup funding has gone through a dramatic transformation over the past decade, and the next few years will see even more of a shift. A perfect storm of events is causing this seismic shift. On the macroeconomic side this ...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, will discuss how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He will discuss how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
To more closely examine the variety of ways in which IT departments around the world are integrating cloud services, and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles, SolarWinds recently released the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid Organization. This annual study consists of survey-based research that explores significant trends, developments, and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
In large enterprises, environment provisioning and server provisioning account for a significant portion of the operations team's time. This often leaves users frustrated while they wait for these services. For instance, server provisioning can take several days and sometimes even weeks. At the same time, digital transformation means the need for server and environment provisioning is constantly growing. Organizations are adopting agile methodologies and software teams are increasing the speed ...
Developers want to create better apps faster. Static clouds are giving way to scalable systems, with dynamic resource allocation and application monitoring. You won't hear that chant from users on any picket line, but helping developers to create better apps faster is the mission of Lee Atchison, principal cloud architect and advocate at New Relic Inc., based in San Francisco. His singular job is to understand and drive the industry in the areas of cloud architecture, microservices, scalability ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Software as a service (SaaS), one of the earliest and most successful cloud services, has reached mainstream status. According to Cisco, by 2019 more than four-fifths (83 percent) of all data center traffic will be based in the cloud, up from 65 percent today. The majority of this traffic will be applications. Businesses of all sizes are adopting a variety of SaaS-based services – everything from collaboration tools to mission-critical commerce-oriented applications. The rise in SaaS usage has m...
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
We'd all like to fulfill that "find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" cliché. But in reality, every job (even if it's our dream job) comes with its downsides. For you, the constant fight against shadow IT might get on your last nerves. For your developer coworkers, infrastructure management is the roadblock that stands in the way of focusing on coding. As you watch more and more applications and processes move to the cloud, technology is coming to developers' rescue-most r...
2016 has been an amazing year for Docker and the container industry. We had 3 major releases of Docker engine this year , and tremendous increase in usage. The community has been following along and contributing amazing Docker resources to help you learn and get hands-on experience. Here’s some of the top read and viewed content for the year. Of course releases are always really popular, particularly when they fit requests we had from the community.