Validating naming conventions in Oracle

Most development teams have agreed upon some sort of naming convention as it typically increases the readability and comprehension of the source code. Defining these rules is one thing, but correctly and consistently applying them is another. Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to actually validate whether our team-specific naming rules have been applied the right way?

This article was originally published on Nick’s site, APEXPLAINED. We are republishing it here with his permission.

Most development teams have agreed upon some sort of naming convention as it typically increases the readability and comprehension of the source code. Defining these rules is one thing, but correctly and consistently applying them is another. Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to actually validate whether our team-specific naming rules have been applied the right way? Well, I’ve created a package that makes it possible to list all incorrectly named elements in your database schema.

How does it work?

I make a distinction between two types of naming violations:

  • Object name violations: Teams often pre- or suffix database object names to indicate the project or domain the object belongs to. Another common practice in Oracle development is to assign database objects a pre- or suffix from which you can immediately determine the object type. For example: a table for employees is named TBL_EMP, a sequence to fill up the primary key column is named SEQ_EMP, etc.
  • Code identifier name violations: PL/SQL code is made up of different types of identifiers: variables, constants, types, parameters, etc. Applying naming rules to these identifiers results in more readable and understandable code. Local variables are for example often prefixed with l_, while global variables start with the g_ prefix. For this part I use PL/Scope to verify the correctness of the identifier names in your PL/SQL code.

PL/Scope is a compiler-driven tool that collects data about identifiers in PL/SQL source code at program-unit compilation time and makes it available in static data dictionary views. The collected data includes information about identifier types, usages (declaration, definition, reference, call, assignment) and the location of each usage in the source code.

It’s important to keep two things in mind here. First, PL/Scope has been introduced in Oracle 11g Release 1, which means that any lower database version is not supported. Secondly, the PL/Scope data dictionary views are populated only when the PLSCOPE_SETTINGS parameter is set to IDENTIFIERS:ALL for your current session.

The default parameter value is IDENTIFIERS:NONE, which means that identifier gathering is disabled by default. Not setting the appropriate parameter value leads to inaccurate results. So make sure you set the PLSCOPE_SETTINGS parameter to IDENTIFIERS:ALL before compiling your database objects.

Installation and configuration

We first need to take care of the installation. Download the installation script (install.sql) and execute it on the database schema you wish to validate naming conventions. The installation script compiles no more than three objects:

  • A package API_NAMING_CONVENTION
  • An object type OT_NAMING_VIOLATION
  • A table type TT_NAMING_VIOLATIONS

After a successful execution of the installation script, open the API_NAMING_CONVENTION package body. The first thing you’ll notice is the configuration section, which is nothing more than a collection of global constants. Every constant will be used inside the package to verify whether valid names have been given to a specific database object type or code identifier type. For example, the first constant you’ll encounter is GCO_TABLE_NAME_PATTERN and can be assigned a regular expression pattern that includes all rules to which a table name in your schema must comply. For those not into regular expressions, don’t worry, we’re not going to write complicated or lengthy regex patterns. I’ll give some examples later on, so there’s no reason to panic ;]

Example usage

Let’s see what the API_NAMING_CONVENTION package has to offer. In this example, I want to validate whether my table names start with the prefix TBL_ and I want my sequence names to end with _SEQ. We’ll first need to configure the API_NAMING_CONVENTION package body to take into account these naming rules. Assign the following regular expression patterns to the appropriate constants:

You’ll probably use these two regex patterns a lot as most naming rules include nothing more than a prefix or suffix.

I currently have no tables or sequences in my schema, so let’s fix that.

We’re now going to write a query that gives us back all improperly named objects according to our naming convention.

That query returns one row.

p29 invalid objects Validating naming conventions in Oracle

The name of the sequence is invalid because I expect the SEQ part at the end of the name. The table I created is not included since its name conforms to our naming convention. Okay, I have to admit that this wasn’t mind blowing so far. But wait. There’s more to come. Let me demonstrate the true powers of the API_NAMING_CONVENTION package.

Validating code identifiers

Now the fun part starts. We’re going to look for violated naming rules in our PL/SQL code. Before we decide on the rules we want to enforce, let me quickly explain the usage of the GCO_LOCAL_IDENTIFIER and GCO_GLOBAL_IDENTIFIER constants in the API_NAMING_CONVENTION package body. These two constants accept a string value, which allows you to define the character(s) you use to differentiate between locally and globally scoped elements. I use the characters L and G for respectively local and global identifiers.

We are now able to reference these values in our regular expression patterns by using the placeholder :scope:. For this example, I use the following naming rules.

This means that a regular variable should either start with l_ or g_, depending on its scope. The rule for constants is very alike: local constants should start with lco_, while global constants should start with gco_. That makes sense, right?

Okay, configuration is all set. I’ll now create a dummy package so that the schema we’re working in contains some PL/SQL code.

The package compiled successfully and it’s obvious that it contains at least several naming violations. It’s time for our API_NAMING_CONVENTION package to identify the infringements. Here’s the query I use to specifically check for identifier name violations.

The result is a bit disappointing though. The query returns zero rows while it’s clear that my PL/SQL code contains multiple improperly named identifiers. Is something wrong with the API_NAMING_CONVENTION package or did we overlook something? Remember the PL/Scope parameter? I am required to set the PLSCOPE_SETTINGS parameter to IDENTIFIERS:ALL before compiling any PL/SQL program-unit. Let’s fix that and rerun the query.

This time the query successfully identified the violated elements in my PL/SQL code.

p29 invalid identifiers Validating naming conventions in Oracle

The result set includes detailed metadata to help you understand and locate the naming violation.

  • Violation type: indicates whether it’s an OBJECT NAME or CODING violation.
  • Element type: the type of database object or identifier that caused the violation.
  • Element name: the object or identifier that’s been given an improper name.
  • Violated pattern: the violated regular expression pattern.
  • Object type: the database object type in which the violation occurred.
  • Object name: the name of the database object in which the violation occurred.
  • Line and column: the exact location of the improperly named identifier in the PL/SQL program-unit.
  • Scope: is the violated identifier locally or globally scoped?

The ALL_VIOLATIONS function

You can query all naming violations regardless of their type by running the below query.

The result is a combination of both ALL_OBJECT_NAME_VIOLATIONS and ALL_CODING_VIOLATIONS.

p29 all violations Validating naming conventions in Oracle

It is even possible to only query for certain object or identifier type naming violations. Take a look at the API_NAMING_CONVENTION package specification for all available functions. The SEQUENCE_NAME_VIOLATIONS function for example only returns improperly named sequences.

Final words

Phew, this article is getting pretty long, so I’m going to stop right here. Congratulations for making it this far.

This is an open source project by the way. The source code is being maintained on GitHub. Leave me a comment in case you have any questions or remarks.

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SQL – Simple Talk

Sheep Meet Puppy

Black sheep gently meet with a little dog.

9lJvK68 Sheep Meet Puppy“Love Your Pets. Because They Have Nothing But Love For Yo.”
Image courtesy of https://imgur.com/gallery/u86pi.

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California could see self-driving cars with ‘remote drivers’ in April

 California could see self driving cars with ‘remote drivers’ in April

(Reuters) — Self-driving cars that back up their computerized system with a remote human operator instead of a fallback driver at the wheel could be tested on California roads as early as April, the state department of motor vehicles said.

Relying on a remote human operator – who could control multiple autonomous vehicles from miles away – is a step that would allow a path to profitability in the nascent field of self-driving technology by eliminating California’s requirement for in-car minders.

Experts believe early adopters of the technology will include ride-hailing services seeking to maximize paying passengers while eliminating paid backups traveling with them.

The race to develop autonomous vehicles includes such global automakers as General Motors and technology giants like Alphabet’s Waymo unit. If they are ready to deploy the remote monitor technology by April, it would be the first time they could test their cars on public roads in the state without physical drivers present.

The remote control technology, already used by NASA and the military, is seen as a way to more quickly usher in the commercial rollout of self-driving cars. The new regulations are expected to be approved later this month, and take effect in April after a month-long public notice period.

Companies like Nissan, Waymo and startups Zoox, Phantom Auto and Starsky Robotics have been working on the technology, which allows for a remote operator to take control of a vehicle if the underlying autonomous system inside the car encounters problems, known in the industry as difficult-to-solve “edge” cases.

“We think we have the ultimate backup system – which is a human,” said Elliot Katz, co-founder of Phantom Auto, which last month at the CES technology conference demonstrated how cars driving in Las Vegas could be remotely controlled from Mountain View, California, over 500 miles away.

The presence of a remote operator also helps companies reassure lawmakers and the public, said Katz, who said he expected companies to deploy such technology on California roads soon after April.

Getting rid entirely of drivers capable of taking the wheel in case of problems has concerned some lawmakers. U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have questioned the safeguards in an autonomous vehicle bill currently stalled in the Senate.

During a January Senate hearing, Zoox Chief Executive Officer Tim Kentley-Klay testified that “teleoperations” technology would play a role in the overall system of the Silicon Valley startup.

“When your model is to have autonomous vehicles deployed as a for-hire service in cities, you are still going to need a command center in that city that has a human-in-the-loop oversight of the fleet, both to deal with vehicles if they have an issue but also to deal with customers if they need help,” Kentley-Klay said.

The new regulations are expected to be approved on Feb 26 by California’s legal compliance agency, with the DMV then opening a 30-day public notice period beginning March 1.

During that period, companies planning to test would prepare their applications, with the first permits potentially being issued on April 2, DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez told Reuters.

“It will be interesting to see which manufacturer is the first,” she added.

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Automatically install apps

I’m excited to announce the ability to automatically install apps for end users, making it easier to distribute the right apps to the right set of people.

Apps deliver data that your end users need to do their jobs. Now you can automatically install these apps in the Apps content list rather than the user having to find the app in Microsoft AppSource or follow an installation link. This capability makes it easier for you to roll out standard Power BI content to your users.

How to enable pushing apps

Your tenant admin enables the ability to push apps. This is done in the admin portal (part of the Power BI service) on the Tenant settings tab.

c8296d14 09c1 42fe 96a3 58f0379649d0 Automatically install apps

Switch the setting to Enabled and then specify who gets this capability (entire org or specific security groups). Remember that tenant setting changes can take some time to take effect, usually around 15 minutes.

How to install an app automatically for end users

Once the admin has enabled it for them, app publishers will have a new option available to install the app automatically. When the box is checked and the application publisher selects Finish (or Update app, for existing apps), the app will be pushed to all users or groups defined in the Permissions section of the app on the Access tab.

aed4fd8f d22e 45fc 826f 688915cdbf96 Automatically install apps

How users get the apps that were pushed to them

After you push an app, it will show up in the Apps list automatically. You can curate the apps that a user or job role in your organization need to have at their fingertips. We hope this feature makes distributing content to Power BI users much simpler.

5d6a8440 c86d 41db 8ed3 3ac124c166cd Automatically install apps

Considerations

Here are some things to keep in mind when pushing apps to end users:

Pushing an app to users can take time. While most apps will install immediately for your users, pushing apps can take time. It depends on the number of items in the app and the number of people given access. It’s recommended that you push apps during off hours with plenty of time before users need it. Verify with several users before sending broad communication about the app’s availability.

Refresh your browser. Before seeing the pushed app in the Apps list, the user may need to refresh, or close and reopen their browser.

If the user doesn’t immediately see the app in the Apps list. they should refresh or close and reopen their browser. Please wait 24 hours before reporting to an issue Microsoft.

Don’t overwhelm users. Be careful not to push too may apps so your users perceive the pre-installed apps are useful to them. It’s best to control who can push apps to end users to coordinate timing. You can establish a point of contact for getting apps in your organization pushed to end users.

Next Steps

Create and publish apps with dashboards and reports in Power BI

Install and use apps with dashboards and reports in Power BI

Read more about Power BI apps

Power BI Admin Portal

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Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Dynamics 365 Support Options – Microsoft Premier Support versus Crowe Managed Support

Some companies that purchase Microsoft Dynamics 365 think that Microsoft Premier Support is the highest level of support available.

Until they compare the benefits side by side.

Microsoft Premier Support includes:

  • Business Critical Support
  • Break/Fix Support
  • Annual Support Hours
  • Phone Call Backs

 Microsoft Premier Support does not include:

  • Advisory Support
  • Installation of Updates and Patches
  • Development Support and Training
  • Proactive Monitoring
  • Health Check Assessment
  • Scheduled Support Management Meetings

Crowe can provide your company a better alternative to the Microsoft Premier Support plan.  We offer extra services, focused on proactive measures and strategy, to save your company money in the long term.

For example, during a System Health Assessment our team will:

  • Analyze data/telemetry collected by available monitoring sources
  • Review latest Microsoft hotfixes, update, and releases
  • Review maintenance plans
  • Review proactive monitoring coverage
  • Review data storage management and recovery strategy
  • Review User license levels/User usage reports
  • Run best practice checks on environments

Crowe’s managed support services provide organizations:

  • Ongoing support to maintain and enhance Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Personalized service plans allowing you to scale up or down as your needs evolve
  • Single point of contact for fast and efficient service
  • Proactive guidance to help drive value from your technology investment
  • Access to a highly qualified, specialized support team with extensive hands-on implementation experience and in-depth knowledge of the technology
  • Commitment to meet or exceed our Service Level Agreement (‘SLA’)

Support features available in our service:

  • Business Critical Support
  • Break / Fix Support and Troubleshooting
  • End-user and Administrator Training
  • ‘Wish List’ Management
  • Release, Patch, and Upgrade management
  • Development Support
  • Health Check Assessments
  • Support Management Meetings
  • Expand System Functionality
  • Enhance Reporting & Dashboards
  • Onsite Services Available (extra fee)

The Crowe support services program is designed for organizations that:

  • Have successfully implemented Microsoft Dynamics 365
  • Require ongoing support and professional/optimization services, and
  • Desire support governed by a Service Level Agreement (‘SLA’)

As a Crowe support services customer, you select the best plan based on:

  • Number of prepaid annual support and service hours you require
  • Level of proactive monitoring and system maintenance you desire
  • Need for release management and upgrade services

All for a set predictable cost. From a team of 40+ professionals that work with Microsoft Dynamics 365 every day.

 Why Crowe?

Crowe is a Gold CRM, ERP and Cloud (Azure) Partner with Microsoft and a Tier 1 Cloud Solution Provider with Microsoft. We have our own Premier-level direct contracts with Microsoft. So if there is an issue that requires Microsoft assistance, Crowe has the fastest and most direct channels to facilitate this. We are able to offer you personalized support from a team that has a deeper understanding of your business and system.

Microsoft Premier support is not your only option. Crowe managed support services proactively monitor, support, and enhance your Microsoft Dynamics 365 deployment to ensure you are getting the most from your technology investment.

Find out more about Crowe Managed Support on Appsource.

If you are interested in discussing a support plan for Microsoft Dynamics 365 (formerly Microsoft Dynamics CRM), contact us today.

By Ryan Plourde, Crowe Horwath, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Gold Partner www.CroweCRM.com

Follow us on Twitter: @CroweCRM

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CRM Software Blog | Dynamics 365

Putting A Shoulder Back Into Proper Place

 Putting A Shoulder Back Into Proper Place

Watch the joint pop back into place.

“Relocating Shoulder.”
Image courtesy of https://imgur.com/gallery/i6Xj9.

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Dynamics 365 User Adoption: End Users are the Most Important! (But Management is Important, too)

CRM Blog Dynamics 365 User Adoption: End Users are the Most Important! (But Management is Important, too)

End users of your CRM system (or any other system!) are the most important building blocks to a successful implementation. Why then are they so often overlooked? Why does management so often dictate requirements without a single consideration of how the end user will react?

“They need to learn how to use this to do their job; they will figure it out.” – Management

Picture this: An organization gathers all major decision makers and managers into a room for a requirements gathering session. The Project Manager says, “what metrics do you want to report on?” The Sales Manager wants 15 fields. The Customer Service Manager needs another 24 fields. The Operations Manager needs 12 different fields. The CEO is looking for roll-up metrics that require another 10 fields. All of a sudden, the Project Manager leaves requirements gathering meeting #1 with 61 new required fields to add to the solution.

I’m willing to bet that many readers have experienced a version of this picture I have painted for you.

How will adding 61 required fields to forms in CRM effect your salesperson? Your Customer Service reps? Do these configuration changes add value to the business goals? How much time does a salesperson lose selling by entering 61 required fields in CRM when they may only need 3?

Now, picture this second scenario: An organization gathers a sampling of end users into a room for a requirements gathering session. There are tenured sales reps, inside sales reps, customer service reps, marketing associates and others from across all areas of the organization. The Project Manager says, “how can this system help you to do your job more efficiently?” The sales reps talk about manual reporting they do weekly for the Sales Managers. Customer Service reps discuss how many screen pops, tabs and programs they go back and forth between on any given call. The Project Manager leaves the requirements gathering meeting #1 with a different to-do list. His/her challenge is now to leverage technology to alleviate pain points for these end users and optimize business processes.

Now, that’s not to say that management shouldn’t be involved! I would recommend having Business Requirements Meeting #1 play out as mentioned above, with the end users. THEN, the management meeting should occur.

Simply put, end users should be involved starting at the requirements gathering stage. Walk the fine line of customizing for your end users while meeting business requirements from management. Apart from involving them in requirements meetings, you can also do ride alongs, job shadowing – anything to better understand what they are doing and where technology can help improve the process.

Need help walking that fine line? We are User Adoption experts at Beringer Technology Group.  Let us help you make sure you don’t miss the mark when it comes to User Adoption.


This blog is the first in a series that will focus on a deep dive in User Adoption. User Adoption is so very important in a CRM implementation and often overlooked. So, what can you do to help encourage adoption for a system? Over the next several months, we will look at ten ways to help with User Adoption at your organization.


Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution. We also provide expert Managed IT ServicesBackup and Disaster RecoveryCloud Based Computing and Unified Communication Systems.

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Smart Data Discovery: Simplify and Scale

iStock 841278644 e1519166526449 Smart Data Discovery: Simplify and Scale

Companies in every industry are awash in siloed structured and unstructured data from multiple sources that are difficult to blend for analysis. But now, new data discovery techniques, fueled by AI and machine learning methods, are solving this problem and taking business insights to an entirely new level.

Enter the TIBCO Spotfire® Smart Data Catalog, which allows you to search data as easily as a simple web search while also recommending related data to include in your analysis. Thanks to the Smart Data Catalog, you can easily access enterprise data, find new data, and experience the benefits of automatic mashup. All of this allows you to discover relationships among tables and documents, concepts and sentiment, as well as spot opportunities and risks without having to rely on your IT department.

Once the Smart Data Catalog searches through data across multiple unstructured and disjointed data sources — including customer support tickets, warranty claims, social media feeds, maintenance history, and more — it can apply text-mining algorithms to find relationships. The results are then displayed visually to create a one-stop-shop for discovering, unifying, and modeling data that makes sense.

You may be wondering just how accurate these text-mining algorithms could be. By using AI and Machine Learning methods, the Smart Data Catalog can use natural language process, synonyms, and customer-specific taxonomies to increase accuracy. Navigating data has never been easier, especially when Spotfire provides a visual representation so you can easily interact with the data and find insights to solve business problems and establish your business as a digital leader.

To learn how to navigate the TIBCO Spotfire Smart Data Catalog and see real-life examples, including how biopharmaceutical companies have used Smart Data Discovery to unlock valuable information and discover insights, click here. Our three part webinar series with Attivio is sure to help you simplify and scale your smart data discovery. Complete with a live demo and Q&A session, you won’t want to miss this series.

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The TIBCO Blog

Food and beverage manufacturers primed for growth, positioned for success with NetSuite

og image Food and beverage manufacturers primed for growth, positioned for success with NetSuite

Innovative Manufacturers Aspire Group, Dyla and The PUR Company Ready Themselves for Growth with NetSuite’s Industry Cloud Solution

SUITECONNECT—NEW YORK, N.Y.—February 13, 2018—Oracle NetSuite, one of the world’s leading providers of cloud-based financials / ERP, HR, Professional Services Automation (PSA) and omnichannel commerce software suites, today announced that three food and beverage manufacturers have implemented the NetSuite SuiteSuccess Manufacturing edition, enabling their businesses to grow, scale and adapt to change at the pace of modern business. Aspire Food Group, which raises crickets for a wide variety of uses including high protein snacks and food additives, Dyla, maker of Forto all natural ready-to-drink coffee shots and Stur water flavor enhancers, and PUR, a fast-growing manufacturer of aspartame-free gum, were all able to take advantage of NetSuite’s decades of experience with thousands of manufacturers to get their businesses up and running quickly with a leading cloud ERP system.

Food and beverage manufacturers like Aspire, Dyla and PUR confront a wide array of challenges that can hinder growth and customer satisfaction. Consumers increasingly demand more choice and information around the ingredients they’re consuming from GMO-free, to locally sourced and other health-based requirements. Meanwhile, governments are imposing stricter regulations and manufacturers still confront increased global competition and complex supply chains. As they seek to address these challenges, food and beverage manufacturers are concerned about the time and capital required to fix their back-end systems. However, they realize that the ability to rapidly adapt and scale is critical to their success. Companies looking to overcome these challenges to grow and diversify can be held back by entry-level systems that do not have the functionality to manage business at scale, or older, on-premise systems built before the internet that cannot take full advantage of the cloud. NetSuite SuiteSuccess for Manufacturing delivers a unique set of processes, activities and systems specifically designed to deliver rapid value. It provides customers with a strong foundation to transform their business with a pre-configured solution and methodology.

Aspire Food Group Grows from Idea to Prize to Enterprise

In 2013, five MBA students from McGill University came up with an idea to help solve the problem of food insecurity, which ultimately won the Hult Prize Competition, besting 10,000 other teams from around the world. That prize-winning idea gave birth to Aspire Food Group (www.aspirefg.com), a social enterprise specializing in farming insects for human consumption. Crickets and palm weevils, the two insect species Aspire is currently raising and researching, provide an excellent source of protein without the resource-intensive demands of other proteins like beef or chicken. With a palm weevil facility in Ghana and a cricket-raising facility in Austin, Texas, Aspire is focused not only on raising awareness around the possibilities of insect-based protein, but developing a way to farm insects year-round in an efficient and scalable manner. The company currently provides cricket-based additives for protein powders, flavored and roasted whole crickets, which are currently being sold at sports stadiums, as well as a handful of restaurants and other food service customers. As demand for its products emerged quicker than the company anticipated, it soon discovered that its existing financial management system based on QuickBooks and Excel spreadsheets would not keep up with its growth. It selected NetSuite after an extensive selection process and in just four months went live using SuiteSuccess for Manufacturing to run financials, CRM and inventory management. As a result, the company is now efficiently processing payments with the click of a button, tracking customers and invoices and it has substantially improved its budgeting process. Reports that used to take six hours to create are now done in under an hour. Aspire has plans to implement additional manufacturing functionality to better track the costs associated with the manufacturing process and livestock processes in a second phase.

“A year from now, I know the volume of orders is only going to increase and our capacity to track the business is going to be critical,” said Abir Syed, Aspire’s Director of Finance. “I wanted to get ahead of it and NetSuite and SuiteSuccess ensured we have a scalable, modern system in place quickly to continue our growth without interruption.”

Specialty Drink Manufacturer Manages Rapid Growth with NetSuite

Dyla LLC saw rapid growth after its Forto ready-to-drink coffee shots and Stur water flavor enhancers struck a chord with a market thirsty for more natural alternatives to energy-boosting and healthy drinks. The West New York, NJ-based company saw growth of 500 percent year-over-year in 2017, becoming one of the fastest growing businesses in New Jersey. As Forto expanded across airports and convenience stores, and Stur attracted major retailers, running two separate businesses on QuickBooks wasn’t sustainable. Dyla’s operations team spent half its time in spreadsheets synchronizing inventory, order and customer information, even manually entering EDI transactions. After a comprehensive evaluation process, Dyla selected NetSuite over SAP and Microsoft Dynamics, swayed by its ease of use, customization and cloud architecture that would allow real-time information sharing by its employees located throughout the U.S. With SuiteSuccess, Dyla went live on NetSuite in May 2017 in just 90 days to manage contract manufacturers, a distribution hub and 117 SKUs across the two brands and tens of thousands of locations. Just a month after go-live, Dyla had processed a record number of orders processed in the same period the year before. With NetSuite, Dyla has streamlined its month-end close from five days to three hours and automated communication with 3PL providers.

“We have grown 500 percent year-over-year because we were able to put our resources into selling the product, not the backend,” said Justin Lawrence, Head of Supply Chain/Operations and Finance, Dyla LLC.

Aspartame-free Gum Maker Sweetens its Business Growth

Founded in 2010 with a business plan based on direct contact with retail locations, The PUR Company saw its business explode as demand for its aspartame-free gum grew. The company expanded rapidly, from 33 retail partner locations in its first month to 500 only a few months later. But, as it grew beyond Canada to the US, UK, Australia and Germany, PUR knew it would need a modern system to manage that growth and adapt to future business demands. When new leadership was hired to advance the company to its next stage of growth, they quickly determined that the company needed to replace its existing QuickBooks and Excel-based processes. After evaluating SAP, The PUR Company selected NetSuite and implemented it in just 100 days with SuiteSuccess. The PUR Company now has complete traceability across products in its Toronto warehouse while the unified ERP and CRM gives better insights into customer service and sales strategy. Meanwhile, OneWorld lets PUR transact in Canadian and US dollars and Swiss franc. NetSuite can continue to scale as the company grows while NetSuite’s unified platform combines financial, inventory and customer data—vital for a company heavily focused on customer loyalty.

“NetSuite is helping us transition our dreams into realities by building a better organization that is more structured and organized and advanced, bringing science to our art,” said Jay Klein, Founder and CEO of The PUR Company.

SuiteSuccess is the culmination of a multi-year transformation effort to combine the NetSuite unified suite, 20 years of industry leading practices, a new customer engagement model, and business optimization methods into a unified, industry cloud solution. SuiteSuccess was engineered to solve unique industry challenges that historically have limited a company’s ability to grow, scale and adapt to change. Most ERP vendors have tried to solve the industry solution problem with templates, rapid implementation methodologies, and custom code. NetSuite took a holistic approach to the problem and productized domain knowledge, leading practices, KPIs, and an agile approach to product adoption. The benefits of this are faster time to value, increased business efficiency, flexibility, and greater customer success.

The key components of SuiteSuccess for Manufacturing include:

  • Tailored roles with built-in workflows specific to wholesale distribution such as supply chain manager, warehouse operations and production manager.
  • Industry leading best practices built into the system spanning inventory utilization and visibility, order orchestration and more.
  • More than 150 Pre-built KPIs and reports, giving manufacturers real-time insight into the business from Day 1.

For more information on SuiteSuccess for Manufacturers, visit: http://www.netsuite.com/portal/services/suitesuccess/manufacturing.shtml

About Oracle NetSuite
Oracle NetSuite pioneered the Cloud Computing revolution in 1998, establishing the world’s first company dedicated to delivering business applications over the internet. Today, it provides a suite of cloud-based financials / Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), HR and omnichannel commerce software that runs the business of companies in more than 100 countries.

For more information, please visit http://www.netsuite.com.

Follow NetSuite’s Cloud blog, Facebook page and @NetSuite Twitter handle for real-time updates.

About Oracle
The Oracle Cloud offers complete SaaS application suites for ERP, HCM and CX, plus best-in-class database Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from data centers throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), please visit us at oracle.com.

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NetSuite's Latest Press Coverage

Capture The Future Of Utilities With IoT

In 2013, several UK supermarket chains discovered that products they were selling as beef were actually made at least partly—and in some cases, entirely—from horsemeat. The resulting uproar led to a series of product recalls, prompted stricter food testing, and spurred the European food industry to take a closer look at how unlabeled or mislabeled ingredients were finding their way into the food chain.

By 2020, a scandal like this will be eminently preventable.

The separation between bovine and equine will become immutable with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, which will track the provenance and identity of every animal from stall to store, adding the data to a blockchain that anyone can check but no one can alter.

Food processing companies will be able to use that blockchain to confirm and label the contents of their products accordingly—down to the specific farms and animals represented in every individual package. That level of detail may be too much information for shoppers, but they will at least be able to trust that their meatballs come from the appropriate species.

The Spine of Digitalization

Q118 CoverFeature img1 spine Capture The Future Of Utilities With IoT

Keeping food safer and more traceable is just the beginning, however. Improvements in the supply chain, which have been incremental for decades despite billions of dollars of technology investments, are about to go exponential. Emerging technologies are converging to transform the supply chain from tactical to strategic, from an easily replicable commodity to a new source of competitive differentiation.

You may already be thinking about how to take advantage of blockchain technology, which makes data and transactions immutable, transparent, and verifiable (see “What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?”). That will be a powerful tool to boost supply chain speed and efficiency—always a worthy goal, but hardly a disruptive one.

However, if you think of blockchain as the spine of digitalization and technologies such as AI, the IoT, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and drones as the limbs, you have a powerful supply chain body that can leapfrog ahead of its competition.

What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?

Here’s why blockchain technology is critical to transforming the supply chain.

Blockchain is essentially a sequential, distributed ledger of transactions that is constantly updated on a global network of computers. The ownership and history of a transaction is embedded in the blockchain at the transaction’s earliest stages and verified at every subsequent stage.

A blockchain network uses vast amounts of computing power to encrypt the ledger as it’s being written. This makes it possible for every computer in the network to verify the transactions safely and transparently. The more organizations that participate in the ledger, the more complex and secure the encryption becomes, making it increasingly tamperproof.

Why does blockchain matter for the supply chain?

  • It enables the safe exchange of value without a central verifying partner, which makes transactions faster and less expensive.
  • It dramatically simplifies recordkeeping by establishing a single, authoritative view of the truth across all parties.
  • It builds a secure, immutable history and chain of custody as different parties handle the items being shipped, and it updates the relevant documentation.
  • By doing these things, blockchain allows companies to create smart contracts based on programmable business logic, which can execute themselves autonomously and thereby save time and money by reducing friction and intermediaries.

Hints of the Future

Q118 CoverFeature img2 future Capture The Future Of Utilities With IoTIn the mid-1990s, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy, we had no idea that the internet would become so large and pervasive, nor that we’d find a way to carry it all in our pockets on small slabs of glass.

But we could tell that it had vast potential.

Today, with the combination of emerging technologies that promise to turbocharge digital transformation, we’re just beginning to see how we might turn the supply chain into a source of competitive advantage (see “What’s the Magic Combination?”).

What’s the Magic Combination?

Those who focus on blockchain in isolation will miss out on a much bigger supply chain opportunity.

Many experts believe emerging technologies will work with blockchain to digitalize the supply chain and create new business models:

  • Blockchain will provide the foundation of automated trust for all parties in the supply chain.
  • The IoT will link objects—from tiny devices to large machines—and generate data about status, locations, and transactions that will be recorded on the blockchain.
  • 3D printing will extend the supply chain to the customer’s doorstep with hyperlocal manufacturing of parts and products with IoT sensors built into the items and/or their packaging. Every manufactured object will be smart, connected, and able to communicate so that it can be tracked and traced as needed.
  • Big Data management tools will process all the information streaming in around the clock from IoT sensors.
  • AI and machine learning will analyze this enormous amount of data to reveal patterns and enable true predictability in every area of the supply chain.

Combining these technologies with powerful analytics tools to predict trends will make lack of visibility into the supply chain a thing of the past. Organizations will be able to examine a single machine across its entire lifecycle and identify areas where they can improve performance and increase return on investment. They’ll be able to follow and monitor every component of a product, from design through delivery and service. They’ll be able to trigger and track automated actions between and among partners and customers to provide customized transactions in real time based on real data.

After decades of talk about markets of one, companies will finally have the power to create them—at scale and profitably.

Amazon, for example, is becoming as much a logistics company as a retailer. Its ordering and delivery systems are so streamlined that its customers can launch and complete a same-day transaction with a push of a single IP-enabled button or a word to its ever-attentive AI device, Alexa. And this level of experimentation and innovation is bubbling up across industries.

Consider manufacturing, where the IoT is transforming automation inside already highly automated factories. Machine-to-machine communication is enabling robots to set up, provision, and unload equipment quickly and accurately with minimal human intervention. Meanwhile, sensors across the factory floor are already capable of gathering such information as how often each machine needs maintenance or how much raw material to order given current production trends.

Once they harvest enough data, businesses will be able to feed it through machine learning algorithms to identify trends that forecast future outcomes. At that point, the supply chain will start to become both automated and predictive. We’ll begin to see business models that include proactively scheduling maintenance, replacing parts just before they’re likely to break, and automatically ordering materials and initiating customer shipments.

Italian train operator Trenitalia, for example, has put IoT sensors on its locomotives and passenger cars and is using analytics and in-memory computing to gauge the health of its trains in real time, according to an article in Computer Weekly. “It is now possible to affordably collect huge amounts of data from hundreds of sensors in a single train, analyse that data in real time and detect problems before they actually happen,” Trenitalia’s CIO Danilo Gismondi told Computer Weekly.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018, will change Trenitalia’s business model, allowing it to schedule more trips and make each one more profitable. The railway company will be able to better plan parts inventories and determine which lines are consistently performing poorly and need upgrades. The new system will save €100 million a year, according to ARC Advisory Group.

New business models continue to evolve as 3D printers become more sophisticated and affordable, making it possible to move the end of the supply chain closer to the customer. Companies can design parts and products in materials ranging from carbon fiber to chocolate and then print those items in their warehouse, at a conveniently located third-party vendor, or even on the client’s premises.

In addition to minimizing their shipping expenses and reducing fulfillment time, companies will be able to offer more personalized or customized items affordably in small quantities. For example, clothing retailer Ministry of Supply recently installed a 3D printer at its Boston store that enables it to make an article of clothing to a customer’s specifications in under 90 minutes, according to an article in Forbes.

This kind of highly distributed manufacturing has potential across many industries. It could even create a market for secure manufacturing for highly regulated sectors, allowing a manufacturer to transmit encrypted templates to printers in tightly protected locations, for example.

Meanwhile, organizations are investigating ways of using blockchain technology to authenticate, track and trace, automate, and otherwise manage transactions and interactions, both internally and within their vendor and customer networks. The ability to collect data, record it on the blockchain for immediate verification, and make that trustworthy data available for any application delivers indisputable value in any business context. The supply chain will be no exception.

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Blockchain Is the Change Driver

The supply chain is configured as we know it today because it’s impossible to create a contract that accounts for every possible contingency. Consider cross-border financial transfers, which are so complex and must meet so many regulations that they require a tremendous number of intermediaries to plug the gaps: lawyers, accountants, customer service reps, warehouse operators, bankers, and more. By reducing that complexity, blockchain technology makes intermediaries less necessary—a transformation that is revolutionary even when measured only in cost savings.

“If you’re selling 100 items a minute, 24 hours a day, reducing the cost of the supply chain by just $ 1 per item saves you more than $ 52.5 million a year,” notes Dirk Lonser, SAP go-to-market leader at DXC Technology, an IT services company. “By replacing manual processes and multiple peer-to-peer connections through fax or e-mail with a single medium where everyone can exchange verified information instantaneously, blockchain will boost profit margins exponentially without raising prices or even increasing individual productivity.”

But the potential for blockchain extends far beyond cost cutting and streamlining, says Irfan Khan, CEO of supply chain management consulting and systems integration firm Bristlecone, a Mahindra Group company. It will give companies ways to differentiate.

“Blockchain will let enterprises more accurately trace faulty parts or products from end users back to factories for recalls,” Khan says. “It will streamline supplier onboarding, contracting, and management by creating an integrated platform that the company’s entire network can access in real time. It will give vendors secure, transparent visibility into inventory 24×7. And at a time when counterfeiting is a real concern in multiple industries, it will make it easy for both retailers and customers to check product authenticity.”

Blockchain allows all the critical steps of the supply chain to go electronic and become irrefutably verifiable by all the critical parties within minutes: the seller and buyer, banks, logistics carriers, and import and export officials. Although the key parts of the process remain the same as in today’s analog supply chain, performing them electronically with blockchain technology shortens each stage from hours or days to seconds while eliminating reams of wasteful paperwork. With goods moving that quickly, companies have ample room for designing new business models around manufacturing, service, and delivery.

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Challenges on the Path to Adoption

For all this to work, however, the data on the blockchain must be correct from the beginning. The pills, produce, or parts on the delivery truck need to be the same as the items listed on the manifest at the loading dock. Every use case assumes that the data is accurate—and that will only happen when everything that’s manufactured is smart, connected, and able to self-verify automatically with the help of machine learning tuned to detect errors and potential fraud.

Companies are already seeing the possibilities of applying this bundle of emerging technologies to the supply chain. IDC projects that by 2021, at least 25% of Forbes Global 2000 (G2000) companies will use blockchain services as a foundation for digital trust at scale; 30% of top global manufacturers and retailers will do so by 2020. IDC also predicts that by 2020, up to 10% of pilot and production blockchain-distributed ledgers will incorporate data from IoT sensors.

Despite IDC’s optimism, though, the biggest barrier to adoption is the early stage level of enterprise use cases, particularly around blockchain. Currently, the sole significant enterprise blockchain production system is the virtual currency Bitcoin, which has unfortunately been tainted by its associations with speculation, dubious financial transactions, and the so-called dark web.

The technology is still in a sufficiently early stage that there’s significant uncertainty about its ability to handle the massive amounts of data a global enterprise supply chain generates daily. Never mind that it’s completely unregulated, with no global standard. There’s also a critical global shortage of experts who can explain emerging technologies like blockchain, the IoT, and machine learning to nontechnology industries and educate organizations in how the technologies can improve their supply chain processes. Finally, there is concern about how blockchain’s complex algorithms gobble computing power—and electricity (see “Blockchain Blackouts”).

Blockchain Blackouts

Q118 CoverFeature img5 blackout Capture The Future Of Utilities With IoTBlockchain is a power glutton. Can technology mediate the issue?

A major concern today is the enormous carbon footprint of the networks creating and solving the algorithmic problems that keep blockchains secure. Although virtual currency enthusiasts claim the problem is overstated, Michael Reed, head of blockchain technology for Intel, has been widely quoted as saying that the energy demands of blockchains are a significant drain on the world’s electricity resources.

Indeed, Wired magazine has estimated that by July 2019, the Bitcoin network alone will require more energy than the entire United States currently uses and that by February 2020 it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.

Still, computing power is becoming more energy efficient by the day and sticking with paperwork will become too slow, so experts—Intel’s Reed among them—consider this a solvable problem.

“We don’t know yet what the market will adopt. In a decade, it might be status quo or best practice, or it could be the next Betamax, a great technology for which there was no demand,” Lonser says. “Even highly regulated industries that need greater transparency in the entire supply chain are moving fairly slowly.”

Blockchain will require acceptance by a critical mass of companies, governments, and other organizations before it displaces paper documentation. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue: multiple companies need to adopt these technologies at the same time so they can build a blockchain to exchange information, yet getting multiple companies to do anything simultaneously is a challenge. Some early initiatives are already underway, though:

  • A London-based startup called Everledger is using blockchain and IoT technology to track the provenance, ownership, and lifecycles of valuable assets. The company began by tracking diamonds from mine to jewelry using roughly 200 different characteristics, with a goal of stopping both the demand for and the supply of “conflict diamonds”—diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance insurgencies. It has since expanded to cover wine, artwork, and other high-value items to prevent fraud and verify authenticity.
  • In September 2017, SAP announced the creation of its SAP Leonardo Blockchain Co-Innovation program, a group of 27 enterprise customers interested in co-innovating around blockchain and creating business buy-in. The diverse group of participants includes management and technology services companies Capgemini and Deloitte, cosmetics company Natura Cosméticos S.A., and Moog Inc., a manufacturer of precision motion control systems.
  • Two of Europe’s largest shipping ports—Rotterdam and Antwerp—are working on blockchain projects to streamline interaction with port customers. The Antwerp terminal authority says eliminating paperwork could cut the costs of container transport by as much as 50%.
  • The Chinese online shopping behemoth Alibaba is experimenting with blockchain to verify the authenticity of food products and catch counterfeits before they endanger people’s health and lives.
  • Technology and transportation executives have teamed up to create the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a forum for developing blockchain standards and education for the freight industry.

It’s likely that the first blockchain-based enterprise supply chain use case will emerge in the next year among companies that see it as an opportunity to bolster their legal compliance and improve business processes. Once that happens, expect others to follow.

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Customers Will Expect Change

It’s only a matter of time before the supply chain becomes a competitive driver. The question for today’s enterprises is how to prepare for the shift. Customers are going to expect constant, granular visibility into their transactions and faster, more customized service every step of the way. Organizations will need to be ready to meet those expectations.

If organizations have manual business processes that could never be automated before, now is the time to see if it’s possible. Organizations that have made initial investments in emerging technologies are looking at how their pilot projects are paying off and where they might extend to the supply chain. They are starting to think creatively about how to combine technologies to offer a product, service, or business model not possible before.

A manufacturer will load a self-driving truck with a 3D printer capable of creating a customer’s ordered item en route to delivering it. A vendor will capture the market for a socially responsible product by allowing its customers to track the product’s production and verify that none of its subcontractors use slave labor. And a supermarket chain will win over customers by persuading them that their choice of supermarket is also a choice between being certain of what’s in their food and simply hoping that what’s on the label matches what’s inside.

At that point, a smart supply chain won’t just be a competitive edge. It will become a competitive necessity. D!


About the Authors

Gil Perez is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

Tom Raftery is Global Vice President, Futurist, and Internet of Things Evangelist, at SAP.

Hans Thalbauer is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

Dan Wellers is Global Lead, Digital Futures, at SAP.

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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