Decision Optimisation

Planning and Scheduling Challenges:

  • Automate and optimize your decisions
  • Explore alternatives
  • Understand the impact of different possible decisions

What if you could reduce operation costs, increasing customer service, improving reliability and avoiding capital expenditure?

Would this help you to plan and schedule more effectively and stay focused on your companies goals?

IBM DecIBM_DOCision Optimization Center provides a configurable platform to support business decision makers with analytics to solve their toughest planning and scheduling challenges. It can reduce the effort, time and risk associated with creating tailored solutions that improve business outcomes.

IBM Decision Optimization Center enables line-of-business managers to make smarter, better decisions and improve return on investment (ROI) by combining massive data resources with business analytics and optimization tools.

IBM Decision Optimization Center enables you to:

 

In addition to optimizing decisions, you’ll be able to leverage descriptive and predictive insights. For instance:

– What if product demand were continuously increasing 4%, 5%, 6%, 8%. Would it help you if Decision optimization provides best potential plans for each demand scenario and thus support you reduce risks and assess possible plans and actions to handle the issues?

– What if you could quickly identify solutions to planning and scheduling tasks where there were contradictory requirements and hence adjust these problems in the best way?

Enterprise platform for building and deploying analytical decision support applications


IBM ILOG Advanced Analytics and Optimization - two-minute explainer

Components

IBM® Decision Optimization Center is a flexible platform that delivers optimization across many business functions, including planning and scheduling, asset infrastructure management and supply chain management to help businesses achieve competitive advantage.

IBM Decision Optimization Center helps organizations to:

IBM Decision Optimization Center provides a common interface with the intelligence needed to help transform data insights into action. Unlike other decision support packages, custom solutions and development environments, IBM Decision Optimization Center supports enterprise, line-of-business, information technology and development imperatives.

Benefits

Business Process Support - Give business decision makers functions and views of decision support analytics that give them confidence in using the results.

The IBM Decision Optimization Center Studio provides a complete user interface for business decision makers to access all the functionalities they need for planning and scheduling. This intuitive interface makes it easy for users to explore alternatives and make informed decisions. Existing proprietary user interfaces can also integrate with most of IBM Decision Optimization Center functionality using documented Java APIs. The Studio can then optionally be used as an advanced business support tool.

Scenario management

Click to enlargeTo support scenario comparison and reporting, IBM Decision Optimization Center-based applications provide complete storage of each scenario, including the input data, scenario parameters, goals, solution values and solution key performance indicators (KPI). Data tables provide local storage for external data, so they can be modified without changing data sources. Scenarios can be created, copied, modified and compared right away. Furthermore, scenario metrics stored in a database can prove invaluable in tracking operational and financial performance over time.

“What-if”? analysis

Click to enlargeIBM Decision Optimization Center facilitates easy comparisons of different scenarios. After setting a reference scenario, all displays, including table and chart views, goals and relaxation panels will highlight any difference between it and an alternative scenario. A business user can easily identify the key differences and understand the impact of the different possible decisions. The user can quickly identify why one solution may be better than another or what impact variations in the input parameters would have on operations.

Multiple scenario comparison and sensitivity analysis

Click to enlarge A business user may also want to understand the impacts of changing a data value continuously. For example, what would be the impact on the business if the production demand were to increase by 5%, 6%, …, 15%? Multiple scenario KPI comparison can quickly identify which level of demand increase cause serious issues for operations and what kind of effects it would have.

Powerful optimization engines

IBM Decision Optimization Center supports the planning process with powerful optimization engines. Optimization can handle many thousands of decisions simultaneously and can find the highest value combinations that are not obvious to humans, observing numerous, complex business rules and making delicate trade-offs among competing objectives. The IBM ILOG CPLEX Optimizer and IBM ILOG CPLEX CP Optimizer included in Decision Optimization Center are the leading optimization engines, providing fast solve times, and reliably optimal solutions across a wide variety of problem instances.

Controlled relaxation of requirements

Click to enlargeIn applications based on IBM Decision Optimization Center, problems with contradictory requirements are automatically identified and reported to the user. Decision Optimization Center can also automatically relax constraints during optimization, carefully relaxing the fewest and least important requirements, as specified by the user. This process ensures that Decision Optimization Center always finds a solution and presents information about which preferences or requirements have been relaxed. Users can easily explore the optimized solution, with its recommended plan or schedule and attendant metrics, helping them to understand the process dynamics and to identify solution scenarios.

Multiple objectives and goal planning

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeReal world businesses almost always have multiple and conflicting objectives (such as minimizing operating costs, increasing customer service, improving reliability, and avoiding capital expenditures). IBM Decision Optimization Center helps balance these conflicting goals by allowing users to change the importance associated with each goal or to set target levels for individual goals. In many practical situations, working with goals is as important as working with costs and requirements.

Works with Microsoft Office

IBM Decision Optimization Center provides users with tools for conducting further analysis and developing reports and presentations through Microsoft® Office, allowing formatted cut-and-paste editing between the Decision Optimization Center Planner/client and the different tools of Office. Using Excel can simplify reporting or advanced data manipulation using user-defined formulas.

Collaborative Planning - Enable multiple decision makers to work together to maximize value across the enterprise.

In order to reduce silos and take advantage of opportunities to maximize value across the enterprise, more and more decision making processes operate collaboratively, with decision makers in different parts of the company contributing to the planning process. The planning process needs to include people in diverse roles:

Personas and roles in a planning process

Click to enlargeAnalytical decision support applications based on Decision Optimization Center allow planners to work together on plans, to enter and validate data jointly, and to share candidate plans among themselves and with reviewers through the shared scenario repository. They can also get feedback from other stakeholders various reporting tools.

Separation of corporate data from planning data and processing

IBM Decision Optimization Center enables an efficient division of both data and processing. Data is imported from enterprise databases into the Decision Optimization Center application, and planners then work with that copy to create scenarios and perform “what if” operations to determine the right decisions. All of this activity occurs without compromising enterprise data or impacting existing systems with processing overhead. When optimal solutions have been found, they can be easily exported to update the enterprise data.

Sharing scenarios

IBM Decision Optimization Center supports the planning process with powerful optimization engines. An individual planner can share scenarios with other planners or reviewers. Using the central scenario repository, the other parties can easily work with the referenced scenario in their own workspaces and compare it with their own scenarios.

Working together on plans

Planners can also share working scenarios, concurrently editing the different input parameters. They can use their business expertise to incorporate manual decisions by freezing some of the decision variables. The scenario repository of IBM Decision Optimization Center ensures data safety during scenario editing through locking and versioning. The edits made by different planners are controlled and, if conflicts occur when saving the scenario, the planner can identify and fix them.

Solving shared scenarios

At appropriate points in the planning process, a master planner will optimize a scenario, using all information collected by all planners working on that scenario and specifying the decisions based on the model solved by the optimization engines. During this process, IBM Decision Optimization Center locks the scenario to ensure that there are no modifications. At the end of optimization, all planners and reviewers can study the proposed solution for this scenario and continue to refine the scenario manually if necessary.

Exporting scenarios and reporting

IBM Decision Optimization Center can export scenarios to many kinds of third party reporting tools. This way, proposed plans are made available in customized formats to stakeholders for review and approval.

IT architecture solutions for application development that simplify development and deployment of optimization-based decision support applications.

IBM Decision Optimization Center offers an integrated development environment (IDE) based on the Eclipse framework which supports the different phases of optimization-based tailored solution development:

Slashing development costs

Building a good decision-support application takes time and experience. It requires building the sophisticated behavior associated with scenario creation and comparison, controlled relaxation of constraints, and goal balancing. Creating the user interface screens needed to review data inputs, operating constraints, preferences, costs, yield assumptions, goals and solution metrics also requires considerable effort. IBM Decision Optimization Center offers out-of-the-box implementation for these, and many more, commonly used functionalities of planning and scheduling applications. In a few minutes, some simple but effective views and interactions can be configured to fulfill most basic needs. And Decision Optimization Center also simplifies constructing more complex views needed for sophisticated users.

Configuration

When configuring standard components is not enough, IBM Decision Optimization Center includes documented Java API to enable customization of its functionality. For example, the software developer can include a specific Java-based custom view with maps and diagrams, using the embedded IBM ILOG JViews Enterprise Developer. Other examples are custom data connector or custom data interaction. With Decision Optimization Center, you can automatically create and maintain a Domain Object Model, a Java realization of the application data model, that enables you to customize views and behaviors in the business user interface.
Gantt, Maps, Diagrams, Dashboards

Examples of custom visualization inside IBM Decision Optimization Center using IBM ILOG JViews Enterprise.

Modularity

The modularity of IBM Decision Optimization Center enables using some modules independently of others. The Java API allows, for example, using an application developed in Decision Optimization Center from a custom user interface or integrating it into an existing application. This application can still benefit from using the central scenario repository and the Optimization Server.

Perfect fit

Through the customizability and the modularity of IBM Decision Optimization Center, developers can create a solution architecture that fits perfectly to their business needs.

Scalable deployment Provide highly scalable decision support using server-based data and high availability computation.

In addition to stand-alone workstation deployment, IBM Decision Optimization Center provides client-server based deployment in which planners can interactively perform “what-if?” analysis and can trigger potentially large and complex optimization solving on a remote server. The IBM Decision Optimization Center CPLEX Server supports concurrent and multi-user invocations, as well as programmatically scheduled (batch) jobs. In both scenarios, it manages and monitors the optimization engines that produce decision recommendations to planners.

Massive computation for solving

The ability to create multiple scenarios, along with use of “what-if?” scenarios and sensitivity analysis to investigate different alternatives and combinations, can lead to massive computational needs for the optimization solver. Planners who don’t want to burden their desktop machines running lengthy computations can use more powerful machines to solve optimization models faster. Utilizing the power of a dedicated IBM Decision Optimization Center CPLEX Server, planners can study more alternatives and therefore make more informed decisions.

IT compliance

Today’s enterprise IT departments have to maintain many applications and therefore are always looking for applications that are easier to deploy, control and maintain. The current standard to achieve these goals relies on using application servers, such as Websphere Application Server. IBM Decision Optimization Center CPLEX Server can deploy on an application server, in order to provide such standard compliance. Its Web-based administration console allows monitoring of deployed and executing applications on the server, making it easier to identify possible issues.

Load balancing

Click to enlarge
Cluster: several users have
their jobs dispatched on
different execution nodes.
By deploying the optimization server on a cluster of machines, IBM Decision Optimization Center CPLEX Server allows them to share computational workload as a single virtual machine. Requests initiated from different users are managed by, and distributed among, all the standalone computers. This results in balanced computational work among different nodes, improving the performance of the cluster system.

High Availability

Click to enlarge
Example of recommended
architecture for Highly
Available deployments.
Also, by deploying the optimization server on a cluster of machines, IBM Decision Optimization Center CPLEX Server can improve availability of mission-critical analytical decision support applications by using redundant nodes. High Availability (HA) cluster implementations use redundancy of cluster components to eliminate single points of failure. The most common size for an HA cluster is two nodes, which is the minimum requirement to provide redundancy.

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