Road Trip! InfoDev Goes to CAB

What We Learned at This Year's Customer Advisory Board (CAB) Meeting

You've already heard from Scott Miller, InfoDev Documentation Architect, in an earlier blog about the shift to task-based documentation (see Online Help and the Epic BFFL Throwdown of the 90s). Today's blog is about his experience attending this year's CAB meeting, which a few of us from the InfoDev team attended. Our goal in attending CAB was to interact with and learn more about our customers. Scott attended breakout sessions on our Oracle Communications Network Charging and Control (NCC) product and he shares his perspective below.

Cheryl Lander, Oracle Communications InfoDev Senior Director 

 

Last month, six members of the InfoDev team attended the Oracle Communications Customer Advisory Board (CAB) event at Oracle headquarters. We met with customers and re-united with co-workers from around the world. However, we did not attend any of the after-session parties because we wild and crazy writers tend to dance on the tables and sing Bruce Springsteen songs, so you’ll have to get the gossip from another source.

CAB is a three-day program where Oracle Communications customers meet with Oracle Communications product management, developers, and, this year, writers. The purpose of CAB is to tell customers about the future product directions, and to get information from customers about what they want in our products. As members of the InfoDev team, our purpose was to meet customers and find out how they work, and how they use the documentation and training curriculum that we create.

The first day of CAB was devoted to presentations by Oracle about future directions in communications technology, and how Oracle applications will enable customers to take advantage of that technology. Of most interest to me were:

  • WebRTC, or real-time communication on the Web. WebRTC enables browser to browser applications for voice calling, video calling, and file sharing. Using a browser for your primary communications device has some interesting implications. What, for example, is your primary communications identity? Your phone number? Your Facebook page? Your Web page? Oracle Communications applications  are already working on how service providers can take advantage of WebRTC, so stay tuned.
  • Data analytics. By using intelligent data collection, service providers can capture a lot of information about their subscribers. Using data such as where subscribers live, what they shop for, who their friends are, and so forth, service providers can identify who their most important and influential subscribers are. They can use this data to improve the effort to retain those subscribers, for example, to automatically provide bonus promotions. Service providers can also use that data to give information to advertisers about their target audiences. The data is stored in Oracle Communications Data Model (OCDM), which can be integrated with Oracle applications.

The second and third days of CAB featured break-out sessions for each product; for example, sessions on Billing and Revenue Management (BRM), and Network Charging and Control (NCC). At these sessions, customers and product managers met and talked, and planned the future of Oracle products. This year, it was also where writers had the opportunity to meet our customers, and find out how they work, which always tells us something about what we need to document. Here are some interesting things I heard:

  • When we write about Oracle Communications applications, we always like to keep in mind the customer experience, and, even though the person who uses a cell phone is not an Oracle customer, we like to keep their experience in mind too. The customer break-out session revealed multiple levels of customers; for example, in the case of one Oracle customer who I met, the person who uses the cell phone is Oracle’s customer’s customer’s customer’s customer. (Oracle’s customer is an MVNE, whose customer is an MNO, whose customer is an MVNO, whose customer is the person with a cell phone.) Wheels within wheels!
  • Everyone knows that the world of a communications service provider is a very competitive world, but our customers at CAB showed me how competitive their business is. For example, one of the service providers I met described how he makes changes to products and pricing at least two or three times a week, mostly in response to what his competitors are doing.
  • Sometimes we writers wonder: Just what exactly does a customer want in documentation? So, I asked a customer, and he said:
    • More information about operations; specifically, which logs files to look in, what to look for in them, and how often to look. Also, information about how to bring a system offline, and bring it back online. (In Oracle Communications documentation, the typical place for this information is in the system administration guide.
    • Information about what you can do with the applications. For example, can the OSM application handle changes to in-flight orders? Can you configure rollovers in BRM? Does NCC support an IVR system? (In Oracle Communications documentation, this information is in the Concepts guide.)
    • What are the new features in a release, or in a patch? Do the new features allow new types of products to be designed? Do any changes need to be made because of a new product? (In Oracle Communications documentation, this information is in Release Notes, and in the information about upgrading.)

In addition to introducing new directions in technology, and providing a way to meet our customers, CAB presented innovation awards to three customers who have implemented Oracle Communications products in advanced and interesting ways: Sasktel, Turkcell Superonline, and Cablevision Mexico. It’s always interesting to see how the applications we create at Oracle get used around the globe.

All in all, it was three fun and interesting days. Maybe next year we’ll go to the parties too. Look out.

We value your feedback. If you would like to suggest improvements or report issues on any of the product documentation, curriculum, or training produced by the Oracle Communications Information Development team, you can use any of these channels:

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About

This is a blog from the Oracle Communications Information Development team, led by Cheryl Lander, Sr. Director. She and members of her team from various functions (writers, curriculum developers, and architects) and product lines will share their approach to documentation and curriculum, all with the goal of getting feedback to improve their deliverables. We'd like to thank Joe Sciallo, UCS Tech Writer (former Sun) for pushing us into the social media world. The primary team driving this blog is called "Joe and the Blogettes"; other members include Brenda Roldan (BSS Tech Writer), Jodie Wilford (OSS InfoDev Director), Leif Lourie (SDP Curriculum Developer), and Scott T. Miller (Documentation Architect).

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