Highlights from the Oracle Customer Experience Summit @ OpenWorld

A guest post by David Vap, Group Vice President, Oracle Applications Product Development

The Oracle Customer Experience Summit was the first-ever event covering the full breadth of Oracle's CX portfolio -- Marketing, Sales, Commerce, and Service. The purpose of the Summit was to articulate the customer experience imperative and to showcase the suite of Oracle products that can help our customers create the best possible customer experience.

This topic has always been a very important one, but now that there are so many alternative companies to do business with and because people have such public ways to voice their displeasure, it's necessary for vendors to have multiple listening posts in place to gauge consumer sentiment. They need to know what is going on in real time and be able to react quickly to turn negative situations into positive ones. Those can then be shared in a social manner to enhance the brand and turn the customer into a repeat customer.

The Summit was focused on Oracle's portfolio of products and entirely dedicated to customers who are committed to building great customer experiences within their businesses. Rather than DBAs, the attendees were business people looking to collaborate with other like-minded experts and find out how Oracle can help in terms of technology, best practices, and expertise.

The event was at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco as part of Oracle OpenWorld. We had eight hundred people attend, which was great for the first year. Next year, there's no doubt in my mind, we can raise that number to 5,000.

Alignment and Logic

Oracle's Customer Experience portfolio is made up of a combination of acquired and organic products owned by many people who are new to Oracle. We include homegrown Fusion CRM, as well as RightNow, Inquira, OPA, Vitrue, ATG, Endeca, and many others. The attendees knew of the acquisitions, so naturally they wanted to see how the products all fit together and hear the logic behind the portfolio. To tell them about our alignment, we needed to be aligned.

To accomplish that, a cross functional team at Oracle agreed on the messaging so that every single Oracle presenter could cover the big picture before going deep into a product or topic. Talking about the full suite of products in one session produced overflow value for other products. And even though this internal coordination was a huge effort, everyone saw the value for our customers and for our long-term cooperation and success.

Keynotes, Workshops, and Tents of Innovation

We scored by having Seth Godin as our keynote speaker ― always provocative and popular.

The opening keynote was a session orchestrated by Mark Hurd, Anthony Lye, and me. Mark set the stage by giving real-world examples of bad customer experiences, Anthony clearly articulated the business imperative for addressing these experiences, and I brought it all to life by taking the audience around the Customer Lifecycle and showing demos and videos, with partners included at each of the stops around the lifecycle.

Brian Curran, a VP for RightNow Product Strategy, presented a session that was in high demand called The Economics of Customer Experience. People loved hearing how to build a business case and justify the cost of building a better customer experience.

John Kembel, another VP for RightNow Product Strategy, held a workshop that customers raved about. It was based on the journey mapping methodology he created, which is a way to talk to customers about where they want to make improvements to their customers' experiences. He divided the audience into groups led by facilitators. Each person had the opportunity to engage with experts and peers and construct some real takeaways.

From left to right: Brian Curran, John Kembel, Seth Godin, and George Kembel

The conference hotel was across from Union Square so we used that space to set up Innovation Tents. During the day we served lunch in the tents and partners showed their different innovative ideas. It was very interesting to see all the technologies and advancements. It also gave people a place to mix and mingle and to think about the fringe of where we could all take these ideas.

Product Portfolio Plus Thought Leadership

Of course there is always room for improvement, but the feedback on the format of the conference was positive. Ninety percent of the sessions had either a partner or a customer teamed with an Oracle presenter. The presentations weren't dry, one-way information dumps, but more interactive.

I just followed up with a CEO who attended the conference with his Head of Marketing. He told me that they are using John Kembel's journey mapping methodology across the organization to pull people together. This sort of thought leadership in these highly competitive areas gives Oracle permission to engage around the technology. We have to differentiate ourselves and it's harder to do on the product side because everyone looks the same on paper. But on thought leadership ― we can, and did, take some really big steps.

David Vap
Group Vice President
Oracle Applications Product Development


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