Tuesday Feb 23, 2016

Big Thoughts on Big Data - What's Next for Customer-Centric Organizations?

Big data done right can deliver unprecedented operational and performance insights as well as provide a springboard for true innovation for industries across the board -- from financial services to higher education. As such, making the most of big data is at the forefront of business executives "to-do" lists -- it's one of the areas that our customers ask us about most often.

Like most major enterprise initiatives, there's not a "one size fits all" approach to big data, and success is not always guaranteed. IDC research shows that only about 10% of employees from across organizational levels are fully satisfied with the big data technology resources available to them to support analysis and decision making. At best, this percentage grows to 30% when those "somewhat" satisfied are added into the mix. This leaves 70% of users who are complaining -- either vocally or with their wallets.*

Initial big data recommendations disregarded the importance of an all-encompassing enterprise infrastructure, data management, and governance strategy. Today, however, as more companies progress in their big data and analytics journeys, it is becoming clear that they need a big data strategy and architecture that promotes incremental deployments, and agility in developing and adopting new technology components.
Spain's leading retail bank and insurer with more than 13.8 million customers, 9,700 ATMs, and 5,300 branches is a good example of what to do right when it comes to harnessing the power of big data. Like most financial services organizations, CaixaBank wanted to integrate data from bank branches, ATMs, and internet and mobile banking to gain a complete understanding of its customers and offer personalized banking solutions -- gaining in customer loyalty and business competitiveness. CaixaBank (Oracle customer since 2013) worked with Oracle for the deployment of its big data infrastructure -- which includes an array of Oracle solutions and positions CaixaBank at the forefront of innovation in the banking industry. The new infrastructure provides the bank with a solution that responds to its need for cutting edge information management, enabling it to gain a 360-degree understanding of its customers from internal and external data to offer them tailored, on-demand solutions. Looking to share experiences like these, Oracle commissioned IDC to take a deep dive look at lessons learned from interviews and surveys of organizations engaged in big data initiatives. The resulting IDC White Paper, "Six Patterns of Big Data and Analytics Adoption: The Importance of the Information Architecture," explores key big data use cases at organizations across industries -- illustrating goals, approaches, and outcomes for modernizing their business intelligence platforms.

In recent years, I've appreciated the opportunity to listen to and learn from many organizations pursuing a big data solution. The IDC White Paper further expands this insight with new context around best practices that include:

  • Develop a big data information architecture in the context of the business, application, and technology architectures
  • Consider the gamut of big use cases and end-user requirements. Big data is not only about exploring large data sets
  • Design a logical architecture distinct from the physical architecture to protect the organization from frequent changes in the emerging technologies -- enabling you to maintain a stable logical architecture in the face of a changing physical architecture
  • Transform the information architecture into incremental projects rather than trying a "big bang" approach
  • Consider, even at the early stages of evaluating technologies, the full range of both functional and nonfunctional requirements for any future deployment. Adding those requirements later down the road will almost always incur additional costs and delays, another reason why an architecture-led approach is important

Harnessing the power of big data can be a daunting task. But with the right approach -- across people, processes, and technology -- organizations can truly derive real business value from big data -- accelerating innovation, driving optimization, and improving compliance.

For more information, check out the Data Mastery: The Global Driver of Revenue and Oracle's big data resources.

*Source: IDC White Paper, sponsored by Oracle, Six Patterns of Big Data and Analytics Adoption: The Importance of the Information Architecture, June 2015

Tuesday Jan 12, 2016

Live Conferences – Three Important Reasons to Keep Going

Guest post by Sten Vesterli

As the New Year kicks off, so does the 2016 industry conference season. The first four months are packed with events that range from global telecommunications and healthcare IT conferences to user group meetings, and even a series of Oracle CloudWorld events around the world. 

Last fall, when I returned from Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, I reflected on whether such hallmark events remain relevant in a world where we increasingly expect all of the information we need to be available on demand and, literally at our fingertips.

My conclusion is that these events continue to be vital and vibrant opportunities for learning, and I offer three compelling reasons why:

    • Specific Answers
    • Knowledge Sharing
    • Serendipity

    Specific Answers

    Oracle, for example, has a very comprehensive technology stack, and there are often many possible ways to meet any specific business challenge. The collateral about each product cannot compare all the possibilities, but attending an overview session by an independent Oracle Ace director gives you an understanding of how each product fits into the overall picture.

    Events, such as Oracle OpenWorld, provide a unique opportunity to ask your specific questions and get the answers you need, either in a Q&A panel session or at the demo grounds, where you can meet senior developers and product managers.

    Knowledge Sharing

    Both at conference sessions and at the various social events around a conference, you have the option to meet other professionals and hear about their challenges and how they overcome them. Many people have interesting and innovative solutions but do not feel like standing up in front of an audience to talk about it. But over a beer in the bar, you might learn many useful tips.


    Serendipity means finding something useful that you were not looking for. The interesting word comes from an old fairytale, but the meaning is as relevant as ever.

    Have you ever browsed a physical bookstore and found a book you would never have thought to look for online? You will experience the same kind of happy coincidences at live conferences, where you are exposed to a concentrated barrage of technology, products and ideas. It is very likely that you will stumble upon technical possibilities you were unaware of, and which can make a difference for your organization.


    Oracle is working hard to make product information available through many channels, from documentation and tutorials to videos, podcasts and Virtual Technology Summits. but all of these have limitations in the amount of knowledge they can transfer. To increase your success with Oracle software, you should also attend live events like user group conferences, Oracle OpenWorld, or other specialized events, such as Oracle Industry Connect or Oracle CloudWorld programs. I know I'll continue to participate and benefit in the years ahead.

    Sten Vesterli is one of Europe's leading experts on successfully using Oracle technology. His special focus is Oracle ADF, and his book "Oracle ADF Enterprise Application Development - Made Simple" is out in 2nd edition. He has also written "Developing Web Applications with Oracle ADF Essentials" and several other books. He is recognized by Oracle with the title of Oracle ACE Director, is a Fusion User Experience Advocate for Oracle and sits on the Oracle Usability Advisory Board. Sten is an Ironman triathlete and lives in Denmark. Follow Sten on his blog at http://www.vesterli.com or on twitter @stenvesterli

    Tuesday Sep 22, 2015

    Mergers and Acquisitions: The Opportunity of Change

    30% of Oracle employees came to us from an acquired company. Besides bringing unique product, industry and customer knowledge, each new-to-Oracle employee is an ambassador of a company culture that includes perspectives and approaches that may be different from Oracle. We think that’s a good thing.

    We know the acquisition of a company can be tough for our customers and the experience can feel a lot like an uninvited guest with a big appetite for change. Our customers use the technologies we acquire to run their business and that change has the potential to impact their ability to do so. Our goal is to lessen the initial impact in the timeliest way and get to the added value envisioned by the acquisition as fast as possible.

    We look to our new team members, and the culture they bring with them, to highlight opportunities for easing the transition that will ultimately increase customer success and make doing business with Oracle easier. Soon after the acquisition is announced, we work to understand the perspective of the acquired company along with the processes and systems used to work with their customers. Critical touch points including technical support, roadmaps, and contracting are discovered at a detailed level. We seek to understand how the voice of the customer has been supported and what opportunities exist for further relationship building and two-way communication. This period of discovery brings the two teams together and brings to light inherent challenges to the way we do things.

    Combining our collective experiences and expanding the value we deliver brings us closer to our common goal of ensuring that our customers thrive during and after the transition. The only meaningful measure of whether these efforts are having the desired effect is achieved by reaching out directly to our customers. Early in the transition we use surveys and face-to-face engagements to ask our customers about their experience and to tell us what we are doing well and where we need to improve. This outreach becomes a baseline measure of customer satisfaction, providing guidance and insight as we work to more effectively communicate and direct our integration efforts. We ask our customers for specific feedback regarding product and service satisfaction, how well the account team understands their business and about areas of innovation they would like us to pursue. We ask whether the customer has noticed an upward trend or a decline in product quality and service delivery; how we are doing at keeping our promises and if we are succeeding in being a trusted advisor. These interactions are also an opportunity to provide assistance to any customer who tells us they need help during the transition.

    In line with Oracle’s best practice of engaging in closed-loop communication, we report the results of these engagements to those customers who have given us their feedback. We also share the results with Oracle leadership so that the entire team can benefit from customer feedback and take action when needed.

    Needless to say, every acquisition brings new opportunities and new challenges. We know from experience that embracing what is new is well worth the effort, and that, together, our combined team can meet our goal of helping our customers achieve even higher levels of success.

    Tuesday Sep 08, 2015

    Enterprise Data: Opportunity for the Taking

    In today's economy, data - specifically, big data - ranks high on the list of businesses' most precious capital resources. There is no question that it's increasingly a core requirement for creating new products, services, and ways of working.

    Oracle recently took a close look at businesses across several industries, assessing their ability to effectively manage and put big data to work to move their organizations forward. The study, "Data Mastery: The Global Driver of Revenue," conducted by WSJ Customer Studios and sponsored by Oracle, yields some very interesting findings.

    Surveying 742 executives in large enterprises, the study found that 9 out of 10 executives consider the ability to garner insight from data vital to their company's future. While some businesses still struggle to successfully manage significant data and turn it into actionable insight, many are using this data to improve the customer experience and create customer value. For example, 

    • Financial institutions are gaining a complete view of customers and their overall relationship with the firm. In turn, they have better insight into profitability, risk and future business opportunities with individual customers. As important, they can deliver more personalized and effective offers to their customers
    • Healthcare providers are leveraging a growing volume of structured and unstructured data - including clinical and operational data - to drive more personalized, effective and efficient treatments that improve patient outcomes and drive down costs
    • Retail stores are increasingly embracing an "omni-channel" approach, breaking down data silos and viewing the customer holistically to deliver a truly individualized customer experience
    • Utility companies are using big data to enable early warning systems that alert customers to potential outages even before they happen and keep them updated as to when their service might be restored -- providing a better customer experience

    Companies and organizations across a variety of industries are learning that big data matters. And what's more, they know that learning how to effectively, efficiently, and securely gather, store, manage, and - most important - analyze their valuable data is imperative to driving more actionable insight, better customer experiences, and improved performance.

    Check out the Data Mastery: The Global Driver of Revenue and Oracle's big data resources to learn more.

      Tuesday Aug 25, 2015

      Cloud's Second Act: Business/IT Collaboration Emerges as Gold Standard

      What a difference a few years can make, especially in the world of cloud computing. From the onset, speed has been one of the overriding benefits of the cloud ‒ allowing business leaders, perennially in search of greater agility, the ability to spin up new applications in record time – in months instead of years in many cases.

      This enticing proposition gave rise to predictions of an impending tectonic shift in who would take the lead in purchasing and managing business solutions in the modern enterprise – with expectations that line of business managers would be firmly in the driver’s seat.

      Not so fast… "Cloud Computing Comes of Age," a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) study conducted on behalf of Oracle, reveals that collaboration between IT and business leaders is becoming the gold standard as cloud enters its second act. Nearly half of the 376 business and technology leaders surveyed say that IT and business are nearly equally involved in selecting cloud services.The first generation of cloud solutions was characterized by adoption of customer relationship management, recruiting and expense management systems. As cloud-based applications and infrastructure solutions mature to support a much wider range of mission-critical operations, a compelling need for establishing appropriate enterprise controls arises to avoid a new generation of siloed systems.

      The HBR study concludes that companies "that have yet to pull cloud projects into the enterprise framework are wasting money and missing opportunities...By taking a more managed approach, cloud leaders have been able to reduce not only implementation time but also cost and complexity through their use of cloud."

      Let's take a deeper look at cloud leaders, which are identified in the study as "companies that take a more managed, enterprise approach" to cloud computing. First, they are more likely to launch new products (72 percent), expand into new market segments (62 percent), and enter new geographies (55 percent) and new lines of business (39 percent) than cloud novices and cloud followers. One can surmise that the added agility that cloud-based solutions provide helps to fuel that flexibility and innovation. They also say that the cloud is freeing up their IT department to focus on more strategic initiatives (52 percent).

      Cloud leaders are not only more likely to use cloud solutions across the top five functions where cloud services are in use (recruiting, marketing, sales force automation, travel/expense management and training), they’re also more often pushing cloud into more core business functions like procurement, supply chain and accounting.

      Further, cloud leaders are more likely to have a strong partnership between IT and other parts of the business -- not just in determining requirements (47 percent) and selecting services (46 percent), but in acquiring and deploying them (33 and 26 percent, respectively). Even as we experience a "democratization" of IT, which is blending "roles and responsibilities at all levels and requiring new skills both inside and outside of IT," someone still has to lead the charge. When it comes to cloud leaders (as opposed to novices or followers) -- that person is more than twice as likely (62 percent) to be the CIO.

      Perhaps most interesting from a customer experience perspective is that cloud leaders are increasingly becoming service brokers -- both internally to lines of business and externally by developing "as a service" models for their customers. The later scenario makes for an even more complex ecosystem that, in turn, requires new IT governance models and IT team skills.

      Oracle understands these new requirements. We've experienced them firsthand as we move our own large enterprise onto the cloud, even as we continue to develop a universe of industry-leading SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS offerings for the market. And, we're here to help our customers succeed in their cloud journeys, applying our experience and solutions to help today's enterprises and CIOs achieve a new level of agility and innovation.

      Tuesday Aug 11, 2015

      Big Data and a Holistic Approach to Customer Experience

      These days, nearly every conversation with a customer turns, at some point, to a discussion of how to use big data as a competitive advantage, especially when it comes to the customer experience. With the proliferation of smart mobile devices and the emergence of social media, customer interaction channels and data have exploded and so have customer expectations.

      In their big data journeys, many organizations are making significant traction in understanding how customers behave or will behave from transactional perspective. The real potential of big data when it comes to the customer experience is in using it to gain a holistic understanding of the customer beyond the transactional relationship in terms of needs and motivations.

      An often-cited industry statistic is that companies estimate that they're analyzing a mere 12% of their data. What about the potential of the other 88%? Often it remains locked in data silos across the organization. In other cases, organizations struggle to distill the importance of data due to overload.

      How can organizations best leverage the rapidly growing big data to gain a more complete and intuitive understanding of their customers?

      "Big Data in the Enterprise: When Worlds Collide," an IDC report sponsored by Oracle and Intel, points to the emergence of a "long-term (very long-term) trend of pragmatic purchasing and deployment of a range of big data and analytics technologies and services. This pragmatism has already resulted in a realization of not only the need for coexistence of relational and nonrelational big data and analytics technologies but also the fact that together these technologies can enable completely new ways of conducting business" and drive decisions at the strategic, operational and tactical level.

      In the quest for a holistic understanding of the customer, organizations must develop strategies to manage and optimize big data at three levels: at rest, in motion, and for analysis. Oracle has customer covered at all three levels, with a broad portfolio of big data and analytics solutions that span relational and nonrelational domains.

      We're putting these solutions to work in our own organization. Oracle is using its big data solutions including Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, Oracle Big Data Appliance, and Oracle Exalytics to significantly improve the effectiveness of our support operations and in turn, the customer experience. While early in our journey, we've found several important ways to use analytics and automation to accelerate service request resolution identifying 4% more automation opportunities on the very first day of our initiative.

      To learn more about strategies for optimizing the big data solutions and Oracle's approach, check out the full IDC report on Oracle.com.

      Tuesday May 19, 2015

      Continuous Improvement of the Cloud Customer Experience

      When it comes to Cloud, customers expect a solution that enables personalization, constant connectivity and security. And, through it all, we know that customers want an easy business relationship with their Cloud provider. To enable this, we focus on “Ease of Doing Business” attributes and in this post, I outline some of Oracle’s specific efforts.

      First, as of March 2015, we have completely refreshed our Cloud documentation repository. All documents related to technical and functional aspects have been updated and posted. The repository can be easily accessed and navigated via the Oracle Cloud Portal, allowing you (customers) to achieve a rapid start upon the purchase of your subscription across any pillar and to access best practices throughout the lifecycle.

      Second, as a result of having fully automated the provisioning process, we now expect a 36-hour turnaround for all orders processed. This impacts the ability of our customers to initiate the implementation phase and therefore, to more quickly capitalize on your Cloud subscription. We have also revised our Cloud Services policies, so that they provide a consistent experience for patching, application of language packs and refreshes across all Fusion pillars.

      Third, we have significantly expanded knowledge resources for issue resolution via My Oracle Support portal, as well as further focused our services on problem prevention through a richer knowledge base, improving monitoring internally for faults. We indeed look to optimize our solutions from how we build them to how we support them.

      Ease of Doing Business continues to be a top objective for us at Oracle across all of our offerings. I will continue to update you as more updates and benefits become available. 


      Welcome to the Customers in the Know Blog. My name is Jeb Dasteel, I am Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Oracle. I am responsible for driving customer-focus into all aspects of the Oracle business. I advocate and work within Oracle to develop and deliver customer programs that increase customer retention, value delivered, satisfaction, and loyalty. This blog was designed to enhance our engagement and interaction with our customers, by providing them exclusive Oracle executive insights, ensuring they have the most up-to-date trends and news directly from Oracle, as well as guest blog submissions by some of our customers.



      « July 2016