Viewpoints from a 15-year Commerce Veteran, Austin Lowry, TAISTech.com
In mid-2015 Oracle announced a new cloud offering, Oracle Commerce Cloud. At the time of this initial release, many in the community welcomed the addition to the overall portfolio. The thought was Oracle might take an approach that many of their competitors had chosen – transition the on-premise model into a managed services offering, simply adding RESTful API’s on the front-end, taking on the hosting and wrapping it into something people called "cloud."
There was much discussion in the commerce community around the differences between Oracle Commerce Cloud (OCC) and Oracle Commerce On-premise (ATG+Endeca). What partners and customers saw with Commerce Cloud was a revolutionary new way to manage and deliver an ecommerce experience. Oracle had built the new application from scratch, included mobile friendly business tools, with a modern service-based architecture, enabling incredibly fast time-to-value and supported by a very aggressive roadmap that was delivering new features and functions every couple of months.
To those familiar with ATG, Endeca, and Oracle Commerce, we knew that behind this, simple but elegant, SaaS product was two decades of market-leading ecommerce technology just waiting to answer the call of the modern marketplace.
Oracle’s commitment to features and functionality has been affirmed every few months since the product’s inception. In fact, OCC is not only catching up with its on-premise cousin but in many ways, surpassing it. With the current September release of OCC, B2B functionality is on par with the Oracle Commerce on-premise solutions. I will save B2C discussions for another post.
Over the last several months, OCC has added B2B account roles, multi-level organizations, contract pricing, custom catalogs, invoice payments, tax exemption, order approvals, quoting, configuration, multi-location inventory, and even B2B multi-site. These features not only bring OCC up to speed with Oracle Commerce but also make it the only SaaS platform on the market delivering B2C alongside B2B features out-of-the-box.
In talking with dozens of customers each month, I have sensed that some B2B customers are hesitant to embrace a SaaS ecommerce platform fully. The core challenge I see is that B2B companies want the B2C experience for their business buyers, but at the same time, the heart of manufacturers, distributors, and other B2B companies is their ERP and CRM systems. Mission-critical systems deliver algorithmic pricing rules, multi-level inventory, quoting, contract, and other unique business functions.
On-premise solutions have long solved the immediate needs of businesses to integrate these core systems but have ultimately produced additional business complexities. Customizations required to implement integrations have created systems that in the long-term were challenging to maintain and upgrade. While solving a business need in the short-term, the result for many businesses is that their systems became quickly dated and there were significant costs to upgrade and modernize.
The good news is that OCC eliminates this challenge. Commerce Cloud is one pillar of a larger suite of Oracle solutions including CRM, ERP, CPQ, Marketing, and others. Part of Oracle’s cloud strategy has been to ensure that its core applications and other 3rd party applications easily integrate and communicate with each other.
Enabling these types of integrations without breaking the upgrade path was one of Oracle’s greatest challenges to overcome when designing a new SaaS commerce system – from what I have witnessed, they have succeeded.
Oracle Commerce Cloud is in enabling extensions through web services called "web hooks" that request and accept information from external sources. To further simplify integrations, Oracle has introduced a solution called Integration Cloud Services (ICS) that easily maps data from one integration point to another. By offloading the integrations to ICS, commerce teams now have a system that can easily be upgraded every 2 to 3 months instead of every 2 to 3 years.
Our B2B customers tell us they are looking for a platform that:
Oracle Commerce Cloud hits on all of these points, and there is a great deal more to come.
If you are interested in seeing how OCC fits in your business, TAISTech provides a free evaluation service analyzing how an OCC migration could work for you. We also provide proof-of-concept demonstrations for extensions and integrations to validate exactly how the new platform could work.
About the author: Austin Lowry currently leads the east coast practice for TAISTech, a leading digital services organization. With 15 years of operational and advisory ecommerce experience, Austin is helping customers design, build and grow differentiated e-commerce businesses.