Sunday May 15, 2016

Mobile Cloud Service at Manchester Airports Group

Authored by Suhas Uliyar, Oracle Vice President, Mobile Product Development


One of the benefits of constant world travel is that I often have time between flights to shop for myself and my family, as today’s airports have turned into mini brick-and-mortar malls filled with top consumer brands. In fact, I once bought a complete set of business attire at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport when my plans changed and I had to head to London for a meeting instead of making my connection home. However, I, and many other travelers, have the perception that airport shopping is expensive; even more expensive than shopping in true brick-and-mortar malls. Imagine my excitement when Manchester Airports Group (MAG) engaged with Oracle’s mobile specialists to discover how MCS 2.0 with Location Based Services (LBS) could help to locate and engage MAG travelers and give them incentives and discounts on retail goods in MAG airport stores, thus counteracting the perception of expensive airport shopping!


Manchester Airports Group is the largest UK-owned airport operator and over 48 million passengers move through its five airports each year. As MAG continues to add new routes and passengers, it has recognized that it must focus on improving the pre-flight and post-flight passenger experience. One way to accomplish this is to identify passengers within airports using LBS, and then to personalize their experiences as they make their way through MAG terminals. As Roger Westerbeek, Group Head of CRM & Loyalty, MAG puts it:

“The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) CRM strategy and subsequent customer engagement is firmly anchored in the core principles of right product to the right customer at the right time and through the right channel... We now recognise the significant shift to digital mobile and location relevancy. To address this change, MAG are now working with global leaders in location-based technology to communicate effectively with our customers on-estate.”

An Oracle Marketing Cloud customer, MAG was already using Eloqua email campaigns to promote car parking and airport fast track to passengers prior to their trips. However, MAG told us that it could identify less than 25% of the passengers who set foot on premise, and MAG had no ability to communicate with those passengers once they were in-terminal. Enter Oracle MCS 2.0, which MAG is using to provide location based services and mobile offers to its passengers on premise through the MAG mobile app. MAG’s goals are to improve passenger experience, to identify anonymous passengers, to drive penetration, and to increase incremental return and adjustable travel volume (ATV). 

How is this accomplished? First, Oracle’s MCS 2.0 can measure both passenger footfall and passenger linger time, also known as “dwell time.” Second, MCS 2.0 uses existing Oracle Marketing tools to deliver mobile offers and promotions that can be segmented by time of day, customer profile, customer footfall and desired retail target. Finally, MCS 2.0 provides push notification capabilities so that information, offers, and promotions are delivered to each targeted passenger’s mobile phone. The end result is more informed and happier travelers, higher retail sales, improved operational efficiency, and increased in-terminal visibility.

Using MAG as an example, Oracle is working with our partner Estimote to install beacons in five areas of Manchester Airport Terminal 1: at Check-In, at Security, in the Departures Lounge, at the Boarding Gates and at Baggage Claim. When passengers arrive at Check-In, they will receive a push notification on their phones containing security information and advice. Depending on how long they spend in Check-In, they might also receive a push offer for fast track through Security. As they progress through Security, MCS will measure security transit time. Then, when passengers enter the Departures Lounge, they will get an airside “retail offer of the day” linked to their customer profile. Upon arrival at the Boarding Gates they will be asked for feedback on their experience through a short survey. Finally, on the return leg back to Manchester, passengers will be identified at Baggage Claim where they will receive offers for their next trip. 

We are just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of this solution’s possibilities. Oracle and Estimote can imagine additional use cases where location services are used to assist airport staff in further improving operational efficiencies, and in identifying security risks before passengers reach Security. We also can imagine sharing the beacon infrastructure with third party mobile apps such as airlines or retailers in order to provide an even more robust passenger experience. The possibilities are endless, and through the use of Oracle’s Mobile Cloud Service and the Estimote Cloud, MAG will continue to grow while improving the passenger experience. I also finally can buy relevant retail products at cheaper prices, thanks to the new pushed offers at Manchester Airport!

Watch Suhas Uliyar and Chris Marsh (451 Research) discuss the New Imperatives in Enterprise Mobility. And don't forget to follow the latest @OracleMobile.

Sunday May 08, 2016

Mobile Cloud Service 2.0 is Here!

Authored by Suhas Uliyar, Oracle Vice President, Mobile Product Development

Blogging about the 2nd major release of Oracle Mobile Cloud Service is personally very exciting! Not too long ago a few of us with many years of mobile experience amongst us, sat in a room and drew up the plans for building – from the ground up – a cloud based enterprise mobile platform, Oracle’s Mobile Cloud Service (MCS).

Our goal was to simplify enterprise mobility and help mobile developer build Better Apps Faster. With these goals in mind, we released MCS in July 2015 and in a short 10 months, we are thrilled to see its success and momentum in the marketplace. Our design goals to be open, agnostic and built on open standards, are being adopted by customers of all sizes, across all industries from around the world. With Oracle MCS, organizations deliver modern experiences to their employees and drive modern engagement with their customers. One of our fundamental principles was to be open and agnostic to mobile client development tools so that developers could develop in their tool of choice and make it simple to consume enterprise services from a Mobile API catalog without requiring them to understand the complexities of enterprise data and security policies. We have customers using native tools from Apple, Google, Xamarin, Sencha, Ionic along with Oracle client development tools, Mobile Application Framework (MAF) & JET, to build engaging experiences integrated with a variety of backend systems.

We have continued to innovate with quick and agile releases of MCS and today I am very excited to share with you the big strides we have BETTER apps with MCS Location Based Services and help enterprises build apps FASTER with Oracle’s Rapid Mobile Application Development (RMAD) capabilities, called Mobile Application Accelerator (MAX). These capabilities are targeted at what Gartner refers to as “citizen developers.”

Before I tell you more about MAX, let’s first take a look at what we’ve delivered with Location Based Services..

About Oracle MCS and Location Based Services

Many enterprises like retailers, event organizers, transit systems, financial services, hospitality and educational institutions are engaging with consumers and have invested significantly in enabling seamless user experiences across mobile applications and the online world. They are able to get insights related to app downloads and in some cases user behavior across multiple channels. However, many of them have neglected a key value that mobile provides that the online world does not - the consumer’s physical location! When you consider that 93% of US retail sales still occur in store, enterprises are missing a key connection between the physical and online world.

The challenge with GPS is that indoor spaces often block cell signals and make it difficult to get an accurate location. This is where Beacons become a viable solution. Beacons, a low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or countertop, use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit or prompt directly to mobile devices. Companies like Estimote are poised to transform and reinvent a contextually rich mobile experience.

“It’s a no-brainer. Beacons increase the granularity of information that Oracle MCS can use to help businesses provide a contextually rich experience to their customers”  Steve Cheney Co-Founder of Estimote.

In-store retail and offline payments are in the first wave of beacon applications. Retail outlets are adopting beacons to provide customers with product information, flash sales or deals, and speed up the checkout process with a completely contactless payments system. Consumers seem receptive to beacons as a way to enhance their in-store shopping experience. Half of American adults already utilize their mobile devices in stores. Consumers could also use them to inexpensively automate their homes. For example, beacons could turn on lights in a room as soon as someone with a smartphone has entered them, or open doors or window shades.

Mobile represents the bridge between the digital and physical world and is becoming the most valuable tool yet for marketers, allowing them to be contextual, relevant and useful. To help build BETTER apps that take advantage of location services, we made it easy by providing a 360 degree view of contextual location information for the app developer to enable better decision support and engagement on the mobile app. MCS 2.0 provides a declarative framework with an easy to use  Admin UI, for the definition of Places, Devices such as Beacons, and Assets as first class entities along with the ability to query interesting information about these entities and the association between them from the mobile app via Platform API’s.

MCS 2.0 can help drive B2C & B2E use cases like:

  • Obtaining contextual information for Places & Things of interest (to drive mobile app logic):
    • Return all Places with the label ‘Parts_Warehouse’ that are within a specified GPS circle, and route me to the nearest one with parts in stock for Acme washers.
    • Return all active iBeacon devices where the device's name or description contains the text ‘LAX_Terminal1’. Set my app to range for the Beacon ID’s that were returned since I checked in for my flight.
  • Personalized mobile user targeting based on geofence or beacon proximity
    • Send Ana a complementary Molly Moon’s ice-cream voucher when she checks in at the new Forever21 store in the Uvillage Mall (where Uvillage Mall is denoted by a GPS and has ‘child’ Places within it for Stores id’d by Beacons associated with their location)
    • When a Platinum Member enters the Delta lounge (id’d by a Beacon), send them a NewCo promotion.
  • High-value Asset Tracking
    • Update the last known location of a fork-lift (id’d by a Beacon) to be ‘North Yard’
    • Give me the last known location of a hospital bed (id’d by a beacon). If it’s not in the quarantine area of the hospital (also id’d by a beacon), send an SMS alert to the floor nurse on duty.

About Oracle MAX

Investment in mobility solutions is expected to continue to grow through 2016. But the increased investment in mobility solutions is promising amid growing concern that demand for mobile app development services is happening much faster than organizations are able to deliver. Businesses are finding it challenging and costly to develop, deploy, and maintain mobile apps as rapidly as demand dictates, according to Gartner. Gartner says using rapid mobile app development (RMAD) tools that can produce apps quickly, are crucial for enterprises to help bridge the gap between mobile app demand and supply. Significant innovation is driving this market and replacing traditional coding approaches, such as native development tools, with more effective RMAD tools. MCS 2.0 introduces the notion of no code rapid mobile application development (RMAD) with Mobile Application Accelerator (MAX). MAX is key to helping build better mobile apps FASTER allowing professionals with no programming background, to rapidly assemble mobile apps and continuously iterate on their designs. MAX is a highly visual tool and seeing is believing. To get a great overview, watch the following video recording for an Oracle MAX overview and see Oracle MAX in action.


For more information and to test drive Oracle MCS 2.0 at cloud.oracle.com/mobile

Hungry for more? Watch Suhas Uliyar and Chris Marsh (451 Research) discuss the New Imperatives in Enterprise Mobility. And don't forget to follow the latest @OracleMobile.

Monday May 02, 2016

MAF 2.3.0.1 Released

MAF 2.3.0.1 is a minor update that contains a couple of critical bug fixes related to application deployment. These deployment issues affected customers using iOS for development.

Fixes delivered in this patch:

  1. Intermittent failures when deploying application to iOS simulator.  Application deployment failed with CopyStringsFile errors in the log.
  2. Deployment errors when iOS Simulator target is changed in deployment profile

A new extension is now available in JDev update center with the above fixes. There is no migration impact of this patch on existing applications using MAF 2.3. If you are directly picking up this extension from earlier versions of MAF, please follow the migration instructions provided in MAF 2.3 migration guide and other important 2.3 uptake information available here.

This patch uptake should be seamless and customers should be able update the extension from JDev update center, restart JDev and get going. Of course, be sure to do clean all after the extension installation on all your existing applications.


Thursday Apr 07, 2016

MAF 2.3 Deprecates RestServiceAdapter ... and replaces it with RestServiceAdapter

 After migrating existing Oracle MAF applications to  MAF 2.3, your source code shows the following deprecation warning

RestServiceAdapter deprecation

This deprecation is not mentioned in the Release Notes for MAF 2.3 but in the Oracle MAF Developer Guide, which you may not re-read for each new release: thus this blog article.

 The deprecation warning above however does not mean that the RestServiceAdapter class is going away. Instead it is replaced with the RestServiceAdapter class. Confused? Well, as you probably guessed from the previous sentence, the change is in the package location of the class, which changes from oracle.adfmf.dc.ws.rest to oracle.maf.api.dc.ws.rest.

But refactoring the "adfmf" string to the "maf" product identifier is not the only change that comes with this. The call you do to obtain an instance of RestServiceAdapter does change too.

RestServiceAdapterFactory import statement

Instead of calling Model.createRestServiceAdapter(), which you did prior to MAF 2.3, you now use the RestServiceAdapterFactory

RestServiceAdapter restServiceAdapter = RestServiceAdapterFactory.newFactory().createRestServiceAdapter();

Working with the RestServiceAdapter itself doesn't change much except for a few method having new names like setRequestMethod and getRequestMethod that replace setRequestType and getRequestType (which I think is a sensible change). 

So what now? Actually there is no need to do anything in the short term. However in the mid term we suggest to change the use of RestServiceAdapter to the new class so you are on the latest version of the supported API. 

Tuesday Mar 29, 2016

Oracle MAF 2.3 Release

Oracle MAF 2.3 release is now available on OTN. This is a major update of MAF coming less than 6 months after the last major release. This release has several new & exciting features, below are some key capabilities available in this release. 

Windows Platform Support

On popular demand, MAF 2.3 introduces support for Universal Windows Platform(UWP). Keeping with our promise of single code base for multiple platforms, customers can now deploy their existing MAF apps to Windows 10 desktops and tablets in addition to iOS and Android. Install and setup instructions for Windows platform are available here. Key elements of Windows support:

  • MAF apps can be deployed to any Windows devices based on x86 chipset
  • Support for UWP native look & feel and UX design patterns
  • Support for deployment to Windows tablets through side loading 


Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) Support

Apps built with MAF now work with Enterprise Mobile Management solutions from Airwatch and MobileIron by following the best practices and guidelines provided by the AppConfig community. Customers can take advantage of their existing investments in EMM solutions to secure, configure and manage MAF apps using native capabilities in iOS and Android. MAF framework supports all the key capabilities specified by AppConfig community:

  • App Tunnel
  • Security Policies and Access Control
  • Single Sign On

Please refer to the certification documentation for specific versions of Airwatch and MobileIron supported by Oracle

ListView Enhancements

Support for animation effects for ListView component. Animations are available for:

  • listItem row insert 
  • listItem row delete
  • listItem divider group disclosure change 
The default animations provided as part of the component can be customized by overriding the css style classes. 

Disclosure Insert/Delete

Mobile Cloud Service(MCS) Analytics Integration

This release provides built-in support for generating MCS analytics events. When an MCS backend is used, application developers can easily generate events for the application usage and upload them to MCS Analytics service. Key capabilities of this feature:

  • Ability to generate analytics events for standard application lifecycle events such as startup, user login etc. through simple configuration. No coding necessary. 
  • API to generate custom application events
  • Analytic events are persisted locally on the device. They can be captured even when the device is offline
  • Events are uploaded in bulk to minimize the number of roundtrips   
 Please refer to the dev guide here for more details about this feature.

Security Enhancements

This release provides support for 2-way SSL during authentication. This feature allows customers to use certificate or soft PKI based authentication for MAF apps to support advanced security requirements. Client certificates can be installed using a MDM vendors or using MAF support for installing client certificates. Please refer to the developer guide for more details about this feature.

Data Visualization Features

This release has several enhancements to the DVT components.

1.  Range Charts: Range area and range bar charts help visualize datasets with varying low/high values

Range Area Chart Range Bar Chart

2.  Ability to individually style the categorical axis labels allows for emphasizing specific groups, which is a lot more useful than styling the labels as a whole. Tooltips are now also supported for categorical axis labels.

3.  Hierarchical labels can now be used to display hierarchical data on the categorical axis charts

4.  A number of enhancements are now supported in Gauge components:

  • Status Meter Gauge: Ability to specify border and color for plot area, string title, corner radius and border, displaying indicator wider than the plot area
  • Circular Status Meter Gauge: Ability to control the radius, start angle and angle extent
  • Vertical orientation for Rating Gauge
Circular Gauge Vertical Rating Gauge

JDeveloper 12.2.1 Integration

MAF 2.3 extension works with JDeveloper version 12.2.1. This brings all the new capabilities introduced in the IDE as part of latest release of JDev to MAF developers. You can use a single IDE for both your web app and mobile app development. One nice side benefit of this is that you no longer need JDK 1.7 on your dev machine as both JDev and MAF support the latest JDK 1.8 update.

Webcast: Extending Oracle Forms to Mobile

With thousands of Oracle Form apps bound to desktop environments, the need for mobility is clear. Free your customers to be more productive - anywhere, anytime! Join this webinar to learn how Oracle Gold Partner, AuraPlayer, leverages the power of Oracle Mobile Cloud Service, to readily mobilize existing Oracle Forms Applications, without any code changes to their existing forms applications. 

Learn more by joining Suhas Uliyar, Oracle VP of Mobile Strategy and Mia Urman, CEO of AuraPlayer, at this live event, 1:30PM EST, March 31st. 

Follow @OracleMobile 

About

This blog is is dedicated to announcements,tips and tricks and other items related to developing, integrating, securing, and managing mobile applications using Oracle's Mobile Platform. It is created and maintained by the Oracle Mobile product development team.

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