Friday Mar 27, 2015

Back in Black: More Analytics Wisdom from Oracle’s Lisa Black

We all know big data can be intimidating - but sometimes the analysis of big data is even scarier. Today’s Influencer is Lisa Black, Oracle Social Cloud Product Manager and an expert in analytics. We spoke with Lisa last year and in light of the rapidly changing social sphere, we asked her back for more. As we said before, “When you have someone who actually gets this excited about analytics, good things keep getting added to that part of the product.” Now let’s get cracking!


Lisa Black, Manager, Oracle Social Cloud Product Management
Twitter: @lisajanetblack
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ljblack


Engagement v. Audience Size: Which is More Important?

As I think about what makes me an analyst at heart, it’s definitely not drowning in meaningless data. Or as I like to say, the “so what” metrics. It’s really about making it easier to make better decisions. According to Gartner: “Through 2017, the number of citizen data scientists will grow five times faster than the number of highly skilled data scientists.” After all, business analytics and all of today’s synonymous buzzwords were once upon a time summed up by the words “decision support,” as in a system to support decision making.

You may already be wondering what this has to do with engagement and audience size. Everything, that’s what.


Engage, engage, engage.


Engagement matters more.  

Let’s say I have an audience of 1000 people, but only 1 person ever engages with me. For simplicity sake, let’s call this 0.1% engagement (1 person who engages with me / 1000 total audience size).

On the other hand, if you have an audience of 100 from which 50 people engage with you on a regular basis, that’s 50% engagement (50 / 100).

Which is better? The much higher engagement rate! It is more valuable to me than the absolute value audience size, because engaged users are advocates for your brand and will likely purchase your product. Disengaged users are just filler.

The Cost of a Growing Audience

Put this example aside for a minute, and let’s take a look at another type of comparison.

At the beginning of the week, I had 1,000 people in my audience. Today I have 1,001. That’s a 0.1% increase [(1,001 today – 1,000 start of week) / 1,000 start of week]. In comparison, you started the week with 100 people in your audience, and today you have 150. That’s a 50% increase.

Still with me? Good, because here’s where it gets really interesting.

In both cases (you and I), each new audience member costs $1 to acquire, and a 1% increase in engagement generates a $100 increase in revenue.
·  I spent $1, earned $10, net $9
·  You spent $50, earned $5,000, net $4,500

Being you is looking pretty good!


Why yes, it is good to be me.


It’s a mystery to me why so many people trying to measure social marketing react as if “OMG the sky is falling” if an audience of 10,000 drops by 10 people.

I want to make better decisions when I measure social marketing, so I’m going to rely on ratios. Using the Oracle Social Cloud, you can too:



Oh, and did you notice that with the above dashboard I can easily analyze two different social networks side by side? Yeah, that’s also pretty valuable in supporting better decisions.

Takeaways

- Look at percentages, not raw numbers, of your engagement and user growth.

- Use a sophisticated analytics tool, like the SRM, to study your results closely to determine what types of content are yielding the best results

- Ignore the “so what” metrics.

Oh yes, and your social metrics better align with your overall business objectives. But that's for another blog all together.


Wednesday Mar 25, 2015

ICYMI: DaaS for Customer Intelligence Update

In case you missed it amongst the hubbub of SXSW, Oracle Data Cloud announced a new Data as a Service (DaaS) update last week that leverages Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM technology to help marketers listen to unstructured data, such as surveys, chat rooms, forums, and comment sections. You can find the official press release here and a recent article from CRM magazine here.


Unstructured data is a tremendous resource for marketers to identify customer issues, intent, trends, and brand sentiment. David Schubmehl, Research Director at IDC says, “unstructured text and data is an increasingly challenging area for organizations to tackle, but has the potential to unlock the most competitive insights.” Omar Tawakol, Group Vice President and General Manager adds, “knowing more about your customers and prospects - what they do, say and buy - is key to driving competitive business insights and actions.”

Oracle’s SRM tool lends its capabilities to power these insights. Latent sentiment analysis, coupled with keyword and NLP, accurate categorization and big data scalability, marketers can understand what is going on with their brands faster and more efficiently than using standalone technology. Independent testing verified 95% accuracy in understanding content across 40 million websites.

This Enriched Social Data Feed solution is offered as a standalone data service through Oracle Data Cloud and is also a capability of Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM. 

Tuesday Mar 24, 2015

Beyond Design: Looking Holistically at User Experience

"User experience” is a hot buzzword in social marketing… but what does that really mean? As part of the Social Spotlight's Influencer series, we spoke with Horace Williams, Director of User Experience Design at Oracle Social Cloud to help us understand how user experience affects the bottom line.


Horace Williams, Director of User Experience Design at Oracle Social Cloud

Social Spotlight: How would you describe user experience?

Horace Williams: I recently heard a great metaphor to describe this: the dining out experience. When you go out to eat, you’re not judging the restaurant solely on the food. You’re judging the restaurant on ambiance, friendliness of the staff, noise level, food, cleanliness, etc. All of that comes together to create your experience and thus, your judgment of the restaurant. It’s the same with software. User experience is not just about how the interface looks, it is the whole experience of using the product. We have to make sure the experience of our application makes our customer’s lives easier. It’s not just “look” and “feel.” Across the board, at every touch point, we want the customer to be happy with the performance, look, service, and stability of the product.

That sounds like you would have to get a lot of people to reorganize their thinking. How do you make that happen?

HW: It starts at the top. Thomas Kurian just discussed the importance of user experience in a recent video. If UX is not tied to the executive vision, then it makes it difficult to build an experience-focused company culture. At Oracle Social Cloud, everybody has some component of user experience for which they’re accountable. We’re all responsible for making sure our Social Relationship Management (SRM) tool improves and simplifies your workflow, in turn making you more efficient at your job. Bottom line: we want you to get promoted because you’re using SRM.

Another mindset that needs to change is the separation of “employees” and “people.”  Businesses tend to isolate them, when in fact, we know that’s not the case - employees are people who have preferences that they carry with them between their job and personal life. For example, if the need arises to cater a lunch, I’ll likely choose my favorite restaurant. I’ve eaten there in my personal life, so I know it will work in my business life as well. It’s the same with software - if we get that internal buy in, our customers become our biggest advocates. How do we get that? Creating a beautiful user experience that meets the high standards set by the consumer apps they choose to use in their personal lives.

Looking forward - what is the future of user experience?


HW: 1. Scale. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we do know that the SRM we build will need to adapt to those changes. We’re building for the long term, and that means creating an experience on a framework that facilitates growth while allowing for quick adaption to the evolving Social Management / Customer Experience space and technology advances in general. UX is everywhere: laptops, large screens, smart phones, watches, cars, etc. Scale is also about building an experience foundation that can continually adapt to the environment that needs to facilitate it.  

2. Smart. UX is about being predictive, not just reactive. We need to know what our users want to do before they do it. How? Data. At this moment, we are still in the early stages of the “big data” revolution, which will lead to many different (known and unknown) ways to create value for our customers. We need to incorporate data into the UX to help our customers create the best strategy and build the best content.

3. Co-Creation. Traditional User-Centered Design practices should be a cornerstone of every solid User Experience process. Co-creation is taking it a step further and making it about more than just designing with the end-user in mind, it’s about bringing them along for the ride! I started to see the implementation of this process a few years ago, and now it’s really starting to pick up steam, and rightfully so. It’s about building a real collaboration process between those who will use a product and those who were once solely responsible for building it. The byproduct of this union should ultimately produce a product experience, designed in collaboration with our customers, that should without a doubt facilitate the specialized needs of those same customers.

This trend, however, doesn’t come without controversy. I had a marketing professor in my college days named Dr. Nkonge who preached a simple philosophy that became a mainstay throughout my UX career. “The customer is not always right, but they should ALWAYS be listened to." Though a pretty typical mindset in business practices, this philosophy very much adheres to standard UX principals. Co-creation tip-toes a thin line here, especially when there is a hesitance by some to have customers to prescribe specific UX direction. However, customers are people, and today, more than ever, people are interacting with a wide array of both consumer and enterprise applications with an overwhelming amount of varying experiences to choose from. Because of this, our customers are becoming increasingly more aware of the types of experiences they prefer to use, but more importantly, they are also gaining objective insight and understanding of what types of experiences improve their productivity and elevate their efficiency. A co-creation process executed correctly will integrate experienced, proven UX expertise and with objective customer insight and preference, resulting in not only an valuable experience for the end-user, but also satisfied customers who now genuinely feel like their suggestions have been heard, and more importantly, implemented.


Sunday Mar 15, 2015

SXSW by the Numbers: Days 1 and 2

Pretty much anyone can tell you how many people came to the South by Southwest festival in Austin and how many tweets were generated by the hashtags #SXSW and #SXSW15.

But we want to know more. We want to know what the biggest “themes” of the conference are, who the major influencers are, and have the data to back it up. Oracle Social Cloud’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) tool can do all of that. Here are some fascinating insights from the first two days of #SXSW:



This is what people were talking about when they mentioned #SXSW. As you can see, it appears that quite a few people were looking forward to their evening plans.


Unsurprisingly, most people who were talking about #SXSW were from the United States. 97% of content came from microblogs, such as Twitter.



These are the biggest names posting about #SXSW. This is helpful insights for brands who are looking to target one of these influencers to gain traction on their products.

A perfect example of this is from NBC Sports, who used the SRM during their Superbowl coverage. On Friday morning they held a session discussing content. This is what surfaced as themes for their session.



And these were the biggest names who were speaking about NBC Sports. 


Saturday was the start of the Accelerator, a competition amongst start-ups for a $1 million prize. As strong supporters of innovation, Oracle is a sponsor this year. These are some of the themes around the Accelerator.


Fascinating, isn’t it? This is the depth of listening that the SRM provides for our customers.

Friday Mar 13, 2015

Instagram and Weibo Added to Oracle Social’s SRM Platform

We are so excited to announce that Oracle Social Cloud is incorporating picture and video sharing platform Instagram and Chinese social media platform Weibo to the Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform. 


As the social world becomes more diversified, the importance of being able to listen and engage with customers across the globe and over various platforms becomes increasingly important. A recent study by Pew Research found that the number of online adults using two or more social channels increased from 42 percent in 2013 to 52 percent in 2014. Oracle’s SRM is ahead of the game: with a UI available in 35 languages, and advanced global listening in 23 languages (shh…and more on the way, stay tuned to this blog!) we are showing our commitment to serving customers around the globe.


Instagram

Instagram is used by over half of internet users aged 18-29 in the United States. This platform allows people to share photos and video, interact with friends and celebrities, and search based on keywords. Lured by the demographic and the promise of purely organic reach, brands are now posting more content on Instagram than other platforms like Facebook, according to a recent industry study. Oracle’s SRM will provide engagement and analytics for Instagram. For instance, if someone posts a photo on Instagram that says “Happy Monday from @OracleSocial Cloud! #LifeInTheCloud #LifeAtOracle” the SRM tool would flag this for the Oracle Social Media Managers.


Weibo


Weibo is a Chinese-based social media platform that has 175.7m monthly active users and about 800,000 verified business accounts. Weibo is an important hub for ecommerce:

- 85% of users want to see discounts, according to the Weibo Data Center

- Nearly 50% of people would like to click on content on branded pages, and over 50% of users will go to an e-commerce website after viewing related content on Weibo, says the Data Center of China Internet


The updated SRM will be able to publish to Weibo, which will allow marketers to schedule and optimize posts for the Weibo platform, which is seen below.


SRM will also help you examine your posts on Instagram and Weibo. The sophisticated analytics tools will help you understand which posts are doing well and more importantly, why they are succeeding. Using this information, marketers can craft content that is better suited for their customers.


Oracle’s expanded SRM will allow marketers to reach more people, more effectively. "Oracle helps organizations deliver the best possible customer experience by adding two of the world's fastest-growing social media platforms to the expanding lineup of social networks supported by the Oracle Social Cloud," MarketWatch stated. "The addition of Instagram and Weibo further reinforces Oracle Social Cloud's commitment to providing global customers with advanced social business technologies and capabilities, including on regional social networks and websites."



Tuesday Mar 10, 2015

Facebook and DataSift Partnership Means More Information, Less Noise

Facebook and DataSift are partnering together to provide marketers with more information about what consumers are engaging with on Facebook. Here are Facebook's and DataSift's announcements in their entirety. 


How will this affect you, both as a consumer and as a marketer? Let’s start with an individual’s perspective and fly up to the 35,000 feet view.


Let’s say you are a 30-year-old male from Atlanta named Bob. You have “liked” the Atlanta Braves, Georgia Tech, and Oracle Social on Facebook, but you have changed your privacy settings so only your friends can see your posts.

This is Bob. He's an Aries from freeimages.com and enjoys long walks on the beach.

Previously, if Bob had posted “Wow! Oracle Social’s SRM really made my job easy today and now I can go home early– feeling excited ” and had not tagged Oracle Social, we never would have known that post existed.


Now that DataSift has partnered with Facebook, this post will go into an aggregate data report that will tell Oracle Social that X number of males aged 25-34 and based in Atlanta, Georgia have said something positive about Oracle Social. Over 100 people have to post in order for the report to be generated, in order to preserve privacy. Other metadata will be collected, such as engagement (likes, comments, shares on other posts) and activities or emoticons (for example, “feeling excited” would be noted). For privacy protection, of course, the data will be anonymous. All this means the insights Oracle can deliver to our customers just got richer.

This data will help brands create more specific content to engage their customers, while still maintaining the anonymity of individual users. Nick Halstead, CEO and founder of DataSift adds "We are thrilled for Oracle to join us in leveraging the new Facebook topic data. Through this partnership we have the potential to elevate social media streams and bring rapid and actionable value to businesses through social discovery and insights."


For Oracle Social Cloud, this means more actionable information and less noise for our customers. Group Vice President Meg Bear says, “We’re excited about this partnership as it complements and enhances social business capabilities available within Oracle Social Relationship Management platform, by providing a deeper insight of things people are interested in on Facebook thus allowing brands to innovate faster across all their marketing to create content that is relevant, resonates and delivers a better customer experience."

Listening to what your customers want is a key part of Oracle Social Cloud’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform. Of course, customers like Bob don’t speak only on Facebook – they talk on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ as well. Oracle’s SRM captures and analyzes that chatter to help you draw insights and make meaningful conclusions about your customers and content—across an expanding footprint of global social networking platforms.

Monday Mar 09, 2015

Going Beyond Big Data: A Conversation with Tara Roberts

By Rowena Toguchi and Maggie Schneider Huston


March is Influencer month on the Oracle Social Spotlight blog! Today’s influencer is data guru Tara Roberts, Vice President of Oracle Data Cloud.

Oracle Social: How would you define “big data”? Isn't it less about "big" data and more about the "small" data that provides data-driven business insights and actions?  


Tara Roberts: Big data is meaningless unless businesses have a way to 1) extract important signals from the noise and 2) have the ability to “act on” those insights to target, personalize and measure every customer interaction. The companies who win are the ones who are able to uniquely predict their customers’ desires and intentions and to personalize, plan and react before their competitors can. The answer is to “know more” with unique data insights, not just access to big data – which, as a standalone is more of a business challenge than an opportunity.


What is the greatest misconception about “big data?”


I would say one of the biggest misconceptions is to say that “big data” is only relevant to IT organizations.  The whole concept of Data as a Service is to shift that thinking to data intelligence being a competitive driver for the entire business across sales, marketing and customer intelligence. Some of the most successful companies rely on data-driven decisions and our mission is to provide the largest set of enterprise-ready data assets and services to power smarter actions everywhere. The key is to make this data accessible (without the need of IT implementation) and actionable (through direct integration with applications and platforms.) Everyone in the board room should be involved in the “big data” discussion as a way to differentiate – not just for IT.  


Data is used for a variety of business objectives - developing customer profiles, personalization, targeting, product development, product enhancements, etc. Where do you see data growing in importance the most during the next 12 to 18 months? Is it with marketing technology?  


I definitely see the use of data growing beyond just influencing the marketing interaction. Data is the unifying thread that will help companies connect every customer touchpoint and it’s critical that there is a common way to ensure consistent and meaningful interactions across the entire customer journey. One of the biggest challenges that we address is the ability to identify customers and prospects across any channel and any device. It means having the ability to stitch together IDs across offline (addresses) to known online (email), to anonymous online (cookies) to mobile (mobile ID). Creating that linkage in the form of an audience graph is a top initiative for the Oracle Data Cloud. 


Let's talk social. Social data is unique as it reveals intents - a person's likes, dislikes, desires, wants, etc.  How is Oracle leveraging its SRM and social data to help customers capitalize on understanding, targeting and engaging with their customers and prospects better?


Businesses can start to better understand their customers and prospects by knowing more about what they do, what they buy and what they say. Social data provides an uncensored view into what consumers are saying, how they are feeling, and key trends around your brand. One of the ways that we are looking to extend social listening capabilities is to link social insights with business intelligence data to delve further into how a social spike, or a positive or negative sentiment may impact positive or a dip in sales. This really takes social insights to a different level.  


As Gartner research says, “Content does not conform to a specific, pre-defined data model. It tends to be the human-generated and people-oriented content that does not fit neatly into database tables.” Unstructured data demands new analytical approaches. The value big data provides is the ability to capture the entire picture of everyday people. This can lead to a bevy of challenges:  missed signals, inaccurate conclusions, bad decisions, etc. How does Oracle’s technologies, like Oracle Data Cloud, Oracle CX Solutions, help combat this challenge? 


Gartner also predicted that enterprise data will grow by 800 percent in five years, with 80 percent of it unstructured. This definitely means that if left untapped, businesses will lose valuable insights and signals from their unstructured data assets. Oracle Data Cloud is working on combating this challenge straight on in an upcoming data as a service product release. I can't tell you much more than that – look for more details from Omar Tawakol, GVP and GM of Oracle Data Cloud, at SXSW on March 13th at the Hyatt Regency at 3.30pm in the Zilker Ballroom.   

Friday Mar 06, 2015

Oracle Social Cloud and Brand Networks Partner, Discuss What’s Next in Social

Q: What do you get when you cross two of the biggest names in social media technology? 

A: An awesome customer experience.

A new partnership between Oracle Social Cloud and Brand Networks promises just that.


As of today, any organization using Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM tool to manage its social relationships has the opportunity to use Brand Networks' award-winning social advertising platform to boost paid social efforts. The integration of these two technologies offers improved efficiency and productivity for Oracle Social Cloud customers looking to test, learn and deliver results through paid social tactics.


We sat down with Brand Networks founder and CEO Jamie Tedford and Oracle Social Cloud’s Group Vice President Meg Bear to dive deep into the details of the new partnership—and to get a glimpse of where social media is headed.


This is an exciting opportunity for Oracle Social and Brand Networks. What will this joint venture mean for your customers?


Meg Bear, Oracle Social Cloud: It will enable Oracle Social Cloud customers to extend the reach and relevance of their content by leveraging this integration with the Brand Networks Platform to support their owned and earned content with paid media. This benefits marketers committed to working with best-of-class providers to maximize returns on their owned, earned and paid efforts. 


Jamie Tedford, Brand Networks: Absolutely. I would add that Brand Networks customers who are already using Oracle Social Cloud will find new opportunities for collaboration across teams. We are really proud of this partnership and excited to see customers on both platforms reap the value.


What is the “next big thing” in paid media? 


Meg Bear: I’ll let you take that one, Jamie. [Laughs.] I know Brand Networks is investing heavily in paid social R&D right now. Where do you think social advertising is headed?


Jamie Tedford: It’s no secret that paid social is changing the game. For the last decade, the best digital display advertisers could do was cookie prospects and hope the cookie stuck long enough to serve as a proxy for conversion down the funnel. The rise of the smartphone totally broke this system, because as users shopped across devices, their footprints all blended together. The power of social data has not only saved the day for advertisers—it’s also taken digital advertising into the future. 


The next big thing in paid media is emerging from that powerful social data; Facebook calls it people-based marketing. Today, 1.3 billion people are on Facebook. And Facebook knows all kinds of details about them. This goes way beyond the basic demographic information advertisers have traditionally relied on. Right now, advertisers are taking the personas they’re using to define their best customers and target ads to people who exhibit the exact same characteristics and behaviors. All this happens without compromising anonymity and personal privacy.


People-based marketing is amazingly powerful, and as Facebook and the other social channels continue to push this kind of capability out into the open web, like Facebook is doing with Atlas, we’re going to see a total transformation in the effectiveness and efficiency of digital marketing. With that kind of accuracy, I think the value of advertising will go up for advertisers, and, perhaps surprisingly, for consumers too.


Facebook is a major platform, but it’s not the only one. How much value can the other social networks (LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest) add to a company’s social strategy? What role will paid media play in this cross-platform strategy? 


Meg Bear: Beyond the obvious value of being able to reach unique audiences in each social channel, the basic tenet of integrated media -- that a strong cross-channel effort creates a tide that lifts all ships -- is proving true in social, too. As the opportunity to deliver cross-channel social marketing increases, so will the return for advertisers. Oracle of course, sees the opportunity for data to drive more personalized experiences across all customer interactions as being the final state. Social platforms are great examples of this explosion of data. In addition to mobile that Jamie covered.


Jamie Tedford: Well said, Meg.The Brand Networks Platform currently supports social advertising and content marketing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but we are working with the other social channels in anticipation of further integration and added cross-platform support for our users. Our clients are finding sweet spots with unique audiences on each platform, and the platforms are all investing heavily in delivering more unique value to their advertisers. It's a win-win-win for the social channels, their advertisers, and the technology partners connecting the two. 


Wednesday Feb 25, 2015

Social Insights from the #LeadOnCA Watermark Conference

By Meg Bear, Group Vice President, Oracle Social Cloud Platform

Yesterday was an inspiring day of thoughtful discussion at the Lead On Silicon Valley Watermark Conference for Women. Over 5,000 people gathered to discuss the issues that matter the most to women in the workforce. I am proud that Oracle sponsored this fantastic event to support the development of women leaders.

Moderated by Cindy Solomon (@CindySolomon), I spoke with Juliet de Baubigny (@JulietDeb1), Jami McKeon and Rima Qureshi about how organizations create courageous innovation within the workforce.

These discussions didn’t just happen in person – they carried over to the digital realm as well. Using the Oracle Social Cloud Social Relationship Manager (SRM) platform, we learned that over 6.6 million people were reached yesterday via #LeadOnCA. Hillary Clinton was the most talked about speaker (1,922 mentions) and the main theme of the conference was “Women and Men” which encompassed messages about gender equality, and the glass ceiling.


Oracle Social Cloud SRM also provided real time social media visualization of #LeadOnCA commentary across social networks.

Oracle Social Cloud’s data visualization of social media posts about #LeadOnCA

As people posted about #LeadOnCA on social networks, our advanced listening technology filtered these into a beautiful visual displays throughout the conference. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and our expertise allows participants to see what people are talking about in real time.

I’d like to thank Watermark for putting on this event and for their mission to increase representation of women in leadership roles. It is exciting to think of what the future holds for empowered women.

Monday Feb 23, 2015

5 Emerging Themes for 21st Century Business

When you look at the nexus of forces impacting business today we can clearly see momentum building.  Each of the themes noted below is already happening, albeit at varying stages, in businesses across the globe. The continued innovation and speed of technology, coupled with the rise of millennials, will drive a tipping point in the next 12 to 36 months that will have a material impact to the business of business.

Cultural Change Will Be the Driver for Modern Business Success:
Change is hard. But as Richard Branson said in a recent blog, “A company that stands still will soon be forgotten.”  A recent study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s F500 companies on the S&P will no longer exist in 10 years. A key reason why: reluctance to embrace change. Organizational structures and business models have to evolve for modern, 21st century business.  The rise of millennials entering the workforce is fueling the flames of change. The Hartford Financial Services Group estimates that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. Accounting firm PwC pegs it much higher - nearly 80% by end of 2016. Our future is digital and collaborative. Organizations have to embrace technology innovation and encourage new ways of doing business across their consumer, employee and partner relationships. More often than not, it is culture that prohibits innovation because culture, well, it doesn’t like change. The CEO becomes not only a strategy and business execution leader but also a change agent.

Marketing “Technologists” Will Usher In Modern Business - Equally adept at marketing and technology, marketing technologists will become critically important to businesses, especially as customer experience, digital technologies, social business, and data take center stage. Perhaps more than any other function, marketing technologists will help spur innovation and digital transformation within their organizations. Look for new hires in this area, as digital natives and data scientists begin to flex their skills for the benefit of the bottom line. The rise of CTOs reflects the importance of technology and data skills.

Data-Driven Customer Interactions Emerge: The prime directive of marketing is to build deep and lasting relationships with customers to ultimately drive top-line growth.  To do this effectively in the digital era a marketer needs to understand the impact of every customer interaction.  While the amount of digital data available today is greater than it has ever been, the number of different technologies that are currently employed to interact with customers has grown out of control. Today’s reality is that we have actually moved further away from our goal of deep understanding. Disparate data systems and the inability to easily tie offline and online actions together has made attribution and data management too challenging for most organizations. As we progress to the next generation of these modern customer experience systems, we are going to finally solve this complex problem, bringing traditionally “siloed” technologies—marketing, social, service, commerce, third-party data—to an integrated and unified customer profile.  Collaborative efforts within the enterprise—across people, processes and technology—are driving major changes, while modern cloud-based systems with API driven architectures are creating platforms that are finally able to talk to each other effectively. The moment we have all been waiting for, the convergence of cloud, integration technology and digital tracking, is finally here.  Look for the continued integrations of consumer-facing technologies to merge for more data-driven and complete customer experience solutions. This is going to have great impact on top-line growth as well as customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention.

User Experience Leads Technology Adoption and Innovation: User experience will continue to be a critical requirement for enterprise software adoption.  Consumers today have high expectations from their technologies, as they are accustomed to modern, engaging, personalized and intuitive experiences. Those expectations don’t change at the workplace. Millennials will demand it. Customers will require it.  And thanks to the cloud enterprise software providers we will finally be able deliver modern, innovative and elegant user experiences. No longer will long enterprise software upgrades get in the way of investment in user experience. The cloud allows vendors to deliver at the pace of change that we all have grown to expect.

People Centric Business: As businesses grow more customer centric, organizations will begin to expand relationships across the entire value chain to include their employees and partners. Engaged, valued and empowered employees will help drive customer-centric objectives and overall better business outcomes. As IDC’s Mary Wardley stated in a recent report on Customer Experience, “Customers are obviously at the center of CX. But the company’s employees are just as important, if not more so, as they are in the direct flow of delivering the customer experience. Employees are the advocates and evangelists for the company.”  The rising millennial generation is all about engagement, interaction and collaboration. They expect it. Listening, understanding and engaging all your people collectively is the future. People centric business is modern business.




Wednesday Feb 18, 2015

Oracle Social Joins Facebook Marketer Partner Program

Oracle Social Cloud is proud to announce it has joined the Facebook Marketing Partner program. We are committed to making your social marketing easier, simpler, and more complete through constant innovation and responsive customer service. Put simply, your success is our success.

Working with major platforms like Facebook allow us to stay ahead of the digital marketing game through innovation and real time analytics. For example, General Motors uses Oracle Social Cloud to improve their customer’s experience and in turn, increase revenue. Rebecca Harris, GM’s Global Social Media Strategist, said, “from an engagement and sentiment perspective... we can help with the corporate reputation. If we scale this globally, we can sell more cars.” Watch the whole interview here.

The Facebook Marketing Partner program redesign will make it easier for companies to find partners that align with their goals. Instead of four separate badges for “pages,” “apps,” “ads,” and “insights,” businesses will be granted one badge that signifies they have demonstrated excellence in one or more specialty areas. To read more about the new Facebook Marketer Partner program, click here. We look forward to being a part of Facebook’s growing partner ecosystem. 

We’re also innovating behind the scenes, as well. The recent acquisitions of Datalogix and Blue Kai allow our customers to have access to comprehensive, global and integrated digital marketing and business solutions. Oracle Marketing Cloud and Oracle Customer Experience (CX) solutions have been beefed up significantly with the addition of these data powerhouses.

Last month, Oracle Social Cloud was rated the highest in SiriusDecisions’ latest social media intelligence report. “The solution [Oracle Social Cloud] is robust and capable of operating in globally dispersed organizations that require monitoring in multiple languages.” You can view the full report here.

Oracle Social Cloud was also ranked #12 on the CRM 2015 Watchlist. In a year that had 153 submissions and was “tougher than ever to win,” Oracle Social Cloud has a “social presence [that] is by far greater than any other company I tracked,” said Paul Greenberg of ZDnet.com. Companies are ranked by market “impact,” which is loosely defined as the size of your corporate footprint. Do other companies see you as competition? Do customers think of you a solution to their problem? Is the press talking about you? If so, you’ve got “impact.”

Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.

Tuesday Feb 17, 2015

Converting Likes to Profits: How Polaris Harnesses the Power of Social

[UPDATE: You can hear more from Polaris and Holly Spaeth at the annual SXSW Conference in Austin. Holly will be speaking on the panel, "When Quickies Aren't Satisfying: Loyalty on Social," taking place Friday, March 13 from 5-6pm at the Radisson Hotel (111 Cesar Chavez and Congress) in the Riverside Ballroom.  In fact, you can join Oracle, Polaris, General Motors and many more brands and thought leaders during Oracle's SXSW event all day Friday at the Radisson.] 

How does a company convert "likes" into dollars? Most businesses are acutely aware of the importance of social marketing for customer service and brand awareness. As this recent McKinsey report shows, businesses understand the importance of social tools but are still struggling to maximize their potential. A recent Forrester report showed that a majority of businesses aren’t leveraging social listening to uncover actionable business insights.

There are, however, some companies that are ahead of the curve and using social to enable key parts of their business from marketing to service to commerce to research and development. Minnesota-based Polaris, maker of riding machines like snowmobiles, ATVs and motorcycles, and an Oracle Social customer, is one such innovative company.  

The winning design for the Pink Ribbon Riders Campaign

“Polaris is a customer-centric organization—we believe deeply in putting the customer at the center of everything we do,” said Holly Spaeth, Manager of Interactive Media and Content at Polaris Industries. “Social is a central part to customer centricity, as it’s an arena where we can listen, learn and engage directly with our passionate fan base to make customer- and data-driven business decisions.”

At Polaris, social listening and engagement got into full swing in early 2012.  In fact, it was a simple t-shirt campaign that showed the Polaris executives how listening and learning from social communities could benefit their business.

The company had launched a brand-new Victory logo and wanted to generate awareness during the annual Sturgis Rally, including creating a new t-shirt design campaign. They had an agency design three concepts and asked their Facebook fans to vote on their favorite. Surprisingly, instead of a focus on voting, the fans overwhelming disapproved of the t-shirt designs. Consumers said the t-shirts didn’t “feel” like the Victory brand. They offered suggestions, including how to better showcase the Victory logo.  Polaris took the feedback and redesigned a new t-shirt that garnered fan praise, as well as strong awareness at the Sturgis event.

“It was just feedback on a t-shirt but it showed us the power of engaging and learning from our customers. We now apply that simple concept to marketing campaigns, product colors, accessories and even new product design. Social insights are being shared across the company and making a positive business impact regularly.” 

In early 2014, when Polaris was developing a color scheme for the new Victory Gunner motorcycle, they went straight to social and let the fans decide.

“We are quite literally co-creating with our customers, seeking their input and knowledge around likes, dislikes, wants and desires,” said Spaeth. “And they get inspired and passionate about being heard—especially around product and accessory colors. Color plays a big role and is an ongoing and important theme across our social channels.”

In late 2012, Polaris started seeing social conversations and themes around the term “pink.”  The conversations were correlating around breast cancer, Pink Ribbon Riders, and an interest in pink-styled designed snowmobiles.

“When the pink themes and conversations started across social we began to take notice. We continued to listen and monitor the increasing volume and positive sentiment and realized there was something there.”

But before actually executing on an idea, Polaris tested “pink” during the annual “snowcheck period,” a six-week period where consumers could pre-order custom sleds in select colors, and this time pink was offered. “Pink correlated and resulted in strong sales. So although ‘pink’ went against the traditional grain, we followed the data and connected with our R&D team to create something bigger around this idea of pink,” said Spaeth.

What Polaris created was more than a new product idea; they tied the “pink” theme around a charity campaign and sponsorship with the Pink Ribbon Riders, an organization dedicated to help women and men with breast cancer. 

“We executed a consumer-generated snowmobile custom design to support the Pink Ribbon Riders. Social insights were helping make decisions on a new charity partner, as well as a consumer-focused and engaging campaign.”

In the spring of 2014, Polaris launched its Pink Ribbon Rider Wrap campaign on Facebook, where consumers generated the designs and voted on the winner. A portion of the proceeds went to benefit the Pink Ribbon Riders. Thousands of social fans participated but it was Cassandra from St. Paul, MN that had the winning design.

“The reaction to the entire Pink Ribbon Riders Wrap campaign was tremendous, including a strong interest with our dealers and partners,” Spaeth added. 

“We recap our social and digital insights weekly across departments and, together with other customer data, use it as a guide to make better business decisions for marketing to services to sales to product development. And Product Development is always interested in what our social fans are saying to help with everything from product naming, design, color, accessories and more.” 

Wednesday Feb 11, 2015

VIDEO: Oracle President Thomas Kurian on Marketing & CX

Perhaps no other business role has more to gain – and lose – in the ever-important world of customer experience (CX) than today’s marketer. Customer centricity and CX have become the leading strategic focus across almost every business around the globe. And yet there’s still no clear-cut winner on who owns customer experience. What is clear, however, is that marketing and its numerous customer touch points has the greatest opportunity to take the strategic wheel with today’s empowered, digital, social and mobile consumer.

Gartner analyst Laura McLellan cited 10 “proof points” on why customer experience is the next big thing. The proof points include compelling statistics including Gartner research showing that last year the top marketing technology investment was customer experience; and the No. 1 innovation project for 2015 will be CX.  McLellan also references Oracle research that reveals 93% of business executives say that improving CX is one of the top three priorities for the next two years, with 97% stating, “CX is critical to success.”

With all this CX imperative talk you’d think businesses and marketers would be feeling confident in their CX development. You’d be wrong.  According to a recent Advertising Age article, many CEOs and CMOs feel their progress is lacking. Why? It’s not an easy process. It requires transforming your business models to put the customer at the center of every single thing you do, understanding and engaging them at all touch points, across both their offline and online worlds. As McLellan says, “It’s a huge change-management process.” And one she believes the CMO has the prime opportunity to seize and lead.

Oracle’s Thomas Kurian understands the CX imperative and the heavy weight on marketers to lead it. Having a consistent cross-channel view of customers with the ability to reach, engage, understand, segment, target and automate in an effective way is a major undertaking. But it is one Oracle has dedicated years of resources and time towards.   “We are the only ones in the industry that can actually solve these problems.” He goes on to say how Oracle is helping the marketer develop a “cross-channel identity graph” so marketers can know their users across all their channels and touch points. “The fact that we have this unified view of people, across all these channels, fundamentally transforms the power of marketing tools.” You can hear more from Kurian in this video.

“The core of CX, and what we are building it for, is to enable our customers to successfully disrupt business models and become leaders in their industries,” said Kurian.

In a business environment where the majority of CEOs and CMOs put CX at the top of their priorities, that’s a good thing for Oracle and its partners. 

This is just one entry in a series of blog videos with Kurian. Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear spent the day recently with Kurian discussing everything from the changing role of today’s CMO and CIO, to data and innovation, to the importance of user experience. Check back each week as we feature a new video with insights from Kurian on how Oracle is partnering and co-innovating with our customers to help pave a path of success and deliver consistent, rewarding and exceptional experiences for their customers.  

Wednesday Feb 04, 2015

VIDEO: Oracle President Thomas Kurian on the Importance of User Experience in Enterprise Software

When is the last time you read documentation about your iPhone?” That’s the rhetorical question asked by Oracle President Thomas Kurian in this latest video emphasizing the importance of user experience in today’s enterprise software. His quick answer of course: “Never.” Usability and user experience isn’t new for enterprise software providers; it’s just increasingly becoming a requirement and a differentiator. The proverbial bar has been raised.

Consumers today have high expectations from their personal technologies, as they are accustomed to modern, personalized and intuitive experiences. Those expectations don’t change at the workplace. And with the rise of millennials entering the workforce, user experience becomes even more critical.  The Hartford Financial Services Group estimates that by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennials. Accounting firm PwC sees it much higher, pegging it at close to 80% by end of 2016.

As Kurian states, Oracle has undergone years of extensive usability testing to create a reimagined and redesigned experience with the user in mind. It’s a transformation that focuses on applications that are simple, easy, intuitive, and optimized for the different devices people use today. It’s a fundamental change across the portfolio of Oracle applications.

The Company’s #UX imperative can be seen on display with Oracle Social Cloud’s SRM workstation called “Social Station,” launched last year. The news of Social Station was covered by several outlets, including ZDNet and The Hub, and the overall tone applauded the development and focus on user experiences and interfaces that are simple, easy to use and deliver value. In fact, Omar Akhthar, senior editor at The Hub, stated the following: “Oracle has an opportunity to prove its value by making sure it keeps its user-interface simple and highlighting its ease-of-use compared to other social media management tools.”

The focus of simplicity brings to mind a quote by Albert Einstein that certainly rings true on this subject:  “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.” Design and development of UX/UI isn't easy; but it's an absolute priority. 

Enterprise software will need to catch up with the consumer-grade level of #UX… starting now.  

Wednesday Jan 28, 2015

VIDEO: Oracle President Thomas Kurian on the Role of Today’s CIO in Cloud & Business Transformation

Expectations of business-driven IT are higher than ever and changing rapidly.  Words like agility, mobility, digital, data, cloud and customer centricity are common and constant from Line of Business (LOBs) executives like CMOs. Today’s business must move at the pace of – scratch that – ahead of the pace of today’s consumer. Businesses must anticipate customers’ needs to be truly customer-centric organizations.  Innovation through the cloud is a big force driving customer experience and customer centricity.

Here’s another word of importance: collaboration.  And collaboration is essential to make a successful business-led technology transformation. Today’s CIO will play a pivotal role in crafting that collaboration between IT and business leaders. Unfortunately, the process hasn’t taken root just yet.

According to a recent ZDNet article, research shows that confidence and collaboration between LOBs and IT is not strong. The article cites a new CIO Magazine survey showing that 54% of business leaders view IT “as an obstacle to their mission.” Forrester research shows that less than half of marketing managers collaborate with IT when developing a technology strategy. And our Oracle study revealed that less than 1/3 of marketing and IT executives surveyed reported collaborating “frequently,” while at the same time noting greater success when they do collaborate.

Kurian believes the CIO will play a pivotal role with collaboration, cloud and business transformation. In this video he states “cloud actually empowers CIOs to take the lead with innovation.” He goes on to say that today’s CIO role is not diminished just different, requiring a new business mindset. The CIO is very much essential to this new digital, customer-centric business revolution.

ZDNet reporter Dion Hinchcliffe had some great insights on the future role of CIOs: “The CIO should have – or should quickly ascertain – a better sense of how to translate the current business into today’s emerging digital marketplaces and channels. And yes, that means knowing more about how to apply digital to various parts of the enterprise than line of business executives. Relentless education and experimentation is required here to be successful. The CIO should be the visionary and evangelist that can get business – from the management team to the workforce – fully on board with digital business.”

Cloud is the future of business transformation; CIOs will play a key role. As Kurian says, CIOs are extremely important to their executives and businesses, and the cloud empowers them to take the lead.  The best CIOs in the industry are beginning to grasp that and train their staff to become experts in cloud technologies. For more on cloud innovation, read Oracle CEO Mark Hurd's recent piece on how cloud is revolutionizing business in four key areas.

This is just one entry in a series of blog videos with Kurian. Oracle Social Cloud Group VP Meg Bear spent the day recently with Kurian discussing everything from the changing role of today’s CMO and CIO, to data and innovation, to the importance of user experience. Check back each week as we feature a new video with insights from Kurian on how Oracle is partnering and co-innovating with our customers to help pave a path of success and deliver consistent, rewarding and exceptional experiences for their customers.


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