Friday Dec 21, 2012

Provide Your Customers with the Best Browsing, Shopping and Search Experiences Across Your Marketing and Commerce Websites

Are you providing your customers with the best possible browsing, shopping and search experiences across all your marketing and commerce websites? Successful organizations must deliver an engaging online experience that is personalized, interactive and consistent across all phases of the customer journey from research to selection to support and follow on purchases. This requires a new approach that connects and optimizes all customer touch points.

Attend this webcast to learn how you can enable a more engaging online customer experience by combining Oracle WebCenter Sites with Oracle ATG Commerce and Oracle Endeca. With Oracle WebCenter Sites you can:

  • Unify the online customer experience by bringing together best-in-class web experience management, eCommerce, and faceted search capabilities
  • Encourage social interaction by incorporating ratings, comments, reviews and social sharing capabilities into your web presence
  • More easily ingest content feeds from your suppliers and simplify the management of high volumes of detailed product information

Register now for the Webcast.

Thursday Dec 20, 2012

Optimizing the Online Experience with Oracle WebCenter & Oracle Real-Time Decisions

Earlier in the week, we took a closer look at two different approaches to segmentation and targeting, manual and automated. While manual segmentation and targeting gives marketers a great deal of control, this approach can become time consuming and complicated when dealing with high volumes of segments and content. In these situations, automated segmentation, which relies on predictive intelligence, may be an appropriate choice for optimizing your online customer experience.

Oracle’s web experience management solution, WebCenter Sites, already includes robust capabilities for marketer managed segmentation and targeting, however, a whole new level of optimization can be achieved by combining WebCenter Sites with Oracle’s decision management solution, Real-Time Decisions. Using the power of statistical data models and historical and real-time analytics, Real-Time Decisions automates what would otherwise be the manual task of sifting through volumes of customer data, determining likely and potential customer segments, and determining the best content to present to a given site visitor. As customer interactions take place, Real-Time Decisions continuously refines its data models, automatically adjusting and learning over time to achieve the optimal content selection for each site visitor.

Marketers have multiple levels of control when using Real-Time Decisions. They can opt for full automation and let Real-Time Decisions handle all of the decision making. In this case, Real-Time Decisions infers segmentation and uses automation to make decisions about what content to display to the site visitor. Or, marketers can opt for a more controlled approach and specify performance goals that will help steer the Real-Time Decisions model in the direction of desired business objectives such as maximizing revenue or maximizing conversions.

Together, Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions provide marketers with the ability to determine the best approach for realizing their segmentation and targeting objectives, whether that means managing the process manually or by instituting some level of automation. Download this white paper to learn more about how WebCenter Sites and Real-Time Decisions combine to create a truly powerful solution for optimizing the online customer experience to meet your business objectives.

Wednesday Dec 19, 2012

Defining Your Online Segmentation and Targeting Strategy

A lot of times, companies will put online segmentation and targeting on the back burner because they don’t know where to start. Often, I’ve heard web managers say that their segments aren’t well understood yet, so they can’t really deliver personalized online experiences that are meaningful. This lack of complete understanding means that they don't really bother to try. But, I don’t think you necessarily need to have an elaborate segmentation and targeting strategy already in place to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience. Sometimes it helps to think of how segmentation and targeting might solve some of the challenges your sites visitors are currently experiencing on your web presence, rather than doing nothing and waiting until a fully baked segmentation strategy lands in your inbox. 

For example, perhaps you have a broad and varied service offering that makes it difficult for site visitors to easily find the solutions that are most relevant for them.  How can segmentation and targeting help solve this problem?  Or maybe it’s like the airline I described in Monday’s post where the special deals featured on the home page are only relevant to site visitors from a couple of cities.  Couldn’t segmentation and targeting help them to highlight offers on their home page that are relevant to a larger share of their site visitors?

Your early segmentation and targeting efforts do not need to be complicated.  There are simple ways to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience, even if you’re dealing with anonymous site visitors.  These include targeting content to site visitors based on:

  • Referral: Deliver targeted content to your site visitors that is based on where they came from or the search term they used to find your site
  • Behavior:  Deliver content to your site visitors that is related or similar to content they’ve clicked on already
  • Location:  Deliver content your site visitors that is most relevant for their geographic location (this would solve that pesky airline home page problem described above)

So as you can see, there really are some very simple ways in which you can start improving your online customer experience using very basic segmentation and targeting methods. 

One thing to keep in mind as you start to define you segmentation and targeting strategy is that there are many different types of attributes or combinations of attributes upon which you can base your segmentation and targeting strategy.  In addition to referral, behavior and location, other attributes that you should consider are:

  • Profile Information:  What profile information do you know about this customer already?  Perhaps they provided some information on their interests and preferences when they first registered with your site.
  • Time:  What time is it and how does that impact what my site visitors are looking for or trying to do?
  • Demographics: What are my site visitors’ ages, incomes or ethnicities?

Which attributes you select to include in your segmentation strategy will depend on your unique business needs and objectives.  Attributes such as behavior or referral may not be the most important targeting criteria depending on your situation. For example, if you’re a newspaper you might know that certain visitors are sports fans based on their profile information.  You can create a segment for sports fans and target sports related content to that segment of your readership online.  Or perhaps, a reader is browsing stories that are related to politics; you can use that visitor’s behavior to assign him or her to a segment for those interested in politics. From there you can recommend more stories to that visitor based on their interest in politics. For an airline, the visitor’s location may be a more important attribute. By detecting the visitor’s location, you can assign them to an appropriate segment and then target special flights and offers to them based on their likely departure airport.

As you can see, there are many practical ways that you can start improving the experience your customers receive on your web presence using fairly basic segmentation and targeting techniques. If you want to learn more about segmentation and targeting using Oracle’s web experience management solution, check out this helpful video that demonstrates these powerful capabilities in Oracle WebCenter Sites.


On Demand Webcast Featuring Brian Solis of Altimeter Group

Trends such as the mobile web, social media, gamification and real-time are changing customer behavior and expectations. In this new environment, many businesses will struggle. Some will fall by the wayside, while others learn to adapt and thrive. Watch this on demand webcast with Altimeter Group digital analyst and author, Brian Solis, and discover what your organization needs to know about how to compete in the new era of Digital Darwinism. View now.

Tuesday Dec 18, 2012

Segmentation and Targeting: Your Tools for Personalizing the Online Customer Experience

In order to deliver the kind of personalized and engaging online experiences that customers expect today, look to segmentation and targeting.  Segmentation is the practice of dividing your site visitors into distinct groups based on shared characteristics or behavior – for example, a segment may consist of site visitors who have visited pages related to certain product type, or they may consist of visitors within the same age group or geographic area.  The idea is that those within a segment are more likely to have common needs, problems or interests that can be served by your business. Targeting is the process by which the most relevant content, whether an article promotion or other piece of content, is delivered to your visitors based on their segment membership.

Segmentation and targeting are used to drive greater engagement on your web presence by delivering content to your site visitors that is tailored to their interests, behavior or other attributes.  You may have a number of different goals for your segmentation and targeting efforts:

  • Up-sell or cross-sell to your customers
  • Conduct A/B testing on your offers and creative
  • Offer discounts, promotions or other incentives for the time and duration that you specify
  • Make is easier to find relevant information about products and services
  • Create premium content model
There are two different approaches you can take toward segmentation and targeting for you online customer experience initiatives.

The first is more of a manual process, in which marketers manage the process of determining which segments to create and which content to target to those segments. The benefit of this approach is that it gives marketers a high level of control over the whole process which works well when you have a thorough understanding of your segments and which content is most likely to serve their needs.  Tools for marketer managed segmentation and targeting are often built right in to your WEM platform, as they are with Oracle WebCenter Sites. The downside is that the more segments and content that you have, the more time consuming and complicated in can be to manage manually.

The second approach relies on predictive intelligence to automate the segmentation and targeting process.  This allows optimization of the process to occur in real time. This approach helps reduce the burden of manual segmentation and targeting and can result in new insights into segments that you may never have thought of on your own.  It also provides you with the capability to quickly test new offers and promotions on your site.  Predictive segmentation and targeting can be achieved by using Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions together.


Get a taste for how Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions combine to deliver powerful capabilities for predictive segmentation and targeting by watching this on demand webcast introducing Oracle WebCenter Sites 11g or by reading IDC’s take on the latest release of Oracle’s web experience management solution.  Be sure to return to the Oracle WebCenter blog on Thursday for a closer look at how to optimize the online customer experience using these two products together.

Monday Dec 17, 2012

Why It Is So Important to Know Your Customer

Over the years, I endured enough delayed flights, air turbulence and misadventures in airport security clearance to watch my expectations for the air travel experience fall to abysmally low levels. The extent of my loyalty to any one carrier had more to do with the proximity of the airport parking garage to their particular gate than to any effort on the airline’s part to actually earn and retain my business. That all changed one day when I found myself at the airport hoping to catch a return flight home a few hours earlier than expected, using an airline I had flown with for the first time just that week.  

When you travel regularly for business, being able to catch a return flight home that’s even an hour or two earlier than originally scheduled is a big deal. It can mean the difference between having a normal evening with your family and having to sneak in like a cat burglar after everyone is fast asleep. And so I found myself on this particular day hoping to catch an earlier flight home. I approached the gate agent and was told that I could go on standby for their next flight out. Then I asked how much it was going to cost to change the flight, knowing full well that I wouldn’t get reimbursed by my company for any change fees.

“Oh, there’s no charge to fly on standby,” the gate agent told me.

I made a funny look. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This airline was going to let my fly on standby, at no additional charge, even though I was a new customer with no status or points. It had been years since I’d seen an airline pass up a short term revenue generating opportunity in favor of a long term loyalty generating one.  At that moment, this particular airline gained my loyal business.

Since then, this airline has had the opportunity to learn a lot about me. They know where I live, where I fly from, where I usually fly to, and where I like to sit on the plane. In general, I’ve found their customer service to be quite good whether at the airport, via call center and even through social channels. They email me occasionally, and when they do, they demonstrate that they know me by promoting deals for flights from where I live to places that I’d be interested in visiting. And that’s part of why I’m always so puzzled when I visit their website.

Does this company with the great service, customer friendly policies, and clean planes demonstrate that they know me at all when I visit their website? The answer is no. Even when I log in using my loyalty program credentials, it’s pretty obvious that they’re presenting the same old home page and same old offers to every single one of their site visitors. I mean, those promotional offers that they’re featuring so prominently  -- they’re for flights that originate thousands of miles from where I live! There’s no way I’d ever book one of those flights and I’m sure I’m not the only one of their customers to feel that way.

My reason for recounting this story is not to pick on the one customer experience flaw I've noticed with this particular airline, in fact, they do so many things right that I’ll continue to fly with them. But I did want to illustrate just how glaringly obvious it is to customers today when a touch point they have with a brand is impersonal, unconnected and out of sync. As someone who’s spent a number of years in the web experience management and online marketing space, it particularly peeves me when that out of sync touch point is a brand’s website, perhaps because I know how important it is to make a customer’s online experience relevant and how many powerful tools are available for making a relevant experience a reality.

The fact is, delivering a one-size-fits-all online customer experience is no longer acceptable or particularly effective in today’s world. Today’s savvy customers expect you to know who they are and to understand their preferences, behavior and relationship with your brand. Not only do they expect you to know about them, but they also expect you to demonstrate this knowledge across all of their touch points with your brand in a consistent and compelling fashion, whether it be on your traditional website, your mobile web presence or through various social channels.

Delivering the kind of personalized online experiences that customers want can have tremendous business benefits. This is not just about generating feelings of goodwill and higher customer satisfaction ratings either. More relevant and personalized online experiences boost the effectiveness of online marketing initiatives and the statistics prove this out. Personalized web experiences can help increase online conversion rates by 70% -- that’s a huge number.1  And more than three quarters of consumers indicate that they’ve made additional online purchases based on personalized product recommendations.2

Now if only this airline would get on board with delivering a more personalized online customer experience. I’d certainly be happier and more likely to spring for one of their promotional offers. And by targeting relevant offers on their home page to appropriate segments of their site visitors, I bet they’d be happier and generating additional revenue too.


If you're interested in hearing more perspectives on the benefits of demonstrating that you know your customers by delivering a more personalized experience, check out this white paper on creating a successful and meaningful customer experience on the web.  Also catch the video below on the business value of CX in attracting new customers featuring Oracle's VP of Customer Experience Strategy, Brian Curran.

1 Search Engine Watch 2 Marketing Charts

Friday Dec 14, 2012

OK - What now? How do we become a Social Business?

Now available On-Demand!We hope that those of you that attended yesterday's Webcast with Brian Solis enjoyed Brian's discussion with Christian Finn for our last Webcast of the season for the Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Series

For those of you that may have missed the webcast or were stuck at a company holiday party - you'll be glad to hear that the webcast will be available On-Demand starting later today (12/14/12). And any of you who'd like to listen to a quick but informative podcast with Brian - can listen to that here.

Some of you may still be left with questions about how to get from point A to point B and even more confused than when you started thinking about this new world of Digital Darwinism. The post below, grabbed from an abundance of great thought leadership prose on Brian's blog may help you frame the path you need to start walking sooner versus later to stay off of the endangered species list. 

As you explore your path forward, please keep Oracle in mind - we do offer a wide range of solutions to help your organization optimize the engagement for your customers, employees and partners.

The Path from a Social Brand to a Social Business

Brian Solis

Originally posted May 2, 2012

I’ve been a long-time supporter of MediaTemple’s (MT)Residence program along with Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Patel, and many others whom I respect. I wanted to share my “7 questions to answer to become a social business” with you here..

Social Media is pervasive and is becoming the new normal in corporate marketing. Brands who get this right are starting to build their own media networks rich with customer connections numbering in the millions. Right now, Coca-Cola has over 34 million fans on Facebook, but they’re hardly alone. Disney follows just behind with 29 million fans, Starbucks boasts 25 million, and Oreo, Red Bull, and Converse play host to over 20 million fans. If we were to look at other networks such as Twitter and Youtube, we would see a recurring theme. People are connecting en masse with the businesses they support and new media represents the ability to cultivate consumer relationships in ways not possible with traditional earned or paid media.

Sounds great right? This might sound abrupt, but the truth is that we’re hardly realizing the potential of what lies before us. Everything begins with understanding not just how other brands are marketing themselves in social media, but also seeing what they’re not doing and envisioning what’s possible.

We’re already approaching the first of many crossroads that new media will present. Do we take the path of a social brand or that of a social business? What’s the difference? A social brand is just that, a business that is remodeling or retrofitting its existing marketing practices to new media. A social business is something altogether different as it embraces introspection and extrospection to reevaluate internal and external processes, systems, and opportunities to transform into a living, breathing entity that adapts to market conditions and opportunities.

It’s a tough decision to make right now especially at a time when all we read about is how much success many businesses are finding without having to answer this very question. With all of the newfound success in social networks, the truth is that we’re only just beginning to learn what’s possible and that’s where you come in. When compared to the investment in time and resources across the board, social media represents only a small part of the mix. But with your help, that’s all about to change.

The CMO Survey, an organization that disseminates the opinions of top marketers in order to predict the future of markets, recently published a report that gave credence to the fact that social media is taking off. One of the most profound takeaways from the report was this gem; “The “like button” [in Facebook] packs more customer-acquisition punch than other demand-generating activities.” With insights like this, it’s easy to see why the race to social is becoming heated.

The report also highlighted exactly where social fits in the marketing mix today and as you can see, despite all of the hype, it’s not a dominant focus yet. As of August 2011, the percentage of overall marketing budgets dedicated to social media hovered at around 7%. However, in 2012 the investment in social media will climb to 10%. And, in five years, social media is expected to represent almost 18% of the total marketing budget. Think about that for a moment. In 2016, social media will only represent 18%?

Queue the sound of a record scratching here. With businesses finding success in social networks, why are businesses failing to realize the true opportunity brought forth by the ability to listen to, connect with, and engage with customers? While there’s value in earning views, driving traffic, and building connections through the 3F’s (friends, fans and followers), success isn’t just defined simply by what really amounts to low-hanging fruit.

The truth is that businesses cannot measure what it is they don’t know to value. As a result, innovation in new engagement initiatives is stifled because we’re applying dated or inflexible frameworks to new paradigms. Social media isn’t owned by marketing, but instead the entire organization. This changes everything and makes your role so much more important. It’s up to you to learn how to think outside of the proverbial social media box to see what others don’t, the ability to improve customers experiences through the evolution of a social brand into a social business. Doing so will translate customer insights from what they do and don’t share in social networks into better products, services, and processes.

See, customers want something more from their favorite businesses than creative campaigns, viral content, and everyday dialogue in social networks. Customers want to be heard and they want to know that you’re listening. How businesses use social media must remind them that they’re more than just an audience, consumer, or a conduit to “trigger” a desired social effect.

Herein lies both the challenge and opportunity of social media. It’s bigger than marketing. It’s also bigger than customer service. It’s about building relationships with customers that improve experiences and more importantly, teaches businesses how to re-imagine products and internal processes to better adapt to potential crises and seize new opportunities.

When it comes down to it, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Foursquare, are all channels for listening, learning, and engaging. It’s what you do within each channel that builds a community around your brand. And, at the end of the day, the value of the community you build counts for everything. It’s important to understand that we cannot assume that these networks simply exist for people to lineup for our marketing messages or promotional campaigns. Nor can we assume that they’re reeling in anticipation for simple dialogue. They want value. They want recognition. They want access to exclusive information and offers. They need direction, answers and resolution.

What we’re talking about here is the multidimensional makeup of consumers and how a one-sided approach to social media forces the needs for social media to expand beyond traditional marketing to socialize the various departments, lines of business, and functions to engage based on the nature of the situation or opportunity.

In the same CMO study, it was revealed that marketers believe that social media has a long way to go toward integrating into the overall company strategy. On a scale of 1-7, with one being “not integrated at all” and seven being “very integrated,” 22% chose “one.” Critical functions such as service, HR, sales, R&D, product marketing and development, IR, CSR, etc. are either not engaged or are operating social media within a silo disconnected from other efforts or possibilities. The problem is that customers don’t view a company by silo, instead they see one company, one brand, and their experience in social media forms an impression that eventually contributes to their view of your brand.

The first step here is to understand business priorities and objectives to assess how social media can be additive in achieving these goals. Additionally, surveying the landscape to determine other areas of interest as its specifically related to your business.

• Are customers seeking help or direction?

• Who are your most valuable customers and what are they sharing?

• How can you use social media to acquire and retain customers?

- What ideas are circulating and how can you harness user generated activity and content to innovate or adapt to better meet the needs of customers?

- How can you broaden a single customer view to recognize the varying needs of customers and how your organization can organize around each circumstance?

- What insights exist based on how consumers are interacting with one another? How can this intelligence inform marketing, service, products and other important business initiatives?

- How can your business extend their current efforts to deliver better customer experiences and in turn more effectively unit internal collaboration and communication?

Customer demands far exceed the capabilities of the marketing department. While creating a social brand is a necessary endeavor, building a social business is an investment in customer relevance now and over time. Beyond relevance, a social business fosters a culture of change that unites employees and customers and sets a foundation for meaningful and beneficial relationships. Innovation, communication, and creativity are the natural byproducts of engagement and transformation. As a social brand, we are competing for the moment. As a social business, we are competing the future in all that we do today.

Wednesday Dec 12, 2012

Rapid Evolution of Society & Technology

Oracle WebCenter Cafe Podcast Center We caught up with Brian Solis on the phone the other day and Christie Flanagan had a chance to chat with him and learn a bit more about him and some of the concepts he'll be addressing in our Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast on Thursday 12/13/12.

«--- Interview with Brian Solis 

Be sure and register for this week's webcast ---»


Guest post by Brian Solis. Reposted (Borrowed) from his posting of May 24, 2012

Dear [insert business name], what’s your promise?

- Brian Solis

You say you want to get closer to customers, but your actions are different than your words.

You say you want to “surprise and delight” customers, but your product development teams are too busy building against a roadmap without consideration of the 5th P of marketing…people.

Your employees are your number one asset, however the infrastructure of the organization has turned once optimistic and ambitious intrapreneurs into complacent cogs or worse, your greatest detractors.

You question the adoption of disruptive technology by your internal champions yet you’ve not tried to find the value for yourself.

You’re a change agent and you truly wish to bring about change, but you’ve not invested time or resources to answer “why” in your endeavors to become a connected or social business.

If we are to truly change, we must find purpose. We must uncover the essence of our business and the value it delivers to traditional and connected consumers. We must rethink the spirit of today’s embrace and clearly articulate how transformation is going to improve customer and employee experiences and relationships now and over time. Without doing so, any attempts at evolution will be thwarted by reality. In an era of Digital Darwinism, no business is too big to fail or too small to succeed.

These are undisciplined times which require alternative approaches to recognize and pursue new opportunities. But everything begins with acknowledging the 360 view of the world that you see today is actually a filtered view of managed and efficient convenience. Today, many organizations that were once inspired by innovation and engagement have fallen into a process of marketing, operationalizing, managing, and optimizing. That might have worked for the better part of the last century, but for the next 10 years and beyond, new vision, leadership and supporting business models will be written to move businesses from rigid frameworks to adaptive and agile entities.

I believe that today’s executives will undergo a great test; a test of character, vision, intention, and universal leadership. It starts with a simple, but essential question…what is your promise?

Notice, I didn’t ask about your brand promise. Nor did I ask for you to cite your mission and vision statements. This is much more than value propositions or manufactured marketing language designed to hook audiences and stakeholders. I asked for your promise to me as your consumer, stakeholder, and partner. This isn’t about B2B or B2C, but instead, people to people, person to person. It is this promise that will breathe new life into an organization that on the outside, could be misdiagnosed as catatonic by those who are disrupting your markets.

A promise, for example, is meant to inspire. It creates alignment. It serves as the foundation for your vision, mission, and all business strategies and it must come from the top to mean anything. For without it, we cannot genuinely voice what it is we stand for or stand behind. Think for a moment about the definition of community. It’s easy to confuse a workplace or a market where everyone simply shares common characteristics. However, a community in this day and age is much more than belonging to something, it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter

The next few years will force a divide where companies are separated by intention as measured by actions and words. But, becoming a social business is not enough. Becoming more authentic and transparent doesn’t serve as a mantra for a renaissance. A promise is the ink that inscribes the spirit of the relationship between you and me. A promise serves as the words that influence change from within and change beyond the halls of our business. It is the foundation for a renewed embrace, one that must then find its way to every aspect of the organization. It’s the difference between a social business and an adaptive business. While an adaptive business can also be social, it is the culture of the organization that strives to not just use technology to extend current philosophies or processes into new domains, but instead give rise to a new culture where striving for relevance is among its goals. The tools and networks simply become enablers of a greater mission

You are reading this because you believe in something more than what you’re doing today. While you fight for change within your organization, remember to aim for a higher purpose. Organizations that strive for innovation, imagination, and relevance will outperform those that do not. Part of your job is to lead a missionary push that unites the groundswell with a top down cascade. Change will only happen because you and other internal champions see what others can’t and will do what other won’t. It takes resolve. It takes the ability to translate new opportunities into business value. And, it takes courage.

“This is a very noisy world, so we have to be very clear what we want them to know about us”
-Steve Jobs


So -- where do you begin to evaluate the kind of experience you are delivering for your customers, partners, and employees? 

Take a look at this White Paper: Creating a Successful and Meaningful Customer Experience on the Web

and then have a cup of coffee while you listen to the sage advice of Guy Kawasaki in a short video below.  

An interview with Guy Kawasaki on Maximizing Social Media Channels 

Tuesday Dec 11, 2012

Who IS Brian Solis?

Brian Solis

Q: Brian, Welcome to the WebCenter Blog. Can you tell our readers your current role and what career path brought you here?

A: I’m proudly serving as a principal analyst at Altimeter Group, a research based advisory firm in Silicon Valley.

My career path, well, let’s just say it’s a long and winding road. As a kid, I was fascinated with technology. I learned programming at an early age and found myself naturally drawn to all things tech. I started my career as a database programmer at a technology marketing agency in Southern California. When I saw the chance to work with tech companies and help them better market their capabilities to businesses and consumers, I switched focus from programming to marketing and advertising.

As technologist, my approach to marketing was different. I didn’t believe in hype, fluff or buzz words. I believed in translating features into benefits and specifications and capabilities into solutions for real world problems and opportunities. In the mid 90’s I experimented with direct to consumer/customer engagement in dedicated technology forums and boards. I quickly realized that the entire approach to do so would need to change. Therefore, I learned and developed new methods for a more social and informed way of engaging people in ways that helped them, marketed the company, and also tied to tangible benefits for the company. This work would lead me to start an agency in 1999 dedicated to interactive marketing. As I continued to experiment with interactive platforms, I developed interesting methods for converting one-to-many forms of media into one-to-one-to-many programs. I ran that company until joining Altimeter Group.

Along the way, in the early 2000s, I realized that everything was changing and that there were others like me finding success in what would become a more social form of media. I dedicated a significant amount of my time to sharing everything that I learned in the form of articles, blogs, and eventually books. My mission became to share my experience with anyone who’d listen. It would later become much bigger than marketing, this would lead to a decade of work, that still continues, in business transformation.

Then and now, I find myself always assuming the role of a student.

Q: As an industry analyst & technology change evangelist, what are you primarily focused on these days?

A: As a digital analyst, I study how disruptive technology impacts business. As an aspiring social scientist, I study how technology affects human behavior. I explore both horizons professionally and personally to better understand the future of popular culture and also the opportunities that exist for organizations to improve relationships and experiences with customers and the people that are important to them.

Q: People cite that the line between work and life is getting more and more blurred. Do you see your personal life influencing your professional work?

A: The line between work and life isn’t blurred it’s been overtly crossed and erased. We live in an always on society. The digital lifestyle keeps us connected to one another it keeps us connected all the time. Whether your sending or checking email, trying to catch up, or simply trying to get ahead, people are spending the equivalent of an extra day at work in the time they spend out of work…working. That’s absurd. It’s a matter of survival. It’s also a matter of unintended, subconscious self-causation. We brought this on ourselves and continue to do so. Think about your day. You’re in meetings for the better part of each day. You probably spend evenings and weekends catching up on email and actually doing the work you couldn’t get to during the day. And, your co-workers and executives are doing the same thing. So if you try to slow down, you find yourself at a disadvantage as you’re willfully pulling yourself out of an unfortunate culture of whenever wherever business dynamics. If you’re unresponsive or unreachable, someone within your organization or on your team is accessible. Over time, this could contribute to unfavorable impressions.

I choose to steer my life balance in ways that complement one another. But, I don’t pretend to have this figured out by any means. In fact, I find myself swimming upstream like those around me. It’s essentially a competition for relevance and at some point I’ll learn how to earn attention and relevance while redrawing the line between work and life.

Q: How can people keep up with what you’re working on?

A: The easy answer is that people can keep up with me at But, I also try to reach people where their attention is focused. Whether it’s Facebook (, Twitter (@briansolis), Google+ (+briansolis), Youtube ( or through books and conferences, people can usually find me in a place of their choosing.

Q: Recently, you’ve been working with us here at Oracle on something exciting coming up later this week. What’s on the horizon?

A: I spent some time with the Oracle team reviewing the idea of Digital Darwinism and how technology and society are evolving faster than many organizations can adapt.

Digital Darwinism: How Brands Can Survive the Rapid Evolution of Society and Technology
Thursday, December 13, 2012, 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET

Q: You’ve been very actively pursued for media interviews and conference and company speaking engagements – anything you’d like to share to give us a sneak peak of what to expect on Thursday’s webcast?

A: We’re inviting guests to join us online as we dive into the future of business and how the convergence of technology and connected consumerism would ultimately impact how business is done. It’ll be an exciting and revealing conversation that explores just how much everything is changing. We’ll also review the importance of adapting to emergent trends and how to compete for the future. It’s important to recognize that change is not happening to us, it’s happening because of us. We are part of the revolution and therefore we need to help organizations adapt from the inside out.

Watch the Entire Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series


and Stay Tuned for More to Come in 2013!

Mike Fauscette, IDC Jeremiah OwyangTed SchadlerJohn BrunswickR "Ray" WangChristian FinnWatch Other Social Business Thought Leaders Webcasts On-Demand Today

Monday Dec 10, 2012

This is the End of Business as Usual...

This week, we'll be hosting our last Social Business Thought Leader Series Webcast for 2012. Our featured guest this week will be Brian Solis of Altimeter Group. As we've been going through the preparations for Brian's webcast, it became very clear that an hour's time is barely scraping the surface of the depth of Brian's insights and analysis. Accordingly, in the spirit of sharing Brian's perspective for all of our readers, we'll be featuring guest posts all this week pulled from Brian's larger collection of blog postings on his own website. If you like what you've read here this week, we highly recommend digging deeper into his tome of wisdom.

Guest Post by Brian Solis, Analyst, Altimeter Group as originally featured on his site with the minor change of the video addition at the beginning of the post.

This is the End of Business as Usual and 
the Beginning of a New Era of Relevance
 - Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter Group 

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

- Bob Dylan

I’m sure you are wondering why I chose lyrics to open this article. If you skimmed through them, stop here for a moment. Go back through the Dylan’s words and take your time. Carefully read, and feel, what it is he’s saying and savor the moment to connect the meaning of his words to the challenges you face today.

His message is as important and true today as it was when they were first written in 1964. The tide is indeed once again turning. And even though the 60s now live in the history books, right here, right now, Dylan is telling us once again that this is our time to not only sink or swim, but to do something amazing.

This is your time. This is our time. But, these times are different and what comes next is difficult to grasp. How people communicate. How people learn and share. How people make decisions. Everything is different now. Think about this…you’re reading this article because it was sent to you via email. Yet more people spend their online time in social networks than they do in email. Duh. According to Nielsen, of the total time spent online 22.5% are connecting and communicating in social networks. To put that in perspective, the time spent in the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube is greater than online gaming at 9.8%, email at 7.6% and search at 4%.

Imagine for a moment if you and I were connected to one another in Facebook, which just so happens to be the largest social network in the world. How big? Well, Facebook is the size today of the entire Internet in 2004. There are over 1 billion people friending, Liking, commenting, sharing, and engaging in Facebook…that’s roughly 12% of the world’s population.

Twitter has over 200 million users.

Ever hear of tumblr? More time is spent on this popular microblogging community than Twitter.

The point is that the landscape for communication and all that’s affected by human interaction is profoundly different than how you and I learned, shared or talked to one another yesterday. This transformation is only becoming more pervasive and, it’s not going back.

Survival of the Fitting

But social media is just one of the channels we can use to reach people. I must be honest. I’m as much a part of tomorrow as I am of yesteryear. It’s why I spend all of my time researching the evolution of media and its impact on business and culture. Because of you, I share everything I learn in newsletters, emails, blogs, Youtube videos, and also traditional books. I’m dedicated to helping everyone not only understand, but grasp the change that’s before you.

Technologies such as social, mobile, virtual, augmented, et al compel us adapt our story and value proposition and extend our reach to be part of communities we don’t realize exist.

The people who will keep you in business or running tomorrow are the very people you’re not reaching today. Before you continue to read on, allow me to clarify my point of view. My inspiration for writing this is to help you augment, not necessarily replace, the programs you’re running today. We must still reach those whom matter to us in the ways they prefer to be engaged. To reach what I call the connected consumer of Geneeration-C we must too reach them in the ways they wish to be engaged. And in all of my work, how they connect, talk to one another, influence others, and make decisions are not at all like the traditional consumers of the past. Nor are they merely the kids…the Millennial.

Connected consumers are representative across every age group and demographic.

As you can see, use of social networks, media sharing sites, microblogs, blogs, etc. equally span across Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. The DNA of connected customers is indiscriminant of age or any other demographic for that matter. This is more about psychographics, the linkage of people through common interests (than it is their age, gender, education, nationality or level of income. Once someone is introduced to the marvels of connectedness, the sensation becomes a contagion. It touches and affects everyone. And, that’s why this isn’t going anywhere but normalcy.

Social networking isn’t just about telling people what you’re doing. Nor is it just about generic, meaningless conversation. Today’s connected consumer is incredibly influential. They’re connected to hundreds and even thousands of other like-minded people. What they experiences, what they support, it’s shared throughout these networks and as information travels, it shapes and steers impressions, decisions, and experiences of others.

For example, if we revisit the Nielsen research, we get an idea of just how big this is becoming. 75% spend heavily on music. How does that translate to the arts? I’d imagine the number is equally impressive. If 53% follow their favorite brand or organization, imagine what’s possible. Just like this email list that connects us, connections in social networks are powerful. The difference is however, that people spend more time in social networks than they do in email.

Everything begins with an understanding of the “5 W’s and H.E.” – Who, What, When, Where, How, and to What Extent? The data that comes back tells you which networks are important to the people you’re trying to reach, how they connect, what they share, what they value, and how to connect with them.

From there, your next steps are to create a community strategy that extends your mission, vision, and value and it align it with the interests, behavior, and values of those you wish to reach and galvanize.

To help, I’ve prepared an action list for you, otherwise known as the 10 Steps Toward New Relevance:

1. Answer why you should engage in social networks and why anyone would want to engage with you

2. Observe what brings them together and define how you can add value to the conversation

3. Identify the influential voices that matter to your world, recognize what’s important to them, and find a way to start a dialogue that can foster a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship

4. Study the best practices of not just organizations like yours, but also those who are successfully reaching the type of people you’re trying to reach – it’s benching marking against competitors and benchmarking against undefined opportunities

5. Translate all you’ve learned into a convincing presentation written to demonstrate tangible opportunity to your executive board, make the case through numbers, trends, data, insights – understanding they have no idea what’s going on out there and you are both the scout and the navigator (start with a recommended pilot so everyone can learn together)

6. Listen to what they’re saying and develop a process to learn from activity and adapt to interests and steer engagement based on insights

7. Recognize how they use social media and innovate based on what you observe to captivate their attention

8. Align your objectives with their objectives. If you’re unsure of what they’re looking for…ask

9. Invest in the development of content, engagement

10. Build a community, invest in values, spark meaningful dialogue, and offer tangible value…the kind of value they can’t get anywhere else. Take advantage of the medium and the opportunity!

The reality is that we live and compete in a perpetual era of Digital Darwinism, the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than our ability to adapt. This is why it’s our time to alter our course. We must connect with those who are defining the future of engagement, commerce, business, and how the arts are appreciated and supported.

Even though it is the end of business as usual, it is the beginning of a new age of opportunity. The consumer revolution is already underway, and the question is: How do you better understand the role you play in this production as a connected or social consumer as well as business professional?

Again, this is your time to define a new era of engagement and relevance.

Originally written for The National Arts Marketing Project

Connect with Brian via: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+


Note from Michael: If you really like this post above - check out Brian's TEDTalk and his thought process for preparing it in this post:

Sunday Dec 09, 2012

WebCenter Customer Spotlight: Hyundai Motor Company

Author: Peter Reiser - Social Business Evangelist, Oracle WebCenter

 Solution Summary

Hyundai Motor Company is one of the world’s fastest-growing car manufacturers, ranked as the fifth-largest in 2011. The company also operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in Ulsan, Republic of Korea, which can produce 1.6 million units per year.

They  undertook a project to improve business efficiency and reinforce data security by centralizing the company’s sales, financial, and car manufacturing documents into a single repository.

Hyundai Motor Company chose Oracle Exalogic, Oracle Exadata, Oracle WebLogic Sever, and Oracle WebCenter Content 11g, as they provided better performance, stability, storage, and scalability than their competitors. 

Hyundai Motor Company cut the overall time spent each day on document-related work by around 85%, saved more than US$1 million in paper and printing costs, laid the foundation for a smart work environment, and supported their future growth in the competitive car industry.

Company Overview
Hyundai Motor Company is one of the world’s fastest-growing car manufacturers, ranked as the fifth-largest in 2011. The company also operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility in Ulsan, Republic of Korea, which can produce 1.6 million units per year. The company strives to enhance its brand image and market recognition by continuously improving the quality and design of its cars.

Business Challenges
To maximize the company’s growth potential, Hyundai Motor Company undertook a project to improve business efficiency and reinforce data security by centralizing the company’s sales, financial, and car manufacturing documents into a single repository. Specifically, they wanted to:
  • Introduce a smart work environment to improve staff productivity and efficiency, and take advantage of rapid company growth due to new, enhanced car designs
  • Replace a legacy document system managed by individual staff to improve collaboration, the visibility of corporate documents, and sharing of work-related files between employees
  • Improve the security and storage of documents containing corporate intellectual property, and prevent intellectual property loss when staff leaves the company
  • Eliminate delays when downloading files from the central server to a PC
  • Build a large, single document repository to more efficiently manage and share data between 30,000 staff at the company’s headquarters
  • Establish a scalable system that can be extended to Hyundai offices around the world

Solution Deployed
After conducting a large-scale benchmark test, Hyundai Motor Company chose Oracle Exalogic, Oracle Exadata, Oracle WebLogic Sever, and Oracle WebCenter Content 11g, as they provided better performance, stability, storage, and scalability than their competitors.

Business Results

  • Lowered the overall time spent each day on all document-related work by approximately 85%—from 4.5 hours to around 42 minutes on an average day
  • Saved more than US$1 million per year in printer, paper, and toner costs, and laid the foundation for a completely paperless environment
  • Reduced staff’s time spent requesting and receiving documents about car sales or designs from supervisors by 50%, by storing and managing all documents across the corporation in a single repository
  • Cut the time required to draft new-car manufacturing, sales, and design documents by 20%, by allowing employees to reference high-quality data, such as marketing strategy and product planning documents already in the system
  • Enhanced staff productivity at company headquarters by 9% by reducing the document-related tasks of 30,000 administrative and research and development staff
  • Ensured the system could scale to hold 3 petabytes of car sales, manufacturing, and design data by 2013 and be deployed at branches worldwide

We chose Oracle Exalogic, Oracle Exadata, and Oracle WebCenter Content to support our new document-centralization system over their competitors as Oracle offers stable storage for petabytes of data and high processing speeds. We have cut the overall time spent each day on document-related work by around 85%, saved more than US$1 million in paper and printing costs, laid the foundation for a smart work environment, and supported our future growth in the competitive car industry.

Kang Tae-jin, Manager, General Affairs Team, Hyundai Motor Company

Additional Information

Friday Dec 07, 2012

Employee Engagement: Drive Business Value

As we’ve been discussing this week, employee engagement is extremely important and you’ve probably realized that effectively engaging your employees is essential to driving business value. Your employees are the ones responsible for executing on the business’ objectives. Your employees (in the sales & service departments) are the ones interacting with your customers the most, so delivering on customer expectations and attaining high levels of customer engagement are simply not possible without successfully empowering these this stakeholder group.

High employee and partner engagement can have many benefits including:

  • Higher levels of employee productivity
  • Longer employee retention
  • Stronger, more enduring and more successful relationships
  • Serving as ambassadors for an organization’s brand
  • More likely to deliver excellent customer service
  • Referring others for hire
  • Recommending the organization’s products and services
  • Sharing feedback with their colleagues

In a way, engagement is a measure of employee investment in an organization’s mission and brand. And then you have the enablement piece of this as well.  It’s hard to imagine a high level of engagement existing among employees who don’t feel that they’ve been enabled to do their jobs very efficiently or effectively. You’re just not going to find high engagement among people if the everyday processes and technologies  they work with make it a challenge for them to access, share and manage the information  they need do their jobs or if they’re unable to effectively collaborate around the projects they’re working on.

How does your organization measure on the employee engagement spectrum? We’ve got a number of different resources to help you get started!

Thursday Dec 06, 2012

WebCenter Customer Spotlight: Hitachi Data Systems

Author: Peter Reiser - Social Business Evangelist, Oracle WebCenter

Watch this Webcast to see a live demo on how HDS creates multilingual content for their 35+ regional websites

 Solution Summary

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) provides mid-range and high-end storage systems, software and services. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd. HDS is based in Santa Clara, California, and has over 5,300 employees in more then 100 countries and regions.

HDS's main objectives were to provide a consistent message across all their sites, to maintain a tight governance structure across their messages and related content, expand the use of the existing content management systems and implement a centralized translation management system.

HDS implemented a global web content management system based on Oracle WebCenter Content and integrated the Lingotek translation management system to manage their multilingual content.

The implemented solution provides each Geo with the ability to expand their web offering to meet local market needs, while staying aligned with the Corporate Web Guidelines

Company Overview
Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) provides mid-range and high-end storage systems, software and services. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd. and part of the Hitachi Information Systems & Telecommunications Division. The company sells through direct and indirect channels in more than 170 countries and regions. Its customers include of 50 percent of the Fortune 100 companies. HDS is based in Santa Clara California and has over 5,300 employees in more than 100 countries and regions.

Business Challenges
HDS has over 35 global websites and the lack of global web capabilities led to inconsistency of messaging, slower time to market and failed to address local language needs. There was an extensive operational overhead due to manual and redundant processes. Translation efforts where superficial, inconsistent and wasteful and the lack of translation automation tools discouraged localization. 

HDS's main objectives were to provide a consistent message across all their sites, to maintain a tight governance structure across their messages and related content, expand the use of the existing content management systems and implement a centralized translation management system.

Solution Deployed
HDS implemented a global web content management system based on Oracle WebCenter Content. The solution supports decentralized publishing for their 35+ global sites to address local market needs while ensuring editorial and brand review trough embedded review processes.

They integrated the Lingotek translation management system into Oracle WebCenter Content to manage their multilingual content.

Business Results

  • Provides each Geo with the ability to expand their web offering to meet local market needs, while staying aligned with the Corporate Web Guidelines
  • Enables end-to-end content lifecycle management across multiple languages
  • Leverage translation memory for reuse and consistency
  • Reduce time to market with central repository of translated content
Additional Information

Wednesday Dec 05, 2012

Employee Engagement Q&A with John Brunswick


As we are focusing this week on Employee Engagement, I recently sat down with industry expert and thought leader John Brunswick on the topic. Here is the Q&A dialogue we shared. 

Q: How do you effectively engage employees to drive business value?
A: Motivation, both extrinsic and intrinsic, combined with the relevancy of various channels to support it.  Beyond chaining business strategies like compensation models within an organization, engagement ultimately is most successful when driven by employee's motivations.  Business value derived from engagement through technical capabilities can be objectively measured through metrics like the rate and accuracy of problem solving for a given business function or frequency of innovation created.  Providing employees performing "knowledge work" with capabilities that allow them to perform work with a higher degree of accuracy in the same or ideally less time, adds value for that individual and in turn, drives their level of engagement to drive business value.

Q: Organizations with high levels of employee engagement outperform the total stock market index by 22%. Can you comment on why you think this might be?
A: Alignment through shared purpose.  Zappos is an excellent example of a culture that arguably has higher than average levels of employee engagement and it permeates every aspect of their organization – embodied externally through their customer experience.  I recently made my first purchase with them and it was obvious through their web experience, visual design, communication style, customer service and attention to detail down to green packaging, that they have an amazingly strong shared purpose.  The ‘About page’ outlines their "Family Core Values", the first three being "Deliver WOW Through Service, Embrace and Drive Change & Create Fun and A Little Weirdness" – all reflected externally in my interaction with them.  Strong shared purpose enables higher product and service experience, equating to a dedicated customer base, repeat purchases and expanded marketshare.

Q: Have you seen any trends in the market regarding employee engagement?
A: Some companies now see offering a form of social engagement similar to Facebook and LinkedIn as standard communication infrastructure like email or instant messaging.  Originally offered as standalone tools, the value is now seen when these capabilities are offered in an integrated fashion in the context of business entities.  An emerging area of focus is around employee activities related to their organization on external social platforms, implicitly creating external communities with employees acting on behalf of the brand and interacting with each other (e.g. Twitter).  Companies have reached a formal understand that this now established communication medium requires strategies allowing employees to engage.  I have personally met colleagues from Oracle, like Oracle User Experience Director Ultan O'Broin (@ultan), via Twitter before meeting first through internal channels.

Q: Employee engagement is important, but what about engaging customers and partners?
A: The last few years we have witnessed an interesting evolution from the novelty of self-service to expectations of "intelligent" self-service.  From a consumer standpoint, engagement can end up being a key differentiator, especially in mature markets.  Customers that perform some level of interaction with a brand develop greater affinity for the brand and have a greater probability of acting as an advocate.  As organizations move toward a model of deeper engagement, they must ensure that their business is positioned to support deeper relationships, offering potentially greater transparency.

From a partner standpoint greater engagement can lead to new types of business opportunities, much in the way that offers a unified shopping experience that can potentially span various vendors.  This same model can be extended to blending services and product delivery models, based on a closeness not easily possible before increased capability of engagement mechanisms.

Q: What types of solutions are available to successfully deliver employee engagement?

A: Solutions enabling higher levels of engagement do so on the basis of relevancy.  This relevancy is generally supported by aspects of content management, social collaboration, business intelligence, portal and process management technologies.  These technologies can help deliver an experience tailored to a given role or process within an organization that applies equally to work that is structured or unstructured, appearing in the form of functionality as simple as an online employee directory search, knowledge communities supported by social collaboration, as well as more feature rich business intelligence dashboards and portals.

Looking to learn more about how to effectively engage your employees? Check out this webcast, or read more from John Brunswick

Monday Dec 03, 2012

Engagement: Don’t Forget Your Employees!

Mark Brown

By Mark Brown, Sr. Director, Oracle WebCenter

 This week we want to focus on Employee Engagement, and how it is critical to your business. Today we hear and read a great deal about “Customer Engagement” – and rightly so, it is those customers, whether they be traditional paying customers, citizens, students, club members, or whomever it is that are “paying the bills”.  A more engaged customer is more likely to make it easier to pay those bills by buying more, giving good reviews, or spreading the word of how wonderful their experience was. But what about those who are providing those services, those who design and make those goods; why is it that all too often they are left out of conversations concerning engagement? In fact, it is critical that we consider our employees as customers since they are using internal systems that run your organization the same way customers use external systems.

Studies have shown that an organization in which the employees feel “engaged” or better able to make decisions, do their jobs, and are connected to their peers have better return to their stakeholders. (shareholders).  On the surface this seems obvious, happy employees are more productive employees. But it leads to the question – how many of our existing policies, systems and processes are actually reducing that level of engagement?

Let’s look at a couple examples. If posting new information that may be of great value to everyone in the larger organization is hard to do because we use an antiquated system, then we’re making it hard to share and increasing the potential for duplicate work. If it is not trivially obvious how to create and publish this post, then chances are very high that I’ll put it on the bottom of my queue. And finally, when critical information is spread across various systems, intranet sites, workgroups and peoples inboxes, then it is very hard to learn and grow from that information.  These may sound trivial, but how often do we push things off not because it is intellectually challenging, we may have the answer at our fingertips, but because it is hard to make that information readily available. 

If an engaged employee is a productive employee, then what can we do to increase their level of engagement? We can start by looking for opportunities to provide self-documenting self-service solutions. Our newer employees grew up using simplified web interfaces everyday and they loathe calling a help-desk unless it is the last resort. Sadly, many of our enterprise applications have not kept pace and we all still have processes that are based on sending an email -- like discount approvals, vacation requests, or even offer-letter approvals.  

My suggestion is to pick one highly visible, high-impact process where employees are either reticent to execute on the process or openly complain about how cumbersome it is and look at the mechanism for that process. If there are better ways, streamlined steps, better UIs that could be done, then you have a candidate to reconfigure that process and make it more engaging. Looking to better engage your employees? Start here!

Oracle Cloud Content and Process power the next wave of productivity, mobile efficiency, and workgroup innovation. Only Oracle offers an integrated suite of content, process and sites cloud services that enable business users to easily collaborate anywhere, simplify business automation, and communicate more effectively.


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