Monday Jan 14, 2013

Holland America: Optimizing the Online Customer Experience with Oracle Real-Time Decisions

Prior to the holidays, we spent some time on the WebCenter blog focusing on how to optimize the online customer experience using segmentation and targeting with Oracle's web experience management solution, Oracle WebCenter Sites.  We also introduced you to Oracle's real time decisioning engine, Oracle Real-Time Decisions, which can be used in combination with Oracle WebCenter Sites to enable automated targeting and segmentation.You can check out those posts using the following links:

Today, we're expanding on this theme and featuring a guest post from Oracle sales consultant, Sumeet Prasad.  Sumeet is part of the Oracle Real-time Decisions strategy team. Sumeet has been with Oracle for six years and has twelve years of experience in the real-time decisioning space. This post will give you a very good sense of the truly powerful capabilities of Oracle Real-Time Decisions for optimizing the online customer experience.

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Holland America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corp. It is recognized as a leader in the cruise industry’s premium segment. Holland America Line’s fleet of 15 ships offers nearly 500 cruises to 320 ports of call in more than 100 countries and is expected to have carried over 750,000 cruise passengers in 2012 that visited all seven continents.

Like many in the travel industry, Holland was looking for ways to increase revenue and margin in a poor economy. Maximizing the revenue from their passengers was important to increasing overall revenue. The travel industry is trending towards more online bookings and customers are increasingly more web savvy. Holland’s existing websites for both cruise booking and shore excursion provided a one size fits all approach in regards to customer experience.

Holland America decided to utilize Oracle Real Time Decisions (RTD) to help achieve their goals. They went live with RTD in June of 2012 within their Online Shore Excursion booking process. They had 2 primary business goals for this initiative:

  • Leverage Real-Time Decisions to help increase booking revenue for Shore Excursions, Indulgences, Spa and Dining by optimizing cross-sell and up-sell offers in the web channel through adaptive learning and multi goal arbitration
  • Leverage Real-Time Decisions to improve the overall customer experience by providing personalized and targeted content, and product recommendations throughout the Shore Excursion selection experience.


RTD provides Holland America with a cross channel, centralized decision management service for Customer Experience Optimization. RTD enables real-time intelligence to be instilled into any customer interaction, thus Holland is able to learn and predict which shore excursions, indulgences, and dining options are most appropriate to deliver to a customer. By learning from every single interaction and adjusting their processes in real-time, Holland America always takes the best course of action and optimizes the value of each opportunity.

The RTD Decision Management Framework provides for user-defined business rules, automated segmentation, real-time predictive models, test and control capabilities and user defined performance goals for optimizing decisions. Both rules and models can operate on historical, transactional and contextual real-time information.  This allows Holland America to treat every customer coming to the Shore Excursion site as a “segment of one” and provide for personalized and optimized customer experiences.

There are four optimized decisions that RTD makes as part of the Shore Excursion Booking Process. 90% of visitors have the optimized experience (RTD) and 10% of the visitors have the control experience (status quo):

  • Decision #1: Show/No Show shore excursions landing page:  Determine which flow is best for each customer.
  • Decision #2: Which landing page image is best to display?
  • Decision #3: Rank order the top excursions on the catalog page for each customer?
  • Decision #4: What are the best additional shore excursions, indulgences and spa and dining offers to recommend on the shopping cart page?

Within one month of being live, Holland America saw booking rates increase by 14% for the optimized experience (RTD) vs. the Control Experience (status quo). The success of this first project is helping pave the way for future RTD projects, as well as the adoption of Web Center Sites for building and managing their websites.


Watch an On-Demand Webcast to Learn More!

Friday Jan 11, 2013

When it comes to Content and your business - Go Big or Stay Home!

Happy Friday everyone!  Yesterday I wrote briefly about the importance of honing your personal skills along with improving the way you use technology to manage content in your organization. Today, I want to focus on an old adage that serves as a great resolution to use almost any time, whether it be in your professional life or your personal life.

ECM Resolution #4:  Go Big or Stay Home!

I am sure you've heard that saying, or something close to it before.  My grandmother had a few variations of this one herself, some of which I probably cannot post in an Oracle blog!  :) But one of her oft-quoted reminders that stuck with me was that "any job worth doing is worth doing right".  A corollary of this might be "if you are going to manage your content properly and get maximum value, go with a proven and tested industry leader".

While my grandmother certainly never uttered those words about managing content, it's hard to argue with the idea of investing in the best technology that will deliver the best results.  It's especially true when it comes to technology that is at the fundamental core of your business!  One of the best ways to evaluate and recognize who the leader is in any business is via third-party analysts.  Gartner Research recently announced the results from their Magic Quadrant research on Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions and for the 5th straight year, the Oracle WebCenter ECM solution is again honored to be in the Leaders quadrant, recognizing the completeness of the Oracle WebCenter's product vision and our ability to execute.

As we talked about in previous blog posts, content and the proper management of it is (or should be) at the core of your business.  Your important content should never be stored in an information silo, in fact that is the last thing you want!  To make the most of your valuable information you also want powerful connected systems.  In addition to our strong history of being a leader in the ECM market, Oracle WebCenter is also recognized as a leader by Gartner Research in their Horizontal Portal and Web Content Management Magic Quadrants.

We are once again proud of this recognition from Gartner and similar recognition that we have received from other leading analyst firms around the world. But even more important are the testimonials we get from satisfied customers.  Recently, the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture was kind enough to describe the value of their WebCenter Content implementation in a short video. Check it out for yourself here.  Short video testimonials from other customers such as BDO , AIA and the Chicago Public Schools offer additional, valuable insights into real-life business scenarios enhanced with WebCenter enterprise content management.

Realizing a rapid return on any investment like this is essential, especially in the economic environment of today.  Embry-Riddle recently worked with us to proudly showcase the ROI they have realized by using WebCenter that is also worth taking a few minutes to view. All this brings us back to our final resolution of the week. Admittedly the above is certainly an abundance of "tooting our own horn" but when it comes to making resolutions that directly effect the direction your business is taking when it comes to content management, you want to know you are going with the best available technology solutions.  Go Big or Stay Home.  You are not seriously going to consider doing the latter - so make sure you do the former! 

We hope these resolutions throughout the week have given you food for thought as you evaluate your approach to content management and how it is really put to use within vital business processes across your company.  Thank you for taking the time to read the WebCenter blog and stay tuned next week for another valuable series of posts about WebCenter Sites.



Thursday Jan 10, 2013

ECM Resolution #3: Improve your information management skills to better drive business objectives

Hello again and welcome back to this series of blog posts covering achievable resolutions that you can make this year to improve the way you manage documents, files and all types of information used by your company. In the first post, we talked about planning for increased growth and in the second post, we talked about putting content to work more effectively and within the context of real business applications. But today, we are going to change our focus a little bit and zero in on the personal.

ECM Resolution #3:  
Look out for Number One!

As the use of content within business continues to expand and be utilized in a more holistic fashion, the expectations for technology professionals are also changing.  In a recent survey conducted by AIIM (and sponsored by Oracle), nearly 60% of 321 respondents viewed the role of Information Professional as vital to the future growth of their business. Traditional roles like "Records Manager" and "Technology Specialist" are being superseded in terms of perceived value by roles that are more encompassing and that can address the broader operational demands of the business.

Guess what?  This means that it is time to take a fresh look at your own skills and achieve the certifications necessary to meet changing job market demands. That might mean taking additional online training and if you are already an Oracle WebCenter user that might mean taking advantage of the classes at the Oracle University. More broadly, it can mean taking advantage of professional certification opportunities such as the AIIM Certified Information Professional program. Oracle recently sponsored a whitepaper and webcast on this topic to help drive more awareness around the importance of taking a business-wide approach to content and information management. Oracle WebCenter is designed to do exactly that, as we discussed in yesterdays' blog post.  But for you personally, adding certifications to your list of job skills can only enhance your standing in your current organization and can only enhance your resume.

A manager I had long ago once told me "no one is going to look out for #1 like #1".  When it comes to being an information professional, someone that can see the strategic potential of integrating content management across a variety of organizational needs, you can add real value to your companies use of ECM, but only by continually investing in the skills needed to stay ahead of the game.

See you back here tomorrow for another ECM Resolution worth striving for!


Tuesday Jan 08, 2013

ECM Resolution #2: Getting content where it is REALLY needed

Welcome back to our conversation about resolutions we can set that will help us manage information more effectively and make our entire business more productive.  Yesterday, we discussed ECM Resolution #1 - Planning for both content growth and expanded access to that information. Today's resolution is a variation on a seemingly simple cliché that for many businesses around the world, is something they have not truly addressed.


ECM Resolution #2:  Put information in your work.

OK, really?  That's it?  Yes - but let me explain.  For most companies, information is captured or created in a repository, used briefly and then allowed to die a long, slow death without ever being used again.  Microsoft SharePoint is famous for this, though it is not the only technology out there that perpetuates this problem.  The concept of the "information silo" has been discussed for years and yet still companies find themselves with valuable information that cannot be easily found or used where it is needed most.  

Think about your own situation.  Are important documents like contracts, invoices, forms or scanned images stored in a way that they can be easily found and used within the context of your business applications?  Probably not.  Too often, when it comes time to find that important file, you find yourself searching across multiple locations.  The biggest problem of all, you have to know where to look before you even begin searching!  And in many cases, you get frustrated and resort to sending an email to one or more colleagues, asking them if they have the document to send to you.  Now you have multiple copies, multiple versions - basically, a real mess that can result in the wrong information being used or communicated.

When your content is centrally managed, it can be used across applications and communities more securely and effectively.   Need to locate a contract under dispute from within the context of your intranet portal environment?  Done!  Need to collaborate around the very latest version of an upcoming customer presentation?  Done!  Need to have access to a scanned invoice within the context of your e-business applications?  Done!  Need to be able to confidently send the latest proposal document to a business partner?  Done!

OK, you get the picture. Content is only of value when it can be used within the immediate context of the business use case - whatever that might be. Having files and documents scattered across network drives, file sharing solutions and repositories is often at direct odds with this.  When you resolve to manage your information properly and integrate it within the scope of your business processes, you shorten the time it takes to resolve issues, address customer concerns and meet deadlines.

Many Oracle WebCenter Content customers are doing this already and realizing some significant cost savings and other benefits.  It's worth taking a look. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is one such customer, and Brian Skapura from the AIA was kind enough to sit down and record a video describing what they have done.  You can view it directly via this link.  

As with the first resolution, this is one worth taking the time to consider and implement in a way that addresses one process at a time. Taking one bite at a time ensures that you will address the most important processes first and be successful along the way.  You can get a more thorough understanding of how you can effectively put your information to work by checking out one or more webcasts that we have recorded on the topic.  Click here to register and watch them at your convenience. 

We will see you back here tomorrow for ECM Resolution #3!

Monday Jan 07, 2013

ECM Resolutions for the New Year you can actually achieve!


Hello everyone and welcome to 2013!  It's the first full work week of the new year and around this time each year, the tech press and blogosphere is full of predictions and prognostications about what will happen in the coming 12 months.  Some of them are, shall we say, more likely than others but usually these lists are entertaining and it is always fun to look back after the year is complete to see which of them were accurate.

What is of even more value however is setting resolutions we can actually achieve.  We all know that around New Years, people set personal resolutions for themselves and if they are not reasonably achievable, those same resolutions will be back on next year's list and maybe the year after that.  When they are overly grandiose, they end up getting scaled back, or in many cases, they simply never get off the launchpad.  We all have likely experienced this in our personal resolutions, but the same can happen in business.  We know there are things we can do and resolutions that we can set to improve the way we do business, but turning them into reality can sometimes be a challenge.  

With that in mind, over the course of this week we are going to focus on achievable resolutions related to Document and Content Management that can help your organization be better organized, more efficient and more successful.

ECM Resolution #1: Begin to deliver better information access.

We've all seen the reports about how information is growing exponentially each year.  While these reports are usually published by companies selling high-end storage, the fact remains that content of all types is being gathered and used within our organizations at an alarming rate.  Couple that with the increasing demand for expanded access to select content via mobile devices and the need to integrate content more completely into important business processes and you have what appears to be quite a challenging resolution but fortunately, it is one that is achievable. When your company takes a more holistic view about how information is being used, accessed, captured and stored, you will almost certainly find opportunities to eliminate redundancy and centralize the management of your content.

For many organizations, the best resolution is to focus on moving towards a single repository for most information.  Now I hear you say... wait a minute! I thought we were focusing on achievable resolutions here!  I understand that this appears challenging given that most organizations already have content scattered across multiple repositories or locations.  And in many cases, migrating all of that information along with its associated metadata and classifications can be anywhere from daunting to impossible.  The trick to success is to zero in on specific applications, often one at a time and take your success in increments, learning along the way.  For example, you may begin by integrating ECM with your HR system and then once that is done, tie in your Accounts Payable process and so on.  Overtime, you have simplified your approach to information and are delivering simplified,easier access to a primary repository.  Your corporate information is more easily managed and controlled within in a single repository while also being made available within a growing variety of business applications and users across the enterprise.

As you might have guessed, Oracle WebCenter is uniquely positioned to help you achieve this resolution. Because it is developed by Oracle as part of the Fusion Middleware platform, it is easily integrated with key business applications like Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel CRM and more including (gasp!) business applications from other companies.  The WebCenter Content repository is also uniquely designed to take advantage of the unmatched power of the Oracle database, including the SecureFiles functionality offered by the latest releases. Performance and scalability of such a repository is obviously critical and Oracle WebCenter delivers the goods here as well.  Check out the Performance and Scalability Whitepaper on our website for much more detail. 

Moving towards a single repository lets you address your security, compliance and content management requirements while providing seamless workflow and content access within multiple business applications while allowing for a variety of access methods depending on the use case.  If you want to learn more right away, be sure to check out the informational webcast available here.

Hopefully this first resolution is an idea that you can seize on as you focus on the year ahead.  Throughout the rest of this week, we will focus on other content management resolutions that can help you and your business cut costs and be better positioned to manage future growth.

Friday Jan 04, 2013

Meet the Oracle WebCenter Team: Christian Finn

Today's post first appeared in the last issue of the Oracle WebCenter Information InDepth newsletter.  You can subscribe to the newsletter here and receive future issues in your inbox.

The Oracle WebCenter team includes some of the best minds in the industry. In this edition, we turn the spotlight on Harvard graduate Christian Finn, who joined Oracle in 2011 and now serves as senior director for Oracle WebCenter product management.

Q. Tell us about the professional journey that brought you to your current role.
A. Just as I was getting my undergrad degree in the liberal arts, it was becoming clear that computing was the next big thing. So I decided to get my start in the profession as a trainer and developer, eventually becoming a consultant to a Fortune 500 company.

In 1998, I joined Microsoft, where I became director of product management for SharePoint. In a short time, my team helped build SharePoint into the market leader with more than US$2 billion in revenues.

Then about a year ago, Oracle approached me just as it was building and acquiring some exciting products in the social business market, with an impressive vision for how mobile, social, and cloud technologies can improve how we work, market, and collaborate. When Oracle asked me to come aboard to evangelize the Oracle WebCenter brand in this new era, I jumped at the chance.

Q. Describe your typical day.
A. I think a week actually is the best time sample to get a feel for what leading product management is like. First, there's planning, strategizing, and reviewing campaigns with my team. I also meet regularly with our Oracle WebCenter development team to keep up to speed on the products and integrations we’re building.

In addition, I devote about 20 percent of my schedule to our customers. That includes communicating what we're up to and also listening to their challenges so we can better serve their business needs going forward.

Finally, I make sure I devote time to other Oracle product teams. Increasingly, the power of Oracle WebCenter solutions depends on how intelligently our solutions are embedded into Oracle's comprehensive offerings and initiatives. For example, Oracle WebCenter has a critical role to play in both customer experience and social relationship management, to name just two efforts. Much of my time is spent collaborating in areas such as those with my colleagues from across Oracle.

Q. What keeps you up at night?
A. Moving fast enough in the market, and shipping! We have some amazing products in the pipeline, and I really want to ensure we ship them, with quality, as soon as we can.

Oracle Q. Can you explain the Oracle WebCenter flying monkeys?
A. Basically they're these furry little dolls that wear capes with our logo. Their arms are actually elastic bands, which turn them into slingshots. They can fly screaming through the air for 50 feet or more, which is a great way to get attention at a trade show or to break the ice with an audience if you're giving a speech. People—and dogs—love them!

Q. Are there any upcoming programs or events that would be of interest to Oracle WebCenter customers?
A. If I had to choose one thing, it would be the Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series. It's a monthly series that features top industry leaders and opinion makers such as MIT's Andrew McAfee and Altimeter’s Brian Solis. Together, we investigate the rapid changes affecting business and technology—and how organizations can best capitalize on them.

I really believe that people don't buy enterprise software. They buy into business strategies, and to do that we need to share a common view with our customers of how the world is changing and where it’s headed. Only then can we really be successful in showing how our software meets their needs. So we began this Webcast series to bring thought leaders who are at the intersection of business and IT to our customers to really explore how the world is changing in the social business era.

Q. How do you like to spend your time when you're not thinking about enterprise software?
A. I have three kids—they're 11, 9, and 6—and I spend most of my time outside work with them, from school activities to gymnastics meets. They seem to be a bunch of budding entrepreneurs, because our only appointment-TV as a family is "Shark Tank," a reality show about entrepreneurship. Even my six-year-old offers critiques!

Watch Christian Finn moderate the Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series.

Thursday Jan 03, 2013

Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation Awards Honor Five Groundbreaking Oracle WebCenter Implementations

Today's post first appeared in the last issue of the Oracle WebCenter Information InDepth newsletter.  You can subscribe to the newsletter here and receive future issues in your inbox.

Last month at Oracle OpenWorld 2012, five groundbreaking organizations using Oracle WebCenter won Oracle Fusion Middleware Innovation Awards, which honor customers and partners that are using Oracle solutions in innovative ways to successfully drive business value.

Oracle WebCenter winners include the University of Louisville, Australian media company News Limited, California-based biotech leader Life Technologies, Chinese telecomm provider China Mobile Jiangsu, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

University of Louisville
The University of Louisville turned to Oracle WebCenter solutions—including Oracle WebCenter Portal and Oracle WebCenter Content —to build a platform for the Louisville Informatics Institute (LOUI) initiative. LOUI is a statewide informatics network designed to improve public healthcare and lower cost with next-generation analytics, decision support, and innovative outcomes-based payment systems.

It is estimated that the LOUI project will produce an annualized return on investment of 277 percent, thanks to avoidance of hospitalizations, more timely intervention, improved patient compliance, and an outcomes-based reimbursement model.

News Limited
The world of online news is highly competitive, and Australia's News Limited wanted to stay on the cutting edge with an engaging online experience. To do so, it implemented a shared platform powered by Oracle WebCenter Sites, that has helped the company beat out its nearest competitor and take the lead in page impressions per month.

To achieve this, News Limited relied on the Oracle technology to reimagine storytelling and create a solution that is not only faster in terms of editorial publishing activity—known as speed to screen—but that also drives quality stories through content wizards and proprietary algorithms, allowing nontechnical editors to utilize rapid publishing capabilities.

Life Technologies
A global biotechnology tools company operating in more than 160 countries, Life Technologies was honored for a highly innovative solution for remotely monitoring and repairing biotech instruments.

The first of its kind in the industry, the new Instruments and Services Portal—built using Oracle WebCenter Portal—provides access to a cloud-based service monitoring system where all customer-deployed instruments can be remotely monitored and proactively repaired. The portal also provides alerts to customers and Life Technologies field engineers. 

China Mobile Jiangsu
China Mobile Jiangsu is one of the biggest subsidiaries of China Mobile, with more than 25,000 employees and some 40 million mobile subscribers. China Mobile Jiangsu won its innovation award for a new employee portal platform powered by Oracle WebCenter Portal that is successfully driving collaboration and productivity across its 25,000-strong workforce.

The solution brings together rich collaboration services, knowledge management services, sensitive document protection services, unified user identity management services, unified information search services, and personalized information integration capabilities.

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
The largest public utility company in the United States with more than 1.6 million customers, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) provides water and power for millions of residential and commercial customers in Southern California.

LADWP was honored for implementing a newly designed Web portal that makes navigation easy with Web browsers and mobile applications. This has resulted in significant increases in self-service transactions, from billing and usage analysis to changes in service and outage reporting.

Learn more about Oracle WebCenter and read more Oracle WebCenter customer success stories.

Wednesday Jan 02, 2013

At Oracle OpenWorld, Overflow Crowds Get a Look at Content-Enabled Business Applications

Today's post first appeared in the last issue of the Oracle WebCenter Information InDepth newsletter.  You can subscribe to the newsletter here and receive future issues in your inbox.

At October's Oracle OpenWorld, event organizers reported overflow crowds at sessions that explored ways to integrate the powerful content management capabilities of Oracle WebCenter Content directly into business applications.

"IT organizations are looking for solutions that are manageable to implement and that drive rapid return on investment," says Lance Shaw, director of product marketing, Oracle WebCenter Content.

A key area of interest is in content-enabling business applications. The cost savings potential is huge. One research organization estimates that businesses spend, on average, US$20 to file a document, US$120 to find a misfiled document, and US$220 reproduce a lost document.

Always Connected Is the New Normal
The renewed interest in content enablement is not just about cost cutting, however. With the rise of mobile, social, and cloud computing technologies, people are connected 24/7. And increasingly, customers, partners, and employees expect to conduct any kind of transaction in real time—from wherever they may be.

That, in turn, means they need access to all relevant content, both structured and unstructured—and preferably right within the context of the transaction or business processes itself.

A Unified Repository, Plus Out-of-the-Box Integration
To make this possible, Oracle WebCenter Content provides a unified repository to house unstructured content and deliver it to business users in the proper format. Oracle WebCenter Content includes comprehensive tools for content capture (including scanning and importing), content extraction and indexing, and content storage.

However, Oracle also goes a step further. "Oracle WebCenter products seamlessly bring structured and unstructured content together so users can easily and intuitively have access to the right content when they need it," explains Shaw.

To speed the process and ensure that content solutions work seamlessly with Oracle business applications, Oracle delivers productized integrations and connectors, out-of-the box templates and starter kits, and an intuitive experience for users.

Content Enablement in Action
For an example of content enablement in the real world, consider how Oracle WebCenter automates invoicing into a content-enabled process with comprehensive tools to 

  • Scan paper invoices centrally, remotely, or in a mixed approach
  • Automatically capture and index key data with advanced forms recognition
  • Allow invoices, forms, and other relevant content to be automatically associated with the proper record in the accounts payable application
  • Make invoices available for review both inside and outside the application environment
  • Store invoices in a highly scalable and secure enterprise-class content repository with tools to manage them across the entire invoice lifecycle
  • Handle exceptions with a prebuilt workflow that complements but does not duplicate native workflow capabilities

Learn more about content-enabling business applications with Oracle WebCenter Content.

Tuesday Jan 01, 2013

Happy New Year from the Oracle WebCenter Team

Happy New Year

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Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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