Thursday Feb 28, 2013

The Top 3 Things you Need to Know about Customer Engagement & Experience

Managing the entire customer experience and evoking positive feelings requires a disciplined and dedicated approach. As many products and services have been commoditized in the age of the customer, customer experience and how you engage with your customers is how you will differentiate and thrive. Creating great customer experiences includes three key elements:
  • Connect and engage. Ensure that your customers can get to you whenever, however, and wherever they desire. Create simple, consistent, and relevant experiences across all touchpoints and interactions. Tailor digital interactions based on behavior, intent, and known preferences and optimize experiences for different devices and modes of interaction.  
  • Know more. Get as much information as you can about your customers prior to the current interaction. Having the right information at the right time improves your ability to retain customers and have them become repeat buyers. Personalize content, messages, and offers based on real-time decisions and recommendations using analytic insights such as “next likely purchase” and “next best action.”
  • Make it easy and rewarding. Improve efficiency and accuracy with cross-channel order orchestration and fulfillment. Enable “anywhere, anytime” interactions with intelligent self-service and at-the-point-of-need assistance. Proactively engage customers directly in social networks and reward best customers for total lifetime value, including referral value.
Are you following these three key elements? Are you delivering effective and efficient customer engagement? Be sure to check out our special webcast and white paper offer, and be sure to tune into the “Engage Customers with Social, Mobile & Cloud Self-Service” screencast to see how Oracle WebCenter can allow you to deliver superior customer engagement and experiences through social, mobile and cloud self-service.

Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

Engage Customers with Social, Mobile and Cloud Self-Service

We all know that successfully engaging customers is critical to an organization’s business success. We also know that engaging our customers is more challenging today than ever before. Over the last decade and a half we’ve seen the advent of the internet and watched as the online channel became a primary one for conducting our business and even managing our lives. And during this whole process or evolution, the customer journey has grown increasingly complex. Customers themselves have assumed increasing power and influence over the purchase process and for setting the tone and pace of the relationships they have with brands and you see the evidence of this in the really high expectations that customers have today. They expect brand experiences that are personalized and relevant -- In other words they want experiences that demonstrate that the brand understands their interests, preferences and past interactions with them. They also expect their experience with a brand and the community surrounding it to be social and interactive– it’s no longer acceptable to have a static, one-way dialogue with your customer base or to fail to connect your customers with fellow customers, or with your employees and partners. And on top of all this, customers expect us to deliver this rich and engaging, personalized, interactive and cloud-based experience, in a consistent way cross a variety of channels including web, mobile and social channels, in the cloud or even in offline ones such as in-store or via a call center. And as a result, we see that deliver on these expectations and successfully engaging your customers is a great challenge today.

And while it’s a significant challenge for organization, there are many benefits to successfully engaging your customers: Engaged customers are more likely to:

  • Purchase your products and services.
  • Be loyal to a brand over the long term through the purchase of additional products and services.
  • Become a brand advocate and recommend a business’s products and services -- and will all know how important customer endorsements such as ratings and review have become today.
  • Pay more for a great customer experience. In fact, a whopping 86% of consumers say that they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. 

Failing to engage customers doesn’t just mean losing a sale; it could have a significant long term negative side effect. Failing to engage customers and failing to deliver great customer experiences, companies are doing much more than simply leaving additional revenue on the table. Today there can be real consequences for failing to deliver on customer expectations. Today’s demanding customers won’t hesitate to drop your brand in the wake of a poor experience. In fact 89% of consumers say they will do business with your competitor following a poor experience with you. And the consequences are even higher than losing that one customer to your competitor in today’s social and connected world. Your unhappy customers can easily amplify their displeasure and chip away at your brand‘s reputation via their social networks or through the posting of negative reviews on sites like Yelp or Google Places.

So, how do you use social, mobile and cloud self-service to effectively engage your customers and employees? How do you provide them with personalized, integrated, application-oriented and mutli-channel access to improve satisfaction and productivity? Oracle WebCenter is the engagement platform powering exceptional experiences for employees, partners and customers. It brings together people, processes, and information to deliver social, mobile and cloud based self-service solutions. We invite you to view this screencast as part of the New Business Imperative: Social, Mobile, Cloud Series to find out how Oracle WebCenter allows you to engage your customers, improve employee satisfaction and increase partner efficiency.

Monday Feb 25, 2013

Engagement: Don't Forget Your Customers!

This week we want to focus on Customer 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. Is your organization ready to handle today’s demands and high expectations for a socially enabled, multichannel online customer experience? In order to succeed in today’s competitive global online world, organizations must be able to create a relevant and interactive cross-channel experience that will drive the success of their marketing and customer initiatives.

Customers themselves have assumed increasing power and influence over the purchase process and for setting the tone and pace of the relationships they have with brands and you see the evidence of this in the really high expectations that customers have today. And the numbers don’t lie:

  • 86% of consumers say that they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience
  • Companies with low levels of employee engagement have total shareholder returns that are lower than the average by 28%
  • Organizations with high levels of employee engagement outperform the total stock market index by 22%
  • 89% of customers will begin doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience 

 Would these percentages be higher or lower for your organization? Are you successfully engaging your customers? We hope you will stay tuned this week for some exciting new offers we have around Customer Engagement! In the meantime, we invite you to download this free report by the Temkin Group that measures engagement across more than 2,400 constituents.

Friday Feb 22, 2013

Engage Your Customers. Empower Your Business. Do More with Your Minutes.

#DoMoreWithOracle ~  It’s a Social World

We live in very social times – in 60 seconds in today’s online world, we see 695,000 new searches on Google while 72 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube. We send 11 million instant messages and tweet 98,000 times. There are 1389 new blog postings and 695,000 new status updates to facebook. Meanwhile, Instagram gets 3480 new photos uploaded. 

Some of these figures may seem large, some may seem small, but they all show a trend for more - More - MORE as the population becomes ever more engaged with our social media world.

We see staggering statistics of social media usage across the globe – in 2011 YouTube had more than 1 TRILLION views or to put this in relative terms that would translate to 140 views for every person on the planet Earth. Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube.  Facebook has 845 million active users that create 3.2 billion likes and comments every day. Facebook users spend an average of 6 hours, 35 minutes per month on the site. Facebook has reached 100 billion friendships. There are 250 million photos uploaded each day = 173,611/minute.  Let’s face the facts – we are all hooked on socially engaging via the latest and greatest tools available.

The challenge?

Are you giving your customers, employees and partners the best online experience they have come to expect from their personal lives?


Not to mention that this also usually includes managing huge QUANTITIES of business data, while replicating the QUALITY of the social media experience.

So then, how do you manage the qualities of a business – including data and interaction and replicate the quality of the social media experience?

#DoMoreWithOracle – we can certainly help! Check out the full week of Fusion Middleware Screencasts


Thursday Feb 21, 2013



Whether you’ve established a content infrastructure and you’re ready to build solutions on top; or if you have tactical needs to solve specific business problems, Oracle WebCenter provides out of the box applications and a feature-rich foundation to meet your needs.

The more you plug into key applications and use cases, the more value your content infrastructure provides to the enterprise. Extend your reach, your ROI, and your value to your organization. Set the stage for future innovation.

Enable Employees, Partners, and Customers to Do More With Oracle WebCenter

Did you know that, in addition to enterprise content management, Oracle WebCenter also includes comprehensive portal, composite application, collaboration, and Web experience management capabilities?

Does Oracle power your portal solution for intranets, self-service portals or community websites? If so, did you know that Oracle WebCenter now also includes comprehensive content, web experience management and social computing capabilities?

Are you providing your customers with engaging online experiences using Oracle? If so, you probably realize that there’s more to exceptional customer engagement than just Web experience management. You must also empower your business by engaging and enabling employees and partners to deliver on customers’ expectations.

Now you can do more with WebCenter than ever before by creating advanced customer facing web solutions to improve customer loyalty and sales by delivering contextual and targeted multi-channel experiences to users across mobile, social and web channels. And you can manage the entire content lifecycle of not just the content in your portals but across your entire company as well.

Join us for this On Demand Series of 3 Webcasts and learn how you can provide a new level of engagement.

Learn how to Do More with Oracle WebCenter:

  • Do More with Oracle WebCenter – Expand Beyond Content Management
  • Do More with Oracle WebCenter - Expand Beyond Web Experience Management
  • Do More with Oracle WebCenter: Expand Beyond Portals

Learn more about how WebCenter:

  • Drives task-specific application data and content to a single screen for executing specific business processes
  • Enables mixed internal and external environments where content can be securely shared and filtered with employees, partners, and customers, based upon role-based security
  • Offers Web experience management, driving contextually relevant, social, and interactive online experiences across multiple channels
  • Provides social features that enable sharing, activity feeds, collaboration, expertise location, and best-practices communities
  • Drives sales and loyalty with an engaging cross-channel online experience
  • Enables self-service extranets, intranets and custom application dashboards
  • Enhances productivity with social collaboration
  • Optimizes information access with content management
  • Enables the social business by coordinating collaboration inside and outside the enterprise
  • Improves the online experience by delivering targeted multi-channel customer experiences
  • Manages the complete content lifecycle across all websites, applications and social tools on a strategic enterprise content management platform

What businesses sometimes forget, is that to truly engage your customers, you must also first enable and engage your partners and employees.

Do More with WebCenter, the user engagement platform for social business.

Watch Now: Do More with Oracle WebCenter Series

Tuesday Feb 19, 2013

Got a Minute?

Got a Minute?

How much did anyone get done in a minute, an hour or a day in 1953? 1973? 1983? 1993? 2003? For those that have been around a while, we’ve certainly witnessed the increased velocity with which today’s business operates in 2013.

And when we find ourselves catching our breath some days, we can understand that June and Ward Cleaver didn’t have a Smartphone in their pocket allowing Wally and the Beaver a slower lifestyle and larger global unknown world. Maybe the Beaver wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble if June had been tracking him via his cell phone GPS.

I won’t wane on nostalgically (too much) about the “good ‘ol days” in fictitious suburbia when we actually waited for the US mail to deliver our packages and correspondence or we had to be in an office or find a payphone to make a call outside of the home. As the world has evolved due to the rapid speed of communications, it has become a much smaller place – or at least our perception of the world has shrunk to fit in our shirt pocket.

Given the right timing, there are no barriers to easily asking a colleague across the world in Australia, Japan, India, or France a quick question to clarify something that would have taken days or even weeks decades ago. We are living in a new technology-based world with “Digital Darwinism” in full force. Those new employees joining your ranks that were born with a computer in their hands, the “Digital Natives” or “Born Digital” as they are known are arriving with new expectations for the integration of their work and personal lives. They are social beings and are arriving having become accustomed to multiple tools for instantaneous communications, intuitive collaboration at all hours; a different perspective on what is public vs. private and the expectation that the digital tools that they will use in their employment will be just as easy to use as those in their personal lives. They also bring to the workplace the growing expectation that everything in life is social, can be done while mobile, and ultimately, come from the cloud…

Today’s customer expects to engage with your brand and the community surrounding it in an interactive and social way. Customers expect a lot for their online customer experience.

They expect it to be personal:

Accessible: - Regardless of my device – Mobile or not - Via my existing online identities

Relevant: Content that interests me

Customized: To be able to tailor my online experience

They expect is to be engaging:

Social: So I can share content with my social networks

Intuitive: To easily find what I need

Interactive: So I can interact with online communities

And they expect it to be consistent across the online experience.

Interestingly enough, the business priorities of decades ago are still at play today. Do you need to Lower Costs? Increase Sales? Raise Productivity? Foster Innovation? Deliver a product or a service faster, better and cheaper? At least some things haven’t changed, but the tools by which we accomplish these goals are constantly changing and improving, providing the experience to increase engagement of your employees, customers and partners. Got a Minute? Take a look at how much happens in just 60 seconds and how your organization compares.

Thursday Feb 14, 2013

Importance of Page-Fragment Caching in Enabling High Performance Websites

Today's guest blog post is from Mariam Tariq, Senior Director of Product Management  for Oracle WebCenter Sites. Mariam has worked in the technology space for over 15 years with a focus in web content management, social marketing, and mobility. She has also held roles in product management, strategy and engineering at Zenprise, Interwoven, and Scientific Atlanta. Mariam holds BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley.

For most organizations, the online channel is a significant customer touch point which continues to grow in importance year after year.  Delivering a highly responsive website with no downtime ensures there is neither revenue loss nor poor customer experience.  A caching subsystem is a central part of the website delivery system needed to achieve high performance.

While page-level caching is essential for performance, further caching at a fragment level  enables dynamic delivery of the website such that pages can be assembled at runtime when incoming requests are received.  This is especially critical to delivering targeted websites where different users see different content on a page based on his/her visitor attributes such as location, time of day, or registered preferences. It is much more efficient to recompute only the fragments of the page that are different rather than the entire page, as typically only small amounts of data on a page will change.

Oracle WebCenter Sites is a Web Content Management system capable of this type of high scale dynamic delivery. In WebCenter Sites, efficient dynamic delivery is made possible by keeping track of changes to individual web components and dependencies between them. This is followed by just-in-time page assembly and caching of discrete fragments at the edge of the network.  As a result, even when data is managed in traditional relational databases, the page delivery model scales to serve a very high throughput site with a reasonably small hardware footprint.

WebCenter Sites provides two layers of caching known as double-buffered caching: Sites Server cache and Satellite Server cache.  Sites Servers are the core servers that can publish to Satellite Servers. Satellite Servers are remote servers that provide distributed caching and are first to receive the client requests. A typical deployment topology is shown below. If the requested page is not in the Satellite Server cache, it is requested from WebCenter Sites. If WebCenter Sites does not have the page in its cache, it regenerates it and sends it to Satellite Server.  

Figure: Typical WebCenter Sites Deployment Topology

Furthermore, WebCenter Sites communicates asset dependency information to all Sites and Satellite Server nodes. So when individual assets on a page change, each cluster node (in a Sites or Satellite Server cluster) is able to determine where that asset is used and which page fragments should be invalidated. Caching is therefore not limited to only page level. WebCenter Sites caching includes multiple layers of different kinds of cache, each tooled for a specific delivery scenario:  assets, page fragments, and even database queries.

Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can be used with WebCenter Sites to further increase performance. WebCenter Sites complements CDNs by caching authenticated content not typically cachable by CDNs.  In addition, WebCenter Sites Satellites are an added availability layer that can provide a back up to the CDN as well as act as an additional barrier for intrusion attacks.  For companies with moderate traffic, WebCenter Sites provides a cost effective solution for caching in lieu of using a CDN.

To summarize,  granular caching at a fragment-level ensures a high performing website with reduced cost and hardware footprint. To meet and anticipate performance needs, such a caching strategy should considered when implementing a website.


On Demand Webcast: How Brands Can Survive Digital Darwinism

This is the age of Digital Darwinism – where society and technology evolve faster than your ability to adapt. How well poised is your brand to survive and thrive in this new environment? Watch this webcast to hear Altimeter Group digital analyst and futurist, Brian Solis, discuss the rise of connected consumerism and learn how brands can survive Digital Darwinism by better understanding customer expectations, disruptive technology, and the new opportunities that arise from them. 

Wednesday Feb 13, 2013

Exa Strength Web Performance

Today's guest post is from Kelly Goetsch. Kelly is a Senior Product Manager for Oracle's vertically-integrated hardware and software stack, Exalogic. Kelly came to Oracle through the ATG acquisition, where he spent over six years as a Senior Architect with ATG's Professional Services organization. He spent his last three years at ATG with Walmart Global eCommerce, serving as their chief ATG consultant. Kelly has published numerous white papers on topics including Exalogic, distributed computing, large-scale eCommerce deployment architectures, performance tuning, and maximum availability. He holds a M.S. in M.I.S. and a B.S. in Entrepreneurship from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Over the past decade, online customer experience has evolved from requiring a single application supporting a single channel to an ecosystem of related applications, middleware, and core technology supporting an increasingly converged set of all physical and virtual channels. For some Oracle customers, the web is the sole channel. For those that have a physical presence, many trips to a store now begin with online research. Even most post-sales service is being moved online. Here's how customers are beginning to interact with their brands:

The Increasingly Complex Customer Journey

Customers are no longer satisfied dealing with siloed organizations. Customers want a seamless interaction across all channels. As a result of these changes, many purchases today, even those that take place in-store, are driven by the online channel. In fact, a 2011 study showed that 48% of all retail sales are either online purchases or web-influenced purchases.

Oracle technology can power the entire online customer experience ecosystem, from marketing driven sites to eCommerce sites and self-service portals.  Oracle WebCenter Sites often plays a key role in delivering the online customer experience due to its exceptional ability to deliver content effectively to different customers on different devices. 

As a result of these additional touch points and the increasing traffic on each channel, the traffic that WebCenter Sites needs to support has grown exponentially while customers are increasingly expecting that pages load instantaneously. 

Oracle WebCenter Sites on Exalogic Benchmarking Results

So what's the solution? Oracle's engineered systems – Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata – are supercharged platforms comprised of hardware and software that are designed for these ever-increasing workloads. Oracle Exalogic runs the app and middle tiers whereas Oracle Exadata runs the database tier. Oracle's engineered systems contain all of the storage, x86-based compute power, networking equipment, virtualization, management software, and unique optimizations for Oracle WebCenter Sites to ensure that Oracle WebCenter Sites runs exceptionally well. Since Oracle owns all layers of the stack, from storage to networking to Oracle WebCenter Sites, Oracle has been able to vertically optimize the entire hardware and software stack to work better together. As a result of all this engineering, uncached pages are delivered 11.6x faster on Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata when compared to an equivalent commodity-based system. Publishing is 3.7x faster. Cached pages are served 2.2x more efficiently per core. It's these numbers, along with all of the other benefits of running engineered systems that has our customers adopting these systems in droves. 


White Paper: Exalogic and Exadata - The Optimal Platform for Oracle WebCenter Sites

Exalogic and Exadata should be considered whenever a new Oracle WebCenter Sites environment is built that requires the utmost in performance and scalability, whether for a new implementation, a hardware refresh, or an upgrade of Oracle WebCenter Sites. Exalogic and Exadata bring increased topline revenue, reduced total cost of ownership, and faster time-to-market, all of which act together to provide the best return on investment and make Exalogic and Exadata the best platform on which to deploy Oracle WebCenter Sites. To learn more about Oracle WebCenter Sites on Oracle Exalogic and Oracle Exadata, download this white paper

Tuesday Feb 12, 2013

The High Consequences of Poorly Performing Websites

I recently returned from a wonderful trip to the Dominican Republic for a destination wedding where the skies were sunny, the temps were in the eighties, and the hotel internet connection was slow and unreliable. From the point of view of those traveling with me, the lousy connection was probably a good thing -- it prevented me from checking in on work emails frequently and worrying too much about what was going on back in the office. At the same time, however, it did leave me frustrated over the few online tasks I’d wanted to accomplish while away that had to be delayed until I returned to the U.S. where greater bandwidth and reliability awaited.

It's hard to get worked up about poor web performance in paradise.

Offline in Playa del Macao, Dominican Republic.

This experience got me thinking about not only how much we’ve come to rely on the online channel in our everyday lives, but also how important high performance is when it comes to the online customer experience. After all, the slow page load times and time-outs I experienced at the resort were enough to make me drop my entire online agenda while on vacation.

The simple matter is that it’s not enough to make your web presence available and hope for the best. All site visitors are naturally impatient and rightly so. As a result, you need to make sure that your web presence is finely tuned and super fast and super responsive. Even small dips in performance can have high consequences for your business and consumers expect web pages to load at increasingly faster speeds. For example:

  • Shopzilla decreased their average page load time from 6 second to 1.2 seconds resulting in a 25% page view increase and 12% revenue increase1
  • A 1-second delay in page-load time can result in 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions2
  • Amazon discovered that 1 ms of latency would cost them 1% in sales3
  • Google found that an extra ½ second in time for a search page to load resulted in a 20% drop in traffic3
  • Tablet users expect websites to load in under three seconds; smart phone users expect pages to load in less than four seconds4

Many of you may be familiar with these statistics already, but it’s important to note that high online performance is not only the concern of online behemoths like Google and Amazon. It should be your concern too. That’s why we’ll spend this week on the WebCenter blog taking a closer look at how to deliver high performance websites.


Are you an existing Oracle WebCenter Sites customer?

Find documentation, downloads, video tutorials, forums and more on Oracle’s web experience management solution. Just visit Oracle WebCenter Sites on the Oracle Technology Network.

Monday Feb 11, 2013

Oracle Forums: Learn How to Transform Your Online Customer Experience

Your customers expect a brand experience that is engaging, consistent, and connected across Web, mobile, and social channels. To deliver on these expectations, you must transform your online customer experience into one that is personalized and relevant, social and interactive, and optimized for multichannel delivery.

Attend one of Oracle's Forums to learn how Oracle’s Web experience management solution can help you develop a connected and engaging online customer experience that drives sales and loyalty. You’ll learn:

  • Why the online channel is an ideal place to begin connecting customer touch points
  • How personalization and targeting improve the effectiveness of online customer experience initiatives
  • How to get social by creating an interactive online customer experience that builds community engagement
  • How to optimize the online customer experience for anytime, anywhere engagement

Upcoming Forums

Oracle Forum Philadelphia - Sponsored by Deloitte and Avio Consulting

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sullivan's Steakhouse, 700 West Dekalb Pike, King of Prussia, PA 19406, USA
Click Here to Register

Oracle Forum Bangkok

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, 952 Rama IV Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
Click Here to Register

Oracle Forum New York City - Sponsored by Deloitte

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
The Muse Hotel, 130 West 46th Street, New York, NY, 10036, USA
Click Here to Register

Oracle Forum Stockholm - Sponsored by LBi

Thursday, March 14th, 2013
8:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Friends Arena, Råsta Strandväg 1, Stockholm, Solna, Sweden
Click Here to Register

Thursday Feb 07, 2013

Planning for a blizzard of information

If you are watching the news this week, you know that there is a major snowstorm coming towards those of us here in the Northeast.  Here in Boston, some of us will get two feet or more of snow in the next 48 hours, so you can imagine the flurry (pun intended) of activity that is going on before the arrival of the impending storm. People are filling their gas tanks, crowding the supermarkets to stock up on supplies and getting ready to be stuck at home for a few days.

When I was at the store, standing in the extra long line at checkout, I was thinking about all this preparation going on.  Everyone in Boston is aware that there is a storm coming and doing their utmost to be ready. There is literally no excuse for anyone not to be fully prepared.  But when it comes to content management and dealing with the ever-growing onslaught of documents, images, videos, forms and every other type of content imaginable, do we prepare properly within our businesses?

Often the answer is no.  The tendency is to avoid dealing with any information management issues until they really become a problem.  Just imagine if we dealt with impending snowstorms that way!  "Hey, I don't see any snow right now, so there is obviously not a problem. I will just wait until I really see it coming down hard before I start preparing."  Not a great plan, I am sure you would agree.

Every year, reports tell us that the amount of information being produced by businesses and our customers is growing exponentially with no sign of stopping. What are we doing to properly prepare and be ahead of the game?  Is your "plan" to keep buying hard drives and servers until you run out of room?  Or are you proactively putting a plan together to define retention policies, disposition policies and business rules that keep things safe and securely under control?

Hopefully you are one of those doing the latter, but if you have been delayed in getting a better handle on the avalanche of information coming your way, it's not too late to start thinking strategically about how you address content management and how you can obtain more value from that content by integrating it within the fabric of your essential business processes so that everything is right at your users' fingertips.  We've produced a short whitepaper on the subject that I hope you can read when you get the chance.  It's called "From Unstructured to Strategic: How Content Management Is Driving Strategic Initiatives" and you can quickly register to download it by clicking this URL.

For those of you here in the northeast of the United States, stay warm and safe!

Tuesday Feb 05, 2013

The Refrigerator of Knowledge

Quite a few years ago, perhaps more than I care to remember, a colleague described how she thought that a content management repository was like a refrigerator.  At first, I did not follow where she was taking this analogy but I soon got it and it has stuck with me to this day.  Since we are discussing content management and how to get the most from your information under management, I thought it worth sharing today...

If we think of the food we buy at home as being like the content and documents we create at work, we would probably all agree that they both have a value and that they both require an appropriate level of care.  There are extremes in both cases.  Skittles, for example, have almost no value (and can scarcely be considered food) but they also require almost no care.  You could leave a package on the floor for 20 years and they would be unchanged when you got back.  On the other extreme, a food of much more value, say Bluefin Tuna, needs extra care and protection in order for its value to be maintained.  In the same way, we have different types of information in our work environment.  The contract documents being negotiated require extreme care and safety controls to be in place, while the document announcing the upcoming ice cream party next Friday requires no care and can safely be discarded Friday night.  To take proper care of the high-value information, access must be controlled, version tracking and auditing must be in place and information governance regulations must be adhered to in most industries.

But the real value in your content is not just in the creation, it's in how well you utilize it.  It's the same with food.  You can go to the gourmet store, spend quite a bit of money to get the freshest ingredients but if you do not put them to good use, it is a complete waste of time and effort.  Same with your business content in all its forms.  Scanned documents and forms that come in from customers, collateral developed by marketing, documentation on your new product, partner contracts, sales quotes, the list of potentially valuable information in your company is endless.  But how well is that information put to use?  Securing it in a safe place is not enough, it's how you integrate it within critical business processes and make it readily available to the right people at the right time that defines what value you realize.  It's the same with the food that you spent all that money on.  If you simply secure it in your fridge and never open the fridge again because security is of overriding importance, the food will rot, age and go to waste.  Information not properly used is not worth gathering or creating in the first place. 

One last thought related to this analogy.  Have you ever been to a friends house and opened up their fridge to find a complete mess of mysterious food packages, plastic bags of leftovers - all just crammed in there to be gone through later?  Besides being disgusting, you will never find what you are looking for.  In fact you are likely to give up and drive to the store to buy something new before you will spend the time searching through unlabeled wads of aluminum foil that contain only who-knows-what.  On the other hand, when you open up a clean, well-organized refrigerator, you can find what you are looking for right away and have additional confidence that the leftovers you retrieve have not been lurking in there since the Nixon administration. Information management is similar in that when it is well-organized and easily accessible, users can get just what they need, when they need it and know that is the freshest, most up-to-date information.

So how organized is your company refrigerator, um, i mean content management system?  Can your employees, management, business partners find what they need when they need it?  Are you getting the most value by having information readily available within your important business processes?  If not, it's time to rethink how you use information, how you store it and of course, how to properly and securely dispose of the low-value information.  As you think more about the real value of your content and how strategic it is, be sure also to download a copy of our whitepaper on the topic. From Unstructured to Strategic: How Content Management Is Driving Strategic Initiatives

Next time you open up a friends refrigerator, you will now think about content management.  You're welcome. 


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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