Guest blog by Geoffrey Bock
How Oracle WebCenter Customers Build Digital Businesses:
Developing and Deploying Self-Service Solutions
Geoffrey Bock, Principal, Bock & Company
Beyond the First Generation
As I described in my last blog post, "Designing for the Experience-Driven Enterprise"
, many of the WebCenter customers I spoke to are focusing their design efforts on the experience-driven enterprise. They are contending with digital disruption by not only replacing their legacy systems but also by restructuring and extending their enterprise applications. In fact, there is a renewed emphasis on self-service solutions.
Of course self-service is a long-standing goal for doing business over the web. But first generation solutions simply augment existing enterprise activities. For instance, many companies introduced self-service HR portals over a decade ago, enabling employees to update their profile and benefits information on their own, rather than completing printed forms or calling HR staffers. While the tasks did not change, the people doing the work did.
Now it’s time to develop truly digital self-service solutions that do more than simply digitize these analog activities.
A Catalyst for Digital Business Transformation
As they become digital businesses, companies are engaged in new efforts that leverage the capabilities of a next-generation enterprise platform. Companies expect to transform how they do business, and deliver self-service solutions that are impossible to achieve without a truly digital application infrastructure. When in search of a starting point, begin with an enterprise portal and make it more relevant for solving business tasks.
Many of the business and IT leaders I interviewed are focusing on three interrelated goals.
- Continuing to empower end users and operational business units by reducing the necessity of IT support for maintaining enterprise applications.
- Collecting and organizing disparate strands of information into digital hubs that support business tasks.
- Restructuring business processes to take advantage of end-to-end digital activities.
With a renewed emphasis on self-service, these leaders can consolidate disparate web sites and applications into a series of task-oriented solutions. For instance, one firm restructures its marketing activities through a customer-experience portal where marketers easily access all resources and assets for managing campaigns and measuring results. Another firm aggregates information from machines in a laboratory that are equipped with an array of sensors, and proactively manages maintenance based on the results.
Investing in the Underlying Resources
From my perspective, the mobile journey leads to these next-generation solutions. As they rebuild the underlying platforms powering their enterprise applications, IT leaders are defining the essential services within a services-oriented architecture (SOA). It’s important to invest the time and resources to get them right. It’s also essential to define the underlying information architecture, including the metadata definitions and tag-sets essential for dynamic content delivery. Line-of-business leaders should support these IT and content management efforts.
Mobile apps are the catalyst for the digital business transformation. Both business and IT leaders need to rethink how they want to do business, enhance, extend, and replace their first-generation self-service initiatives, and become truly digital businesses.