Engaging Customers Online with WebCenter
By Michael Snow on Sep 30, 2011
The face of your company on the web is your website. So how do you engage with them? Is the content fresh? Is the content engaging? Is the content relevant to the customer? Is there a way to deliver a targeted and interactive experience as opposed to showing everyone the same static website?
To help us answer this, we interviewed industry veteran, Loren Weinberg, VP Product Management for Oracle WebCenter. Loren was a pioneer in the web experience management (WEM) space as a part of FatWire, a company that was an early leader in defining the evolution of the market from web content management to web experience management.
Michael: Loren, it’s so interesting this week during our discussions of SharePoint that Web Experience Management isn’t something that SharePoint really does very well at all. Is that why we never really run into them with customers that are looking for complete WEM solutions?
Loren: – Yes, Michael, you are right. Web Experience Management is really all about customer engagement online – creating an interactive, relevant and rich online experience (across web, mobile and social channels), and using the web to achieve marketing and customer loyalty goals. SharePoint in its essence is focused on the problem of document management and collaboration – internal productivity is the goal, not customer experience. In order to really provide a comprehensive Web Experience Management solution, you need to have some essential functionality that SharePoint doesn’t offer, as well as an orientation around marketing and customer experience.
Michael: – Let’s dig into this a little more. Aren’t we just talking about basic WCM functionality?
Loren: – No, this goes well beyond WCM –WCM functionality is the foundation. And it is an important foundation for reasons of scale and flexibility of the system. However, WEM is much more than that. On top of the WCM foundation, WEM includes technologies for targeting, optimization, user-generated content, end-user personalization, mobile web, and much more. In today’s socially enabled, multichannel online world, individuals increasingly expect their online experiences to be rich, engaging, and tailored specifically to their interests. It comes down to getting to know your customers and delivering the most appropriate content and offers for their needs and interests across all of the different channels of interaction.
Michael: – So – are you just talking about personalizing your experience? When I login to a corporate SharePoint site, it has the content that I selected and the layout I wanted. Is there more than that?
Loren: – It is much more than that. Keep in mind that we’re talking about externally facing websites that marketers are using to grow their business and brand loyalty. Oracle WebCenter Web Experience Management platform has a powerful rules engine with an intuitive interface that enables marketers to define customer segments and create rules for what content will be targeted and delivered to each customer segment online. This solution empowers a marketer - a non-technical user - to manage both segmentation and content recommendations. When visitors come to the Website, they are automatically placed in a customer segment based on known or profile-based information about them, their behavior on the site, or a combination of the two. Then the appropriate content is delivered to them in real time. And we offer built-in analytics for optimization of the site experience as well, so marketers can continually tweak the website to maximize its effectiveness.
But creating a highly engaging web experience requires even more. We also offer user-generated content with enterprise moderation for creating an interactive online experience, plus integration with third party social networking sites. We also offer end-user personalization and site customization using gadgets. And finally a mobility solution that makes it easy for business users to manage the traditional website along with the mobile website from a single interface with visual tools and previews, for seamless management of the online channel.
Michael: – Wow – no wonder we never see SharePoint. Tell me more about personalization from the user’s perspective? I know that SharePoint allows users to personalize their user preferences. How does our WEM solution deal with that?
Loren: – Well, we go beyond that as well with our gadget functionality. Oracle WebCenter gadgets provide website visitors with the ability to customize their own online experience. We enable organizations to create customizable dashboards made up of gadgets – which are basically small applications that can then be personalized by site visitors. These can consist of lists of articles, image slideshows, calculators or analyzers of data, blog entries, videos, or any other content type. When visitors come to the site, they can select which gadgets they would like to see on the site and customize the settings of the gadgets to meet their informational needs and interests. This enables organizations to offer a “MySite” page, where visitors have their own area that they can personalize. Visitor preferences are saved, and their selected preferences remain each time they return. The organizations own gadgets and any third-party gadgets supporting the OpenSocial/Google Gadget standards can be added to the list of available gadgets by Web content managers. By allowing site visitors to create their own customized gadget dashboards, organizations can provide a personalized and highly interactive Web experience that engages users on a one-to-one level and keeps visitors coming back.
Michael: – What about the social networks aspect of doing business today? You mentioned social capabilities – what exactly does your WEM solution offer here?
Loren: – Yes, Oracle WebCenter also provides multiple kinds of social computing enablement. First of all, we offer user-generated content tools with enterprise tools for moderation and management. It makes it easy for companies to add social features—such as comments, ratings, reviews, and corporate blogs—throughout their existing Web presence and manage them as a seamless part of their Web platform. By offering site visitors the opportunity to share ideas and feedback with one another, companies forge a stronger bond with customers—a bond that drives loyalty, sales, and business growth.
And IT doesn’t need to get involved with the daily management of social content. Business users can review and moderate comments through the same interface used for managing Website content, making user generated content management a seamless part of managing the Web experience. The functionality is natively integrated with the rest of the Web experience management capabilities so that WCM tasks are streamlined across internally generated and usergenerated content.
We also enable seamless integration with third-party social networking sites. Site visitors can be automatically authenticated on an organization’s Website based on their credentials from social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. They can see content on the site recommended by friends in their networks, and they can automatically disseminate content from the site that is interesting to them to their friends on social networking sites. Thus site visitors’ existing social identity is recognized immediately when they come to the site, and the onsite experience is seamlessly integrated with the rest of their online interactions and networks, driving relevance, engagement, and ultimately customer loyalty.
Michael: We’ve talked about the important functionality like targeting and segmentation, personalization and gadgets, and social computing integrations, but aren’t our users all over the world accessing sites from laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other channels?
Loren: Absolutely! Being able to interact in a multi-channel world is essential for any successful WEM solution. You have to be able to meet your customer via their preferred channel of interaction. We offer a streamlined way to manage the mobile web as an integral part of a customer’s online experience. Oracle WebCenter Mobility Server makes it easy to centrally manage mobile sites directly from the Oracle WebCenter interface. Users can edit content using rich text editor tools and then preview that content directly in the context of the mobile Website and the traditional Website —all from the same business user interface. Mobile preview is offered by device family, so business users can navigate the site, in preview mode and manage the site for each major device family – be it touch, smart-phone, tablet, or basic phone. And fine-grained optimization is done at run-time for the thousands of device types in each family. That’s a huge time-saver for marketers. You can even make use of device GPS data to deliver location-based content and services. Organizations can provide mobile site visitors with location-sensitive search results, offers, and recommendations as well as integration of maps or directions into site content, and much more.
Michael: Thanks Loren – that’s a lot of information – is there a presentation that people could watch to hear more about WEM?
Loren: Yes – they could come to Oracle Open World next week in San Francisco, where we have multiple sessions on WebCenter and Web Experience Management. We also did a webcast that highlights the integration strategy of FatWire and Oracle technologies coming together as Oracle WebCenter that has a lot more detail about our approach. People can view the webcast here. There’s also a lot more information at this site: http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint