Friday Feb 24, 2012

Is Social Business an Evolution or Revolution?: Webcast Q&A

Christian Finn

Thank you to those of you who attended the first webcast in our Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders series yesterday.

Christian Finn and Andy Mulholland shared their thoughts on whether social business is an evolution or revoltion. Andy hit home on the fact that technology is at a crossroads today. It has always played a key role in spearheading business success and continues to be a driving force for impacting innovation and change. He went on to explain that the key to enabling business innovation is recognizing the shift from the computer being at the core of technology development to people becoming the central focus. 

We had some great questions that came up, and here is a recap of them below.

What requirements are needed for organizations to become "social businesses"?

Mulholland: In common with many others who have experienced using social networking in their day to day activities I believe the change is as much cultural as organizational, telling people to use a social network seldom works, as for most people the first question will be ‘does this help me in my daily work’. Asking them to spend extra time monitoring a social network in addition to email wont encourage them, instead look for knowledge workers in a part of the enterprise that is sufficiently large that the target group of knowledge workers won’t know all the members of the social network. These environments gain most from Social networks as the questions and events are ‘unstructured’ and require the experience and tacit knowledge inherent in the members and the ability to interact and exchange information between people who are unknown to each other around the topics represents a clear difference from e mail. In such a community email usage can be expected to drop by up to 40% thus encouraging more and more people who are knowledge workers to see this as their principle means of communication. This effect then tends to draw in non knowledge workers who find this is a better medium to get their periodic questions answered.

Is there a difference between Social Business being a revolution socially vs economically? Will this change total economic output or just distribute it differently?

Finn: It will definitely distribute things differently.  It is probably too early to tell whether it will raise overall economic output. But certainly, businesses that are more effective in the social dimension will reap greater rewards.

Do you think social media tools will replace email at work?

Mulholland: No I don’t in the foreseeable future is the simple answer any more than the use of paper based intercompany communication has been superseded by email. There is a place where each adds value and in one to one communication as an example email works well and that tends to mean that senior management is happy to continue to use it in their ‘structured’ work around the key business managers activities which is well known to them. The question is longer term if that will continue to be a separate tool or will, as is happening in social communities, the ability to operate a person to person private communication do away with the need.

Does Social Business imply that a firm’s thought-leaders and experts become tangible or at least monetized assets? (i.e. does the fact that I have an expert visible to the consumer relate to a dollar value?)

Finn: That’s a good question. They definitely have economic value, however quantifying the value is hard. And that value is increased because social media extends the reach of your influentials. Interestingly there’s been at least one case of a person leaving a company causing a legal debate about who ”owns” his followers and their goodwill-- the spokesperson or the firm.

In your opinion, what do managers fear most about social media use in organizations?

Mulholland: Loss of control!!!  And inability to use the technology showing up their own limitations as a secondary ‘quiet’ challenge. Btw both these challenges also occurred when email was being adopted in the mid 90s around the changing business model that ERP under Business Process Re-Engineering introduced and drive the adoption of email to communicate outside departmental structures and along the process threads. Today an event driven front office responding to the diversity of market and customers activities using social tools for answers seems just as dangerously outside the established management communication structure. In practice the whole goal is to answer the questions and responses in a manner that can align this unstructured environment with the established structure and working practices of the enterprise and its processes and knowledge Management.

How do we get a more accurate social representation of feedback as it tends to be more to the extremes of very good or very poor. In the middle, folks do not seem terribly interested in participating?

Finn: It depends on where the feedback is being given. In general, contexts that have strong reciprocity will tend to have solid feedback. Such as within a community of interest or practice, whether that’s formal or not. On the other hand, anonymous Internet comments are the Wild Wild West. Within organizations, requiring people to give feedback under their real names does improve quality, but it tends to skew toward positive only, with few low scores.

In organizations, what business functions get the most value from social media tools? (Marketing & Sales, Communications, KM, Product Development, IT)

Mulholland: The broad answer is front office where the work is unstructured and the number of people is sufficiently high that nobody will know all of their colleagues by name or role, in these environments the ability to ask a question that will be automatically be directed to the community with the relevant expertise and avoid wasting the time of everyone who is not involved is a double win. I.e. on one hand the people whose knowledge you are seeking will be able to respond and on the other the remainder will not have their time wasted. Email reductions of 40% seem to be common and leave people with the time to do their real job!! But there is a further win, analysis of the social networking conversations and flow reveals new insights into what is really happening in this complex area, as an example the oracle Utilities Service engineers suite allows field engineers to share knowledge and experience but also to analysis this to gain new insights into what is happening in terms of types of faults, ways to solve problems, who has which knowledge and experience etc. all very real and important new insights into vitally important human centric activities that was not previously possible.

Do you feel the younger generation has different expectations/opinions on bringing social media tools into the business?

Mulholland: There is little doubt the sub 30 or may be 35 years old people grew up on line with the internet, web and increasingly with a different view to how they communicate, share and learn. To them it is natural to work in real time, to find information from others, to place views into social networks, and frankly to expect to be in a social networked online environment. Indeed their expectation of this is so developed that if a company doesn’t provide this environment they will find ways to create it on public social networks. This will rob any enterprise of the all important ability to gain information and insights to offer very real levels of improvement to their levels of interaction with customers, markets etc. I liken it to the service engineers or the sales people going into a locked room to discuss all important aspects of their work and how to improve it whilst keeping the management out of the room, crazy but quite literally what happens in enterprises that don’t wake up to the value social tools bring.

If you missed the webcast, you can catch the replay here and the slides available as well! Be sure to keep up with Andy and Christian as they continue on in the conversations about social business! 

Thursday Feb 23, 2012

Social Business: Oracle at the Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit

Oracle is proud to be a Platinum sponsor of the Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit March 12-14 in Orlando, FL. The theme for this year's conference is "Always On: Anytime, Anywhere, Everything, Everyone". As we've been discussing this week about Social Business and the emerging challenges such as the transition to mobile and enterprise-level social networking platforms, this is a great opportunity for greater understanding and how to get started. The 2012 Summit provides you with the tools and insights to maximize PCC potential and meet with Oracle experts in a variety of sessions, including demonstrations during the showcase receptions.

  • Oracle Solution Provider Session - Tuesday, March 13 at 9:45am.
  • Oracle Solution Showcase Reception - Stop by the Oracle booth to see live demonstrations of WebCenter and enter to win an iPad2!
  • Oracle Face to Face Meetings

Oracle Provider Session: Here today, gone tomorrow – Engage Your Customers or Lose Them!
Keeping customers happy and engaged isn’t as easy as it used to be. Today’s successful organizations need to engage customers across web, mobile and social channels to drive loyalty and growth. Optimizing online engagement requires facing significant new challenges in our increasingly complex, always connected, anytime, anywhere, multi-channel, social world.  Join us to learn more about how you can harness the online channel to deliver a customer experience that will drive your success.

Speaker:

  • Loren Weinberg, Vice President of Product Management and Strategy, Oracle WebCenter

Key Benefits of Attending:

Through analyst sessions, problem-solving workshops and end-user case studies, you'll gain the insight to:

  • Maximize PCC investments and initiatives
  • Migrate to mobile environments
  • Know when to use cloud and SaaS options
  • Update content management best practices
  • Advance the user experience of your portables
  • Get started with social software initiatives
  • Understand how PCC impacts organizational dynamics
  • Use analytics to improve business processes

Will you be attending the Gartner PCC Summit? Be sure to follow the #gartnerpcc and #webcenter hashtags for updates! We'd love to meet with you to discuss your social business use cases! 

Wednesday Feb 22, 2012

Social Business: Evolution or Revolution?


Christian Finn

By Christian Finn (@cfinn)

At the Enterprise 2.0 show in Boston three years ago, I made a splash during the keynote panel by arguing that social business was evolutionary, not revolutionary. This wasn’t the most popular stance at the time, and it was back when I was with Microsoft, which wasn’t the most popular vendor at a conference dominated by startups. I sure did get a lot of attention though and whether people saw social business as an evolution or revolution became an informal theme of that conference and led to some very interesting and fun debates with social thought leaders such as Ross Mayfield, Thomas Vander Wal, Dion Hinchcliffe, and many others.

Fast forward three years later, and the evidence suggests that I was wrong. Social business really is a revolution, one that is causing rapidly accelerating change in how companies and customers engage with one another and how employees work together. The perception and rate of change is, however, being experienced differently between line of business units on the one hand and organizational IT on the other.

The business side is eager to seize on innovations that can help improve marketing, sales, customer service, and brand reputation. iPads, for example, are becoming a necessity for sales and field service personnel in many organizations, and if these aren’t being supplied by the company, the sales people are bringing their own tablets to work—and demanding that the applications they need from the back office run on those iPads. Bloomberg recently cited an IDG Connect survey which found that 51% of managers say they always use the iPad at work, 40% say they sometimes do, and 79% said they use the iPad for work outside of business hours. Business users are at the gates of IT with torches—on their iPads.

IT, however, is more reticent to adopt social tools, at least outside of IT itself. Enterprise 2.0 as a term, after all, was coined by Andy McAfee after studying a bank’s IT department’s use of social tools in this seminal paper that started it all. But the consumerist convergence of social, mobile, local, and cloud technologies challenges long held IT paradigms of command and control, locked down systems, systematic rollouts, and long cycle application development. These approaches have served well in the era of client/server and with large application deployments such as ERP. But they don’t fit with the emergent, chaotic, rapidly changing consumerization era in which we now find ourselves, so different from even just three years ago. It is a huge shift, for example, to think of your intranet as a large set of individual apps served up to mobile devices based on user need and interest—the way people consume apps today in their personal lives—and not as a monolithic portal that’s PC centric and is one size fits all, with most of the content touched by a minority of users.

A telling illustration of the conflict for IT comes from a conversation I had with a CIO of a major outsourcer at a tradeshow when the iPad had first come out. We were talking technology and he ticked off the list of all the reasons why he would not write iOS devices into outsourcing his contracts. They weren’t secure enough, the CIO said; he couldn’t get a confirmed wipe of application data, and without that his firm was exposed to liability for data loss in the event of lost devices. And so, if you were a client of his firm, your employees would not be able to use iPads. After we wound up that discussion, I offered to find a time at the show to demo a new device we were working on privately. The CIO said, “sure, let me see what times I have available”, and promptly proceeded to open up his iPad to schedule our meeting!

Anyway, you don’t have to take my word on the subject of whether social business is an evolution or a revolution in how we work today. This week we have invited Capgemini’s Global CTO, Andy Mulholland of Capgemini, to share his perspectives in our first Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series webcast tomorrow at 10:00am PT. Andy has given a lot of thought to the implications of social disruption for both business and IT, and this week in our webcast he’ll discuss these in detail and offer frameworks for business and IT to come to the same mental model and work together in this new era of computing.

If you are not familiar with Andy’s work , he was rated one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and his Capgemini CTO Blog has been voted as the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years by the readers of Computing Weekly. Andy’s role at one of the world’s largest global technology consultancies gives him a unique vantage point to see changes across many industries around world. Our webcast will cover plenty of thought-provoking ideas, and I hope you’ll join us.

Meanwhile, vive la révolution sociale!

Monday Feb 20, 2012

Social Business: Join the WebCenter Community!

In talking this week about Social Business, we want to ensure you are connected with us! Do you have Facebook or Twitter? Are you looking for product updates, marketing events, customer success stories & other WebCenter related information? We invite you to join in the conversations with the over 325,000 WebCenter community members that are already engaging with us!

We look forward to interacting with you through these various channels! 

Introducing the Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series

Christian Finn

By Christian Finn  (@cfinn)


A few months ago when I joined Oracle, I introduced myself as an evangelist for Oracle WebCenter and promised that you’d be hearing more from us in the future.  I am pleased to announce today that the future has arrived with this week’s launch of the Oracle Social Business Thought Leaders Webcast Series. Featuring thought leaders and opinion shapers drawn from the social, web experience, portal, content management, collaboration, and mobile markets that WebCenter serves, this brand new webcast series is intended to bring the best thinking on the subject of social business to you, free of charge, on demand, and absent any sales pitch.

Sure, we hope that the series generates goodwill and consideration of Oracle in your technology buying decisions.  We are making major investments in product development and by acquisition to offer WebCenter as the best-of-breed user engagement platform for social business in a crowded marketplace.  Yet we firmly believe that customers don’t buy products as much as they buy a long term strategy with a trusted partner; and fundamental to buying into a strategy is having a deep and current understanding of the issues, challenges, and potential of a world rapidly being reinvented by technology.  So offering you the unbiased thoughts and opinions of wise people who can help you, as an IT or business leader, navigate the swift currents of change we all face today—seems to us like a great place to start.

And so in that spirit, we are very pleased to kick off the series this week with Andy Mulholland, the Global CTO of Capgemini.   If you are not familiar with Andy, he was rated one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and his Capgemini CTO Blog has been voted as the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years by the readers of Computing Weekly. Andy’s role at one of the world’s largest global technology consultancies—Capgemini has over 115,000 employees doing technology projects in more than 50 countries around the world—gives him a unique vantage point to see changes across many industries around world.

I hope you will join us for our inaugural webcast this Thursday, February 23 at 10:00am PT and keep coming back every month for a new speaker and topic.  And we’d especially love it if you would use the comments here on the blog to suggest speakers and topics you’d like to hear from.  We’ll also take questions in the webcasts and answer them here on the WebCenter blog, so please join us in the conversation! 

Join us for our Social Business Thought Leaders webcast series featuring industry experts with leading perspectives about how social tools, technology and the changing workplace are affecting businesses today. 



Friday Feb 17, 2012

Focus on the Easy Adopters, the Rest will Follow

As we wrap up this week on Social at Oracle, today’s guest post comes from David Christopher. David heads up Oracle’s EMEA Social Networking & Business Collaboration (SNBC) programme along with leading one of the executive programmes and Content / Portal Management. This post was originally featured on David’s StopThinkSocial site.


Social adoption strategies are not easy to implement in ANY business, and if anyone tells you differently they are lying!

The reason? 

How can you convince people to change their communication and collaboration processes and implement a new social business infrastructure, when in their eyes the current model is not broken?

Let's see if any of these arguments sound familiar to you...

  • "What is the ROI of 'Being Social in the Workplace' anyway?"
  • "Social? That means I need to learn even more tools huh?"
  • "So you want my workforce to spend all their time on Facebook?"
  • "I'm already social, I sent a tweet last year"

These are what we call Social Barriers, the human instinct blockers based on fear.

Overcoming the fear of change is not easy and yes it is a generation thing. The younger generation are entering business with a good knowledge and understanding of social without the added baggage of pre-defined traditional business processes. Adoption is therefore natural and unforced.

So how do you overcome these Social Barriers in the workplace?

Focus on the Easy Adopters, the rest will follow...

There are are couple of ways to face these Social Barriers, and deliver a social adoption strategy:

  1. Face them head on - provide use cases, and counter arguments to defend your position and show that 'Being Social' is nothing to be afraid of. Convince them that it will INCREASE the productivity of your workforce, IMPROVE the collaboration opportunities and STREAMLINE their communications

2. Focus on the Easy Adopters, the rest will follow - work with those in the organisation who see the vision and are ready and willing to change. This will help you refine your social adoption strategy and create new Ambassador's. The more Ambassador's you have the easier the Social Barriers will come down

The latter is an approach I have had a lot of success with, which has also helped influence C-Level buy-in.

You could choose either of these approaches or you can do both in parallel, just don't be afraid to change tactics if you find an approach is not working for you.

Every business WILL go social, it's just a matter of when, and how you approach it...


To read more from David, please visit his website. Have a great weekend!

Thursday Feb 16, 2012

OraTweet – Information Matters to Virtual Information Services (VIS)

Following up on Christy’s post about Virtual Information Services (VIS) move to WebCenter, Christy is back to provide an overview of OraTweet and its use within VIS.


OraTweet is a micro-blogging platform internally at Oracle that allows employees to broadcast a message to a wide audience, share information, collaborate, learn, and connect  – it’s basically like our internal Twitter. We are allowed 256 characters and the messages can be viewed by anyone or by users that choose to “follow” the user/group handle.

Microblogs often represent current activity, thoughts, questions, or news-feeds from a
given source and allow for short content which is easier to read and respond. With that, the Oracle Virtual Informaiton Services (VIS) program decided to leverage this social enterprise tool to connect with and share with Oracle employees.

VIS is an Oracle HR program within the Organization & Talent Development (OTD) organization enabling all Oracle leaders and employees by providing them with high quality information services to learn, innovate, develop, make effective decisions, stay competitive, and grow the business. VIS is centered around ensuring employees are connected with the right information, knowledge, and internal expertise to drive decision making, learning and enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing - “Good Information = Smart Decisions = Better Business”. VIS is powered by Oracle WebCenter.

OraTweet was a great fit to help VIS meet its goals and has allowed VIS to connect with employees across the globe where information is critical to their daily work. VIS can share information, ask questions, respond to information questions, participate in other OraTweet conversionats, and quickly reach a very broad audience for so many information management related activities.

This means of communications and collaboration is like no other. We can also integrate the OraTweet feeds into other sites and enterprise social sites – connecting the messaging and conversations.


Here are a few VIS OraTweet examples of the value to Oracle's business because of the availability of these social programs – thanks to Oracle's Social Networking Business Collaboration (SNBC) team!

  • A senior director that I met from a single OraTweet post about a business book summary, invited me to speak about VIS to a team meeting which resulted in 2 other webinars to related teams (now, more employees are aware of the information to enable their work). This senior director and I are working on information alerts for him to stay informed about key areas of interest to him, small research efforts, a relationship where I can support his information needs and that of his teams more proactively - this will lead to more connections and more usage of and awareness of information services and hence impact to Oracle's business.
  • VIS posted information about the availability of an eJournal service (this one was a very general and broad message). It was re-tweeted by someone in EMEA and then questions asked by another person/team in APAC on OraTweet and therefore a connection was made which would have not been made w/out these social media tools.
  • Oracle conducts weekly chats on various topics (every Friday) called SocialChats where employees pick and vote on the topic and then employees gather via OraTweet to discuss the topic (managed by the SNBC team). Virtual Information Services (VIS) lead a topic on information needs. It was a great way to gather interested employees from all over the world to discuss the topic, connect, share with them and have them share with me - and have great conversation around information needs. Great use of social media.
  • VIS had a request via an OraTweet conversation with an employee regarding an eBook service and publisher needed for Oracle business. Ultimately the result was getting access to that publishers books on Oracle technologies in the eBook service. The discussion was open and available to all Oracle employees since it was on OraTweet and the result was important content being made available to the organization.

The viral effect of these connections and the business efficiencies that spiral after the connections are made are so valuable. In addition, the global span of the connections that can take place because of active participation with these enterprise social tools allows for strong business, productivity, collaboration, and for VIS, a better program for Oracle employees and higher impact to the business.

Wednesday Feb 15, 2012

SNBC – Driving Social Adoption Inside Oracle


Today’s post comes to us from Frank Bradley. In this post, we want to highlight how this team was able to utilize social technologies and methods to get groups at Oracle to collaborate more efficiently and effectively together.  Frank works for the Oracle EMEA Social Networking and Business Collaboration (SNBC) Team. The team was founded in late 2008 with the following vision 

To create a socially connected Oracle where collaborative working across geographical locations, lines of business, and management chains is second nature, enabling innovative solutions to business challenges.

Our primary remit is to work with and support the EMEA organisation, however where there is bandwidth we also work closely with employees and teams from other regions.  While we do provide some advice on social strategies outside of the company, we mostly focus on social strategies for improving communication and collaboration inside Oracle.

Our first task when the team was established was to get an understanding of the Social landscape in Oracle and in particular to become familiar with the wide variety of social tools available.  We started documenting these tools with a view to having a resource that all employees could access.  Our Social Tools library lists what we view as the most important social tools and gives our recommendations on what the advantages and disadvantages of each tool are.

In tandem, we started working with teams and individuals who were keen to adopt more social ways of working.  Our biggest challenge was to introduce a change of mindset in order to get individuals and teams moving away from a tool centric approach.  In our opinion a more strategic and business focused approach would serve better in the long run.  

We are big fans of the POST Method (from Forrester) which outlines a systematic approach to social strategy.  With POST the last thing you look at is the tools/technology.  Before this you need to address the People, Objectives and Strategy issues.  Over the years we have consistently referred to POST as the SNBC approved methodology for implementing a social strategy.

My current role in the SNBC team is to lead what we call our Social Leadership Adoption Model (SLAM) program.  The SLAM program allows us to work with teams across the organisation to improve how they adopt and use Social.  Any team interested in working with us needs to appoint at least one Change Agent (we refer to them as SNBC Leaders), who will then participate in the SLAM program.  

SLAM is divided into two parts.  Part 1, which we call Social Readiness, is all about education and consists of a series of remotely run webinars in which participants from multiple LOBs come together to learn about the Social Enterprise in an Oracle context.  Upon successful completion of Part 1, participants move into Part 2, which we call the Social Maturity Phase.  This starts with participants measuring their team's current stage of maturity, using our Social Maturity questionnaire. They then plan the steps they will take to get to the next stage of our Maturity scale and implement these plans.  This process continues until they successfully reach the highest stage in our Maturity model. 

Our program has been very well received and to date we have worked with 31 teams, which has enabled us to have an impact on just under 1100 employees in Oracle.

Looking to the future we are very excited about the direction of Social inside Oracle.  The recent announcement of Oracle Social Network at Open World 2011 has raised the stakes and we have seen a noticeable increase in people reaching out to us in the ensuing months.  Personally I’m looking forward to seeing how things map out in the coming months.


Frank Bradley is based in Ireland and works for the Oracle EMEA Social Networking & Business Collaboration (SNBC) Team.  He has been with for Oracle for 10 years and has previously worked for the EMEA Knowledge Management team and the EMEA Customer Data Quality team.

You can find Frank on Twitter (@frankbradley), on LinkedIn  and on Google+.  He also blogs occasionally on  Bloggertone and Workplace Prosperity.  Things have been a bit quiet of late on these sites as he welcomed baby #2 into the family recently, but he hopes to resume normal activity as soon as he gets a few nights of regular sleep!!


Tuesday Feb 14, 2012

Virtual Information Service (VIS) Move to Oracle WebCenter

We are happy to have Christy Confetti Higgins join us today! Christy is the Program Manager for Virtual Information Services (VIS) – which enables and supports the information needs, information access/discovery, research, and information/knowledge sharing across Oracle.


In January, 2012, the Oracle Virtual Information Services (VIS) program site migrated to Oracle WebCenter.

1300 employees became members of the new VIS community in the first 30 days (VIS has about 15,000 users across the globe)

VIS is an Oracle HR program within the Organization & Talent Development (OTD) organization enabling all Oracle leaders and employees by providing them with high quality information services to learn, innovate, develop, make effective decisions, stay competitive, and grow the business. VIS is centered around ensuring employees are connected with the right information, knowledge, and internal expertise to drive decision making, learning and enabling collaboration and knowledge sharing - “Good Information = Smart Decisions = Better Business.”

The VIS team decided to migrate the website from the legacy SunSpace platform to Oracle WebCenter.  WebCenter is an Oracle product, a key part of the Oracle internal web strategy, and overall collaborative and easy information management and user engagement platform. It was an excellent fit for VIS!

VIS on the WebCenter platform will continue to make information services easily accessible and available to all Oracle employees while also allowing employees to connect with the VIS team and others interested in information across Oracle through the social and collaboration components integrated into the site (RSS, forums, OraTweet, etc.). 

Information services include access to technical journals (IEEE, ACM, etc.), eBooks, business journals (HBR, McKinsey Quarterly, etc.), company information, standards, book summaries, and more!

Another great aspect we love is that WebCenter is also available via mobile devices! There is a WebCenter app on the iPhone that provides easy access to all VIS content and the community as well as hooks into other social tools via other Oracle apps – it's all connected!

A special thanks to the following three Oracle employees who were instrumental in the migration and creating the VIS look, page templates, and so many other critical components within WebCenter.
  • Matthias Müller-Prove, User Experience Principal and Software Development Manager, Corporate Architecture
  • Peter Reiser, WebCenter Evangelist, Product Development
  • Gaston Martino, Software Development Manager, Product Development
VIS is specifically leveraging the WebCenter Spaces component and have integrated RSS feeds from other Oracle social enterprise applications such as our internal Blog, our internal Oracle Connect group, and our internal OraTweet handle. WebCenter also allows us to have a Forum for community members to ask questions as well as a way for us to connect with all members of the VIS community via WebCenter. 

We know employees have different preferences for how they receive, find, use, share, and connect with information and people internally. With WebCenter, we have the ability to integrate many of the options we have for employees into our main portal site: IM, blog, OraTweet, Forum, email, Connect group, mailing lists, etc. Flexibility, integration, and on-going community awareness and management are key. 

WebCenter also allows community members to subscribe to the VIS Space as a member and receive email/RSS alerts regarding changes to the information services site.

Running Oracle on Oracle has provided additional visibility to VIS and in return, more employees have increased productivity, enhanced decision making, and increased their ability to learn and develop. We have also saved costs by having centralized access to critical business and technical information.

At Oracle, VIS aims to save employees time and enable learning, productivity, collaboration, information/knowledge sharing, and decision making through easy reliable access to quality information - Information Matters to our business success and this wouldn’t be possible without Oracle WebCenter.

Monday Feb 13, 2012

The History of Oracle Connect

Like many of your organizations, Oracle has social tools that we use both internally and externally to foster innovation, share information and bring people together. This week, we want to focus on “Social at Oracle” – how Oracle is using social tools internally and externally to collaborate with one another, find experts and drive business forward. We hope you enjoy getting to learn more about how Oracle uses social tools and the insight and ideas that have occurred as a result of these innovations.


By Jake Kuramoto, Product Strategy Director, WebCenter Evangelism Team

Editor’s note: Peter’s (@peterreiser) tribute to SunSpace has inspired me to tell the story of Oracle Connect, Oracle’s internal social application.

Social enterprise is all rage now, and this trend has grown out of the runaway success of consumer services like Twitter and Facebook. People logically believe that social tools can help them at work–shrinking geographical distances, providing a place to share insight and information, fostering a sense of community–basically all the same benefits consumer networks provide.

People do work, after all, so why not focus on the people, rather than on emails, documents, transactions, and all the other artifacts of work.

Turns out this is true, not without some effort and caveats, but at the core, true.

July 2007: IdeaFactory is born.

Disclosure: This post is written by a member of the Oracle AppsLab, Jake Kuramoto (@jkuramot).

Like many technology-loving companies, Oracle saw the social trend early, and in July 2007, a small team focused on innovation within Oracle development, AppsLab (@theappslab), turned on the IdeaFactory, a Rails application built in less than 24-hours, to capture product ideas and allow user-voting on ideas.

Oracle IdeaFactory, July 2007

The IdeaFactory lived inside the Oracle firewall and was only promoted to a handful of teams within Oracle Applications development. Its stated goal was to collect product ideas, specifically for Oracle Applications products. However, the IdeaFactory went viral, and people from all over Oracle logged in, voted, commented and contributed their own ideas, and not just about Oracle products, but also about internal topics and practices.
From the beginning, one key goal the AppsLab had was to make everything public, and because the IdeaFactory used corporate LDAP, there was no anonymity. Everything was out in the open, which fostered open and honest communication.

August 2007: IdeaFactory becomes Oracle Connect.

The IdeaFactory quickly grew beyond its original goals into something more, and in August 2007, the AppsLab team added a social networking layer, creating Oracle’s first social tool, Oracle Connect. Connect used the corporate LDAP server, so every Oracle employee had an account and a base profile, no account creation required. The networking was bi-directional, i.e. request-approve, and anyone could ask to connect with anyone else, even the CEO, which several people did.

Oracle Connect, August 2007

A request to connect triggered an email, which is what brought most people to Connect, and in addition to basic networking, all the ideas, comments and votes from IdeaFactory were preserved. Aside from that, there wasn’t much else you could “do” with Connect, leading people to ask “What do I do now?”

As with IdeaFactory, very little promotion went into Oracle Connect, and yet after less than a month, more than 14,000 Oracle employees had tried it.
The AppsLab team followed up quickly with a beta release that included many new features, including an activity log, enhanced profile and better search. These features were meant to solve real problems for Oracle employees.

By 2007, Oracle had significantly increased its pace of acquisitions, and as members of acquired companies, several of the AppsLab team were keenly aware of the challenges that people new to Oracle encountered, like finding basic information (e.g. about benefits, corporate policy, mailing list signups, etc.), deciphering what someone actually did beyond a title, discovering who does what and how to reach people, getting answers to basic questions and even thanking people for their help.

Among its innovative features, Oracle Connect included a new take on the org chart, called the management bar, which added a breadcrumb-style listing of a person’s management chain to her/his profile. A simple hover showed all the people at that level. This innovation was picked up by other web applications within Oracle and rolled forward into new product.

Connect also aimed to foster and facilitate internal innovation within Oracle, so in conjunction with Connect, the AppsLab launched OpenLab, an open source-style project that welcomed any internal developers to grab Connect’s code and add features that met their needs or scratched an itch.
This gave enterprising developers a chance to learn the latest web technologies and a sandbox to test and hone their skills; it also provided a way for pent up innovation to bubble up and reach a wider audience.

Oracle Connect was a success internally, and people began to notice.

November 2007: Welcome to Oracle Mix.

The success of Oracle Connect and of social within Oracle caught the attention of Oracle’s CMO, Judith Sim. She wanted to extend the conversation beyond Oracle employees to include anyone interested in Oracle.

So, after a whirlwind design and build, the AppsLab team launched Oracle Mix at Open World in November 2007. Oracle Mix allowed anyone to sign up, create a profile, add ideas, ask questions and join groups. Although the target audience was primarily Oracle users, anyone could register and participate in the community.

Oracle Mix, November 2007

Interesting side note, at the time, Oracle Mix was the largest publicly-deployed application built with JRuby on Rails, a Java implementation of Ruby, and Mix shares the spotlight with many consumer Ruby on Rails applications on the official home for the Rails language.

Oracle Mix continues to serve as the network for the Oracle community at-large to this day, and since its launch, Mix has hosted several initiatives like Suggest-a-Session for OpenWorld, which debuted for OpenWorld 2008 and has been renewed each year since.

2008: Oracle Connect matures.

After launching Mix, the AppsLab team turned its attention back to Oracle Connect.

Oracle Connect had grown virally, serving several thousand users on a daily basis, despite having nothing other than word of mouth to promote it, and the more it was used, the more useful it became, as people added helpful content, answered questions, tweaked ideas and generally reaped the benefits of the weak ties in their corporate networks.

In June 2008, Connect 2.0 released, migrating all existed data to the new JRuby codeline used by Oracle Mix, adding groups and questions, along with a product taxonomy to go along with the tags that Connect already supported. This second version also included REST APIs for Connect’s data, a big plus in a large enterprise environment with many different systems and applications, managed by different teams.

Oracle Connect 2.0, June 2008

These APIs were publicly available inside the firewall, and several developers used them to take advantage of Connect’s growing popularity, helping spawn two other wildly successful side projects.

2009: Full speed ahead

In January 2009, the third version of Oracle Connect launched. Connect 3.0 added new post types and addressed a noise problem that had developed as a side effect of growing popularity by introducing canned filters to help people find the most relevant information.

Connect 3.0 also included lightweight integration with another rapidly growing and popular, homegrown social tool, OraTweet, the side project of Noel Portugal (@noelportugal). Each service used the other’s REST APIs to create and share data; integration like this happens much more easily inside a corporate firewall than out on the consumer web.

Oracle Connect 3.0, January 2009

And speaking of the consumer web, Google had launched OpenSocial in late 2007, and by 2009, the spec was maturing rapidly and many consumer social sites were implementing OpenSocial to create instant networks around their content and integrate with other social properties.

In 2008, the AppsLab team began experimenting with the reference implementation of OpenSocial, Shindig, and by early 2009, they had a working sandbox that internal developers could use to access Connect data via OpenSocial. Realizing that OpenSocial could add huge benefits inside an enterprise, providing a standard and open way to socialize intranet properties and loosely tie data together across many disperate sites, the AppsLab presented its initial findings at OpenWorld 2008 in an unconference session.

Oracle, through the AppsLab, was an early proponent of OpenSocial in the enterprise, and at Google IO 2009, Google’s annual developer conference, Rich Manalang (@rmanalan) was invited to show what Oracle had done with OpenSocial and Oracle Connect.

As social ramped up in 2008 and 2009, so did mobile. After the launch of the iPhone App Store and the iPhone SDK, Clayton Donley (@cdonley) combined several internal services, including Connect, into the Oracle People app for iPhone, another side project, and the first iPhone app Oracle employees could use to access data stored inside the corporate firewall.

In May 2009, Oracle Connect 4.0 was released, including a host of new features targeted at focusing the experience on people, making publishing dead simple, loosely integrating other services and systems, producing standard and open data for consumption and creating an independent group experience.

Oracle Connect 4.0, May 2009

This was a huge update to Connect, which had grown exponentially, serving as many pageviews weekly in 2009, as it had monthly in 2008. Much of the increase in traffic came from a social initiative started in EMEA that was using Connect as its primary social tool.
Social was getting big.

2009: A course change

In September 2009, the AppsLab team joined WebCenter development to apply their social learnings and experience to WebCenter, Oracle’s emerging social tool.

Oracle Connect became a side project, and the AppsLab team put it into maintenance mode, i.e. keep the lights on and only fix critical bugs. However, even though Connect’s codeline would not advance, the team brought all their ideas and product plans to WebCenter, where social was being embraced and spun into real product, to help real customers.

2010-present: Epilogue

Over the years, Oracle Connect has been profiled in a couple books on enterprise social adoption over the years, Niall Cook’s (@niallcook)  Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work and Social Media at Work: How Networking Tools Propel Organizational Performance by Arthur L. Jue, Jackie Alcalde Marr and Mary Ellen Kassotakis.

Connect continues to run today, still supported by the remaining members of the AppsLab team, who now belong to a new team of WebCenter evangelists. Connect is used extensively by Oracle employees, each day, and despite having no enhancements since May 2009, it still garners favorable feedback from new users.

Traffic to Connect peaked right after the Sun merger in 2010, when it served several hundred thousand pageviews each month; since then, traffic has subsided, but still averages tens of thousands of pageviews to several thousand users each month.

What began as a little experiment with new technology has grown into a mission-critical social tool, used by thousands of people each day to get work done.


We are excited to see the expertise, ideas and innovation that Jake and the WebCenter Evangelist team bring to the development of Oracle WebCenter!

Monday Feb 06, 2012

Does Your Organization Have the Right Tools to Collaborate?

We’ve reached a new era of collaboration and communication. We now live in a world where we are surrounded by social tools -- from checking into a flight at the airport from a smartphone, to buying groceries online and having them delivered to your door, to renting a movie and watching it directly from your plasma TV. We also live in a world where grandma’s have Facebook, teens are using Twitter, and children know how to use iPhones better than their parents. That’s some pretty interesting (and scary?) stuff right there.

Not only are these social tools available in our personal lives, but we see (and demand) those same experiences in our work lives. Imagine if you could easily share information with the right people in various departments and roles across the company. And what if you could also automatically deliver targeted information to potential customers—and connect them with the right partners? Does your organization have the proper tools in place to allow employees, partners and customers to efficiently communicate and collaborate? We’d love to get your feedback on user experience, adoption and attitudes regarding user engagement & collaboration solutions! And be sure to check out this video series to learn how when having the proper user engagement platform in place, you can allow your employees, partners and customers to collaborate efficiently. 

Friday Jan 27, 2012

Oracle WebCenter is a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management 2011

As we wrap up this week on Leadership, we wanted to highlight our placing in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for WCM.
  • Oracle is positioned a Leader with WebCenter, moving ahead in “Completeness of Vision” relative to OpenText.
  • Other Leaders are Autonomy, Adobe (acquired Day Software), SDL, SiteCore and OpenText.
  • Both Microsoft and IBM remain Challengers.
  • Gartner evaluated 20 vendors in this year’s MQ (17 were evaluated in last year’s MQ)

Market Trends

  • The WCM market saw strong growth in 2010 amidst a recession with $1 billion in revenue. Gartner predicts in 2011 the WCM market will reach $1.2 billion with a CAGR of 14% from 2009 to 2014, twice the overall enterprise software market.
  • Gartner views WCM as much more than website publishing. WCM has evolved to Online Channel Optimization (OCO), “the discipline of maximizing the impact of engagements with target audiences over a variety of communications media.” Sophisticated enterprises will even try to use OCO in offline realms like retail stores.
  • OCO strategies encompass and integrate with a wide array of technologies include mobile, social, real-time decisioning, Web analytics, digital asset management, CRM and e-commerce.
  • Cloud is a growing area of interest for WCM deployments, with customers opting for hybrid approaches.

Oracle Summary
“Oracle's WCM offering has recently been rebranded as a constituent component of its broader Oracle WebCenter, a user engagement platform. WebCenter, in turn, contributes to the broader Oracle Fusion Middleware, which ties together Oracle's information management, portal and business application portfolios, among other products. In August 2011, Oracle acquired FatWire Software, a vendor that was classed as a Leader in the ‘Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management’ in 2010. See ‘FatWire Purchase Adds Web Experience Management to Oracle's Strategy’, summarized here.”

You can read more in the Gartner Report.


The Magic Quadrant is copyrighted by Gartner, Inc. and is reused with permission. The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner's analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the Magic Quadrant, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors placed in the "Leaders" quadrant. The Magic Quadrant is intended solely as a research tool, and is not meant to be a specific guide to action. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


This Magic Quadrant graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research note and should be evaluated in the context of the entire report. The Gartner report is available upon request from Oracle.

Thursday Jan 26, 2012

If Content is the King, then Portal is the Queen


By Alakh Verma, Director, Platform Technology Solutions

The World Wide Web (WWW) was conceived as a tool by Tim Berners-Lee, which created and gathered knowledge through human interaction and collaboration. Web 1.0 came as merely a presentation web with static HTML pages of information. Web 2.0 then gradually advanced towards online participation in content creation and social interaction like e-commerce, e-service, and content strategy, which is all aspects of the “Transactional Web” using social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, etc. We are now transitioning into Web 3.0 that was first defined by Dakota Reese Brown as “The Contextual Web.” Content and Context will now be extremely significant in determining what content we need and with whom we need to collaborate in social business.

It is estimated that by 2020, there would be 4 billion people online; 31 billion connected devices, 25 million applications, 1.3 trillion sensors/tags and 50 trillion gigabytes of content created in networked society. So, we are moving in the world where content is going to be the king and help determine the success or failure of any business. Web content has changed and so is web content management. During the last decade, we focused on making it easier and more powerful for non-technical people to move content from their desktop to their Web site and helped the enterprises with powerful workflows, approval processes and the ability to integrate with other enterprise tools and applications. The next decade will be more focused on providing Web experience or customer experience management on the Web. And Content and Portal would remain at the center stage as we evolve into a new era of computing.

The explosive growth of content and more specifically unstructured content such as videos on YouTube, photos and chat messages on Facebook and emails have given birth to yet another evolutionary paradigm of big data management as we enter the year 2012. As Content remains the king, it is paramount to store, manage, archive and retrieve from the unified repository and Oracle WebCenter Content and Oracle WebCenter Sites does it all seamlessly. Customers have started seeking pleasant Web experience with their transactions and businesses need to offer a robust Customer engagement platform to meet that. 

Content is the King

As content is the king, Web portal or public portal (defined by webopedia) that refers to a Web site or service that offers a broad array of resources and services, such as e-mail, forums, search engines, and online shopping malls seems to be the queen to render the context based content from the unified repository from any source to complement each other. Without a sound portal framework, users would not be able to get the right content in the context of their business in real-time to execute their transactions.

Portal is the Queen

For example, if any customer visits BestBuy on their Web portal for getting any product information leading them to subsequent sales transaction, the first thing they would look for is a context based search interface that would help the visitor to provide the relevant content. The portal interface should also provide the similar other products or recommended products based on other user feedbacks and ratings. Also, quick references and recommendations with an option to verify via chat/email become almost convincing to the prospective buyer to make decision. 

Interestingly, technologies such as Oracle WebCenter Portal and Oracle WebCenter Sites offer these capabilities and help portal to be the queen in our Web based business transactions and compliment Web Content management in the overall customer experience management.

Wednesday Jan 25, 2012

Oracle WebCenter: Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals 2011

  • Oracle is positioned a Leader with WebCenter Portal, closing the gap relative to IBM and Microsoft on Completeness of Vision
  • Other Leaders are Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and Liferay
  • Gartner evaluated 14 vendors in this year’s Magic Quadrant (10 were evaluated last year)

Market Trends

  • After many consolidations in the portal market, the number of vendors in the space is increasing driven by User Experience Platforms (UXP), portal cloud services and client-centric widgets.
  • Gartner predicts that by 2015, widgets will be more prevalent than portlets and that 25% of new portal projects in Global 2000 firms will use open-source frameworks.
  • Portal initiatives of the past focused on aggregation and integration, whereas portal projects of the future are focused on user engagement through social, mobile and easy-to-use interfaces.
  • Portlet catalogs are morphing into “app stores” supporting consumer-Web widget standards, including OpenSocial to leverage publicly available components like Google Gadgets.
  • Portal vendors are splitting the market between UXPs and Lean Portals (see [Gartner] The Great Portal Divide: How a Rift in the Portal Market Will Impact Your Web Strategy)

Oracle Summary
"Oracle recently rebranded its Enterprise 2.0 strategy, under which its portal portfolio operated, as WebCenter, labeling it the 'user engagement platform for social business.' Oracle's new WebCenter brand has four major pillars:

  • Sites — for Web experience management (powered by Oracle's FatWire acquisition)
  • Portal — for composite applications, mashups and portals (powered by WebCenter Portal and Oracle's other portal technologies)
  • Content — for ECM (powered by its Universal Content Management [formally Stellent] technology)
  • Social — for social networking and collaboration (powered by components from Beehive product and the newly introduced Oracle Social Network)

WebCenter Portal consists of the WebCenter Suite, including the WebLogic Portal and WebCenter Interaction (both from Oracle's acquisition of BEA acquisition) and WebCenter Services. Oracle has been on the UXP path for several years, and the rebranding around WebCenter is clear evidence. Oracle continues to address its multiple-portal issues through ongoing convergence into WebCenter Portal. Gartner estimates that product garners 80% of all Oracle's portal revenue."

You can read more in the Gartner Report or press release. And if you are looking for more information on Portals & Composite Applications, be sure to check out this Resource Center, where you'll find videos, webcast, white paper, and more!


The Magic Quadrant is copyrighted by Gartner, Inc. and is reused with permission. The Magic Quadrant is a graphical representation of a marketplace at and for a specific time period. It depicts Gartner's analysis of how certain vendors measure against criteria for that marketplace, as defined by Gartner. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in the Magic Quadrant, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors placed in the "Leaders" quadrant. The Magic Quadrant is intended solely as a research tool, and is not meant to be a specific guide to action. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.


This Magic Quadrant graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research note and should be evaluated in the context of the entire report. The Gartner report is available upon request from Oracle.

Tuesday Jan 24, 2012

WebCenter - A Scalable Enterprise Community Platform

by Peter Reiser  (twitter, blog)

Continuing on with the theme of Leadership, this blog post describes how we successfully migrated a very large enterprise community system called  SunSpace to Oracle WebCenter. 

Over the next couple of weeks I will post more details on how we did the migration and some WebCenter best practices on the Reiser 2.0 blog.

Happy reading :).


Last week I blogged about "a tribute to SunSpace".  On December 31, 2011 we decommissioned  SunSpace, Sun Microsystems's  highly  successful enterprise community system. I have to admit  that it was a bit of an emotional moment -  being the Chief Architect for SunSpace the last 6 years -  I realized that this project finally ended. 

But you know what?  In 2009, when we had this phenomenal growth and adoption (> 30'000 users) of SunSpace, we already started to think about a much more scalable infrastructure and technology to keep up with the growth. The SunSpace community platform really became business critical in the Sales organization (remember, the primary users where Sun's global Sales and Services folks) 

We started to see some limitation of the current technology stack and we kicked of a new project to evaluate products and technologies which where designed for Enterprise class scalability, security and manageability, but at the same time allowed agile and flexible deployment of new function and features. 

... and then Sun Microstems got acquired by Oracle ... 

well - that was actually pretty timely as it allowed us to kickoff a project to evaluate a migration strategy from SunSpace to an Oracle based technology. After 3 months of evaluation, we decided to implement a large pilot on Oracle WebCenter and migrated 22 internal Oracle communities with around 15,000 members  from the "old" Oracle portal to Oracle WebCenter.

Based on this successful implementation, we decided to migrate SunSpace to Oracle WebCenter and we completed the project in December 2011.

Ok - so what have been implemented?

Lets's look at some details. (Note: the comparison tables below are excerpts of the internal user migration guide we wrote for the former SunSpace users)

User MyProfile 

Each WebCenter user has a personal profile (MyProfile) where one manages their personal settings, files and a network of contacts.

The following table lists the SunSpace personal profile features with and the commensurate WebCenter MyProfile features. 

 SunSpace Confluence Feature  WebCenter Feature How WebCenter Works
 User Home MyProfile: to access, click on your name at the top of any WebCenter page Your name, title, and reporting line are displayed.  Sub-tabs show your activity stream (Activities); people in your network (Connections); files you have uploaded (Documents); your contact information (Organization); and any personal information you wish to share (About).
Files  MyFiles Allows you to upload, download and store documents or wiki pages within folders and subfolders.  The WebDav interface allows you to download / upload files / folders with a simple drag and drop to / from your local machine.  Tagging is supported and recommended.
Network 

Home
MyConnections 

Home: displays the activity stream of individuals in your network.
MyConnections: shows individuals in your network.  Click on a person's name to see their contact info and link to their profile.
Status Updates  MyProfile > Activities Add and displays  your recent activties and status updates.
Watches  Preferences > Subscriptions > Current Subscriptions Receive email notifications when  pages / spaces you watch are modified.
N/A  Recommended Connections  Recommends you people you should connect based on the WebCenter Activity Graph analytics service.
Settings  Preferences: to access, click on 'Preferences' at the top of any WebCenter page Set your general preferences, as well as your WebCenter messaging, search and mail settings.
MyCommunities  MySpaces: to access, click on 'Spaces' at the top of any WebCenter page  Displays MySpaces (communities you are a member of); and Recent Spaces (communities you have recently visited).

Communities (Spaces)

Communities (Spaces) are groups of people who collaborate, find and share information on a given topic.  Communities include group and membership management, news, an attachment store, wiki, forum and a calendar.  Read / write access can be restricted to individuals, groups or members.

The following table lists the SunSpace Community features  with and the commensurate WebCenter Community features.

 SunSpace Confluence WebCenter  How WebCenter Works 
Home  Home Displays a community introduction and activity stream.  Members can add messages, links or documents via the Community Message Board.  Moderators can modify or add any portlets available in the portlet catalog.
People  Members Lists members of the community. The Mail All Members feature allows moderators and participants to send a message to all members of the community. Membership Management can be found under  Manage > Members
News  News Members can post and access latest community news and they can subscribe to news using an RSS reader. 
Documents  Documents Allows community members to upload, download and store documents or wiki pages within folders and subfolders.  The WebDav interface allows participants to download / upload files / folders with a simple drag and drop to / from your local machine.  Tagging is supported and recommended.
Wiki  Wiki Allows community members to create and update Wiki pages with a rich text editor editor.
Forum  Forum Post community forum topics. Contribute to community forum conversations
N/A  Calendar Update and/or view the Community Calendar.
N/A  Analytics Displays detailed analytics data (views,downloads, unique users etc.) for Pages, Wiki, Documents, and Forum in a given community space.

In addition WebCenter has a very cool  iPhone app! 

Be sure to stop by the Reiser 2.0 blog over the next couple weeks where Peter will post more details on how we did the migration and some WebCenter best practices!

About

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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