By Michael Snow on Jul 21, 2014
By Ty Duval, Consulting Senior Practice Director, WebCenter, Oracle Consulting Services
At the Crossroads
I frequently encounter companies at the crossroads in their efforts to become digital businesses. Their journeys proceed along familiar paths and I can readily anticipate what their next steps should be. To begin with, these firms launched their initial web sites more than 15 years ago, and have steadily added multiple web-based applications (running on disparate systems) to support targeted initiatives. IT and business leaders are certainly web-aware, if not already web-savvy.
Yet a lot has changed over the past decade. Web-powered solutions are no longer nice-to-have additions to enterprise architectures and applications. Rather, these solutions are core capabilities for achieving strategic business objectives.
The Business Value for WebCenter
IT leaders must now provide both internal and external customers with the branded experiences for managing and using online content, while sharply reducing costs and accelerating time to market. It’s necessary -- but no longer sufficient -- to simply consolidate web sites by introducing standardized platforms and services that reduce technical footprints.
Instead, IT groups need to refresh, modernize, and mobilize their enterprise application infrastructures. There is also an evolution of responsibilities. Individual business units, not the IT groups, should create and manage all of the content required for engaging customers and driving the branded experiences across their organizations.
Of course, Oracle WebCenter provides the tooling for delivering effective enterprise-scale applications. Yet implementation makes a big difference. At OCS, we focus on three factors for deploying digital business solutions – consultative engagement, content inventory, and content reuse. Let me explain why these factors make a difference.
First, the OCS engagement model is a consultative process. We work along side business stakeholders and creative teams to define the requirements for building branded experiences. With our deep technical knowledge and product expertise, we can help define how to use the right tool for the right job in the right way.
There is often a gap between what the business envisions and what the tools deliver. By being part of the conversation from the start, OCS consultants can bridge the gap, and make timely recommendations that leverage the key capabilities of the enabling tools and technologies. Then, when it comes to implementation, consultants can rapidly prototype and produce frequent enhancements on an ongoing basis. Utilizing an agile development methodology, they can work closely with business users and designers to mold the digital environment.
Second, branded experiences depend on content. In any engagement, it’s essential to determine what information already exists and can be readily incorporated into the new solution, as well as what content is entirely missing and needs to be created. A content inventory maps the “to be” state about what information customers require, against the “as is” condition describing and categorizing all the content items that are currently available.
OCS consultants work with business stakeholders and creative teams to identify the kinds of content needed to support particular experiences. It is also important to identify the content owners who are responsible for producing the needed information, both currently and in the future. Often the content already exists in one repository or another. The design challenge then is to compile and organize the information from disparate sources.
The content inventory can also uncover the missing text, images, and rich media assets that customers expect as part of their experiences. OCS consultants can then work with line-of-business organizations to define new content management processes – the people, tasks, and activities required for creating and maintaining these needed information sources. Once deployed, the line organizations should be responsible for managing the content without IT support.
Third, a successful digital business initiative depends on content reuse – the ability to create content items once, manage them systematically, and distribute them as needed across the enterprise. As an example, there should be a single source of content that describes the capabilities of a new product on a company’s web site, and the corresponding promotions contained in personalized email messages sent to prospective customers.
When it comes to building branded experiences, more is at stake then storing content within a shared repository or relying on a predefined set of editorial workflows for review and approvals. Reuse requires an appreciation for the power of content and an understanding about how to manage it for competitive advantage.
This is where WebCenter deployment expertise pays off. OCS consultants have the technical skill sets and business insights for defining the content models and metadata essential to ensure content reuse. They can utilize the appropriate capabilities of various WebCenter products for business results.
Knowhow and Experience
In short, there’s an art and a science to building branded experiences for digital businesses. Successful companies are going to transform – and digitize – key aspects of their ongoing operations, and create new business processes along the way. Different firms and even entire industries are going to pursue their own particular paths.
But there are common threads to weaving together the applications for next-generation, digitally empowered environments. It takes knowhow and experience. When implementing WebCenter, OCS consultants have the insights, methodologies, and tools to help companies make the journeys and become digital businesses.