Friday Jun 22, 2012

Learn How Helps Families Uncover Their History with Oracle WebCenter

Oracle Corporation
Delivering Exceptional Online Customer Experiences
Delivering Exceptional Online Customer Experiences is the world’s largest online family history resource, providing an engaging and interactive customer experience to more than 1.7 million members. With smart search technology, a wealth of learning resources, and a worldwide community of family history enthusiasts, helps people discover their roots and tell their unique family stories. Key to’s success has been the delivery of an online customer experience that converts site visitors into paying subscribers and keeps them coming back. To help achieve this goal, turned to Oracle’s Web experience management solution, Oracle WebCenter Sites.

Join us as executives from and Oracle discuss how Oracle’s Web experience management solution is helping them deliver engaging online experiences. Learn how:
  • selected Oracle WebCenter Sites to meet their demanding Web experience management requirements
  • The company was able to get up and running quickly despite a complex technology stack and challenging integration requirements with legacy systems
  • empowered business users to manage the online experience and significantly reduce time to market for their online campaigns and initiatives
Register now for the Webcast.
Oracle Fusino Middleware Webcenter
June 28, 2012
10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET
Presented by:

Blane Nelson
Chief Architect–Applications,

Christie Flanagan
Director of Product Marketing, Oracle WebCenter Sites,

Friday Apr 20, 2012

Real World Mobility Usage

At this point in the week, we should highlight one of Oracle’s great customers that are pushing the limits of what can be done with a mobile app with content driven by Oracle WebCenter. Medtronic is a leader in pushing this technology to the edge in real world field usage and we’ve talked about them often because they have raised the bar for using an iPad as a primary means of conveying information to their clients in healthcare. Not only are they one of our favorite examples, but also featured as one of Apple’s favs with a featured customer profile on them here on the Apple site

For making sense of everything that is happening in our world with the growth of mobile and social – I would be remiss if I didn’t reference one of the best blogs around for insightful information and commentary (and INCREDIBLE Infographics!) There is a very relevant article entitled: “Meet Generation C: The Connected Customer” that is well worth the time spent and destined for bookmark fame.

Meet the Class of 2015! Great Video!

It is this group of up and coming consumers, employees, parents, partners, public officials and technologists that are driving the creation of new tools bringing together mobile and social, work and personal lives, and the means by which we do our daily routines at home and on the job or anywhere in-between. 

Monday Apr 09, 2012

Drive Online Engagement with Intuitive Portals and Websites

As more and more business is being conducted via online channels, engaging users and making them more productive and efficient though these online channels is becoming critical. These users could be customers, partners or employees and while the respective channels through which they interact might be different, these users do increasingly interact with your business through the Web, or mobile devices or now through various social mediums.  Businesses need a user engagement strategy and solution that allows them to deliver targeted and personalized content and applications to users through the various online mediums and touch points. 

The customer experience today is made up of an ongoing set of interactions with organizations across many channels, online and offline.  The Direct channel (including sales reps, email and mail) is an important point of contact, as is the Contact Center.  Contact Centers rely on the phone as a means of interacting with customers, and also more now than ever, the Web as well.  However, the online organization is often managed separately from the Contact Center organization within a business. In-store is an important channel for retailers, offering Point-of-Service for human interactions, and Kiosks which enable self-service. Kiosks are a Web-enabled touch point but in-store kiosks are often managed by the head of retail operations, rather than the online organization.  And of course, the online channel, including customer interactions with an organization via digital means -- on the website, mobile websites, and social networking sites, has risen to paramount importance in recent years in the customer experience. Historically all of these channels have been managed separately.

The result of all of this fragmentation is that the customer touch points with an organization are siloed.  Their interactions online are not known and respected in their dealings in-store.  Their calls to the contact center are not taken as input into what the website offers them when they arrive. Think of how many times you’ve fallen victim to this. Your experience with the company call center is different than the experience in-store. Your experience with the company website on your desktop computer is different than your experience on your iPad. I think you get the point.

But the customer isn’t the only one we need to look at here, as employees and the IT organization have challenges as well when it comes to online engagement. There are many common tools and technologies that organizations have been using to try and engage users, whether it’s customers, employees or partners. Some have adopted different blog and wiki technologies (some hosted, some open source, sometimes embedded in platforms), to things like tagging, file sharing and content management, or composite applications for self-service applications and activity streams.

Basically, there are so many different tools & technologies that each address different aspects of user engagement.

Now, one of the challenges with this, is that if we look at each individual tool, typically just implementing for example a file sharing and basic collaboration solution, may meet the needs of the business user for one aspect of user engagement, but it may not be the best solution to engage with customers and partners, or it may not fit with IT standards such as integrating with their single sign on tools or their corporate website. Often, the scenario is that businesses are having to acquire multiple pieces and parts as well as build custom applications to meet their needs. Leaving customers and partners with a more fragmented way of interacting with the company.

Every organization has some sort of enterprise balancing act between the needs of the business user and the needs and restrictions enforced by enterprise IT groups. As we’ve been discussing, we all know that the expectations for online engagement have changed since the days of the static, one-size fits all website. With these changes have come some very difficult organizational challenges as well.

Today, as a business user, you want to engage with your customers, and your customers expect you to know who they are. They expect you to recall the details they’ve provided to you on your website, to your CSRs and to your sales people. They expect you to remember their purchases, their preferences and their problems. And they expect you to know who they are, equally well, across channels, including your web presence.

This creates a host of challenges for today’s business users. Delivering targeted, relevant content online is now essential for converting prospects into customers and for engendering long term loyalty. Business users need the ability to leverage customer data from different sources to fuel their segmentation and targeting strategies and to easily set-up, manage and optimize online campaigns. Also critical, they need the ability to accomplish these things on-the-fly, at the speed of the marketplace, while making iterative improvements. 

These changing expectations put a host of demands on the IT organization as well. The web presence must be able to scale to support the delivery of personalized and targeted content to thousands of site visitors without sacrificing performance. And integration between systems becomes more important as well, as organizations strive to obtain one view of the customer culled from WCM data, CRM data and more.

So then, how do you solve these challenges and meet the growing demands of your users?

 You need a solution that:

  1. Unifies every customer interaction across all channels
  2. Personalizes the products and content that interest the customer and to the device
  3. Delivers targeted promotions to the right customer
  4. Engages and improve employee productivity
  5. Provides self-service access to applications
  6. Includes embedded in-context social  

So how then do you achieve this level of online engagement, complete customer experience and engage your employees? The answer: Oracle WebCenter. If you want to learn how to get there, we encourage you to attend this webcast on Thursday Drive Online Engagement with Intuitive Portals and Websites, where we'll talk about how you are able to transform your portal experience and optimize online engagement -- making your portals more interactive and more engaging across multiple channels. Register today!

Wednesday Apr 04, 2012

San Joaquin County, California Wins AIIM 2012 Carl E. Nelson Best Practice Award

Last month, AIIM, the global community of information professionals, announced the winners of the 2012 Carl E. Nelson Best Practices Awards. And San Joaquin County, California won in the small company category for 1-100 employees. The Carl E. Nelson Best Practices Award was established to recognize excellence in the area of information management. "Best practice" denotes a standard of excellence that has been achieved with an organization and refers to a process that can be quantified, adapted and repeated.

Like many counties, San Joaquin County, California, was faced with huge challenges due to decreasing funds and staff, including decreased cost of building capability. It needed to streamline processes, cut costs per activity, modernize and strengthen the infrastructure, and adopt new technology and standards such as the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM). The Integrated Justice Information System (IJIS) provides a Web-based system to link more than 650,000 residents, 18 agencies countywide and other law enforcement systems nationwide. The county’s modernization initiative focused on replacing its outdated warrant system, implementing service-oriented architecture (SOA) to simplify integration between county law and justice systems, deploying Business Process Management (BPM), Case Management with content management, and Web technologies from Oracle. A critical part of their success has been the proper alignment of our Strategic Vision to the way the organization was enabled to plan and execute (and continues to execute) their modernization project.

Congratulations to San Joaquin County!

Tuesday Mar 27, 2012

Oracle at The Forrester Customer Intelligence and Marketing Leadership Forums

Forrester Research

The Forrester Customer Intelligence Forum and the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forums will soon be here.  This year’s events will be co-located on April 18-19 at the J.W. Marriott at the L.A. Live entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles.  Last year’s Marketing Forum was quite memorable for me.  You see, while Forrester analysts and business marketers were busy mingling over at the Marriott, another marketing powerhouse was taking up residence a few feet away at The Staples Center.  That’s right folks. Lada Gaga was coming to town.  And, as I came to learn, it made perfect sense for Lady Gaga and her legions of fans to be sharing a small patch of downtown L.A. with marketing leaders from all over the world.  After all, whether you like Lady Gaga or not, what pop star in recent memory has done more to build herself into a brand and to create an engaging, social and interactive customer experience for her Little Monsters?  While Lady Gaga won’t be back in town for this year’s Forrester events, there are still plenty of compelling reasons to make the trip out to Los Angeles.  

The theme for The Forrester Customer Intelligence and Marketing Leadership Forums this year is “From Cool To Critical: Creating Engagement In The Age Of The Customer” and will tackle the important questions about how marketers can survive and thrive in the age of the empowered customer:

Forrester Research

•    How can you assess consumer uptake of new innovations?
•    How do you build deep customer knowledge to drive competitive advantage?
•    How do you drive deep, personalized customer engagement?
•    What is more valuable — eyeballs or engagement?
•    How do business customers engage in new media types?
•    How can you tie social data to corporate data?
•    Who should lead the movement to customer obsession?
•    How should you shift your planning and measurement approaches to accommodate more data and a higher signal-to-noise ratio?
•    What role does technology play in customizing and synchronizing marketing efforts across channels?

As a platinum sponsor of the event, there will be a numbers of ways to interact with Oracle while you’re attending the Forums.  Here are some of the highlights:

Oracle Speaking Session
Thursday, April 19, 9:15am – 9:55am
Maximize Customer Engagement and Retention with Integrated Marketing & Loyalty
Melissa Boxer, Vice President, Oracle CRM Marketing & Loyalty

Customers expect to interact with your company, brand and products in more ways than ever before.   New devices and channels, such as mobile, social and web, are creating radical shifts in the customer buying process and the ways your company can reach and communicate with existing and potential customers. While Marketing's objectives (attract, convert, retain) remain fundamentally the same, your approach and tools must adapt quickly to succeed in this more complex, cross-channel world. Hear how leading brands are using Oracle's integrated marketing and loyalty solutions to maximize customer engagement and retention through better planning, execution, and measurement of synchronized cross-channel marketing initiatives.

Solution Showcase
Wednesday, April 18
10:20am – 11:50am
12:30pm – 1:30pm
2:55pm – 3:40pm

Thursday, April 19
9:55am – 10:40am
12:00pm – 1:00pm

Solution Showcase & Networking Reception
Wednesday, April 18
5:10pm – 6:20pm

Be sure to follow the #webcenter hashtag for updates on these events.  And for a more considered perspective on what Lady Gaga can teach businesses about branding and customer experience, check out Denise Lee Yohn’s post, Lessons from Lady Gaga from the Brand as Business Bites blog.

Monday Mar 26, 2012

The Numbers of Customer Experience

This week, we’ll be continuing our conversations about Customer Experience (CX) on the Oracle WebCenter blog.  While we all know that customer experience is critically important for acquiring new customers and engendering long term brand loyalty, I thought we could kick this week off by taking a look at the numbers of customer experience.   I’m sure you’ll agree that nothing quite puts things into perspective like numbers and figures.

A whopping 86% of consumers say that they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.  But many companies are failing to step up to the challenge.  And when companies fail deliver on customer experience expectations, they leave money on the table.

A huge percentage of customers, 89%, begin doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Breaking up isn’t hard to do and today’s empowered customers have no qualms about taking their business elsewhere when their expectations for customer experience are not met.

Over a quarter of consumers, 26%, posted a negative comment on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter following a poor customer experience. Today, individual customer service failures have the ability to easily snowball.  An unsatisfied customer has the ability to easily share their rancor with their entire social network and chip away at your brand’s reputation.

A large number of consumers, 79%,  who shared complaints about poor customer experience online had their complaints ignored.  Companies ignore customer complaints at their own peril.  And unsatisfied customers, when handled effectively, have the potential to become advocates for your brand.  Of the 21% of consumers who did get responses to complaints, more than half had positive reactions to the same company about which they were previously complaining.

Half of consumers will give a brand only a week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.  The clock is ticking when customers have questions about your brand and a week is an eternity in the realm of customer experience.  

The source for these stats is the 2011 Customer Experience Impact (CEI) Report, which explores the relationship between consumers and brands.  The report is based on a survey commissioned by RightNow (acquired by Oracle in 2012) and conducted by Harris Interactive. If you’re interested in seeing more facts and figures about customer experience, download the full report.

Tuesday Mar 13, 2012

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Engage Your Customers or Lose Them!

A couple of weeks ago I was urging those of you in chilly climates to head south for fairer skies while taking in the latest thinking on customer engagement at Gartner’s conferences in Orlando this week.  How was I to know that the Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit and Garner Customer 360 Summit would both coincide with a week of unseasonably warm and spring-like weather across the northeastern United States?

At any rate, those of you who made it down to Florida for Gartner’s event this week, may have had the opportunity to catch Oracle WebCenter’s Vice President of Product Management and Strategy, Loren Weinberg, present on the topic of customer engagement in her session, "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Engage Your Customers Or Lose Them."  For those of you who were unable to attend the session yesterday, I’ll highlight some of the salient points.


Engaging Customers Isn’t As Simple As It Used to Be
Engaging your customers is a lot more complicated now that everyone is connected through the online channel. The number of mobile device types and the number of people using them have increased exponentially.  Information is now readily accessible to most anyone, at any time, on any device, in increasingly varied digital formats. At the same time, social computing has made the online channel a hub for participation, sharing, interaction and community. As a result, providing an engaging experience across the customer journey is an increasingly complex endeavor.

Today’s Customers Have High Expectations
Today’s customers expect you to know who they are.  They expect you to recall the details they’ve provided to you on your website, on your Facebook page and to your sales people or CSR’s.  They expect every interaction with an organization to be personalized and highly relevant.  They expect anywhere anytime access to information and transactions, and they expect to be able to interact socially in all that they do.

Unmet Customer Expectations Can Have High Consequences
When customer expectations are not met, brands get dumped for their competition. And with only a small percentage of customers feeling that their expectations for a good customer experience are always met, it is easy to see why the relationship between brands and customers often flame out. And today, individual customer service failures have the ability to snowball.  An unsatisfied customer has the ability to easily share their rancor with their entire social network and chip away at your brand’s reputation. 
Engagement is the Key to Gaining and Retaining Today’s Customers
Engagement has really become the key to gaining and retaining customers. Today’s empowered customer is in the driver’s seat.  And the only way to attract their attention and keep it, the only way to cultivate and maintain relationships with them, is to engage them in meaningful ways along the customer journey.

Delivering contextually relevant, interactive and multichannel online experiences is now essential for converting prospects into customers and for engendering long term loyalty.  A one-size-fits-all online customer experience is the way of the past.  Companies today must deliver personalized and contextual experiences to their customers, with information that is specifically tailored to their needs and interests, anytime and anywhere, whether on the desktop at the office, the laptop at home, or on any of the thousands of different mobile device types customers carry when they are on the go. Additionally, companies must foster a social and interactive online experience by enabling customers to contribute, participate and share their experiences.

Optimization is Essential to Successful Customer Experience Initiatives
And finally, optimizing engagement across this increasingly complex environment is critical to effective marketing and customer experience management initiatives. However, successfully using the web to drive these initiatives is more challenging than ever before. In order to succeed in optimizing online engagement, organizations require the help of technologies that can offer a means to manage a multi-channel online presence with ease, including targeting, multiple geographies, social elements and much more, and this must be integrated with their systems for managing customer data.  Then a layer of analytics and optimization must be applied to understand the customers’ journey and what will help them successfully accomplish their goals and be delighted by the service they receive.

While the Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit draws to a close today, there is still the opportunity hear more about customer experience from Oracle at Gartner Customer 360 over the following days. Be sure to follow the #gartnercrm and #webcenter hashtags to learn more.

Friday Mar 02, 2012

Oracle at The Gartner Customer 360 Summit

The Gartner Customer 360 Summit

If you live in the Northeast, like I do, about this time of year you may be weary of the short, cold days and searching for an excuse to escape to sunny Florida.  If your professional objectives also include understanding, engaging and managing customer experiences, then I may just have the perfect justification for you – The Gartner Customer 360 Summit.  Taking place at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida, March 14-16, this year’s Summit will focus on driving customer relationship success in a world of empowered customers. Sessions will focus on customer experience management, integrating marketing and sales, data quality and business analytics, and mobile and social strategies. You’ll even get to hear from keynote speaker, Seth Godin, marketing guru and best-selling author of Purple Cow and All Marketers Are Liars.

But before you run off to explore The Magic Kingdom or swim with the dolphins at SeaWorld, be sure to visit with Oracle’s customer experience experts who can’t wait to speak with you about your business growth objectives and the latest strategies and technologies for delivering a stellar customer experience.  As a premier sponsor of the event, there are a number of ways to interact with Oracle at The Gartner Customer 360 Summit.  Here are some of the highlights:

Oracle Solution Showcase
Wednesday, March 14, 12:15pm – 2:15pm
Thursday, March 15, 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Oracle Solution Showcase Reception
Wednesday, March 14, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Oracle Speaking Sessions
Thursday, March 15, 10:45am – 11:45am
The Customer and YOU – Today’s Winners are Defined by Customer Experience
Anthony Lye, Senior Vice President, Oracle CRM

Thursday, March 15, 4:15pm – 5:15pm
Driving Business Value with Customer Experience – Increasing Acquisition, Retention, and Efficiency
Brian J. Curran, Vice President, Product Marketing and Customer Experience Strategy, RightNow

Oracle | RightNow Hospitality Suite
Thursday, March 15, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Be sure to follow the #gartnercrm and #webcenter hashtags for updates. We hope to see you in Florida.  And if you can’t make it, don’t worry; warmer weather is just around the corner.

Tuesday Feb 07, 2012

WebCenter is Essential Piece of the Customer Experience

Last Tuesday, there was an exciting and interesting webcast announcing the newest addition to the Oracle family, RightNow. The webcast: Oracle and RightNow, Powering Great Customer Experiences outlined the multiple synergies within Oracle's solutions and a peek at what lies ahead. The webcast highlights some of the key roles that WebCenter plays for management of the Marketing and Loyalty components within the Customer Experience ecosystem that includes Oracle's Fusion Middleware, Applications and CRM, Commerce & Technology Solutions.

Oracle WebCenter enables marketers and business users to easily create and manage contextually relevant, social and interactive online experiences across multiple channels on a global scale to drive customer acquisition, brand loyalty and business success.

Andy Mulholland posted an interesting commentary on Monday, "Oracle introduces game-changing integration..." with his impressions of the webcast and positive opinion of Oracle's direction, where he wrote:  

"It’s worth taking some time to look at the materials from this webcast to see their process flow charts for the front office as it’s one of the first maps I have seen of all the major processes.”

Oracle CX ecosystem

(* Pending Regulatory Approval and Close)

Andy also references a PCWorld review of the webcast with some additional detailed highlights. Note for the record that when "Oracle FatWire" is referenced - they are referring to Oracle WebCenter Sites. FatWire was acquired by Oracle in 2011 and integrated into the WebCenter offering for Web Experience Management. More details available here for those interested.

Tuesday Jan 31, 2012

Web Experience Management and Used Cars

Michael SnowThis week, we’re going to dig into some best practices in Web Experience Management (WEM) to help encourage and evolve the ongoing discussions in this area. Over the past couple of years, we’ve all been increasingly saturated with an ever growing list of acronyms that make up components of the Customer Experience Management ecosystem. Whether it is labeled CXM, CEM, CRM, CCM, WEM, OEO, WXM, WCM, CSM, ABC, or XYZ – these terms are constantly evolving in inclusion and exclusion of strengths in various aspects of the basics. We are all concerned with keeping our customers happy; getting more customers and keeping them (acquisition and retention) to grow our businesses, and of course – providing the best possible customer service regardless of the channel or context that service is delivered – be it research for new purchases or service of existing products or services.

Why is this “experience” management becoming so important lately? We can blame global expanding competition, growing commodification, heightened customer expectations and challenges to conventional marketing as pervasive root causes. Controlling the experience becomes one of the few remaining differentiators for companies trying to acquire and retain customers in an ever growing market climate filled with short attention spans, finicky consumers and exponentially more choices.

guaranteed!How many positive customer experiences have you had this past week? Past month? Past year? Have they been web-based experiences, phone, in-person or by email or a combination? Should it really matter? Shouldn’t your level of customer experience be of equal quality regardless of the channel that you are interacting through? Are there too many moving pieces and people to ever hope for some alignment of experience quality? Are companies ready to think about this consistency in delivery yet or is it an unreachable nirvana somewhere off in the distant future?

Indulge me while I tell a tale of a recent car purchase experience that my wife and I have gone through over the past couple of months. It has been an interesting case study in customer experience. It is ironic in many ways that it highlights not only a great customer experience but also a complete breakdown example within an industry that is dependent on the repeat business of loyal buyers.

Typical familyAs a fairly typical family, we have two teenagers and a large dog. We travel with lots of our stuff – we can’t pack lightly no matter how hard we try. Like many parents, we spend a significant amount of time as a taxi service shuttling kids to and from school, sports and social events. We joined the minivan generation 10 yrs ago and needed to replace our aging van with yet another one – just to last until the kids are out of college and long enough while we are still paying tuition bills and eating rice and beans. We are long time loyal Toyota fans and after rationalizing to myself that minivans were the new middle-age sexy for men of my age in the suburbs – we didn’t hesitate in our search to replace our Sienna with another one.Number One Dog!

So… back to my story – knowing that we wanted to save some money and purchase a “certified pre-owned” vehicle with low-mileage – we commenced endless hours of internet researching with a variety of web experiences running the gamut from amazing to horrible.  We had ongoing email communications with the many dealers in our area until we finally found the perfect vehicle. The benefit and problem with buying a car today is parsing through so much available information during the research phase that you end up with information overload.

We decided that the dealer being located an hour away would only be a mild inconvenience during the purchase process since we would have the car serviced locally at a dealer only 5 minutes from our house. We did the test drive, looked over the car, checked the CarFax history and negotiated a great deal with our trade-in. In our final look at the car, we noticed that the cargo area carpet was damp and the salesperson explained that the rugs had all been shampooed and they probably hadn’t let it dry completely. They would take care of making sure that the carpets were cleaned and dried and the car would be ready for pickup on the following Tuesday (we purchased on a Sunday). We were very happy when we left the dealership – this car buying process that we all really hate doing wasn’t so bad after all.

unhappy!Fast forward – we’ve had our new van for a week of torrential rains and I opened the rear cargo area door to find that the carpets and pads are completely drenched. I’m leaving town on business for the week to CA on Tuesday. I call the dealership on Saturday and speak to the sales manager – I’m not happy. We’re in a holding pattern waiting for communication from the dealer. I start researching known water problems in this model year and protection nuances of the “Lemon Law”. I leave town and they send someone to pick up the van on Wed. I fly back on Friday night and a new 2012 Sienna is sitting in my driveway when I return home. They had delivered it that afternoon for a loaner after I had spoken to them from the airport in San Francisco that morning. Our van was at the body shop where they were trying to figure out the source of the water leak.

Meanwhile – the dealership’s customer experience management machine has kicked into gear completely in the dark regarding the experience we were having. We were getting email and phone follow-up surveys from Toyota as well as the dealership regarding our purchase and service experience. The internet sales associate was following up to thank us for the business. None of these people had any idea what was currently happening. Every additional email or call was a thorn in our side while we remained in limbo over this screwed up major purchase.

On the next Tuesday, we received a call from the General Manager of the Dealership telling us that they had figured out the problem, but they weren’t going to fix it. Long pause on the phone line. It turns out that the roof had been replaced at some point in the past year and the seals weren’t done properly. None of this repair history had shown up on CarFax or reported on the VIN to an insurance company or Toyota. False illusion alert for relying on those reports! They had purchased the vehicle at an auto auction where they purchase thousands of cars. The General Manager told us that he wouldn't ever feel secure about this type of repair and didn’t want us to have to worry about this in the future. They would write us a check for a complete refund of the entire purchase price and all related expenses OR they would like to keep us as a happy client and find a better upgraded vehicle from their own loaner fleet with completely known history and essentially swap it with no additional funds. We were shocked at this offer from the mouth of a “used car salesman” – having essentially expected to somehow get screwed in the deal. It wasn’t hard to make our decision. This dealer had the motivation to make us happy versus starting the whole multiple week search process all over again. Meanwhile, we also had a great new van as a loaner to use.

Happy!In the midst of the holidays, we evaluated and selected another van from their offerings – the next model up - they would take the loss versus releasing an unhappy customer into the local area. We made one trip there to do the test drives, make our selection and they then delivered the new van to us with all the paperwork and new registration. We had a potentially horrible experience turn around into a positive experience that we have repeated to many in our travels.

Now… back to the discussion around experience. Was this the work of one person – the General Manager of the dealership? Or was this because the overall organizational culture is highly focused on longer-term quality of experience? Are reputation-related decisions made to help their business grow in a time when there are lots of options for finding cars online? Was it short-term gain or long-term survival? Or were they fearful of my invocation of the Lemon Law? Water = mold/mildew = health hazard! All of my stereotypes about used car dealers were challenged (just a little bit) by this experience.

From my perspective – we can’t have a discussion in this area without talking about the components of this experience that are relevant to web experience management: Channel, Content, Interaction and Relevance. The auto industry is a perfect example of where alignment of the experience becomes crucial to a positive experience. How many different channels did I interact with during my purchase journey? I discovered the dealership via an internet search; researched the vehicles on their website and via my mobile phone; communicated with their internet sales associate via email and phone and visited their online and offline showroom. When I signed up for notification of availability of a specific model year, features and mileage range, I didn’t want to see emails that didn’t meet my criteria and waste my time. There were countless instances where what was listed on a dealer web site wasn’t available and the site hadn’t been updated to reflect the changes. Each time that happened – it wasted the precious time of a potential buyer and jeopardized the reputation of the dealership. The content I experienced along the way had a variety of value in decision making – ranging from images of the vehicles, 3D interactive video tours of the vehicles, reviews of the models, CarFax on the specific vehicles I was considering, current pricing, trade-in and blue-book values, loan-rates, promotional marketing material, social network and forum commentaries, as well as my personal social community following the saga and offering advice along the way.

Yet – our experience with the additional interactions and inquiries from Toyota, the dealer’s service dept, and their customer service survey follow-up all seemed to be disconnected from our specific experience that was happening concurrently. There was no complete 360 degree view of our experience. Yes – they had a very active customer relationship management follow-up program – but no connections to the full picture of what we were experiencing. What we were seeking during this process were interactions in context and relevance to what we were experiencing. Although the dealership saved face in making our purchase experience right in the end, in order to succeed competitively and win the loyalty of customers, they need to connect the dots and provide an experience that makes every online or offline interaction consistent, contextualized, meaningful and relevant.

Oracle WebCenterThe challenge of delivering and optimizing all of these factors is great and I don’t mean to minimize the effort required whatsoever. Just trying to get multiple groups within an organization to agree on what their unified cross-channel customer experience should be is an incredible challenge that really necessitates executive sponsorship for any of these initiatives to succeed. Oracle WebCenter is the Web experience management solution that enables organizations to use the online channel to drive customer acquisition and brand loyalty. Oracle can provide the tools and expertise to help drive your success in these initiatives, but without executive sponsorship and a culture that fosters good customer experiences across all channels – technology won’t solve all the problems.

Some of the issues that keep companies from attempting to provide a large-scale, multi-channel experience are eliminated with Oracle WebCenter. Oracle WebCenter enables business users to easily manage a multi-channel global online presence, requiring minimal IT support for daily tasks. Oracle WebCenter provides a highly scalable WEM platform with built-in content targeting and optimization, user-generated content, integration with social networking sites, end-user personalization with gadgets, mobile web deployment and integrations with CRM, commerce, ECM, and business intelligence.

The culture of an organization that promotes successful customer engagement using the online channel can enable organizations to attract and retain the loyalty of customers in an extremely competitive business environment. Doing so, however, requires addressing significant new challenges and additional dimensions of complexity in managing the online channel. We’ll hear more about best practices in this area throughout the week with a few guest bloggers from our team here at Oracle. So - stay tuned for more to come.

Thanks & we hope you enjoy the week!


Tuesday Dec 13, 2011

Texas Industries, Inc (TXI), Oracle WebCenter, and AP Automation with Keste

Today we have a guest blog post from Vince Casarez, Sr Vice President of Technology at our partner Keste. This blog post profiles Texas Industries, a company that is using Oracle WebCenter to automate accounts payable processing. If you want to learn more about this process, make sure to register for our webcast taking place this Thursday, December 15th.

Here's a topic that you likely don't think much about but has a very large impact and application within any medium to large size customer. It's around taking accounts payable invoices, pulling them into a managed infrastructure, and reducing the need to manage all kinds of forms and paper documents.

Sexy? Not really. Big business benefit for a reasonable investment? Absolutely.

At Keste, we worked with Texas Industries, Inc during this year to provide a solution in just this space.

Borrowing from TXI's site, they are a leading supplier of cement, aggregate and consumer product building materials. All types of construction - residential, commercial and public works - use these materials. They have 4 Cement plants in TX &CA, 18 Aggregate plants, and over 70 Concrete plants to meet their increasing demand from customers. TXI is the largest, low-cost producer of cement in Texas. When the economy recovers, TXI will enhance its market position when it completes its expansion project to more than double the existing production capacity at our Central Texas cement plant. They have similar expansion plans for their CA plants as well. So needless to say, they aren't the exact profile that you might expect a high tech AP automation process to have a lot of value but they absolutely are a key target area for these types of solutions.

Reducing operating cost is one of the main reasons to initiate this project because if look at the Elements of a Typical AP cost from the chart below, you can see that the labor cost is by far the largest cost in the invoice processing cycle.

So in order to reduce the cost of labor, it requires an understanding of the elements that contribute to the total cost. For TXI, the main cost areas were manual data entry, approval routing and manual approvals. The best way to eliminate this manual process is through automation.

Invoices were mailed to virtually all plant/office locations. Each location has resource(s) dedicated to handling AP invoices and TXI had over 50 people involved in the process. At each plant location from opening the mail, to identifying the approval hierarchy, through routing the invoice for approval, took nearly 30 days. Some of the plants are located very close to each other and have shared management resources, but these were still very laborious and very expensive processes.

So the overall goals were simple: 1. Minimize manual data entry 2. Eliminate manual paper handling processes 3. Reduce employee resources involved in AP invoice processing

Our specific target was to get all invoices into the AP system in less than 5 days (compared to ranging from 1 day to 2 weeks or longer). This would enable three changes to the business: 1. Allow for additional earned discounts 2. We can identify liabilities much faster 3. We could better assess the daily cash needs

Now lets talk about how TXI's new invoice process works. The diagram below also illustrates this. Invoices are no longer processed at the field office/plant locations, they are all sent to central processing center. This immediately reduces the need for an AP Processor in each field office. For TXI, the AP processor total headcount was reduced by a total of 47 people. These 47 people were then able to spend more time helping the field offices serve customers or retrained in other parts of the business.

WebCenter Capture, which starts the process by scanning documents such as invoices and receipts, and then capturing important data from them for indexing before committing them to WebCenter Imaging.

There is 1 person that is performing invoice scanning through the use of Oracle WebCenter Forms Recognition. This allows us to achieve over 75% of scanned invoices to be entered into the system without any exceptions. This means that the 3 other AP processors handle the exceptions. Their job focus shifts from data entry to data review, editing, & workflow monitoring. A much more efficient use of their time and much more valuable to the overall business.

In addition, Oracle WebCenter Imaging was used for coding and handling the different validation errors in combination with Oracle eBusiness Suite as the AP system source of record.

WebCenter Content is the storage and content lifecycle management system for all financial documents. It ensures that no more costly shipping, handling and retention of paper is required, as documents such as invoices can be imaged at the front end of the process, and then effectively managed throughout the various stages of business operations until they need to be archived for safekeeping and data offload. Secondly, it allows for imaged invoices to be attached to workflows, and be retrieved through E-Business Suite interfaces for processing, such as the Payables UI. So, this implementation cut down on processing times by ensuring that AP Processors never have to leave their environment to accomplish tasks like key from image or P.O. matching.

Leveraging the power of Oracle BPEL Process Manager workflow engine included with the Oracle Business Process Management Suite, TXI implemented advance exception handling capabilities for routing and delegation to handle tasks. The Business Activity Monitoring component provides a customizable dashboard view of key metrics, enabling the A/P Manager to gain the insight into any process bottlenecks before they become an issue.

And the actual goals have been reached and exceeded to the extent that invoices without any exceptions are in the system on the same day. At worst case for the exceptions, invoices are in the system in less than 5 days, always!

For the future, TXI plans to leverage this solution as a foundation for automating other operations such as expense management, contracts or receivables, and various HR processes.

All of this was kicked off by a discovery workshop run by Keste to nail down the specific business requirements and put a phased delivery plan in place. Anyone at Keste can provide you more specifics!

Friday Nov 11, 2011

Guest Post: Christian Finn: Is Facebook About to Become a Victim of its Own Success?

 Since we have a number of new members of the WebCenter Evangelist team - I thought it would be appropriate to close the week with the newest hire and leader of the global WebCenter Evangelists, Christian Finn, who has just joined the Red team after many years with the small technology company up in Redmond, WA. He gave an intro to himself in an earlier post this morning but his post below is a great example of how customer engagement takes on a life of its own in our global online connected and social digital ecosystem.

Is Facebook About to Become a Victim of its Own Success?

What if I told you that your brand could advertise so successfully, you wouldn’t have to pay for the ads? A recent campaign by Ford Motor Company for the Ford Focus featuring Doug the spokespuppet (I am not making this up) did just that—and it raises some interesting issues for marketers and social media alike in the brave new world of customer engagement that is the Social Web.

Allow me to elaborate. An article in the Wall Street Journal last week—“Big Brands Like Facebook, But They Don’t Like to Pay” tells the story of Ford’s recently concluded online campaign for the 2012 Ford Focus. (Ford, by the way, under the leadership of people such as Scott Monty, has been a pioneer of effective social campaigns.) The centerpiece of the campaign was the aforementioned Doug, who appeared as a character on Facebook in videos and via chat. (If you are not familiar with Doug, you can see him in action here, and read the WSJ story here.) You may be thinking puppet ads are a sign of Internet Bubble 2.0 and want to stop now, but bear with me.

The Journal reported that Ford spent about $95M on its overall Ford Focus campaign, with TV accounting for over $60M of that spend. The Internet buy for the campaign was just over $10M, which included ad buys to drive traffic to Facebook for people to meet and ‘Like’ Doug and some amount on Facebook ads, too, to promote Doug and by extension, the Ford Focus. So far, a fairly straightforward consumer marketing story in the Internet Era.

Yet here’s the curious thing: once Doug reached 10,000 fans on Facebook, Ford stopped paying for Facebook ads. Doug had gone viral with people sharing his videos with one another; once critical mass was reached there was no need to buy more ads on Facebook. Doug went on to be Liked by over 43,000 people, and 61% of his fans said they would be more likely to consider buying a Focus. According to the article, Ford says Focus sales are up this year—and increasing sales is every marketer’s goal.

And so in effect, Ford found its Facebook campaign so successful that it could stop paying for it, instead letting its target consumers communicate its messages for fun—and for free. Not only did they get a 3X increase in fans beyond their paid campaign, they had thousands of customers sharing their messages in video form for months. Since free advertising is the Holy Grail of marketing both old and new-- and it appears social networks have an advantage in generating that buzz—it seems reasonable to ask: what would happen to brands’ advertising strategies—and the media they use to engage customers, if this success were repeated at scale?

It seems logical to conclude that, at least initially, more ad dollars would be spent with social networks like Facebook as brands attempt to replicate Ford’s success. Certainly Facebook ad revenues are on the rise—eMarketer expects Facebook’s ad revenues to quintuple by 2012 compared with 2009 levels, to nearly 2.9B. That’s bad news for TV and the already battered print media and good news for Facebook. But perhaps not so over the longer run. With TV buys, you have to keep paying to generate impressions. If Doug the spokespuppet is any guide, however, that may not be true for social media campaigns. After an initial outlay, if a social campaign takes off, the audience will generate more impressions on its own. Thus a social medium like Facebook could be the victim of its own success when it comes to ad revenue. It may be there is an inherent limiting factor in the ad spend they can capture, as exemplified by Ford’s experience with Dough and the Focus. And brands may spend much less overall on advertising, with as good or better results, than they ever have in the past.

How will these trends evolve? Can brands create social campaigns that repeat Ford’s formula for the Focus with effective results? Can social networks find ways to capture more spend and overcome their potential tendency to make further spend unnecessary? And will consumers become tired and insulated from social campaigns, much as they have to traditional advertising channels? These are the questions CMOs and Facebook execs alike will be asking themselves in the brave new world of customer engagement.

As always, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Wednesday Nov 09, 2011

Guest Post: Peter Reiser: The Power of Social Recommendations

 We're joined today with a guest post from a member of our international team of WebCenter Evangelists, Peter Reiser. Peter has a long history starting with Sun Microystems (Switzerland) in 1989 and has recently joined a team of WebCenter Evangelists around the globe that we hope to be hearing from on a regular basis. Peter's blog can be found here:

The Power of Social Recommendations

There are many ways you can improve the Return on Investment (RoI) of your web properties

Traditionally, you acquire new customers by buying Google keywords or by advertising your web offerings on social sites like Facebook

When these new users find their way to your site, you can engage them using clever targeting/personalization technologies to tailor your content to the target audience. 

(I  recently took a training on  WebCenter Sites (formerly FatWire) and was pretty impressed about their  intelligent real time targeting engine.)

This will likely improve your Conversation Rate (CVR)  and Revenue

Ok - these  are key elements  of a typical  Ecommerce strategy and pretty well known best practices. 

But how can we leverage  REAL social engagements ?

Implicit Social Recommendations 

When did we start trusting strangers?

(Source: Tomuniversal)

Implicit Social Recommendations are based on feedback from strangers provided through various social  channel and sites. 

 As example, a site has a product review section and the reviews, ratings and feedback  of "strangers" is influencing the buying behavior.

Implicit Social

(Source: Tomuniversal)

 The level of influence is directly  related to how much the user  trust the feedback/recommendations from strangers. 

Explicit Social Recommendations 

 Explicit Social Recommendations are from the strong tie connections of  a user's social network - friends/people you know and trust.

 As example, a user is looking for a nice Golf Hotel and a friend recommends a hotel via a social network. Its pretty likely that the user is checking out the hotel.


(Source: Tomuniversal)

 If the friend has already stayed there and recommends the hotel because he liked it, there is a very high probability that the user is booking the hotel.

Social Engagement Strategy  

Wow - if you can leverage the Power of Social Recommendations,  your Conversation Rate (CVR)  and Revenue will likely grow fast!

So - what should be the key elements of your successful Social Engagement strategy? 

  1. Build Trust trough Transparency
  2. Be part of the Conversation by actively building vibrant communities 
  3. Engage the "trusted" strangers  in the public social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. (and maybe you should consider social sites like  Quora as well)
  4. Think carefully how to  build  your "Explicit Social Recommendations" strategy. Do you really want to invest to drive YOUR audience trough public social networks  or do you want to have YOUR audience on your own social network  which is seamless integrated with your web properties and business applications  .. and you have access to the entire Social Graph of your network!    (Hello Oracle Social Network :) )

Monday Nov 07, 2011

Customer Engagement - Born Digital - Blessing or Curse?

For those of you that spend a fair amount of your days trying to keep up with the latest thought leadership via daily blog postings and interesting articles published by the various pundits of our technology ecosystems, it will come as no surprise that the topics of “Customer Engagement” and “Customer Experience” are extremely popular topics lately. In the past 30 days, there have been 6,157 tweets about “Customer Engagement” alone. While these topics are not new by any means, using these filters to look at our online experiences and engagements allows the cross-pollination from what has been learned in brick and mortar retail establishments to our not so new online world incorporating web, mobile and social channels.

Following these trends, we’re going to add to the discussion by focusing this week on Customer Engagement. Customer engagement really can’t be viewed based on only one channel of communication anymore in our fast-paced, multi-channel world. As active consumers of product and information, we all seek multiple inputs to make our daily decisions. What used to be based on asking our neighbors for recommendations or assistance has now been enhanced by technology to, perhaps at times, giving us too much information and inducing an analysis-paralysis condition or in the Goldilocks tradition, just the right amount to help us get it right.Which Way to Customer Engagement?

I do believe in synchronicity and there was a fascinating study just published by the Oracle Retail Group entitled; “The Future of Retail: Through the Eyes of Digital Natives” (September 2011). The Press Release can be found here. The latest research, commissioned by Oracle, on the future of retail in 2025, according to the digital native generation born after 1980, reveals that the shopping experience of the future needs to be connected, fit-for-purpose, and always available. Results revealed that digital natives love to shop but they are discerning, wanting differentiated products, pricing, and services based on their preferences, to interact with retailers when and how it suits them, and for this experience to be seamless and connected whatever channel they choose.

The study notes that technology is the key to expediting the shopping experience, whether in-store to facilitate a sale, or using online channels to research and compare price, promotions, and choice, suggesting that retailers must optimize their operations in support of customer priorities and operate in a connected 24/7 environment. Oracle commissioned the survey in July 2011 to examine the views of digital natives to current shopping needs and their expectations of these needs in 2025 as they come of age, interviewing 1,514 young consumers between 19-23 years from the UK, Germany and France.

“This research presents a number of interesting findings for retailers outlining considerable opportunities,” said Mike Webster, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Retail. “To drive long-term growth, retailers need to provide superior experiences that consumers are demanding. The research supports the importance of creating a solutions platform that provides a connected multi-channel shopping experience.”

Conclusions of the study state that the Born Digital members of their study have the following requirements for their engagements and experiences:

  • Differentiated and personalized customer interactions
  • Differentiated products, pricing and services based on their preferences
  • Differentiated interactions based on how and when they want to interact
  • A seamless, connected experience where the retailer is aligned across all business operations and decisions

So let us set the stage for our discussion this week by painting a picture of what our digital ecosystem landscape looks like today based on some recent research. Growth and scale of these channels are an important consideration of the approach taken to address the engagement and experience challenges.


U.S. online sales are expected to rise by over $100 billion from 2010 to 2015.1 70 percent of all Internet users made at least one online purchase.2


48 percent of all U.S. consumers use their mobile devices to research and browse products and services.3 Two-third of consumers use mobile phones for purchasing.4


More than 7 percent in U.S. will own a tablet by the end of 20125 and is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 51 percent through 2015.6 Forrester expects consumers will adopt tablet commerce rapidly.6

Social Media:

More than half of frequent web shoppers turn to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter at least some of the time to gather ideas for shopping.7 28 percent of Facebook users have purchased something online via a Facebook link.8


43% of all US retail sales are influenced by the web.9 Consumers often start browsing and researching on their computers and mobile devices, and ultimately make purchases in the store or through a contact center representative.10

Call Center:

Over 90% of US consumers and over 77% of European consumers ranked click to call and click to chat as useful to extremely useful.  Click to call and click to chat were ranked second and third, respectively, out of five, behind only the option of a free phone call into the contact center.11


1: eMarketer 2011 US Retail Ecommerce Forecast
2: comScore Q2 2011 U.S. Retail E-commerce Sales Estimate, August 8, 2011
3:  Oracle ATG Cross-Channel Commerce: A Consumer Research Study, 2009
4:  L.E.K. Consulting Consumer Study, 2011
5:  eMarketer
6: Forrester's US Consumer Tablet Forecast, January 2011
7: the e-tailing group, inc.  Study, 2011
8: 2011 Social Commerce study
9: Forrester Research, Inc.
10: Oracle ATG Cross-Channel Commerce: A Consumer Research Study, 2009
11:  Oracle ATG Commerce Live Help: Global Consumer Views & Trends Study, March 2010

Tuesday Sep 06, 2011

Web Experience Management and Customer Experience Management

Before we delve into other interesting details about enhancing your customers’ experiences with your online channels, I thought it would be beneficial to lay the groundwork for defining what we consider to be Web Experience Management.

At the 10K foot level, looking down, Web Experience Management (WEM) is a strategic component of Customer Experience Management (CXM) for organizations seeking to control interaction, perception and brand adoption or loyalty with their company and its products and/or services.

There has been a lot written about Customer Experience Management and the originator of the subject is well known to be Bernd Schmitt. Schmitt is the author of an early groundbreaking book, “Experiential Marketing” and subsequently wrote the first book on “Customer Experience Management” in 2003. He has a thriving consulting practice for helping companies that focus on the customer experience to join the most successful and profitable organizations in the world. Here’s a great short interview with him as one of the top 50 thinkers of 2011.

Schmitt defines Customer Experience Management as: “…the process of strategically managing a customer’s entire experience with a product or a company.” His recent ideas about “Big Think: Killing the Sacred Cow” are a fascinating look at what companies can do to break out of their static mode by challenging the status quo of their industry to succeed in ways that couldn’t have been imagined beforehand. This is a deep subject for a future post.

Meanwhile, within the world of technology analysts, Forrester Research has defined CXM solutions in their recent report (The Emergence of Customer Experience Management Solutions by Brian K. Walker, August 10, 2011) as:

“… technology solutions that allow businesses to manage and optimize the customer experience through content management, customer targeting, analytics, personalization, and optimization capabilities across customer touchpoints — online, through mobile devices, through Internet-connected interfaces, and through digitally supported customer interactions such as contact centers and in-store or branch interfaces.”

They further boil it down to: “A solution that enables the management and delivery of dynamic, targeted, consistent content, offers, products, and service interactions across digitally enabled consumer touchpoints.”

Of course, hearing these descriptions, we all know that WEM and CXM are not one button solutions. They require careful thought and planning. The idea can be overwhelming as we think about all our products and the variations of purchasing scenarios across the potential personas. We know the clichés that it is impossible to boil the ocean and the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. But…which cup do you boil first? Which bite do you start with? And the answer that everyone hates…” it depends…” We'll be looking at the main components of WEM this week and welcome your questions and input.


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