Friday Jan 17, 2014

Looking Back at our Thought Leaders


Good thought leadership usually stands the test of time and our past series of big thinkers are still relevant today. As you watch and listen to these conversations - it will be certainly be interesting to note the changes to technology and culture that have taken place over the past years following many of the trends spoken about during these conversations. How much have you changed the way you work over the past couple of years? Are you more social, mobile and cloud-focused now?

Top 10 Technology Trends Driving Business InnovationOrganic Business Networks: Doing Business in a Hyper-Connected WorldSocial Business and Innovation

Race Against the MachineMobile is the New Face of EngagementManaging Social Relationships for the Enterprise

5 Critical Descisions Made by Beloved CompaniesEmployee Engagement Benchmark Study


Thursday Jan 16, 2014

Evolution to the Strategic Technology Trends for 2014

This time of year is always a reflective time as we look back and look forward to the new year. As I've been thinking about thought leadership and some of the interesting webcasts we've hosted over the past couple of years (look to next post for a review of these), I was thinking about those trend predictions that emerge every year. I just recently watched Gartner's most recent webcast they offer each year on the "Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends" that enterprises should be planning for over the next 3 years.

Its interesting to note the evolution of not only the language used to describe the trends, but the consolidation of many of them into single trends in the comparison chart I created below from the past 3 years. As technologies have emerged from the Hype cycle's "Peak of Inflated Expectations" and start sliding down into the "Trough of Disillusionment" there seems to be some strategic consolidation and commodification as expected.

Gartner’s Futurist, David Cearley said: "We have identified the top 10 technologies that companies should factor into their strategic planning processes. This does not necessarily mean adoption and investment in all of the listed technologies, but companies should look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.” 

He also added that the "Nexus of Forces – Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information – are driving these changes in technology." Take a look at this informative short video on the "Nexus of Forces" for a better understanding. We also have a previous blog post on this topic here.


Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends 2012-2014
2012 2013 2014 
1. Media Tablets and Beyond
1. Mobile Devices Battles
1. Mobile Device Diversity & Management
2. Mobile-centric Applications and Interfaces
2. Mobile Apps and HTML5
2. Mobile Apps & Applications
3. Contextual and Social User Experience
3. Personal Cloud
3. The Internet of Everything
4. The Internet of Things
4. The Internet Of Things
4. Hybrid Cloud & IT as Service Broker
5. App Stores and Marketplaces
5. Hybrid IT and Cloud Computing
5. Cloud/Client Architecture
6. Next-generation Analytics
6. Strategic Big Data
6. The Era of Personal Cloud
7. Big Data
7. Actionable Analytics
7. Software Defined Anything
8. In-memory Computing
8. Mainstream In-Memory Computing (IMC)
8. Web Scale IT
9. Extreme Low-energy Servers
9. Integrated Ecosystems
9. Smart Machines
10.Cloud Computing
10. Enterprise App Stores
10. 3-D Printing

Gartner's Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014:

  1. Mobile Device Diversity and Management: Through 2018, the growing variety of devices, computing styles, user contexts and interaction paradigms will make "everything everywhere" strategies unachievable. The unexpected consequence of bring your own device (BYOD) programs is a doubling or even tripling of the size of the mobile workforce. This is placing tremendous strain on IT and Finance organizations. Enterprise policies on employee-owned hardware usage need to be thoroughly reviewed and, where necessary, updated and extended. 
  2. Mobile Apps and Applications: Gartner predicts that through 2014, improved JavaScript performance will begin to push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream enterprise application development environment. The market for tools to create consumer and enterprise facing apps is complex with well over 100 potential tools vendors. For the next few years no single tool will be optimal for all types of mobile application so expect to employ several. The next evolution in user experience will be to leverage intent, inferred from emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behavior.
  3. The Internet of Everything: The internet is expanding beyond PCs and mobile devices into enterprise assets such as field equipment, and consumer items such as cars and televisions. The problem is that most enterprises and technology vendors have yet to explore the possibilities of an expanded internet and are not operationally or organizationally ready. 
  4. Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker: Bringing together personal clouds and external private cloud services is an imperative. Enterprises should design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability is possible. Hybrid cloud services can be composed in many ways, varying from relatively static to very dynamic. Managing this composition will often be the responsibility of something filling the role of cloud service broker (CSB), which handles aggregation, integration and customization of services. 
  5. Cloud/Client Architecture: The cloud is the control point and system or record and applications can span multiple client devices. The client environment may be a native application or browser-based; the increasing power of the browser is available to many client devices, mobile and desktop alike. Robust capabilities in many mobile devices, the increased demand on networks, the cost of networks and the need to manage bandwidth use creates incentives, in some cases, to minimize the cloud application computing and storage footprint, and to exploit the intelligence and storage of the client device. However, the increasingly complex demands of mobile users will drive apps to demand increasing amounts of server-side computing and storage capacity.
  6. The Era of Personal Cloud: The personal cloud era will mark a power shift away from devices toward services. In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about, although the devices will still be necessary. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared from the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself.
  7. Software Defined Anything: Software-defined anything (SDx) is a collective term that encapsulates the growing market momentum for improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability driven by automation inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning. As individual SDx technology silos evolve and consortiums arise, look for emerging standards and bridging capabilities to benefit portfolios, but challenge individual technology suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to true interoperability standards within their specific domains. 
  8. Web-Scale IT: Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting by rethinking positions across several dimensions. Large cloud services providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., are re-inventing the way in which IT services can be delivered.  Their capabilities go beyond scale in terms of sheer size to also include scale as it pertains to speed and agility. If enterprises want to keep pace, then they need to emulate the architectures, processes and practices of these exemplary cloud providers
  9. Smart Machines: Through 2020, the smart machine era will blossom with a proliferation of contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors (such as IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and public availability of early examples of autonomous vehicles. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT. New systems that begin to fulfill some of the earliest visions for what information technologies might accomplish — doing what we thought only people could do and machines could not —are now finally emerging. 
  10. 3D Printing: Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 75% in 2014 followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015. While very expensive “additive manufacturing” devices have been around for 20 years, the market for devices ranging from $50,000 to $500, and with commensurate material and build capabilities, is nascent yet growing rapidly. The consumer market hype has made organizations aware of the fact 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.



Tuesday Sep 10, 2013

My Theory of Inverse Relationships: Technical Sophistication vs Compensating Customer Service

Statistics are everywhere – people that are engaged in life and work are generally happier people because their needs are met without excessive hassles.  Download Employee Engagement Report Free Today!
As we move towards a more self-service technology-enabled culture, I have a theory of inverse relationships that is starting to take shape. I have had a few more experiences over the past couple of weeks that lay credence to my nascent theory.

I believe that there is an inverse relationship between the technical sophistication of companies and their person-to-person relationships. You may remember a post I did right around this time of year a couple of years ago entitled “Mayberry RFD meets the WWW” that started to examine my perspective. I'm still a believer.

As many of our readers know from my previous posts, my family is now in the beginning of the college years and we’ve just delivered our daughter to a beautiful small liberal arts University in upstate NY. Wish her well as she focuses on Neuroscience to cure all of our imminent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. I hope I remember to thank her someday.  Because of this – I’ve had a lot of drive time (5 hrs each way) to do some thinking about this subject and some experiences over the process.

I’ll start with a recent experience with my local spring water delivery service. This company has been around for eons and very service-focused. As I’ve been trying to do all my bill paying online and we hadn't ordered water for a couple of years, I took a look at their website to see if I could just pay my bill by credit card. Sure enough – they have a “Pay your bill online” button on their site. When clicked, I was presented with a form to fill out and a submit button. Easy, painless and fast. Yet I received no email confirmation of my payment that is usually the norm with online payments of this sort. Suspicious and concerned that I perhaps just distributed my credit card number to a phishing expedition – I emailed the company and had a response within a couple of hours that read something to the effect of (I’ll paraphrase) – “Oh ya – that’s never worked – give us a call and we can take care of it over the phone…”  So – here’s a small company trying to survive against its much larger competitors with a bigger regional footprint that hasn’t prioritized their online bill pay as worth the investment or PREFERS to have the traditional biller and payer relationship by mailed checks or phone. The nice thing about this in many ways – is that when I called and spoke with “Mary” – she was genuine, friendly, and truly apologetic that their online system has never worked. Technical sophistication level: LOW. Customer Service level: HIGH. Customer Loyalty because of the overall positive experience = HIGH.

Those of you that are dealing with College or University online systems for students, parents, faculty and vendors are probably used to a wide range of functionality. My wife is an academic at a major university and we’ve seen all sides of this. This is NOT the public-facing Admissions advertising and marketing site, but instead how the students and parents deal with payments, registrations, insurance, financial aid, etc.. Lately, we’ve had the Uber Portal experience at my daughter’s University that thus far seems to be the most awkward and poorly designed collection of services we’ve ever experienced. Where is that tuition going? Like many universities, this portal is an open source project and feels like a garage project done in an intern’s spare cycles. Yet – in following my inverse technology theory – when I call the University (ANY department) to ask about something that isn’t clear or working on their portal, I often get a confirming statement about the portal being down or other less than glowing statements, and then the BEST customer service experience on the phone with people bending over backwards to help assist you with whatever request they need to get the job done in spite of the poor system that should have taken care of the problem or question in the first place. Technical experience to solve your problem online = LOW. Customer Service experience to compensate for poor online system =- HIGH. Overall experience = HIGH despite the high tuition bills that we’ll be paying until we’re 90.

Many Universities aren’t in the same boat – and although I’m not shipping my daughter off to Australia, one of our great customers there talks about how Oracle WebCenter provides the enterprise platform for University of Melbourne’s Student Portal, allowing the aggregation of all services and applications that students need to manage their academic and social lives while enrolled at the university. Check out this link:University of Melbourne Empowers Student Portal with Oracle

Lastly – I had another great experience while I was helping my daughter move into her dorm. As expected, we forgot some items and needed a few things so I took a trip down to the local hardware/country store. There they had everything we needed along with the most incredible customer service I’ve experienced in a retail establishment for a long time. I had a short list of items to find, but I’m a sucker for a country store that claims to have everything and did some aisle roaming to see what they really had.  During my 45 minutes there (my wife says it was more like 1.5 hrs) I had more people offer to help me and actually do so than you usually would experience in a brand-recognized chain store which this definitely wasn’t. To test my theory when I returned home – I went looking for their website and sure enough – this is what I found:   “Our Website is Under Construction - Please stop Back!“

The sidebar on the site under construction did confirm both my experience and current theory. I've changed the names to avoid any free advertising.

Welcome to Small Town General Store!
Our slogan says it all...Experience a Modern Day General Store.
We welcome you to visit our family-owned general store in Smallville, USA where the experience will make you want to visit again and again.  At Small Town General Store - you will find a full selection of electronics, paint, hardware, housewares and office supplies.  We believe in offering a wide variety of product with exceptional customer service.  Our friendly staff will greet you upon entering the store and direct you towards whatever your project requires that day.  Need advice on the project?  No problem our staff is well versed in everything we sell and we offer DIY books as reference.  Don't see what you are looking for - we have the ability to special order almost anything you need.  Whether you are a contractor, local business owner, homeowner, student or just passing through our town, Small Town General Store has something for you.

So - what does this all mean? You might be saying that of course, small town local business has to compensate with great customer service to compete with the big box stores and larger franchised services and you might be right. What about the ideal combination? What if you had the ultimate self-service online experience AND the company was a pleasure to deal with day in and day out? Employees that are happier at their jobs because they have the tools to get the job done quickly, efficiently and accurately will also provide a much better customer experience because they aren't fighting with systems that make their job miserable. Food for thought.

Watch this newly released WebCenter Portal Demo that will change your expectations for portals in your organization.

To learn more about this, don't miss our upcoming webcast on the NEW Release of Oracle WebCenter on Sept. 12th - see banner below. This will also be available On-Demand (AKA Self-Service!!) after this date, so register today and you 'll get the On-Demand link sent to you automatically after the event.

Register today - Watch this Week!



Tuesday Aug 13, 2013

Four Drivers of Digital Customer Engagement

The web is a primary channel for conducting our businesses and even managing our own lives. More information is available to people online than ever before, and in an increasing variety of digital formats. The web has also evolved to include important new channels like mobile and social, and interactive and on-the-go online experiences are now part of our everyday lives.

These factors have come together to create customers who have more choices than ever before, more influence than ever before, and greater control over their relationships with brands than ever before. And while this so called customer experience revolution has been great for consumers, this new environment poses many challenges for businesses when it comes to engaging and connecting with their customers. To be successful in this dynamic market, it’s essential for businesses to focus on delivering engaging customer experiences that drive sales and long term loyalty.

So, what are the characteristics of a truly engaging digital customer experience?

An engaging digital experience is one that is contextually relevant. Delivering a one-size-fits-all digital customer experience is no longer acceptable or particularly effective. Instead, your customers expect you to know who they are and to understand their preferences, behavior and past relationship with your brand. And they expect you to demonstrate this by delivering an online experience that is relevant and personalized to their needs.

Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn have also changed customers’ expectations in favor of more interactive online experiences. Visitors to your site expect to participate and contribute on your web presence and to also share aspects of that experience with their social networks. Whether through user-generated content like comments, reviews or ratings, the engaging digital customer experience now requires plenty of opportunities for social interaction.

The ubiquity of mobile devices means that an engaging digital customer experience is also an increasingly mobile experience. This requires mobile enablement of the web presence, ideally reusing existing web content and sites, reformatted and optimized for delivery to thousands of different mobile phones and tablets for anytime, anywhere engagement.  

And finally, the engaging digital customer experience is a connected and consistent experience.  Over the course of their relationship with your brand, your customers may go online to browse, search, make purchases, or service their accounts and a number of different technologies may be involved in supporting these different types of interaction. Your goal should be to create a connected, seamless and consistent customer journey, by integrating the different technologies involved in delivering the customer experience.


Thursday Jun 13, 2013

On Demand Webcast: The Five Competencies of Customer Experience Companies

Oracle Corporation
Webcast.  The Five Competencies of Customer Experience Companies.  Oracle WebCenter.  The Center of Engagement.

Say Goodbye to Silos and Hello to Meaningful Customer Experiences

Many companies say they’re customer-centric. But they don’t back up those words with changes in their metrics, motivation, and vital collaboration tools. All too often, different groups in companies fail to communicate and act as a team. They create silos instead of quality, meaningful customer experiences.

What will it take to overcome organizational inertia to benefit companies and their customers? Jeanne Bliss, a customer experience expert, has the answers. Join this Webcast as Jeanne talks about her new book, Chief Customer Officer, and her extensive experience driving the customer agenda inside major US corporations.

You’ll learn:

  • What will drive action for customers inside the corporate machine
  • How to avoid delivering mediocrity to customers
  • How to drive accountability across functions
  • If you need a Chief Customer Officer to keep the action moving

Register now.



Register Now
Register now for this Webcast.
Available On Demand
Presented by:

Jeanne Bliss
Jeanne Bliss
President, CustomerBliss
Hardware and Software Engineered to Work Together

Wednesday Jun 12, 2013

Do You Need a Chief Customer Officer?

Today's guest post is from Jeanne Bliss. Jeanne is the founder of CustomerBLISS; a consulting and coaching company helping corporations connect their efforts to yield improved customer growth.  She is a world-wide speaker on the subject.  Jeanne spent twenty-five years at Lands’ End, Microsoft, Allstate, Coldwell Banker, and Mazda corporations as the leader for driving customer focus and customer growth.  Her best-selling books are; Chief Customer Officer:  Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action, and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions for Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad. Visit the Oracle WebCenter blog tomorrow where we'll be featuring an on demand webcast featuring Jeanne called, The Five Competencies of Customer Experience Companies.

CEO’s no longer need to be convinced of the importance of developing relationships with profitable customers and keeping them around.  What they need now is a way to accomplish this feat.   Some are considering the creation of a C-level position to drive the action. However, beyond the notion that it’s a good idea, not many know how to structure the Chief Customer Officer role and its place in the organization. Here are some thoughts to help you proceed. 

Suggesting a CCO may seem frivolous to leaders who believe they already focus on customers. There’s often a proliferation of tactics and projects underway…the problem is they don’t amount to anything significant for customers.  So first decide:  will leaders be okay with someone (other than themselves) driving consensus on customer strategy and deliverables?  You may be saying, “We have consensus now.”  I’m sure that you’ve had some good meetings, but how much of it stuck?  When they were over, did everyone return to their respective corners and business as usual?  Getting company alignment is tricky.  You may need someone full time to ensure it exists for your direction with customers.

What about sustaining the work?  After the first and second meeting of what I call “the funky task force” on the customer work, people start to lose interest.  You know these meetings.  The kick-off has forty people at the table, some who clamored for an invite.  One month later, six regularly show up.  And the person who got the job to run the task force layered on top of his/her “regular” job?  Well, they’re losing interest fast.  Driving this work needs hard-wired participation.  Do you have headcount and staff time commitments to drive it forward? 

Now to the roadmap and action plan:  let’s discuss the sticky wicket of “how” to move past the hoopla of meetings and empty commitments.  Do you have a central roadmap that everyone follows on how you’ll drive the customer work and measure progress?  I didn’t think so.  How about consistent metrics everyone agrees to?  We have metrics galore in our companies and of course the ‘customer’ is now on our scorecards.  But these are typically neither clear nor connected down to the operational level. 

Roles and responsibilities and holding people accountable are a slippery slope in the customer work.  This is about the hand-offs between the silos.  Most companies need a task list that clearly states what each part of the organization will do and when to get the priorities accomplished.  But most don’t have one.  Do you?

Is funding customer projects like pulling teeth?  This may be due to duplicate spending across the organization.  Everything is pitched as an individual program from inside the silos.  At planning time these investments are often vulnerable in the first round of budget cuts.  Why?  Because each project shows up as a one-off tactic.  There’s rarely an annual plan for understanding and managing customers as a key corporate asset - determining how many were lost and why and pooling resources to keep and grow profitable customers.  Why?  Because it’s no one’s job to do this job.

And finally, does the hoopla have any chance of sustainability as things stand now?  Are leaders committing to customers, but not changing the metrics or the motivation to realign business priorities?  Is the back-up position still about counting sales but not counting customers?  For what actions are the most “Atta-boys” doled out?  The customer work will not emerge as a priority of the organization until people’s success and career paths are tied to their accountability for how their actions impact customers.  How far along are you with this?  Are you heading in the right direction?

Most leaders wouldn’t refute that any of these actions are important.  They want them to happen.  They’ve always wanted them.  Their failure has been in assuming the company could miraculously defy the laws of the silos to make them a reality.  Separate motivation, the metrics and the mechanics have stayed firmly rooted in each silo.   And they will continue to stay there until someone duct-tapes the silos together in a unified and executable customer plan.  Is it time you established a Chief Customer Officer to connect your company for customers?  Here are the questions to help you determine if the time is right, and if you have the support required to make the role a success:

1. There is someone in our company who clarifies what we are to accomplish with customers.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: Agreements need to be established with functional owners across the organization. The CCO or executive leadership must not do this in a vacuum and then try to “throw the brick over the wall” to those leaders to rubber-stamp.

2. There is a clear process to drive alignment for what will be accomplished.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: The best CEOs drive people into discussion and probe for agreement or dissent. They make it okay to disagree and debate until there is commitment and alignment. 

3. We have a roadmap for the customer work and know where progress will be measured.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: Establish a team with at least one person from every operational area. This group needs to get into the ramifications and work involved in getting the priorities done.

4. Clear metrics exist for measuring progress which everyone agrees to use.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip:  Pick a few key metrics that everyone understands, knows their roles in and can follow.  The large score cards we have all created have become almost meaningless because they are filled with so much data. 

5. There is real clarity of everyone’s roles and responsibilities.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: This is about the handoffs between the silos. Make sure that there is a task list that clearly states how the organization must come together to get the priorities accomplished.

6. People really participate and care about the customer work.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip:  This requires a commitment from each functional leader on the headcount and staff time they will contribute. Create a formalized team where 25 to 50 percent of people's time from areas throughout the company is dedicated to the customer work.

7. Appropriate resources are allocated to make a real difference to customers.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: The key here is to have an organized annual planning approach that dedicates time to the customer objectives and customer investment. To achieve success, specific actions with defined parameters of what needs to be accomplished must be identified.

8. There is an understandable process for people to work together.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: This work is as clear as mud. It starts with a high-level frenzy that in the blink of an eye has people going back to business as usual. The process for how the work will be defined, reviewed, executed, and rewarded has got to be laid out clearly.

9. The work is considered attainable.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip:. What I learned is not to abandon strategy but to dole it out in bite-size pieces. You need to know the end game. But then you need to bridge the gap between strategy and execution so people can work it into budgets, priorities, and planning.

10. A process exists for marketing achievements to customers and internally.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: When you don’t tell people internally what’s going on with the customer, it’s all white noise to them. No report equals no action. You must make a point of marketing back to both your customers and internally inside the organization.

11. Recognition and reward is wired to motivate customer work.
__ YES there is
__ NO there is not

Implementation Tip: The customer work is not going to seem important until people start to be publicly commended and rewarded for it. Make every company gathering an opportunity to call out customer achievements and reward people for them. 

Monday Jun 10, 2013

Are You Stuck in Idle When It Comes to Achieving Your Customer Experience Goals?

According to Oracle’s recent Global Customer Experience Impact report, a study of 1,300 senior executives, most organizations seem to be stuck in idle when it comes to achieving their customer experience goals. While the overwhelming majority of executives agreed that customer experience is critical to their businesses’ success, many are still struggling when it comes to delivering the kind of experiences that their customers want.  So what’s standing in the way?

Inflexible technology, internal challenges and a lack of investment are among the primary factors preventing organizations from delivering the best possible customer experience. Survey respondents indicated that the following issues are some of the biggest customer experience related obstacles:

  • Silos within the organization and conflicting key performance indicators and incentives between different channels and business units
  • Limitations of inflexible technology and application infrastructure
  • Difficulty regularly tracking performance measures and customer feedback
  • Don't have a consolidated, accurate, 360- degree customer view across all touch points
  • Siloed systems that prevent them from easily sharing information or supporting continuous processes across touch points
  • Lack of money allocated to customer experience initiatives


These obstacles indicate that a real shift in approach is required for those organizations that really want to push forward on their customer experience initiatives. And this shift in approach needs to come by way of initiatives that span people, processes and technology.

Oracle's Global Customer Experience Impact report surveyed more than 1,300 senior executives across 18 countries on the state of customer experience. This study, one of the largest of its type ever undertaken, yields crucial new insights on the challenges, strategies and lessons learned for succeeding in the customer experience (CX) era. View the survey results, or take the CX assessment survey to see where your organization stands.


Want to learn more about the disruptive innovation happening around customer experience and the impact it can have on a brand?  Check out this insightful video interview with New York University Associate Professor, Clay Shirky:

Monday May 20, 2013

Empowering Marketers with Web Experience Management

Unable to get new digital marketing initiatives to market as fast as you would like?  Tired of dealing with IT bottlenecks that prevent you from making routine site updates or launching new digital marketing campaigns quickly?  Your customers have little patience for a brand that fails to meet their expectations for a contextually relevant and interactive digital experience that supports their journey as a customer.  As a result, speed-to-market and business agility are more important than ever before when it comes to gaining and sustaining a competitive advantage.  Are your existing web experience management tools and processes up to the challenge?

If you are a marketer that has to secure a developer resource whenever you want to create a new landing page or make an important update to your website, get ready for your competitors to eat your lunch.  Today’s market moves much too swiftly and companies with marketing teams that are forced to rely on IT for the execution of their digital marketing efforts are at a steep disadvantage.  That’s why it’s so important to have a web experience management platform that empowers marketers and other non-technical business users to manage many aspects of the digital customer experience themselves.

See how simple site authoring and editing are in WebCenter Sites in this brief video tutorial.

Oracle WebCenter Sites makes it easy for marketers to contribute and manage websites with visual and intuitive content authoring and layout capabilities designed for the non-technical user. Oracle WebCenter Sites enables marketers to simply drag ­and­ drop content right into the context of a web page using a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) authoring interface. Rich search functionality and visual search results make the process of locating images and other content for use within pages, streamlined and efficient.

Because of WebCenter Sites’ intuitive and easy-to-use tools for managing online experiences, our customers have gained the ability to get to market faster with their digital marketing initiatives.  As marketers and other line of business users take greater control of managing the web experience, our customers have seen the lead time for new online campaigns shrink from months or weeks down to a matter of days, and routine site updates can be made in a matter of minutes without having to secure a developer resource to execute them.

Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

Engage Your Customers and Empower Your Business with Oracle WebCenter Sites

In today’s socially enabled, multichannel online world, individuals increasingly expect their online experiences to be targeted specifically to their interests, to be as social and interactive as their social networking experiences and to be optimized for whatever device type they choose whether a PC, tablet or mobile phone. For Web marketers, this new imperative presents a unique set of challenges when it comes to engaging with their customers online.
Oracle WebCenter Sites helps organizations meet the new Web experience management (WEM) imperative:

Oracle WebCenter Sites enables organizations to deliver a highly relevant and personalized online experience to their customers using intuitive segmentation and targeting capabilities. This allows organizations to deliver the right content to the right site visitor at the right time, maximizing up-sell and cross-selling opportunities while creating an experience that fosters loyalty.

With Oracle WebCenter Sites, organizations can make the experience on the corporate web presence as interactive and community oriented as the experience on social networks. They can also tap into the power of social networks for extending the visibility of their brand and leverage social endorsements to influence purchasing decisions.  User-generated content such as ratings, reviews, comments and polls can be easily incorporated into the web presence.  Social login and social sharing capabilities make it easy for site visitors to contribute user-generated content using their familiar social network ID’s. Content that site visitors like can be easily shared with their social networks in just a few clicks.

Oracle WebCenter Sites also helps organizations solve some of the challenges of multichannel delivery so they can successfully engage site visitors across online channels.  Oracle WebCenter Sites enables centralized management of traditional web and mobile sites.  The online experience can be easily optimized for delivery to thousands of mobile phone and tablets so organizations can engage mobile users more effectively.

Check out the video to see what it's like to experience WebCenter Sites as a site visitor:

Another important focus area of WebCenter Sites is empowering businesses to create and manage engaging online customer experiences on an enterprise scale.

In order to compete effectively and to get online initiatives to market as quickly as possible, marketers and other non-technical business users need the ability to take greater control of the creation and management of the online customer experience. To enable this, WebCenter Sites has transformed the marketing user experience so that site authoring is visual, intuitive and designed for the way that marketers want to work today. When it comes to web authoring in WebCenter Sites, what marketers see is what marketers get.

Capabilities such as comments, reviews, ratings and blogs are integral to engaging site visitors today. Additionally this kind of user-generated content enables visitors to recommend and endorse an organization to others – an invaluable marketing tool in today’s world.  But user-generated content requires some level of moderation and control to safeguard the integrity of the brand.  Oracle WebCenter Sites provides deep, yet simple to use moderation capabilities so that organizations can assure that the dialogue around their brand is a constructive one.

Assuring optimal performance across enterprise web deployments is a critical component of the online customer experience. With Oracle WebCenter Sites, organizations can deliver a highly scalable multisite, multilingual, and multimedia online customer experience. They can execute on a global scale without sacrificing performance. Oracle WebCenter Sites assures rapid, dynamic delivery of high-volume sites, streamlines the management of hundreds of sites, makes it possible to manage vast and complex product catalogs with ease, and seamlessly incorporates digital assets into the online experience through rich media management.

See what it's like to be a marketer using WebCenter Sites to create engaging online customer experiences:

Monday Apr 22, 2013

Mind the Gaps in Your Customer Experience

We all have certain pet peeves about what we experience as customers.  One of mine is the all too common experience of calling a customer service line, waiting an interminable amount of time for an actual human to get on the phone, providing the agent with my account information, describing my problem to that agent, and then being transferred to yet another agent because the first one can’t address my problem. Invariably, this next agent asks me to once again provide my account information and once again describe my problem.  Why isn’t this information communicated to the next rep in the chain so I don’t have to waste my time and repeat myself?  Or better yet, why isn’t that first line rep empowered to help me in the first place.

Many of you may be familiar with “Mind the Gap,” the omnipresent signage in the London Underground that advises subway passengers to take extra care as they cross the gap between the train and the platform.  “Mind the Gap” has even become such a part of London’s iconography that you’ll often find it plastered on t-shirts or other souvenirs. The idea behind “Mind the Gap” is to raise risk awareness among passengers so accidents can be prevented, the Tube can run smoothly and riders can go safely about their business. The call center experience I describe above is riddled with what I consider “customer experience gaps” – little landmines that exist between various touch points and channels of interaction where the risk of customer dissatisfaction is high if care is not taken to make these engagements connected, consistent and meaningful. All too often, businesses fail to “mind the gaps” in their customer experience and allow them to become a source of customer pain, frustration or flight.

Mind the Gap

In recent years, customer experience gaps have only become more plentiful. When I need to make a purchase, my customer journey can take me many places: to a search engine, to a corporate website, to Facebook, or to a store. I may interact with sales people, customer service reps, and other people in my community or in my social network.  Sometimes I gather information on my desktop in my office, or on my iPad from the comfort of my sofa, or from my fantastic new smart phone which is with me pretty much everywhere.   And as I go about my customer journey with a particular brand, I often observe the lack of connection between the various touch points and that’s because many organizations are failing to “mind the gaps” in their customer experience.

In my opinion, these failures aren’t necessarily intentional. If fact, I think organizations are under more and more pressure to “mind the gaps” and get the customer experience right.  Maybe that’s why 22% of respondents in Oracle’s recent Global Customer Experience Survey said that improving the cross-channel experience is the top priority of their organizations’ customer experience program over the next twelve months. One of the problems, however, is that most companies have created systems to address most of these channels and touch points, but they’ve often created them independently, making it difficult to maintain consistent and meaningful interactions with a customer. What companies need to do is examine the infrastructure supporting the customer experience and move away from having these disjointed silos that create customer experience gaps. Oracle can help get you there.  How well are you minding the gaps in your customer experience?


Friday Mar 08, 2013

Oracle’s Global Customer Experience Survey Reveals the Challenges, Strategies and Lessons Learned for Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era

Today's customers are "plugged in" 24/7. They demand instant access to information and transactional capabilities when they want them, are savvy when it comes to making purchase decisions, and are not afraid to change brands if a company no longer meets their expectations.

How are companies responding to the new environment of rapidly rising customer expectations and disruptive innovations like social, mobile and cloud technologies?

Oracle’s recently released global survey of 1,300 senior-level executives from 18 countries in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America yields new insights on the challenges, strategies and lessons learned for succeeding in the customer experience (CX) era.

Register now to access the complete research results

Some of the key research findings include:

  • Brands recognize the significant financial impact of poor customer experiences, yet struggle to develop and execute successful strategies. The report indicates businesses can lose 20% of revenue from poor customer experiences yet many are stuck in an execution chasm.
  • 91% wish to be considered a customer experience leader in their industry yet 37% are just getting started with a formal customer experience initiative.
  • Executives report significant opportunities for improvement when asked to assess their organizations' effectiveness on delivering the experiences that customers expect.
  • Executives cite limitations from inflexible technology, siloed organizations and systems, and insufficient investment as the biggest obstacles to delivering the best possible customer experience.
  • On average, businesses estimate they will increase spending on customer experience technology by 18% in the next two years. Improving the cross-channel experience and customer analytics are top priorities.
The report highlights the need for new approaches to cross the execution chasm and succeed in customer experience. Visit the Global Customer Experience Survey Microsite to download results by industry, region or country or complete the CX assessment survey to see where your organization stands.

Visit the Global Customer Experience Survey Microsite

******

Oracle Corporation

Are Your Customers Your Biggest Fans?

Hundreds of companies have customers who admire them, but only an elite few have true advocates who are passionate, vocal, and loyal fans. Hear from customer experience expert and author, Jeanne Bliss, as she reveals the five common decisions these beloved companies make that enable them to thrive in good times and bad.

Attend this webcast to discover:
  • What kind of decisions earn your company beloved status
  • How beloved companies drop the corporate veneer with customers
  • Why uncommon decision making can make a positive impact
Register now for the webcast, The Five Critical Decisions Made by Beloved and Prosperous Companies.
Oracle Fusion Middleware Webcenter logo

Register Now

Date:
March 21, 2013

Time:
10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET

Presented by:

Jeanne Bliss
Jeanne Bliss
President
CustomerBLISS

Hardware and Software Engineered to Work Together

Thursday Mar 07, 2013

Web Experience Management: The Key to Exceptional Online Customer Experience

Today’s customers expect an experience that is both relevant and interactive across web, mobile and social channels. By focusing on creating experiences that demonstrate how well you know your customers, that promote social interactivity, and that allow for anytime, anywhere access across web, mobile and social channels, you can successfully drive customer engagement, and unlock the door to greater sales and loyalty for your business.

The key to delivering the kind of exceptional online customer experiences that can help drive the success of your business is web experience management. A web experience management solution such as Oracle WebCenter Sites, can empower your business to better engage your customers online. With Oracle WebCenter Sites you can:

Create relevant and personalized online experiences

Today, it’s no longer acceptable to deliver a one-size-fits-all online customer experience. Instead, you must demonstrate that you know your customers by providing them with a relevant and personalized online experience that takes their preferences, behavior and past history with your brand into account. Oracle WebCenter Sites provides you with easy to use segmentation and targeting capabilities that will enable you to deliver a more personalized online experience.

Enable social and interactive online experiences

Customers expect their online experience with your brand to be as social and interactive as their experiences on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. To fulfill these expectations, you must provide your customers with plenty of opportunities to interact socially with your brand. This means incorporating user-generated content capabilities such as ratings, reviews, or comments into your web presence and integrating with social networks by enabling social login and social sharing of information on your site. With Oracle WebCenter Sites, you can easily incorporate social computing features into your online experience to drive engagement and foster community.

Deliver optimized experiences for mobile phones and tablets

The online experience is an increasingly mobile experience due to the ubiquity of phones and tablets. To meet the needs of mobile customers, organizations must optimize their web presence for anytime, anywhere delivery to the thousands of different mobile device types that are available. Oracle WebCenter Sites simplifies mobile delivery be enabling you to centrally manage both traditional sites and mobile sites using the same content, navigation and authoring interface.

Empower marketers to manage the online experience

Empowering marketers and other business users to take greater control of the creation, management and moderation of the online customer experience is a prerequisite for delivering the kind of engaging customer experiences that drive sales and loyalty. Oracle WebCenter Sites puts power into the hands of marketers with intuitive and visual site authoring tools that help you get your online initiatives to market faster.

Enable high performance, global online experiences

Assuring optimal performance across enterprise web deployments is a critical component of the online customer experience. With Oracle WebCenter Sites, you can deliver a highly scalable, multisite, multilingual, and multimedia online customer experience. With WebCenter Sites you can assure rapid, dynamic delivery of high-volume sites, streamline the management of hundreds of sites, manage vast and complex product catalogs with ease, and seamlessly incorporate digital assets into the online experience through rich media management.

Connect the online experience with other customer touch points

Customers expect to have a relevant, consistent and engaging experience across all of their touch points with a brand. Oracle WebCenter Sites can be integrated with commerce, faceted search, portal, CRM, BI and other customer experience applications from the Oracle portfolio to deliver a connected and engaging experience across the entire customer journey.

We hope you enjoyed learning more this week about enabling exceptional online customer experiences with Oracle WebCenter Sites. To learn more about Fusion Middleware, please check out other features in the The New Business Imperative: Social, Mobile, Cloud series.

Wednesday Mar 06, 2013

Are You Providing Your Customers with an Engaging Online Experience?

As we saw in Tuesday’s screencast about delivering exceptional online experiences, today's customers expect an online experience with your brand that is personalized, interactive and social. In order to drive sales and loyalty, you need a web experience management solution that empowers your business to easily create and manage contextually relevant, targeted and interactive experiences that are optimized for web, mobile and social channels. Oracle WebCenter Sites can provide you with the capabilities you need to manage large-scale, global online presences that engage and captivate your customers.

Ready to engage?
Learn more today:

  • See a demonstration of the exciting new and enhanced web experience management capabilities in Oracle WebCenter Sites 11g
  • Learn how Ancestry.com uses Oracle WebCenter Sites to deliver an online experience that converts site visitors into paying customers
  • Hear what leading industry analysts have to say about the powerful capabilities of Oracle WebCenter Sites

Monday Mar 04, 2013

The Online Customer Experience Challenge

Web, mobile and social channels have ushered in what Altimeter analyst, Brian Solis, referred to in a recent Oracle WebCenter Social Business Thought Leaders webcast as connected consumers. These connected consumers have more choices, influence and access to online information than ever before. Engaging these customers and earning their sales and loyalty can be a great challenge.

Customers decide how, when, and where they want to engage with your brand--whether it's in the store, over the phone or on the web. They expect you to know who they are and what they need, and to seamlessly recognize them at every touch-point.

Newer channels like social and mobile have significant implications on how customers engage with organizations online and what businesses need to do manage the online channel more efficiently and effectively. Social networking has amplified the customer's voice and peers now have greater influence over buying decisions than traditional marketing. The pervasiveness of cell phones and tablets has also turned the online customer experience into an increasingly mobile experience, bringing with it new challenges for engaging always connected customers who are accessing the online channel with an ever increasing variety of mobile devices. As a result the power has shifted from brands to customers, and the delivery of an engaging online customer experience has become a great challenge for businesses today.

We invite you to learn how you can start engaging these connected customers through exceptional online experiences by viewing this screencast from the New Business Imperative: Social, Mobile, Cloud Series.


Monday Feb 18, 2013

I am a customer

Guest Post: Charles Marshall

I am a customer

     Allow me to introduce myself. I am a customer.

     I am the person that makes the economic engine turn. I am the reason you take home a paycheck. I am the reason you are able to feed your family, pay your mortgage, go on vacation, buy a car, and contribute to your church or synagogue. Because of me, gigantic corporations and small businesses alike have risen and flourished. Because of my absence, they have faded from existence.

   The roads you drive on, the police and fireman that protect your community, the teachers that teach your children all exist because of me. Politicians and postal workers, sanitation workers and soldiers all owe their jobs to me. Without me, no taxes would be paid and any and all societal advances would come to a halt.

     The wise come to know, respect, and love me. The foolish disregard my importance and suffer accordingly.

     By the way, you’ll notice that I didn’t introduce myself as your customer. That’s because I don’t belong to you. Even if I make a purchase from you, that doesn’t mean that I will do it again in the future. You are always on trial and I am always evaluating, measuring, and testing your product and service.

     So pay attention to me. Get to know me. Learn my habits. My likes. My dislikes. My desires. My dreams. My values. Learn my language. Learn to recognize my moods.

     Above all, treat me with respect. I will not be ill-treated, and why should I be? There are too many businesses vying for my attention. Every time you turn on the television, open a newspaper, or listen to the radio, you see and hear multitudes of companies competing for my attention. There are too many people who are willing to treat me right in exchange for my business.

  And know this, I am not easily fooled. Businesses treat me right or suffer the consequences. Sooner or later I always discover dishonesty, disrespect, or disinterest. Most of the time, I don’t announce my displeasure. I simply take my business elsewhere.

     Occasionally, we will have disagreements. I don’t like mistakes but I understand that you sometimes make them. The manner in which you handle my complaint determines any future interaction I have with you. And, in my mind, it also determines the character of your business. I rarely ever give you a second chance to make the same mistake twice.

     So, watch for me in your business community. If you’re fortunate enough to see me, do everything in your power to woo me and make me your own, because I hold the key to your financial success. It is no exaggeration to say that when you interact with me, your future hangs in the balance.

Learn me. Know me.

I am a customer.

© 2012 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author.

Visit his Web site at www.charlesmarshall.net or contact him via e-mail at charles@charlesmarshall.net.

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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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