Thursday Aug 14, 2014

Developing and Deploying Self-Service Solutions

Guest blog by Geoffrey Bock

How Oracle WebCenter Customers Build Digital Businesses:

Developing and Deploying Self-Service Solutions

Geoffrey Bock, Principal, Bock & Company

Beyond the First Generation

As I described in my last blog post, "Designing for the Experience-Driven Enterprise", many of the WebCenter customers I spoke to are focusing their design efforts on the experience-driven enterprise. They are contending with digital disruption by not only replacing their legacy systems but also by restructuring and extending their enterprise applications. In fact, there is a renewed emphasis on self-service solutions.

Of course self-service is a long-standing goal for doing business over the web. But first generation solutions simply augment existing enterprise activities. For instance, many companies introduced self-service HR portals over a decade ago, enabling employees to update their profile and benefits information on their own,  rather than completing printed forms or calling HR staffers. While the tasks did not change, the people doing the work did.

Now it’s time to develop truly digital self-service solutions that do more than simply digitize these analog activities.

A Catalyst for Digital Business Transformation

As they become digital businesses, companies are engaged in new efforts that leverage the capabilities of a next-generation enterprise platform. Companies expect to transform how they do business, and deliver self-service solutions that are impossible to achieve without a truly digital application infrastructure. When in search of a starting point, begin with an enterprise portal and make it more relevant for solving business tasks.

Many of the business and IT leaders I interviewed are focusing on three interrelated goals.
  • Continuing to empower end users and operational business units by reducing the necessity of IT support for maintaining enterprise applications.
  • Collecting and organizing disparate strands of information into digital hubs that support business tasks.
  • Restructuring business processes to take advantage of end-to-end digital activities.
With a renewed emphasis on self-service, these leaders can consolidate disparate web sites and applications into a series of task-oriented solutions. For instance, one firm restructures its marketing activities through a customer-experience portal where marketers easily access all resources and assets for managing campaigns and measuring results. Another firm aggregates information from machines in a laboratory that are equipped with an array of sensors, and proactively manages maintenance based on the results.

Investing in the Underlying Resources

From my perspective, the mobile journey leads to these next-generation solutions. As they rebuild the underlying platforms powering their enterprise applications, IT leaders are defining the essential services within a services-oriented architecture (SOA). It’s important to invest the time and resources to get them right. It’s also essential to define the underlying information architecture, including the metadata definitions and tag-sets essential for dynamic content delivery. Line-of-business leaders should support these IT and content management efforts.

Mobile apps are the catalyst for the digital business transformation. Both business and IT leaders need to rethink how they want to do business, enhance, extend, and replace their first-generation self-service initiatives, and become truly digital businesses.



Tuesday Aug 12, 2014

Designing for the Experience-Driven Enterprise

Guest blog post series this week by Geoffrey Bock

How Oracle WebCenter Customers Build Digital Businesses:

Designing for the Experience-Driven Enterprise

Geoffrey Bock, Principal, Bock & Company

Making the Transition from Analog to Digital

In my last blog post on contending with digital disruption, I described how several Oracle customers decided to refresh, modernize, and mobilize their enterprise application infrastructure. Web-enabling an existing application, once necessary, is no longer sufficient.

But what does it take to mobilize key business tasks and drive digital capabilities deeply into an application infrastructure? Many of the WebCenter customers I spoke to emphasize both the business value of their applications and the quality of end user experiences. They are now rebuilding their core applications, making the transition from analog to digital business practices, by designing for an experience-driven enterprise. 

The Flow of Design Activities

As I see it, customers are focusing on a sequence of five interrelated activities, summarized in Illustration 1. There is an inherent flow to application evolution.

Customers leverage their current platforms to innovate

Illustration 1. As they design their digital businesses, customers leverage their current platforms in order to deliver innovative experiences.

Here’s a description of how customers are building their digital businesses, and embracing the necessity of change along the way.

  • To begin with, there are baseline functions based on existing activities. While modernizing their core applications and the underlying back-end infrastructure, IT and business leaders emphasize that they “cannot loose anything” from their current platform. What needs to change is still up for redesign.

  • At the same time, leaders need to enhance the value of ad hoc communications. They are turning to social and mobile channels to improve overall employee productivity as well as strengthen relationships with customers and partners. New ways to communicate information become a lever for innovation.

  • There is also a business purpose for investing in social and mobile channels. Leaders expect to substantially improve service and support, when customers, partners, and employees have easy access to relevant information. There is added power through easy sharing.

  • To ensure quality service and support, it is essential to manage reusable content for a consistent experience. Organizations expect to create content once, organize it around business tasks, and distribute it across multiple channels. It helps to structure content for consistent distribution.

  • As a result, there are opportunities to launch innovative (and potentially breakthrough) digital business activities, by exploiting on the capabilities of the redesigned application environment. It’s not so much a matter of “loosing” baseline functions as embedding the flexibility to ensure that they can evolve.

From my perspective, this new application environment supports digital business initiatives by mobilizing the moments of engagement. These moments encompass the end user experiences where work gets done and value is created.

Optimizing for Agility

Companies are introducing various customer-, partner-, and employee-facing applications that run on the rebuilt enterprise platform. Leaders in these firms are designing applications from the “outside-in” by optimizing the ways in which end users access information and perform tasks. Significantly, leaders are relying on the agility and flexibility of the new platform to support an innovative collaborative environment.

As I spoke to WebCenter customers, I was struck by how their target users value the convenience of simple experiences. Designing for the experience-driven enterprise entails aggregating information from multiple sources, organizing it by business tasks, and then presenting it through intuitive applications that are seamlessly integrated with back-end services.


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Wednesday Jul 02, 2014

How Oracle WebCenter Customers Build Digital Businesses: Contending with Digital Disruption

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Guest Blog Post by: Geoffrey Bock, Principal, Bock & Company

Customer Conversations
What are Oracle WebCenter customers doing to exploit innovative digital technologies and develop new sources of value? How are they mobilizing their enterprise applications and leveraging opportunities of the digital business revolution?

To better understand the landscape for digitally powered businesses, I talked to several Oracle WebCenter customers and systems integrators across a range of industries -- including hospitality, manufacturing, life sciences, and the public sector. Through in depth conversations with IT and business leaders, I collected a set of stories about their mobile journeys -- how they are developing next-generation enterprise applications that weave digital technologies into their ongoing operations.

In this and two subsequent blogs, I will highlight several important points from my overall roadmap for developing digital businesses.

Beyond an Aging Infrastructure
As a first step, successful customers are contending with digital disruption, and leveraging their inherent strengths to transform operations. Today they are web-aware, if not already web-savvy. Most organizations launched their initial sites more than fifteen years ago. They have steadily added web-based applications to support targeted initiatives.

Yet the customers I interviewed are now at a crossroads. They realize that they need to refresh, modernize, and mobilize their enterprise application infrastructure to build successful digital businesses.
  • One IT leader describes how her firm implemented a cutting-edge enterprise portal ten years ago. Designed for order processing and resources management, the portal now runs outdated technologies and is unable to support needed employee-facing applications.
  • Another business leader has a similar story. The company still relies on a custom designed web-based application. The technology is obsolete and the people knowledgeable about maintaining the application are difficult to find.
  • A third IT leader describes how her organization collects information through several Cold Fusion sites, and needs to replace them in order to deliver more flexible self-service applications.
From my perspective, these leaders are recognizing the power of digital disruption. To create new value, they must deliver seamless customer-, partner-, and employee-facing experiences. They are confronting the limitations of their current application infrastructure and are turning to Oracle for long-term solutions.

Rather than simply enhance what they have, leaders are opting for modernization. They need to develop and deploy native digital experiences. Web-based applications that are bolted onto an aging infrastructure are no longer sufficient.

Change and Continuity
Yet there is also continuity around integrating the end-to-end experiences. Let’s take the case of a large manufacturing firm now mobilizing its digital business around Oracle WebCenter. The business leaders identified the multiple steps in the buying process – the information customers and partners need to have to assess alternatives and make purchasing decisions.

The firm had developed multiple web sites to publish product information, offer design advice, and schedule follow-up meetings. But the end result was a fragmented and disconnected set of activities, relying first on information from one system, then from another, and lacking an end-to-end view for measuring results.

The leaders realized that they needed to connect the dots and deliver a seamless experience. In the case of this manufacturing firm, a key step blends online with real-time – helping customers schedule appointments with designers who advise them about design alternatives and product options. (From the manufacturer’s perspective, designers are channel partners who sell the finished goods and deliver support services.)

The breakthrough that accelerates the buying process focuses on these customer/designer interactions -- assembling all of the necessary information into a seamless experience, and making it easy for customers to engage with designers to finalize designs and place orders. As a result, this manufacturing firm mitigates the threat of digital disruption by mobilizing resources to complete a high-value task.

The firm empowers its partner channel by reinventing a key business process for the digital age. This becomes a win-win opportunity that increases customer satisfaction while also improving sales opportunities.


On Demand Webcast: Delivering Moments of Engagement Across the Enterprise

Tuesday Feb 11, 2014

Pella Revolutionizes the Digital Experience for Customers, Partners, and Employees

Webcast: Pella Revolutionizes the Digital Experience for Customers, Partners, and Employees
Oracle Corporation
Oracle AppAdvantage IT Leaders Series - Pella Revolutionizes the Digital Experience 
for Customers, Partners, and Employees
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How Does the Digital Experience Fuel Continuous Improvement at Pella?

Organizations today are challenged by the need to continuously innovate while reducing costs and driving business growth. The Oracle AppAdvantage IT Leaders Series showcases leading organizations around the world and their use of technology to fuel business innovation and meet strategic business objectives with Oracle AppAdvantage, a strategic approach to using Oracle Fusion Middleware with Oracle Applications.

Join us to hear firsthand from the IT leaders of renowned window and door manufacturer Pella about how they are leveraging Oracle AppAdvantage to reinvent the way they interact with employees, customers, and business partners. Find out how technology enables continuous improvement throughout the manufacturing and sales cycles at Pella.

Attend this webcast to:

  • Hear IT leaders from Pella discuss their business needs and challenges, and how Oracle AppAdvantage is addressing these issues
  • Walk through Pella’s enterprise architecture model and learn how the company leverages technology to provide a superior digital experience
  • Participate in a live Q&A with Oracle experts regarding Oracle AppAdvantage and plan your strategic roadmap

Register now for this webcast.

Register Now

Attend this webcast.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014
10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET

Presented by:

Presenter FPO

Rick Beers

Senior Director, Product Management, Oracle


Presenter FPO

Rick Hassman

Director of Corporate Applications, Pella


Presenter FPO

Eric Carlson

Manager of Interactive Marketing, Pella


Presenter FPO

Al Viall Jr.

Oracle Enterprise Architect, Oracle

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Monday Jul 29, 2013

What’s Going On in Digital Experience? The Latest in Key Trends

Guest Post by Stephen Schleifer, Senior Principal Product Manager, Strategy, Oracle WebCenter Sites

What’s Going On in Digital Experience? The Latest in Key Trends

As with many consumer-facing markets, digital experience tends to move pretty fast.  Just as organizations begin to get a handle on how, where and when to best engage with their target audiences in the digital world, things begin to shift again as consumers change their online habits.  However, there have been a number of trends that have been more or less constant over the past few years; some have grown steadily over time, others have been slow out of the gate, and then quickly reached a critical mass, but they have always been cornerstones of web experience management.  While the following is far from representative of everything that’s going on in this dynamic market, let’s take a quick look and see what’s going on in a few key areas:

Mobile Gets Practical

webcenter_sites_mobile.jpgMobile is an example of a digital experience trend that went from ‘might do’ to ‘must do’ in the space of a year (hello, iPhone), and has continued to grow in importance ever since.  However, whereas a couple of years ago organizations were still wondering how to best tackle the mobile experience (mobile web, mobile apps, mobile first etc.), we’re now at a place where organizations have a better understanding of each approach, and how to apply them to drive specific business outcomes, whether that be engagement, self-service or commerce.

When it comes to mobile site management, most customers we speak with are now viewing this as an integrated part of managing their overall online experience, while acknowledging that it comes with a distinct set of requirements that may need to be met separately, depending upon specific objectives.  They want to maximize efficiencies by reusing content and integrating site authoring and publishing processes across web and mobile, and by leveraging responsive design to cut down on site development and speed time to market.  However, they also want the flexibility of a web experience management solution that can provide as much support as possible for mobile-specific requirements when needed, from ease of mobile template customization, to device management.

Multi-channel Gets Back the Brand Site

Managing content and experiences across multiple channels has continued to be a tricky problem to solve.  Basically, as more online channels have emerged – from brand sites, to micro and multi-lingual sites, to email campaigns, through to mobile and social– the more complex content management has become for online marketers.  Meanwhile, against this backdrop of channel proliferation, the value and function of the brand site itself began to get called into question (remember the trend of companies dropping their .coms and moving to Facebook?). 

Easy creation and management of multi-channel brand sitesWhat we’re seeing now is the reassertion of the importance of the brand site; the idea of the corporate .com as a center point of digital experience.  The content that drives activity on other online touch points (email offers, social promotions, microsite landing pages) ultimately points back to the brand site, where all of these channels converge, thereby centralizing marketing processes such as lead capture or facilitating deeper brand engagement.

As a part of this effort, web marketers are looking to be able to access the content that is originating from other channels (regardless of where it is stored), from within the web experience management system authoring environment, and incorporate it within brand sites to produce a more unified, cross-channel experience.

Personalization Comes of Age

Personalization comes of AgeThe drive to personalize digital experiences has been an interesting trend to watch; it’s perhaps the one that has experienced the most hype over time, but it has also been the slowest to take hold, as it has taken a number of years for solutions to get up to where the market needs them to be.  Of course, personalization is a broad term, and it can encompass everything from targeting experiences to different customer segments, to making online search more relevant and intuitive through guided navigation, to providing tools that enable site visitors to tailor their own online experience.

One thing that is certain is that has finally reached the tipping point, where every organization we engage with has some sort of personalization initiative on their short list of digital experience priorities.  That said, not all organizations want to jump in with both feet, especially when it comes to areas like content targeting.  Some organizations are still choosing to start with smaller-scale experimentation, using specific pages or promotional sites as targeting test grounds.  Others are taking a more committed approach and are implementing content targeting throughout the web and mobile sites.  Meanwhile, a small, but  growing amount are investing in fully automated, predictive solutions.

This latter area is where we expect to see the most interest and growth in the coming year.  Web marketers are beginning to see the power of connecting the native targeting engines in web experience management systems to predictive solutions that can offset the labor associated with managing segmenting and targeting data through automation, while delivering higher success rates for metrics like click-throughs and conversions.


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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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