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!


Thursday Jan 26, 2012

If Content is the King, then Portal is the Queen

By Alakh Verma, Director, Platform Technology Solutions

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

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

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

Content is the King

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

Portal is the Queen

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

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

Thursday Jan 12, 2012

Do More with Oracle WebCenter: Expand Beyond Portals

Oracle has just announced a new web seminar: Do More with Oracle WebCenter: Expand Beyond Portals. This event will take place on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM PST (register here). You can hear Christian Finn of Oracle discuss how Oracle WebCenter includes comprehensive content, Web experience management, and social computing capabilities.

You will find you can do more with Oracle WebCenter by creating advanced customer-facing Web solutions to enhance customer loyalty and sales. And you can manage the entire content lifecycle of not just the content in your portals but also across your entire enterprise. Join us for this Webcast and learn how Oracle WebCenter:

  • Enables social business by coordinating collaboration inside and outside the enterprise
  • Improves the online experience by delivering targeted multichannel customer experiences
  • Manages the complete content lifecycle across all Websites, applications, and social tools on a strategic enterprise content management platform
Be sure to join us on the 19th!

Wednesday Dec 07, 2011

Q&A: Andy MacMillan on Oracle WebCenter Strategy and Roadmap

As vice president of product management for Oracle WebCenter, industry veteran Andy MacMillan recently spearheaded the move from the former Oracle Enterprise 2.0 to Oracle WebCenter. Now that the dust has settled, we asked MacMillan to shed light on the future strategy and product roadmap for Oracle WebCenter.

How are user expectations driving Oracle WebCenter strategy?
In the age of Amazon and Facebook, there has been a major shift in people's expectations as they interact with Web and mobile media. Both our customers and our customer's customers are expecting rich engagement, including personalization, ubiquitous mobile access, ease-of-use, real-time information, and more.

In short, our goal is to build all these things into the DNA of our products. And that means not just for our customer's customers, but also for their employees, partners, and suppliers as well.

Can you explain Oracle's overall approach to the next-generation customer experience platform?
It all comes down to what we are calling the "connected experience." As a user of a Website, I want the site to know who I am, and I want it to use that information to personalize my experience—as if I were having a one-to-one relationship.

For this to work, you have to have a strong content management solution in place, like Oracle WebCenter Content. But you also have to go to the next

 step, which we have done with our acquisition of FatWire. Oracle WebCenter Sites (formerly FatWire), together with Oracle Business Intelligence tools, ensures that the best, most effective content is being delivered.

Finally, we are working to leverage CRM, retail, and commerce systems to provide real-time information and transactions to drive the richest experience possible.

What challenges do organizations face when implementing point solutions on one hand, and one-size-fits-all solutions on the other hand?
A true customer experience platform involves bringing together an awful lot of moving parts—content management, portal technologies, back-end systems, social media, and much more. In short, it requires solutions that are broad and deep and integrated.

A point solution can provide depth of function, but what is the value if it takes Herculean efforts to make it integrate with all the other pieces? At the same time, a one-size-fits-all solution leaves too many potential gaps. Customers don't expect you to remember some of their interactions with you—they want you to remember every single one.

How does Oracle WebCenter help customers avoid these pitfalls?
Our recent acquisitions, including FatWire, make us deep but also wide—no one else on the market can deliver on both dimensions like we can. Thanks to Oracle WebCenter Content, we are leaders in content management. Thanks to Oracle WebCenter Portal, we are leaders in portals, composite applications, and mashups. Thanks to Oracle WebCenter Social and Oracle Social Network, which is part of the WebCenter family, we are leaders in enterprise social software. And now, in the wake of our acquisitions, Oracle WebCenter Sites is a leader in Web experience management.

In short, we don't just have best-of-breed products, but also a vision for how all of these things come together into a single platform.

Can you explain some of the key strategies and initiatives Oracle expects to pursue going forward?
We have an amazing opportunity to leverage Oracle enterprise applications and data sources—all the stuff organizations use to run their business—and bring that into the context of a true social enterprise. This means richer experiences for employees and partners. But perhaps most exciting of all is the opportunity to bring all that rich information in our CRM and retail applications to drive richer, real-time online experiences.

Find out more about the strategy and product roadmap for Oracle WebCenter.

This content is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for Oracle’s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.

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.

Tuesday Nov 08, 2011

Do you know your customers?

Drive Customer Engagement with a Personalized, Social & Multi-channel Online Experience

Date: Thursday, November 17, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM PST - 11:00 AM PST 

Register Here

Is your organization ready to handle today’s demands and high expectations for a socially enabled, multichannel online experience? Web Experience Management has gained improved relevance as individuals increasingly expect their online encounters to be targeted to their interests in dynamic, entertaining and engaging experiences no matter where they are connected. For Web marketers, this new imperative presents a unique set of challenges when it comes to engaging with their customers online. In order to succeed in today’s competitive global online world, organizations must be able to create a relevant and interactive cross-channel experience that will drive the success of their marketing and customer initiatives.

Attend this webcast and hear Kathleen Reidy, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Software at The 451 Group, provide critical and timely insight into the competitive dynamics of Web Experience Management innovation in organizations today.

With Oracle WebCenter, organizations can empower their marketers and line-of-business staff to create a personalized, targeted, social experience across online channels that will engage customers with the organization.  With WebCenter businesses can manage a large, global web presence with ease and use the online channel to drive the success of their business.

Attend this webcast: “Drive Customer Engagement with a Personalized, Social & Multi-channel Online Experience” to learn how the Web Experience Management solution from Oracle WebCenter can help your organization:

  • Drive a personalized and relevant experience for site visitors using targeting and end-user personalization
  • Create a social online experience with user-generated content and integrations with third-party social sites
  • Engage customers across channels, including web, mobile and social
  • Empower your marketers and LOB staff to manage the online customer experience, across a large, global organization, and deliver rapid time-to-market for web campaigns and communications

Don't hide from your customer engagement problems!

Don't hide from your customer engagement problems!

Wednesday Nov 02, 2011

It's About the User Experience!

We talk a lot about delivering a superior user experience because the effectiveness of your employees is directly impacted by usability of the user interfaces they engage with. And your company's ability to attract, retain and convert prospects into paying customers is directly impacted at their experience with your brand - in store, on the web, on mobile devices, and through feedback and chatter across the social media channels. But, we're not the only ones that see the importance of providing customers, partners and employees an engaging experience. 

If you were at Oracle OpenWorld last month, you saw mentions of various technologies that influence users all over the show. But in case you missed it, here are some highlights worth checking out.

  • During the Middleware General Session, Accenture presented their Technology Vision 2011 which highlighted that "User experience is what matters" and Hasan Rizvi interviewed the Land O'Lakes CIO about their implementation of Oracle WebCenter. Watch the presentation here:

  • Larry Ellison announced the Oracle Public Cloud and demonstrated the Oracle Social Network, which is part of Oracle WebCenter. What how this secure private network with a broad range of social tools helps streamline conversations by capturing information from people, enterprise applications and business processes to facilitate collaboration between individual users and teams of people.

Curious what else you missed at Oracle OpenWorld this year? Watch the best of Oracle OpenWorld 2011 on the Oracle Media Network. 

Wednesday Oct 19, 2011

Moving Off Documentum to Oracle WebCenter Drives User Engagement

As the Documentum technology gets older, and product release cycles slip, customers are finding it harder and harder to address their requirements. We’ll go through these in more detail in our webinar on October 26th, Stop Maintaining Documentum and Start Innovating With Oracle WebCenter. But for new here are some examples.

Enterprise Search – Documentum currently uses the Microsoft Fast search engine. But that agreement will expire in 2012, meaning the next release of Documentum will require customers to move to a new search engine. This will have an impact on the upgrade migration in terms of reindexing for sure, but also it will require user training. Each new search engine has different ways of searching, and provides different results. And users will need to adjust to the new system. With Oracle WebCenter, search is included. Furthermore, additional adapters can be purchased to enable Oracle WebCenter to search other systems. Oracle provides out-of-the-box adapters for systems such as Siebel, Exchange, and SharePoint. There is also an adapter to search Documentum, so while you are migrating content, or if you chose to only migrate some of your content, your users can search both Oracle WebCenter and Documentum simultaneously, and have hit results presented together.

Web Experience Management – Documentum formerly used FatWire to deliver content to the web. FatWire is now included in Oracle WebCenter, providing those customers a way to leverage their investment in training and templates they have created in FatWire. With Oracle WebCenter, this functionality will be used to deliver web experience management – the ability for websites to deliver targeted and optimized content and offers to website visitors. This will be a huge asset for marketing departments, enabling them to target customers and prospects with just the information they need. You can read more about Oracle WebCenter and web experience management in this blog post: Engaging Customers Online with WebCenter.

Social Business and Collaboration – As employees continue to be enthralled by new consumer technologies such as mobile devices and social networking, they are demanding the same capabilities to get their work done. Oracle WebCenter provides mobile and social collaboration capabilities to address these need. Users can search, view and approve content from their mobile devices. They can locate experts and initiate activity streams around projects. But WebCenter also enables capabilities externally so your organization can create a customer community. These capabilities are in more and more demand, and they just can’t be addressed by the Documentum platform.

What this means is that organizations are not able to maximize their productivity due to the fact that their information tools cannot address their user needs. Companies are limited in the ways they can maximize their content and deliver it where it is needed in business processes. This ability to maximize the use of content - for internal and external use, from improving productivity and innovation to engaging your customers - is the reason Oracle WebCenter is being recognized as the new front runner in the industry, driving user engagement. Join us on our webinar on October 26th where we will cover the reasons organizations need to make the switch, and how Oracle WebCenter drives user engagement.

See Oracle's special offer - Trade In Your Documentum for 100% Credit on Oracle WebCenter

Friday Sep 30, 2011

Engaging Customers Online with WebCenter

The face of your company on the web is your website. So how do you engage with them? Is the content fresh? Is the content engaging? Is the content relevant to the customer? Is there a way to deliver a targeted and interactive experience as opposed to showing everyone the same static website?

To helpMichael Snow us answer this, we interviewed industry veteran, Loren Weinberg, VP Product Management for Oracle WebCenter. Loren was a pioneer in the web experience management (WEM) space as a part of FatWire, a company that was an early leader in defining the evolution of the market from web content management to web experience management.

Michael: Loren, it’s so interesting this week during our discussions of SharePoint that Web Experience Management isn’t something that SharePoint really does very well at all. Is that why we never really run into them with customers that are looking for complete WEM solutions? Loren Weinberg

Loren:  – Yes, Michael, you are right. Web Experience Management is really all about customer engagement online – creating an interactive, relevant and rich online experience (across web, mobile and social channels), and using the web to achieve marketing and customer loyalty goals. SharePoint in its essence is focused on the problem of document management and collaboration – internal productivity is the goal, not customer experience. In order to really provide a comprehensive Web Experience Management solution, you need to have some essential functionality that SharePoint doesn’t offer, as well as an orientation around marketing and customer experience.

Michael:  Let’s dig into this a little more. Aren’t we just talking about basic WCM functionality?

Loren: – No, this goes well beyond WCM –WCM functionality is the foundation. And it is an important foundation for reasons of scale and flexibility of the system. However, WEM is much more than that. On top of the WCM foundation, WEM includes technologies for targeting, optimization, user-generated content, end-user personalization, mobile web, and much more. In today’s socially enabled, multichannel online world, individuals increasingly expect their online experiences to be rich, engaging, and tailored specifically to their interests. It comes down to getting to know your customers and delivering the most appropriate content and offers for their needs and interests across all of the different channels of interaction.

Michael: So – are you just talking about personalizing your experience? When I login to a corporate SharePoint site, it has the content that I selected and the layout I wanted. Is there more than that?

Loren: – It is much more than that. Keep in mind that we’re talking about externally facing websites that marketers are using to grow their business and brand loyalty. Oracle WebCenter Web Experience Management platform has a powerful rules engine with an intuitive interface that enables marketers to define customer segments and create rules for what content will be targeted and delivered to each customer segment online. This solution empowers a marketer - a non-technical user - to manage both segmentation and content recommendations. When visitors come to the Website, they are automatically placed in a customer segment based on known or profile-based information about them, their behavior on the site, or a combination of the two. Then the appropriate content is delivered to them in real time. And we offer built-in analytics for optimization of the site experience as well, so marketers can continually tweak the website to maximize its effectiveness.

But creating a highly engaging web experience requires even more. We also offer user-generated content with enterprise moderation for creating an interactive online experience, plus integration with third party social networking sites. We also offer end-user personalization and site customization using gadgets. And finally a mobility solution that makes it easy for business users to manage the traditional website along with the mobile website from a single interface with visual tools and previews, for seamless management of the online channel.

Michael:  Wow – no wonder we never see SharePoint. Tell me more about personalization from the user’s perspective? I know that SharePoint allows users to personalize their user preferences. How does our WEM solution deal with that?

Loren: – Well, we go beyond that as well with our gadget functionality. Oracle WebCenter gadgets provide website visitors with the ability to customize their own online experience. We enable organizations to create customizable dashboards made up of gadgets – which are basically small applications that can then be personalized by site visitors. These can consist of lists of articles, image slideshows, calculators or analyzers of data, blog entries, videos, or any other content type. When visitors come to the site, they can select which gadgets they would like to see on the site and customize the settings of the gadgets to meet their informational needs and interests. This enables organizations to offer a “MySite” page, where visitors have their own area that they can personalize. Visitor preferences are saved, and their selected preferences remain each time they return. The organizations own gadgets and any third-party gadgets supporting the OpenSocial/Google Gadget standards can be added to the list of available gadgets by Web content managers. By allowing site visitors to create their own customized gadget dashboards, organizations can provide a personalized and highly interactive Web experience that engages users on a one-to-one level and keeps visitors coming back.

Michael:  What about the social networks aspect of doing business today? You mentioned social capabilities – what exactly does your WEM solution offer here?

Loren: – Yes, Oracle WebCenter also provides multiple kinds of social computing enablement. First of all, we offer user-generated content tools with enterprise tools for moderation and management. It makes it easy for companies to add social features—such as comments, ratings, reviews, and corporate blogs—throughout their existing Web presence and manage them as a seamless part of their Web platform. By offering site visitors the opportunity to share ideas and feedback with one another, companies forge a stronger bond with customers—a bond that drives loyalty, sales, and business growth.

And IT doesn’t need to get involved with the daily management of social content. Business users can review and moderate comments through the same interface used for managing Website content, making user generated content management a seamless part of managing the Web experience. The functionality is natively integrated with the rest of the Web experience management capabilities so that WCM tasks are streamlined across internally generated and user­generated content.

We also enable seamless integration with third-party social networking sites. Site visitors can be automatically authenticated on an organization’s Website based on their credentials from social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. They can see content on the site recommended by friends in their networks, and they can automatically disseminate content from the site that is interesting to them to their friends on social networking sites. Thus site visitors’ existing social identity is recognized immediately when they come to the site, and the onsite experience is seamlessly integrated with the rest of their online interactions and networks, driving relevance, engagement, and ultimately customer loyalty.

Michael:  We’ve talked about the important functionality like targeting and segmentation, personalization and gadgets, and social computing integrations, but aren’t our users all over the world accessing sites from laptops, tablets, mobile phones and other channels?

Loren: Absolutely! Being able to interact in a multi-channel world is essential for any successful WEM solution. You have to be able to meet your customer via their preferred channel of interaction. We offer a streamlined way to manage the mobile web as an integral part of a customer’s online experience. Oracle WebCenter Mobility Server makes it easy to centrally manage mobile sites directly from the Oracle WebCenter interface. Users can edit content using rich text editor tools and then preview that content directly in the context of the mobile Website and the traditional Website —all from the same business user interface. Mobile preview is offered by device family, so business users can navigate the site, in preview mode and manage the site for each major device family – be it touch, smart-phone, tablet, or basic phone. And fine-grained optimization is done at run-time for the thousands of device types in each family. That’s a huge time-saver for marketers. You can even make use of device GPS data to deliver location­-based content and services. Organizations can provide mobile site visitors with location­-sensitive search results, offers, and recommendations as well as integration of maps or directions into site content, and much more.

Michael:  Thanks Loren – that’s a lot of information – is there a presentation that people could watch to hear more about WEM?

Loren: Yes – they could come to Oracle Open World next week in San Francisco, where we have multiple sessions on WebCenter and Web Experience Management. We also did a webcast that highlights the integration strategy of FatWire and Oracle technologies coming together as Oracle WebCenter that has a lot more detail about our approach. People can view the webcast here. There’s also a lot more information at this site: http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint

Thursday Sep 29, 2011

Business User Friendly Composite Applications: SharePoint or WebCenter?

I’m sure you’ve heard it before … business users complaining they have to log into 5 different applications to figure out the complete status of a particular work item. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get all the related information you needed from the different application systems all in one screen? Log in once – see it all – get your work done faster! That is the promise of composite applications.

So have you tried building composite applications using SharePoint or WebCenter? If so, have you asked IT how long it is taking them to build these composite applications along with the requisite backend integrations? And after that is done, have you asked your business users if it meets their needs? Oh, and what if they need to change something or modify it? Do they really have to go back to IT to request for a change? Or can they personalize it themselves?

To help us get to the bottom of this, we asked Vince Casarez, Sr. Vice President of Technology at Keste, for some insight on building composite applications. With over 22 years of experience helping customers deploy user engagement solutions, Vince has helped hundreds of customers improve productivity, optimize business processes and drive innovation. Read on to hear his recommendations and strategies.

Q1 – What do you think are the main challenges when trying to build composite applications with SharePoint?
A1 – If you’re looking for a composite that contains ribbon bars and a Microsoft look and feel, then the barrier drops a bit.  But application integration is not a strong point for SharePoint.  And if you have large content management needs, then you’ll constantly run into one roadblock after another.  The expectation from all of the customers that I’ve worked with is that the composite application has to fit in with their company branding guidelines, be extremely easy to use, and integrate the core disparate applications that they have in their environment.  As a result, they demand strict adherence to the latest standards so that they don’t have any vendor lock-in.  And finally, they want the solution to be as adaptable as possible.  They don’t want the composite to result in one more system that IT has to manage.  They expect to be able to “customize” the composite in a way that allows them to keep improving the overall system.  Where I’ve seen SharePoint fall down is on standards.  In fact, if the apps aren’t .Net based, I wouldn’t even consider using SharePoint.  Second, application integration is really only for non-enterprise applications.  If you have Siebel, JD Edwards, SAP, E-Business Suite, or PeopleSoft, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.  And finally, customization of the SharePoint look and feel or the user experience is just not there.

Q2 – On the same note, why in your experience has Oracle WebCenter been a preferred platform to build Composite Applications?
A2 – We’ve seen WebCenter since its inception and from the very start, WebCenter had application integration or composites as a key design point. There is tight integration with Oracle’s SOA Suite and Identity Management Suite for secure interactions capable of delivering a role based experience to the users.  And they’ve spent time to ensure that all the capabilities are applicable to SAP as well.  At Keste, we have customers that have integrated WebCenter and SAP directly.  We also have customers that are using WebCenter to front-end SalesForce.com applications with Siebel and Oracle E-Business Suite.  We would never attempt to do any of these with SharePoint.  Also, we’ve found that integrating into our customer’s brand identity is easily done with WebCenter.  And finally, some of the new capabilities make it very easy for users to tailor their experience to get exactly what they want.  The customization capabilities are quite extensive and very easy to understand and use.

Q3 – When it comes specifically to Oracle Applications, why do your customers overwhelmingly choose Oracle WebCenter over SharePoint to build composite applications?
A3 – I touched on this a little bit above.  Our customers have very diverse environments.  They don’t just have Oracle Applications, but if they do, they always engage us to leverage Oracle WebCenter over SharePoint.  The reasons are focused on the core of the integration requirements.  They have many applications built in many different technologies requiring a standards based approach to pull everything together.  They have a myriad of content systems that they are looking to aggregate into a common repository that can live underneath their applications, as well as be the foundation for their document collaboration, as well as be published out to their different web site properties.  While SharePoint attempts to deliver on a portion of these capabilities, it just doesn’t deliver on the breadth that’s required.  And then if you roll in security integration, customization, and business process management and business intelligence, there is no other choice for our customers that can grow with them.

Q4 – Which platform provides a more robust enterprise class platform, both from a scalability and management perspective?
A4 – We do have customers with large SharePoint installations, but we often get requests for a WebCenter Portal deployment to deliver a more scalable solution to their entire employee or partner population.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many SharePoint departmental portals that our customers are using and aren’t ready to replace.  But they do see and demand WebCenter Portal as their scalable solution for composite applications, enterprise wide team-based collaboration, and the foundation for delivering their enterprise dashboards.  We’ve also seen in our new Keste Center of Excellence, WebCenter Portal runs nearly 5-times faster on Exalogic and Exadata than on traditional hardware.  As Oracle continues to improve this platform, we expect even more performance improvements.  So the combination of Oracle WebCenter and Oracle Exalogic & Exadata, there is no comparison as to the right scalable, enterprise platforms for customers to choose.  It’s Oracle, hands down.

Q5 – Can you talk about some of the Composite Application deployments that your customers are using with Oracle WebCenter?
A5 – Yes, we have customers in the high tech, pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial manufacturing all using a WebCenter Portal solution as the composite face of their application.  Qualcomm delivers communication devices to the transportation industry to help manage the goods that are being shipped and monitor the shipments along the way.  They often sell these devices to direct customers as well as smaller trucking companies.  We’ve built a WebCenter Portal that provides an easy way for customers to purchase these devices online and purchase applications that are add-ons to these systems.  All of the information is being driven from Oracle E-Business Suite and has extended systems that need to be integrated as well.  It allows customers to reallocate the device to another customer when they sell the truck or the device.  So the system is used to help manage the full lifecycle of the products that Qualcomm sells to their customers.  The second customer that I’ll discuss is a fortune 100 company that provides an integrated solution that enables storage, delivery, and management of network information.  The WebCenter Portal we’ve delivered integrates with Salesforce.com, E-Business Suite, and Siebel to provide a sales quoting solution to all their employees and partners to accelerate their business initiatives in the coming decades.  The system involves configuring products and pricing out of E-Business Suite, then orchestrating the information into reviewable WebCenter Portal composites.  The sales rep is able to quickly select the products and assemblies needed and submit the quote for pricing approval.  Once approved, the sales rep is then able to print the quote using Oracle BI Publisher or send it directly to the customer.  In summary, the composites our customers are demanding are not simple one or two page screens, they are critical interfaces to drive their business forward that demand a complete user experience platform to deliver.

Thanks Vince for sharing your recommendations and strategies around composite applications. For more information about Oracle WebCenter, visit http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint 

Tuesday Sep 27, 2011

Stuck in Your SharePoint Shell?

Are you using SharePoint? Still trying to figure out how to integrate the content in SharePoint seamlessly to your enterprise applications and business processes?

Now imagine if you could easily share information with the right people in various departments and roles across the company. And what if you could also automatically deliver targeted information to potential customers—and connect them with the right partners? It's a level of enterprise collaboration and efficiency that Microsoft SharePoint can't deliver. But Oracle WebCenter provides all this and more.

Watch Episode 1, “A Ray of Hope”, of this video series to see how a solar company enables employees to make the right connections across the company to get a product redesign into production quickly using Oracle WebCenter.

Curious as to what happens next? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the news about when the next episode is available!

Learn more at http://www.oracle.com/moveoff/sharepoint

Friday Sep 16, 2011

Social Collaboration Use Cases

As we wrap up this week on social business, we're happy to have John Brunswick provide his thoughts on social business use cases.

Why would someone ever want internet access from their telephone?  While the concept of essentially ubiquitous mobile internet access seemed foreign only a few years ago, it illustrates an industry shift that today can been seen around the intersection of social activity with business collaboration.

What specifically makes this any different than prior collaborative activities that we have undertaken?  Previous collaborative processes centered around specific entities / projects, while social collaboration has shifted that center to focus on the participants.  Think about some early discussion forum technologies versus Facebook.  They both serve as communication mediums, but one views interactions as post (entity) centric, while the other views interactions directly in the context of a user.  They both afford people the ability to exchange ideas around given topics, but offer a different perspective on how a user interacts with the information.

At first glance Social Collaboration may seem like a thin layer above traditional collaboration tools that is constrained only to inter-organization activities.  LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook and other platforms provide straightforward examples geared toward the commercial internet space.  How and where can this apply to the enterprise?

Enterprise 2.0 technology has always been focused around reducing support and communication costs through customer self-service, expertise location and project collaboration.  Social Collaboration broadens the reach and increases the context of these interactions to provide capabilities to drive and maintain affinity for brands, extend a workforce, automate knowledge discovery and provide capabilities for enhanced customer and prospect relationship management (CXM).

Social Collaboration use cases are illustrated in the form of crowd-sourcing platforms, automated knowledge discovery within organizations and consumer focused offerings like Nike Plus.  Let's take a look at how social collaboration can provide an on-demand group of domain experts, provide efficient ad-hoc decision support cockpits, retain top talent and capture tacit knowledge with opt-in domain specific communities and perhaps most interestingly - drive brand affinity.

Engaging On Demand Experts
A few months ago I authored a post for AIIM, "Does the Social Web Benefit Any Organization?  Absolutely - If they are Smart" that explored if it was possible for any organization to gain real value from the Social Web.  I proposed that Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing excel in helping businesses, regardless of size or vertical.  Creative thinking powered by social collaboration can have a significant, sometimes even breakthrough impact, in some of what might be considered to be the least social business verticals.

Initially organizations may have been skeptical of these social approaches to providing services to business, but after a wave of initial hype (Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything & McKinsey's The Next Step in Open Innovation) a few concrete examples of success stand out.

Both 99 Designs and Innocentive act as virtual extensions of an organization, supplying communities of experts skilled at problem solving within specific domains.  99 Designs brings a wealth of creative talent from across the globe to help companies with graphic design work, while Innocentive helps solve some of the world's most complex technical issues - ranging from oil spill cleanup to purification of drinking water in the third world.  In both cases organizations use these platforms to become part of and interact with these communities, especially in the case of Innocentive where organizations like NASA and P&G both use the platform as an extension of their own capabilities.

If businesses have a core focus, they can benefit from refining the delivery of that asset to their respective customers / interactions with business partners delegating non-core functions to experts to allow them to maintain focus on their differentiating core processes (as evidenced by the rapid growth of Contract Research Organizations).  Socially collaborative approaches make the engagement and ongoing communication within these systems readily adoptable.

Ad-Hoc Decision Cockpit
Why did I not just call this section Ad-Hoc Decision Workspaces?  It wouldn't do justice to what enterprise social collaboration can provide to make the most effective use of resource's time and efforts.  Not only are people within the social collaboration framework "social", but our data should be as well.  Most decisioning is supported by information that exists somewhere within our outside of the enterprise that could be in the form of business intelligence reports, unstructured information in the form of office documents or external resources related to the decision in question.  Social collaboration enables interactions to be focused around an element or elements of information, connected with a role or grouping within the enterprise.

What if you organization was selecting new store locations?  It would be ideal to quickly join key decision makers into an online workspace, add key decision information into the workspace in the form of demographics related to your products, financials, contract documents and contact listings for the various potential locations.  From this it would be possible to keep the internal stakeholders abreast of ongoing activities through their activity streams, allowing them to comment on activities directly relevant to their role within the project.  Additionally, formal discussions on various aspects of the new store location could take place within the cockpit.  The cockpits lifecycle could ultimately culminate with a vote within the cockpit regarding the selected location, followed by an export of related materials to help execute the decision.

Opt-In Knowledge Sharing Communities
Anyone who has taken a basic organizational behavior class is probably familiar with Maslow’s infamous Hierarchy of Needs.  If not, his hierarchy's base starts with items needed for survival and ends at the peak with self-actualization.  As organization's drive to innovate and deliver better products and services, an outlet for creativity and passion is critical to success in a variety of objective ways.  Daniel H. Pink's book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us illustrates a series of excellent examples around this proposing that employees perform optimally when they find intrinsic meaning in their work.

The paradigm of LinkedIn's groups provides a foundation for a way in which to harness and leverage passion and domain expertise to benefit members of the business community.  Similarly, within our organizations social collaboration tools can provide people with an opportunity to contribute and gain recognition for their work that helps the greater good through problem solving and knowledge sharing.  As social collaboration technologies evolve in the enterprise, capabilities like "opt-in" communities lay the foundation for people to selectively choose to follow and participate in areas of interest.  Ultimately this model can lead to bonds being formed across geographies, new business possibilities and optimizations emerging from the communities and a reduction in the amount of time needed to solve a problems.

Drive Brand Affinity
This next use case falls well into the category of thought leadership.  It is not possible for every organization to follow the specific pattern outlined in this example, but it highlights the far-reaching possibilities that a connected socially collaborative system provides.

If you are a runner you may already be familiar with Nike Plus.  To call Nike Plus a "product" is shortsighted.  It is an experience comprised of a device, software, community and extended community - all enabled through social collaboration concepts.  The experience has ended up winning a very wide range of awards throughout the advertising and user interaction industry.

So - what does this have to do with social collaboration?  Nike has hit the mark for the "me context" + community creation that fosters increased business.

Nike Plus allows runners to coordinate their runs with music, obtain feedback throughout their run and view results within a customer extranet.  Within the extranet Nike offers feedback to runners, allows them to engage in challenges, offers training advice and as you may expect, allows for the purchase of merchandise and music.  Then things get very interesting...

Nike Plus has integration within Facebook and Twitter allowing a runner to update their status indicating they are embarking on a run.  The update is triggered when the run starts.  As the run progresses, the runner's social connections can "cheer" the runner on by liking or commenting on the status update.  Any likes or comments to the status update actually trigger the runner's audio device to play a sound that indicates connections are supporting them during the run.


So - not only has Nike created a very valuable extranet, but they went well beyond the traditional bounds of customer service.  By engaging a runner's connections within their social networking communities and allowing them to provide feedback to the runner directly in context of the activity - in context of connections that are meaningful to the runner, they have created an experience tied to the Nike brand that is extremely positive in every regard that the runner and their connections share.

It would be interesting to see what data Nike has around up-sell and cross-selling within this experience.  It would also be interesting to see how Nike goes about using the information to boost customer satisfaction with their experience and ultimately the Nike brand.

Could something like this be helpful to your brand?

Above and Beyond
The examples above are meant to be thought provoking.  Everyone's business has different key processes that may benefit innovative thinking that social collaboration can support and accelerate.  Based on the trends above it is likely that the future of collaborative interaction will continue to move toward a user focused context where the boundaries of business continue to expand to include new participants outside of an organization, including extensive bi-directional interaction with customers and prospects that takes place within their existing contexts.

Thursday Sep 15, 2011

Social Media Changes and Challenges for SEO

  As we continue to discuss social business trends and the impact it has, one area we haven't addressed is SEO. Today's guest post comes from Billy Cripe – Principal BloomThinker, BloomThink & Gary Sirek - Founder and Creative Director Squirrelworx.

The growth and acceptance of social media and enterprise 2.0 technology has shifted customer expectations for company interaction. Inside the walls of the business these shifts are bringing together two groups who have often remained separate.  SEO strategists traditionally focused on gaining company awareness are now coming together with Social Media experts to better understand the impact of social media on SEO.  Both realms stand to benefit.  SEO teams gain awareness amplification when the social teams are most effective.  And the social media teams enjoy boosted engagement and conversation participation when highly effective SEO teams bring new audiences into the social media engagement spaces. 

But this also has profound shifts for the ways both groups have traditionally operated.  Gone are the days when meta tag keywords and a smattering of comments on competitive blogs would boost search rankings. Social media is old-style communication newly applied to online spaces. It is conversation. The term Social SEO demonstrates the complementary nature of traditional SEO and social media. When you have a solid Social SEO strategy, you will see uplift in awareness, in conversation and in social engagement. The common thread is to get conversations moving about your company, your product, your service.  That is a powerful tool that yields results. A positive conversation can deliver many conversions.

To ensure the right conversations are taking place, businesses can use a set of key questions to determine their social SEO readiness and then apply proven principles for executing the best fit SEO strategy. Here are four questions you can use to check your social awareness pulse:

  1. Are You On Message?
    The question for your Marketing and Communications departments is how are they enabling everyone in the organization to be on-message? This is not a command and control task.   The pro-active delivery of business critical content to employees and partners is an important process.  Are your systems passive?  Do you enable employee and partner engagement on and about those topics?  Do your systems facilitate those ad hoc conversations?
  2. Are You Synchronized?
    The question for your intranet team is how are they ensuring that everyone across the organization is synchronized?  This means that sales, support, consulting and R&D/Manufacturing teams all know that new campaigns are kicking off.  Those campaigns, or special deals or new product launches are likely to drive demand and raise questions.  Everyone doesn’t need the details but they should be ready to answer questions, address concerns and point customers in the right direction.  You can bet the SEO team has thought long and hard about the keywords, buzz-spots and behavioral triggers that will likely trigger a response to that campaign.  Do others know how to spot those keywords when they come up in conversation?  The worst thing for a sales rep is to be caught unaware by a customer talking about that new 20% off deal they just got through a Klout promotion, email campaign or PPC coupon.  Kudos to the marketing and SEO teams for landing that prospect but it leaves the rep flat-footed.  That makes the company look bad.
  3. Are You Converting Your Existing Social Media Leads?
    One of the worst things you can do is pretend that social media matters for your business then ignore sales and marketing leads coming in from social sources.  So the question for your sales team is how are they incorporating leads from non-traditional sources into their workflow?  Do you even know when you get a lead from a social source?  Do you know what to do with it? How to qualify it?  How to route it to the most qualified rep to take it from there?  When the SEO team is effective one result is greater participation in the social engagement spaces the social media team manages.  But if you are not converting friends, fans and followers into customers and evangelists, you are on a very friendly path to fail-town.
  4. How do individual contributors answer social requests?
    Because everyone is potentially on the front lines of customer engagement, how are you equipping individual contributors to deal with the heightened awareness and interaction that successful SEO drives? How are your line workers, back office admins, and other staff connecting the casually interested with the appropriate experts inside your organization who can take that interest to the next level? 

Business has always been social. The difference is that now others can tell if that social environment is inviting or off-putting.  Technology is what now enables engagement in ways and at scales never before possible.

In the whitepaper, Social SEO & Cross Channel Marketing, Billy Cripe of BloomThink and Gary Sirek of Squirrelworx discuss the impact that social media is having on the discipline of SEO.  They discuss the SEO principles that drive awareness and attention that can benefit social media practice.  They outline the key concepts that practitioners and managers from each discipline need to know about the other and they propose a model for bringing these teams together to boost business.

Download the Social SEO & Cross Channel Marketing whitepaper.

Wednesday Sep 14, 2011

Social Business: Spreading Ideas

I stumbled across this video interview that Seth Godin did and thought it tied in nicely with what we've been discussing the past few weeks about social business. Have you read any material from Seth? He's a bestselling author and writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, leadership and much more. I really like Seth's philosophy of his work. Treat people with respect, customers have more power than ever, great ideas spread. He talks about how when you bring these things together, what you recognize is that leadership is the new marketing. Connecting people, leading people and creating ideas that people want to follow and share is now driving business. If you give people choices they will take them. When you look at it at a high level, these concepts really relate to social business -- connecting people, sharing information and ideas, and empowering users to be more productive and agile. Oh and I also like how he mentions my home state of WI! What are your reactions to the video? I'd love to hear what you think!

Monday Sep 12, 2011

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

Oracle is proud to be a Platinum sponsor of the Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit September 21 – 22, 2011 in London. The theme for this year's conference is "Business Gets Social". As we've been discussing on the blog for the past couple weeks, the real-time social Web is now a reality and the technologies driving these developments have unlimited potential. Organizations need to craft a strategy that positions your company for maximum results. The upcoming Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit will address these developments head-on, examining how these changes can drive business value. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with Oracle experts in a variety of sessions, including demonstrations during the showcase receptions.

  • Oracle Solution Provider Session - Thursday, September 22 at 10:15am.
  • Oracle Solution Showcase Reception - Stop by Oracle's Ice Bar for the opportunity to try the UK's own Chase Vodka - made in Herefordshire, England and voted world's best vodka in 2010!
  • Oracle Face to Face Meetings

Oracle Provider Session: Multi-Channel Web Experience Management Drives New Efficiencies for JD Williams
Industry leading organizations are already successfully creating capabilities to manage and present content in a consistent way across multiple channels. Hear how JD Williams has implemented a content-based re-platforming of systems to drive new experiences and business improvement with customers, partners and employees to promote consistent communication for Multi-Channel trading.


  • Gareth Samuel, Head of IT Architecture, JD Williams
  • Andy MacMillan, Vice President of Product Management, Oracle

Key Benefits of Attending
Through analyst sessions, problem-solving workshops and peer interaction, you'll gain the insight necessary to:

  • Better use collaborative tools inside your organization
  • Apply Portals, Content Management and Collaboration technologies in mobile environments
  • Harness the business value of social software
  • Clarify the impact of Portals, Content Management and Collaboration disciplines
  • Improve relations with employees and customers
  • Explore and understand where alternative delivery models (e.g. cloud) make the most sense

Will you be attending the Gartner PCC Summit? We'd love to meet with you to discuss your social business use cases!


Oracle Cloud Content and Process power the next wave of productivity, mobile efficiency, and workgroup innovation. Only Oracle offers an integrated suite of content, process and sites cloud services that enable business users to easily collaborate anywhere, simplify business automation, and communicate more effectively.


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