Monthly Archives: January 2012

How critical are Real Time decisions in business today?

Alakh Verma, Director,Product Management,Oracle 

We are faced with challenges to take some decisions everyday; some are minor such as paying bills and some are major such as buying house, investing in stocks, development of a product or acquiring a company that need some relevant information in that context. When we look back many years with no computers or access of ready data and wonder how people must be taking these major decisions in day to day life, businesses or even administering nations?

Recently, I watched a movie on Indian mogul emperor Akbar that depicted his popularity among citizen that was based on his real time decision capabilities, intuitive and cognitive intelligence and advice by council of ministers. He used to visit the street in disguise to gather conversation of citizen on the street in order to get real time feedback and sentiments to execute effective decisions. In those days, there was no support of technology and all decisions were based on intuitive judgment. Our brains take in massive streams of sensory data and make the necessary correlations that allow us to make value judgment and taking decisions all in real-time.

Relating the above with our current era, we are given the support of computing power with additional memory and data processing to make real time decisions. The recent technology such as big data analytics helps and supports us with right information, real-time event messaging provides at right time, mobility at right place anywhere and social media in the right context to make right decisions.

With computing power and cognitive intelligence, we are in much better situations to offer the following for Real Time Decisions in the business context.

  • Personalized, Optimized and Context Centric Decisions-For the 1000’s if not millions of interactions, we have with our customers, we can deliver in context the right offer, message, recommendation, treatment or action tailored and personalized within the “moment of impact” to deliver unequaled value.
  • Cross-Channel Learning & Decisions-With a multichannel customer experience platform for true cross channel decisioning that enables consistent operational Decisions for the web channel, in the contact center, or the point-of-sale, and across all lines of business, we can offer cross channel learning and decisions. The automatic insights derived from one channel are seamlessly used both within and across other channels.
  • A Complete Decision Framework leveraging Data, Rules and Predictive Models-A balanced Decision Management Framework that combines both business rules and self-learning predictive models helps in real time decisions.  This also helps in arbitrating rules and predictive model scores in the context of organizational goals/KPI’s at the moment of a Decision’s execution.
  • Closed Loop Business Intelligence & Insight Discovery-Closed loop real-time learning becomes immediately available for the next prediction to drive adaptive, high-value interactions. We may be able to discover and highlight important correlations in the data automatically by way of user-friendly reports. Automated data discovery effortlessly leads user to the right and relevant business insights.
  • Business Controls supporting Collaboration over End to End Decision Lifecycles-A rich web based user application to manage, analyze and refine Decisions over their entire lifecycle helps in gathering cognitive and collaborative intelligence.

In the most competitive business environment, Real Time decisions are critical for effective decisions and for survival and growth for business.


If content is the king then Portal is the queen

If content is the king then Portal is the queen

Alakh Verma,Director,Product Management,Oracle

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 will be 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 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. Next decade would 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 evolve  into new era of computing.

The explosive growth of content and more specifically unstructured 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 content 11g does it all seamlessly. Customers have started seeking pleasant web experience with their transactions and businesses need to offer 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 on the web to complement each other. Without 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 transaction.



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, first thing they would look for 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 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.

Personalization:A key tenet of User Engagement in Social business

Personalization: A key tenet of User Engagement in Social Business

Alakh Verma, Director, Platform Technology Solutions  ,Oracle

In today’s constantly changing and the most competitive business environment, consumers are seeking more personalized care and services for any engagement before they enter into any transaction. It is natural that relationship begins with humble greetings and smile with natural conversation and then understanding the needs and behavior in the process.

User engagement involves a mixture of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Quantitative analysis offers useful patterns and is generally more scalable and easier to conduct. User engagement also involves contextual study and ethnography. These provide information including person, what their routines are in daily life and what their needs are for which they have visited the electronic website, physical store or workplace.

Few weeks back, I walked into Wells Fargo branch in San Jose, to carry out normal banking chores to deposit a cheque. I was overwhelmed by warm greetings by its store manager, Robert Borcherding and he offered to fill out the pay-in-slip while I was waiting in the queue for the teller. Considering it might take longer, he came in again to offer assistance to accept my cheque for the deposit by personal banker. He kept talking and displaying his humility to offer the best care he could while I stayed in the store.

Last week, when I walked in his store again for some other banking transaction, I was pleasantly surprised to receive his personal greetings by my name with smile and again offer to assist with humility. I could see his urgency to satisfy me the fullest. This time, I was in his store to meet his banking manager, Rosa S Aguirre, for refinance on a scheduled meeting. When he saw that she was still busy with some other customer, he offered to carry out all necessary photo copies of all my documents that may have been needed by her. While he was doing this act of an extended personalized service, he was winning my trust and my heart in the process. By then, Rosa was free and ready to meet with me with all ready documents for my meeting. I would categorize this act as clear display of personalization that would go long way of building trust and gaining, growing and retaining business for his store and for Wells Fargo in general. On the other hand, I receive numerous aggressive and disturbing call center calls from their competitive bank for their services and I refuse to take those calls. I am sure many of us would have faced similar episodes in our lives and we appreciate the significance of Personalization and Personalized care in business settings.

Customer Services have been widely used and misused and now businesses need to re-evaluate the paradigm shift of customers’ needs and expectations. With recent technology and tools, we can easily build and deploy virtual web store where consumers may get near real term user experience with personalization and personalized care.

Personalization implies that the changes are based on implicit data, such as items purchased or pages viewed. On an intranet or B2E Enterprise Web portals, personalization is often based on user attributes such as department, functional area, or role.

Image Source 

There are three categories of personalization:

  1. Profile / Group based   2.Behaviour based   3.Collaboration based

Web personalization models include rules-based filtering, based on “if this, then that” rules processing, and collaborative filtering, which serves relevant material to customers by combining their own personal preferences with the preferences of like-minded others. Collaborative filtering works well for books, music, video, etc.

There are three broad methods of personalization:

  1. Implicit 2.Explicit 3.Hybrid

With implicit personalization the personalization is performed by the web page based on the different categories mentioned above. With explicit personalization, the web page is changed by the user using the features provided by the system (such as Oracle WebCenter Sites). Hybrid personalization combines both two approaches to leverage the best of both worlds.

Personalization is also being considered for use in less overtly commercial applications to improve the user experience online. Facebook introduced Instant Personalization recently.  This new technology is different from Social Plug-ins, which many B2B and B2C sites are already using.  Social plug-ins include things like Facebook live streams and “Like Buttons” and are intended to drive user engagement and make a website more ‘social’.  With Instant Personalization, Facebook shares data with a handful of non-Facebook websites.

Oracle WebCenter personalizes the online buying experience with a comprehensive, highly scalable user engagement platform and applications. Built on a foundation of proven capabilities, including personalization, business user control, cross-channel support, and a flexible platform, WebCenter boosts cross-channel business growth and advanced features help customers quickly find desired products, learn about new offerings, comparison shop, register for gifts, preorder products, redeem coupons, and easily complete their purchases.

Emerging trends and best practices for Social and Mobile business

Emerging trends and best practices for Social and Mobile Business

Alakh Verma, Director, Platform Technology Solutions

The Year 2011 saw a dramatic leap in Cloud, Social and Mobile technologies and emergence of some key trends. In today’s ever changing technology centric world, we are witnessing consumerization of IT and more participation of consumers in the business.  Easy to use, highly mobile, and social are the mantras of the new generation of IT. Let us examine some key emerging trends as below.

1. Cloud Computing: More than 50 percent of business leaders Sand Hill interviewed, implemented game-changing cloud solutions in the last twelve months. The survey uncovered the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are already realizing benefits from cloud solutions. Nearly 70 percent of the surveyed software executives indicated that SMEs are the source of their current revenues. Moreover, 85 percent said that smaller companies with revenues less than $500 million account for the highest revenue today. The reasons why cloud adoption currently is faster and deeper among SMEs are many. The two most prominent characteristics driving them to the cloud are:

• SMEs are less tied down by historical investments in infrastructure, massive data files, and organizational obstacles to adoption

• SMEs’ lack of access to a large reservoir of capital and resources

2. Mobility-Smart Devices and Tablets

In the past decade, we witnessed a smart revolution in the mobility. The number of mobile devices has increased fivefold from 1 billion to 5 billion, with a resulting escalation in the number of connected people from 400 million to over 2 billion. This growth of connectivity is creating an overwhelming range of new possibilities, and tapping, swiping, locating, pinging and socializing are quickly becoming part of normal human behavior. Technology is starting to change people and these people, whether consumers or employees, will change our culture and way of doing business. New applications, widgets and other digital gadgets are taking technology into a whole new direction. They are driving innovation and are actively transforming our business from “Systems of Record” to “Systems of Engagement”.

3. Enterprise 2.0 and Social Business

Mobility with smart devices on fingertip has accelerated the use of social networks and to communicate and collaborate. McKinsey and Company has reported that the revenue growth of social businesses is 24% higher than less social firms and data from Frost and Sullivan backs that up across various KPIs.

This new paradigm shift has defined the new level of customer engagements.

The Six Layers of Customer Engagement

a)      The Web: When companies moved to the web, they asked customers to be self-sufficient with regard to product information, customer service and ordering.

b)      Social Media: The social web opened up possibilities of public, two-way conversation.

c)      Facebook/Linkedin/Twitter: These are the internet for many people, and they handle all of their communication, with friends and companies, through the world’s largest social network.

d)     Mobile: With a phone in every pocket, customers are now looking for information that they can consume on their mobile devices.

e)      Augmented Reality: Digital information can now be placed on top of the real world.

f)       The Game Layer: This builds on the mobile layer and lets businesses turn the world and their businesses into a game.

4. Consumerization of IT

Consumerization of IT  is associated with ease-of-use, attractive interfaces, intuitive functionality and low prices. In the corporate IT world, this move to “consumerized” IT has been described as the penetration of employee-purchased mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets. This phenomenon is already growing and penetrating large organizations rapidly.

5. Big data

Businesses are already facing greater challenges with large amount of data more than ever before, yet have surprisingly little access to it.The term “big data” was coined to describe new technologies and techniques that can handle an order of magnitude or two more data than enterprises are today.Big data offers the promise of better ROI on valuable enterprise datasets while being able to tackle entirely new business problems that were previously impossible to solve with existing techniques.

Cloud Social and Mobile computing are taking the mainstream in this paradigm shift and organizations would seek best practices to adopt and implement sooner than later.

People, Process and Technology and Cultural Shift
              As with any business, People, process within organization and the technology play very important role and Social business will not be an exception to it. More importantly the change in people behavior and culture will also be significant to its adoption. The most successful companies are embedding social component into their business applications such as CRM, Financials and Talent Management. Oracle Fusion applications has embedded capabilities of social collaboration with workflow integration. Real time Collaboration within workgroup would help in productivity and this is already in practice at Oracle for long time.

Social Local and Mobile (SoLoMo)

Three hot areas of social business are social, location based and mobility. Nielsen and NM Incite have created infographics with interesting figures in each area. Parents turn out to be big on social media. Nearly half of visitors to local deals sites recommend those sites. Smartphone users spend two-thirds of their time using their phones on apps, rather than talking.

Inclusive System Flexibility (Bring Your Own Devices-BYOD)

With popular usage pattern of Smart devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and tablets, Blackberry and Android devices among employees, Organization need to provide flexibility to integrate with their corporate systems to enhance productivity. Oracle has already provided apps interface and enabled access to the corporate network and apps with VPN access to manage and maintain security.

Top Down –Left Right and Center- Social is the human behavior and it has to be across the board within organization. With the emergence of these trends, everyone within organization should have Twitter, Linkedin and Social media accounts and establish its network of trust and credibility. It is a major cultural shift that needs to be enforced at the top management and executed sincerely at all levels.