As Published In
Oracle Magazine
September/October 2008


Share 2.0

By Alan Joch

Hand off critical information directly to your users with Oracle Enterprise Content Management.

Proper technical, security, and branding approval processes are critical to organizations publishing Web content, but manual and poorly automated processes can interfere with the timely sharing of critical business information. Optimized content management applications can eliminate common bottlenecks and, in doing so, improve more than a company’s bottom line. 

Oracle Content Management
Oracle Content Management
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That’s been the case for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where clinicians rely on a Web-based content management application as the go-to source for care protocols and clinical materials for treating at-risk newborns. “Clinicians use this tool literally at the bedside as a reference for treatment and care,” says Robert Caverzagie, a senior engineer at Fairview who built the tool with input from NICU nursing management. “It’s an improvement in patient safety because it means clinicians are always accessing the most up-to-date information,” adds Scott Robertson, Web services manager at Fairview.

The NICU tool is one of many intranet and internet applications that Fairview—one of the largest nonprofit healthcare systems in Minnesota—built for its staff and patients using Oracle’s enterprise content management (ECM) platform, Oracle Universal Content Management.

Some of Fairview’s Oracle Universal Content Management-based Web sites directly impact clinical care, such as the NICU protocols and similar online procedures for bone-marrow transplants. Other sites contribute to making hospital operations more efficient or helping patients understand the nuances of their diseases and treatment options. “We’ve gotten many comments from users who in the past were constantly printing updates and filling their filing cabinets with new versions of documents but were never sure if what they were looking at was up-to-date,” says Janet Dold, lead applications system analyst programmer at Fairview.

A key to the accuracy of Fairview’s online information is Oracle Universal Content Management’s ability to circumvent potential bottlenecks that arise when a Web development team holds sole responsibility for posting new material. “The system provides the security and a place where staff members can author their own content,” Caverzagie says. “The authorship is coming from the business unit that has a vested interest in making sure that their information is timely.”

Driving Growth

Organizations are turning to ECM systems—which encompass document and records management, Web content management, digital asset management, imaging and business process management, and information rights management—in increasing numbers. The reasons behind the growth in ECM range from organizations’ needs for increasing workflow efficiency and improving customer service to complying with government regulations and legal electronic discovery rules. The market for Web content management technologies is particularly strong, with compound annual growth rates in recent years reaching about 11 percent, according to Forrester Research.

Web content management enables organizations to present current and personalized content to staff members, customers, and constituents. “In today’s economic uncertainty, many enterprises are deciding that being competitive is not just about cutting costs. Keeping existing customers is more profitable than trying to find new ones,” says Kyle McNabb, principal analyst and research director at Forrester Research.

“Customer retention is easier when organizations present consistent and targeted messages across all communications channels, from Web sites, e-mails, flyers, and brochures to conversations with direct and indirect sales staffs. All of those touchpoints are content-centric and can be used to influence customer behavior,” McNabb adds, “but only if a central content management system reduces the chances for confusing customers with conflicting information, such as inconsistent sale prices listed on a Web site and a direct-mail piece.”

Well-managed Web content can also reduce overall operating costs. Companies that don’t manage Web content centrally may find themselves supporting too many Web sites and too many business processes, McNabb says. “A single, consistent platform offers a way to address that overhead and establish standard processes for managing, publishing, and delivering content to Web sites.”

Finally, rising numbers of security requirements and government regulations are pushing organizations to use content management systems to protect sensitive information and record interactions with customers and associates. “These organizations need to make the right information as easily accessible as possible, while at the same time making it available only to the appropriate individuals,” says Roel Stalman, Oracle vice president of product management for content management.


Fairview Health Services

 Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
 Industry: Healthcare
 Employees: 22,000
 Oracle products: Oracle Database, Oracle Universal Content Management, Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise

American Institute of Architects

 Location: Washington DC
 Industry: Architecture
 Employees: 515
 Oracle products: Oracle Database, Oracle Universal Content Management

The Right Building Blocks

To achieve the benefits of Web content management—improving workflow, retaining customers, reducing overall operating costs, and protecting sensitive information—organizations need a range of complementary technology. Oracle Universal Content Management includes components for content creation, format conversions, navigation tools, and capabilities for security, version control, and personalizing content.

“For individuals involved in Web site creation, the quality and usability of the Web content management tools is the most important consideration,” Stalman notes. “After all, these tools help with the areas where people will spend most of their time—creating content, building out new sections of Web sites, making and improving designs, and incorporating Flash files and personalized content.”

“Oracle Universal Content Management’s Web content management tools are designed to help nontechnical users create and publish their content without the help of specialists,” says Alan Baer, Oracle product management director. “For example, Oracle Universal Content Management can ease conversion headaches so people can author Web content using familiar Microsoft Office applications but still adhere to their organization’s Web style templates,” he says. The underlying conversion capabilities also let users easily repurpose and reuse existing content across multiple Web sites. “Oracle goes further than other vendors in link and navigation management, which ensures that sites can be drastically rearranged or redesigned without compromising site functionality,” Baer adds.

Oracle Universal Content Management treats Web sites as “views” that consist of unstructured content housed in a central repository. This content may be pre-existing text documents or material that end users create with the multisite Web content management solution within Oracle Universal Content Management, which provides a framework and tools for managing Web sites.

“Oracle’s approach is particularly well suited for companies that want to create a number of related or independent sites using a single infrastructure,” Baer explains.

Oracle Universal Content Management also offers digital asset management tools for publishing rich-media content, such as MPEG, Flash, QuickTime, and Windows Metafile videos and animations. “Digital asset management automatically extracts thumbnails for use in a storyboard type of presentation,” says Baer. “By leveraging dynamic content, Oracle Universal Content Management is well suited for building the XML-fed Flash presentations that have become popular in design-conscious sites.”

Building a Platform for Sharing

A responsive Web content management system is helping members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) keep pace with communications and collaboration trends in the architecture profession. Last year, the AIA launched an ambitious Web site called Soloso ( with the long-range goal of providing an online community to address architectural-profession trends known as integrated practice management and integrated project delivery . These practices are becoming widely accepted within the design and construction industry as the most-efficient methods for planning and delivering building projects. The complexity of today’s building projects requires that core project team members—including the client, architects, engineers, construction companies, and others—connect at the earliest stages. This allows them to collaboratively develop plans and identify problems that otherwise might not become apparent until well into the construction phase, when changes would be significantly more expensive.

With the tagline “Get. Give. Grow.,” Soloso is evolving to facilitate these types of exchanges. Still in its early growth phase, the site publishes about 86,000 items, ranging from blogs and profiles of AIA members to digital architectural photos, renderings of buildings, and PowerPoint presentations. The site also publishes AIA-branded content written by association officials as well as content created by the general membership. The site draws about 2,700 regular participants, a number that’s growing by about 11 percent a month.

Behind the scenes, Oracle Universal Content Management provides the building blocks for Soloso’s content repository. “Our requirement was for a system that could handle images, graphics, documents of every format type, Web pages, and architectural models,” says Kevin Novak, vice president of integrated Web strategy and technology at the AIA. Files of building models are particularly difficult to manage. “The files have many dependencies, so we needed to manage ‘parent’ files and the ‘child’ files underneath in order to deliver the full models,” he adds.

Another key for the AIA is support for metadata indexing, which Oracle Universal Content Management provides. “We wanted an intelligent structure behind the Web site so people could use it as an archive and quickly find the content that was most relevant to them,” he says.

User feedback about Soloso has been enthusiastic. “Many people who are aware of its content and functionality say they’ll come to Soloso to see what content the AIA offers before they search the Web or make a phone call to find information,” he says.

The user base will expand exponentially in late 2008 when the AIA opens access to the full site content beyond the AIA membership. To drive traffic, Novak will publish some Soloso material on various social networking sites, where millions of items tagged “architecture” now reside.

Because the AIA anticipated continuing growth for Soloso from the start, the organization created a scalable infrastructure around it. Oracle Database acts as the underlying data repository. Seven servers at an offsite location power the system and provide redundancy for high availability. “Our vision was that there will be very heavy usage and very high user participation in the form of users posting content. So we’re prepared when that pivot point comes,” Novak explains. “We’re going to leverage the infrastructure of the Oracle products to meet our overall Web needs. The infrastructure can expand beyond just this particular implementation.”

Content You Can Trust

Fairview Health Services first implemented Oracle Universal Content Management to manage patient-care policies and procedures governed by healthcare industry regulatory bodies. Fairview’s Web presence has grown from a few hundred pages of content focused on that initial need to approximately 30,000 pages published for the benefit of nearly 22,000 staff members, ranging from nurse managers and clinicians to administrative secretaries and human resources personnel. In addition, patient-care content on Fairview’s intranet includes treatment protocols, physician order sets, and Fairview-sanctioned procedures and equipment, available for download by nurses and physicians. “For our bone-marrow-transplant protocols, clinicians used to rely on several three-ring binders for the department and it was a constant effort to update all the binders when a protocol was updated,” explains Fairview’s Dold. “Now, updates are immediate,” she says, which increases the confidence people have in the accuracy of the information.

“When Fairview originally evaluated content management software vendors, it primarily focused on how to move away from using Microsoft FrontPage as an authoring tool for its intranet,” Dold recalls. “Oracle offered us a tool that allowed our end users to stay with applications they were familiar with—[Microsoft] Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. We didn’t have to train them to write HTML or use an HTML editor. Oracle Universal Content Management converted the [Microsoft Office] files to HTML, and we pushed them out to the intranet with a consistent look and feel,” she says.

Next Steps

READ more about Oracle Universal Content Management

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Fairview uses three instances of Oracle Universal Content Management. The first is “a one-stop shop where contributing authors go to do their work, to check in new content and delete outdated pages,” Caverzagie says. The second instance acts as a sandbox for Web site developers, while the third instance performs batch loading of content to the intranet. “We separate the different functions that go into content management so we won’t step on each other’s toes,” he says.

Fairview publishes new material on its external Web sites using Oracle’s multisite Web content management solution and is also implementing these content publishing tools for its intranet sites. To make it easier for Fairview staff to contribute content, the Web team relies on Oracle Universal Content Management’s easy-to-understand interface and the platform’s support for Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV), an industry-standard protocol that facilitates content collaboration. “End users simply drag and drop their Word documents into a WebDAV folder, where it’s checked in automatically,” Caverzagie says.

Fairview is now implementing Oracle Universal Content Management’s digital asset manager for images and rich-media files. Using the manager, the creative-services department will check in files and reformat and resize them; files will then be converted into multiple new versions based on business rules. “It takes a load off of the designers and us developers, who won’t have to be called all the time to make this photo smaller to fit a particular Web page,” says Grant Thrall, a senior engineer with the in-house solutions group at Fairview. “Instead, users just pick the right images from a Fairview catalog, and they’re already sized to existing templates.”

Automating the content creation and publishing process has been a consistent theme in Fairview’s Web evolution. “When I originally came to the marketing communications department, we were the conduit for putting content on all of our public-facing Web sites,” he recalls. “With [Oracle] content management, we’ve minimized having to touch someone else’s content by giving the content owners the ability to contribute their own material for the internet and intranet. That’s very freeing for them, and the Web team gets to concentrate on development.”

Alan Joch ( is a technology writer based in New England who specializes in enterprise, Web, and high-performance-computing applications.

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