AT ORACLE: Interview
Enterprise 2.0 EvolvesBy Caroline Kvitka
Derive value from existing deployments with Enterprise 2.0 services.
Upon the recent release of Oracle WebCenter Suite 10g Release 3, Oracle Magazine Senior Managing Editor Caroline Kvitka sat down with Oracle Vice President of Product Management Vince Casarez, who focuses on Web 2.0 technology development, Enterprise 2.0, and portal products. The following update on Enterprise 2.0 is an excerpt from that interview. To listen to the entire podcast, visit oracle.com/magcasts.
Oracle Magazine: How is Enterprise 2.0 being defined today?
Casarez: When we first talked about a year ago [“Web 2.0 Meets the Enterprise,” Oracle Magazine, January/February 2008], Enterprise 2.0 was still being defined as to how companies could leverage it, and a lot of them saw it as “Facebook for the enterprise”: How do organizations allow employees to have a personalized page where they can communicate with others and build out their social network?
Now there’s a larger question or even multiple questions. It could be, how can organizations use some of these new Web 2.0 technologies to streamline their business or make some of their internal processes more efficient? Or, how can organizations communicate with partners and customers more effectively by trying to set up dedicated portals or applications?
There are several ways to address these needs. An organization can communicate with partners and customers through blogs and allow them to comment back, and then internalize those comments and publish the consensus back out; or a company can start up a direct conversation with a customer about the best ways to leverage their product or service in combination with other groups within their company on a wiki page and provide a best practices summary for everyone else. So we at Oracle have seen a deeper understanding of some of these core services and how they can add value to existing infrastructures, allowing organizations to better match their customers’ expectations.
Oracle Magazine: How can Enterprise 2.0 capabilities help organizations get more from their existing investments?
Casarez: Nearly every single customer today asks, “We have a lot of enterprise software within our organizations—how can we better get value out of our existing investments?” The nice part about Oracle’s Enterprise 2.0 capabilities is that they can easily be added to existing Web site, portal, and application deployments. They’re all standards based, so you can add these services directly into your environment. More importantly, Oracle certifies these services to work with existing portal and application deployments so that this doesn’t become a huge undertaking for customers. And that makes the barrier for entry a lot lower.
Take, for example, a customer service type of interaction. Customers can go find out information about new releases of products, or they might have an issue with an existing product; but they might not know the best way to leverage this within their organization, so they want to have a discussion with someone from the customer service organization.
A lot of what Enterprise 2.0 capabilities allow is the ability to have an open conversation with product vendors, companies, and partners to figure out a better way of leveraging what they have. The service organization simply adds a way for customers to comment on the available information, rate the answers, collaborate through a wiki or blog, and have a direct instant-message conversation to get specific answers. That’s where the general practices of Enterprise 2.0 and the general features of Web 2.0 help those customers get more value out of what they have and allow companies to form a tighter relationship with their existing customers.
Oracle Magazine: How does Oracle WebCenter Suite 10g Release 3 address user productivity and user interaction in terms of Web 2.0?
Casarez: Let’s say a manager wants to quickly allow for some of his executive management or project leaders to add a blog to communicate with others in the organization. The manager wants the blog to be certified and secured with the rest of the organization’s infrastructure. Another possibility could be that a product manager is working on her next new product or service introduction, and she wants to have a way for the product team to quickly decide and describe what they want to do with that product and more organically come up with a better possible solution or entry. This is where a wiki can add a lot of value, but it needs to be part of the way the team is working already and not another Web site that everyone has to now learn.
This is one of the key things that we delivered with Oracle WebCenter Suite 10g Release 3—we made it very easy to take some of these new Web 2.0 services, such as wikis, blogs, discussions, and presence, and add them to existing Web sites, portals, and applications. In addition, we’ve also made sure that it’s easy to take content from different sources and include that in the site as well. So whether someone is using Oracle Universal Content Management, EMC’s Documentum, Microsoft’s SharePoint, or any other content system, we’ve made it very easy to take advantage of these systems from Oracle WebCenter Suite. Key to all of this is the ability to track how this information is being used and exposing the information and services to any site, whether it’s a professionally built site using Java or .Net or as simple as an HTML page. As part of Oracle WebCenter Suite 10g Release 3, we’ve delivered a service to provide portal and site analytics based on overall usage, and we’ve included a component called Oracle Ensemble that exposes any of these services through REST [representational state transfer] to be used with any type of site or application. Again, Oracle’s goal was to make it easy to add these new capabilities into existing deployments in a managed, secured way without having to go through a long, costly process.
Oracle Magazine: What does the future hold for Enterprise 2.0, and how will Oracle continue to support it?
Casarez: Oracle has spent a lot of time talking about where we go with some of these Web 2.0 services, and you’ll see us tie them into richer streams of information from business intelligence systems, including predictive analytics and product recommendations. There’s a whole set of richer interactions that can provide a way to transform how people work individually or in teams within their organization or across organizations.
These Enterprise 2.0 services we’ve been discussing can provide the most value when they are delivered as part of a platform that can be plugged into existing Oracle and third-party applications that include all the other relevant information, from business processes to business intelligence dashboards, from business activity monitoring dashboards to unstructured interactions. Thus, the systems can deliver better information in the context of the tasks the users are performing within the applications they are used to using. In this way, Oracle enables people to be more productive in what they do on a regular basis.
Caroline Kvitka is senior managing editor of Oracle Magazine and Profit: The Executive’s Guide to Oracle Applications.