Is It Time to Switch to Oracle Webcenter?

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on Ocotober 27, 2011. 

Abstract: This article provides an overview of Documentum software and discuss Oracles direction towards its Webcenter product suite

Enterprise content management is a 2.7 billion dollar industry with just a hand full of vendors competing for market share. Documentum was once the master of the content management space, the de facto product for most companies looking to automate their processes and get control over unstructured data. After the dot-com bust, Documentum’s presence wavered and was eventually purchased by EMC. EMC CEO Joe Tucci’s recently announced on an EMC’s earnings call that the Information Intelligence Group at ECM was down 5%. Oracle’s, on the other hand, is expecting to show an impressive 20% growth. And it has come up with a plan it thinks will help Documentum customers.

Documentum’s Drawbacks

With current trends for companies to consolidate their infrastructures, minimize applications and gain greater efficiency through “Out-of-the-box” integration products, Documentum customers are faced with the fact that their implementations will not meet these demands. Costs associated with maintaining, let alone upgrading, Documentum are causing more and more companies to re-evaluate their applications. This, along with other factors, may very well be a reason for Documentum’s downturn.

With Oracle’s focus on “Complete, Open, Integrated” solutions, they are well positioned to capture a large number of Documentum customers. Oracle feels that there are other factors at play; companies are looking at content applications as a fundamental part of the infrastructure, require content to be managed fundamental and OOTB integrated repository for all their middle ware platforms and applications, and there is concern in the lack of a published roadmap for the Documentum product line.

While Documentum offers a wide variety of features and modules, not all of them are operable out of the box and require support from Sis to implement them. Compare that to the Oracle WebCenter suite of products, which work in concert with each other right after a standard install, and it is easy to see potential cost savings for customers that have been struggling with their Documentum implementations.

Another drawback to Documentum is the fact that they did not natively provide a web experience management application, requiring them to utilize FatWire to provide the functionality. Oracle has recently purchased FatWire, now called Oracle WebCenter Sites. Documentum has to look to other vendors to fulfill the WEM requirements (SDL Tridion). In addition, they had no native collaboration utilities and required the use of Box.net and Cisco.

While there are other drawbacks that can be named, the final one that Oracle feels very competitive about is that Documentum doesn’t really have a strong enterprise application integration play (natively integrating with the likes of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and SAP).

Oracle’s Plan

Documentum is squarely in Oracle’s sites. Oracle is announcing this week their go-to-market strategy to help struggling Documentum customers while gaining new ground in the content management space. Oracle’s plan is straightforward:

Trade In Your Documentum and Get 100% Credit for Oracle WebCenter

How much easier can it be? Of course Oracle is also providing very strong messaging to reinforce their efforts:

Oracle is focusing its campaign on existing FatWire customers. Prior to the Oracle acquisition of FatWire, Documentum was used as the digital asset management repository. Now that FatWire is part of the Oracle WebCenter family of products, and product development is quickly incorporating productized integrations, FatWire (WebCenter Sites) customers will soon be able to utilize the built-in DAM capabilities of Oracle WebCenter Content. Other campaign focuses include WebLogic Portal and WCI who utilized Documentum as the content repository for their portal initiatives. Additionally, life sciences and engineering companies can expect a call from Oracle

—-End of Part 1, please continue to Time to Switch Enterprise CMS Platforms Part 2 

Social Networking in the Workplace Part 2

Abstract: This article provides an overview on social networking within the workplace.

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Vendors Mix Public App Features into Internal Solutions

Some software and application vendors today are taking an approach for providing a blend of enterprise social networking and enterprise collaboration with those often found in public social networking and public collaboration sites.  For example, Salesforce.com offers a company wide networking application called Chatter which allows users to create profiles and groups, see status updates, share files and make recommendations, plus much more.

Other technologies provide robust applications which are typically installed within the enterprise such as Oracle’s Web Center Services, which provides social computing services such as wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, forums, instant messaging and presence, people connections and activity streams, plus many more functions for the enterprise user.

Internal Solutions Don’t Natively Integrate with External Sites

Most enterprise social networking and enterprise collaboration applications do not provide an out-of-the-box connection to the public applications. Among the many reasons for this is the fact that there are so many different potential applications to integrate with. Other reasons include the challenges of integrating internal security with public domain security, controlling the sharing of sensitive materials outside of an organizations firewall, and ensuring that employees are able to follow company policies in regards to information sharing and company information policies.

Final Thoughts

We always want it all, but we must be aware of the practical constraints and challenges that may impede our goals. There are practical ways to share information through social networks. Many organizations have a presence on Facebook and LinkedIn and share information freely with their target audiences.

Having a presence on these site channels to reach the masses has been very effective. However, these are external applications from a company’s enterprise and should be treated as such. Use caution with the information you wish to share, or invest in technologies like Oracle’s Information Rights Management where documents can be sealed for designated users.

Engaging the enterprise with public social networking and collaboration can be done, but do it wisely and for purpose….not just because you want it.

Editor’s Note: You may also be interested in reading:

Enterprise CMS: Best Approach Part 2

Abstract: This article provides tips on how to decide which Enterprise CMS system is right for you. In addition, we will talk about how to make a decision that not only is tailored to the organizations needs but also cost effective.

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ECM Pricing Models

The price associated with selecting software is going to be different for each company and for each type of software.  With that said, here is an example costing model for selecting a Content Management application from a pool of 10 Content Management vendors.  I used an average hourly rate of US$ 65.00 for the company’s employees that will be doing the prep work, documentation, evaluations and awarding.

 

Even with these numbers and a very simplified selection process, it is easy to see how expensive it is just to make a decision of software, let alone actually purchase the product and implement it.

I’ve included these numbers to demonstrate that there are usually costs associated with product selection that is sometimes overlooked.  Some would even look at this and decide to cut even more corners to reduce cost.  Unfortunately, skipping on your homework will only cost you more in the long run — a lot more.

Finding the Best Solution, Reducing Solution Cost

I’ve recommended the following model to companies and have found that, when following these basic tips, organizations were able to find a solution that best matched their requirements as well as minimized the overall solution cost.

1. Define the Purpose

Ask yourself, why do you need Enterprise Content Management, what problems will it solve? Create a detailed list of current issues and use cases that the new solution will have to address.

2. Investigate the Market

Look for vendors and products that specifically address the identified problem areas.

3. Create a List of Functional Requirements

Make sure that these functional requirements are specific to the problems at hand and include future growth and functionality anticipated in the near future.

4. Participate in Product demonstrations

Limit the number of vendors/products to a manageable set. Give the vendors your list of use cases and ask them to demonstrate how their products will address each item.

Don’t allow “canned” demos.  Remember, you will want to know how the software will work in the real world.  Any demonstration can be made to look pretty and easy, easily getting the end-users excited, but basing a decision off of DemoWare leads to disappointment.

5. Issue a Request For Information or Even a Request For Proposal

Only invite vendors who have demonstrated their ability to meet most of your requirements during the demonstrations.  This will reduce the number of responses you have to weed through and allow you to focus on features not easily demonstrable such as architecture and integration capabilities.

6. Create a Short List of Vendors and Products for Deeper Review

Specify an architecture that matches your environment and a detailed list of use cases that closely match the problems you are trying to solve. Invite at least the top three vendors to come on site and install the software and configure it while you watch.

The vendors should run into problems as they perform this.  It is important to see how they, and the software, overcome these issues. After the configurations are complete, have them demonstrate the use cases on the systems they built

7. Award a Solution

Base your awards on the RFI/RFP, POC or back-office success, the vendor/software’s ability to overcome challenges, software price and implementation costs.

A Final Note

There is a lot of good information out there and published use cases of how other organizations solved their problems. In addition, a lot of service providers offer software selection services which can help a company make the best informed decision while providing guidance based on years of experience. Use these to your advantage and happy evaluation.

Editor’s Note: You might also be interested in: Selecting a Content Management System: To Score or Not to Score?

Enterprise CMS: Best Approach

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on Feb 3, 2011. 

Abstract: This article provides tips on how to decide which Enterprise CMS system is right for you. In addition, we will talk about how to make a decision that not only is tailored to the organizations needs but also cost effective.

Over the years, I’ve been involved in a large number of product analysis and vendor competitions with companies looking to purchase enterprise content management.  As a result, I’ve noticed a few trends in the decision process that companies undergo and have come to some realizations.  The processes are inefficient, time consuming, costly and don’t always produce a solution which addresses the actual needs of the companies’ objectives.

Costly Short-Cuts

Most organizations, for whatever reason, decide that they need an enterprise content management solution and put together a team to find one.  Their approach is usually broken down into the following steps:

  1. Investigate the market
  2. Create a list of functional requirements
  3. Participate in Product demonstrations
  4. Issue a Request For Information (RFI) or even a Request For Proposal (RFP)
  5. Create a short list of vendors and products for deeper review
  6. Award a solution
  • Investigate the market
    • Companies either do not put the effort into narrowing down all the potential vendors before moving on to the next steps, or they don’t have a clear understanding of what they problems they are trying to solve.
    • Companies don’t take into account all the criteria needed to define a list of potential vendors and products.
  • Create a list of functional requirements
    • Functional requirements are usually very basic and do not reflect current content practices within the organization.  For example:
      • Must provide Check-in/Check-out capabilities
      • Must provide a content viewer
      • Must provide search
      • Must provide workflow
    • Functional requirements generated by organizations looking for content management applications tend to leave out integration and infrastructure requirements as well.
  • Participant in Product demonstrations
    • Organizations often invite a large number of vendors to demo their products.  Unfortunately, little guidance is given to the vendors, so a “Show up and Throw up” demonstration takes place which does not address the real needs of the customer.
    • Initial demonstrations are typically “Canned” demonstrations.  They all look pretty and easy to use; some more so than others.  I once told a customer that I would not do a generic demonstration.  Doing so would be similar to doing a test drive in a car on a closed track.  You never get to see what the car would really do when it gets on the highway.
  • Issue a Request For Information or even a Request For Proposal
    • I haven’t met anyone in the past 15 years who actually likes to create a RFI or RFP and haven’t even met anyone who actually likes to fill one out.  Even though these are necessary evils, they are not always designed to reflect the business problems that companies are trying to address.
    • RFPs and RFIs are all too often distributed to too many vendors, usually the same vendors that the organization invited in for generic demonstrations.
  • Create a short list of vendors and products for deeper review
    • The criteria for selecting the vendors tends to be based off of the initial demonstrations and RFI/RFP responses.  While these should be the factors, incorrectly performing initial analysis and demonstrations can lead to organizations down-selecting to the wrong products and vendors for their specific business needs.
    • In most cases, a deeper review consists of a more in-depth demonstration of the product.  Most companies address specific use case requirements at this point, but even then, the vendors are given time to create a “canned” demo which doesn’t reflect the true level of effort required to meet certain criteria.
  • Award a solution — an unfortunate event happens at this point, a product is selected and a vendor is awarded a contract.  I say unfortunate because a broken process up to this point has led to a decision which will produce a broken solution or a working solution that far exceeds anyone’s budgets.

—-End of Part 1, please continue to Next Enterprise CMS: Best Approach Part 2 

The Next Generation: Mobile Apps Part-2

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on July 13, 2011.

Abstract: This article Continues to talk about the impact of mobile applications and how to properly plan for them. 

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Formatted WebsiteInformational ApplicationsInteractive Applications

Planning for Mobile Engagement

For  companies looking to engage their customers through mobile devices, it  is important that they create a focused plan, outline strategic  functions of the application, and provide a technical solution which  sets them apart from their competitors. This is often easier said than  done as new applications are added daily, or existing ones are updated  to include the “newest and greatest.” A lot of work has been done in the  area of convenience. By using GPS information, tracking the user’s  historical actions, and applying business intelligence, companies have  streamlined the user interactions.

Retail stores, for example,  have done a good job of promoting sale items through applications and  even giving the users information about where the closest store is to  the user at any specific moment. The next generation of apps in retail  will probably take user purchasing information (collected through store  memberships and reward cards) and display items which the users have  shown an interest in. The downside to that is that we as users feel like  our privacy is invaded when retailers collect and store information  based on our buying habits. It’s a fine line between providing a  friendly service and tracking what we do with our money.

Companies  need to understand their market, the key points to success, what their  competitors are doing, and what are acceptable limits to information  gathering and sharing when it comes to user specific data. Creating a  plan to maximize all of this can be a daunting task, but a well built  and user-friendly mobile application can provide a huge payoff in  customer loyalty and return transactions.

Final Thoughts

The  rocket of technology is still in flight. Every day new advancements in  technology open new opportunities to grab our customer’s attention. The  problem is that there is always a shiny new toy to capture a user’s  interest, but in the end, solid convenience and ease of use will win  out.

Editor’s Note: You may also be interested in reading:

Metadata in Content Management – Part 2

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on January 10, 2011. 

Abstract: The following article has been split between two parts. Part two continues to provide an overview of Metadata in Content Management. 

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Dublin Core is a Common Model for Content Management

For traditional corporate Content Management, many organizations adopt a version of the Dublin Core model which is one of the most well known and established standards. The essence of the Dublin Core states that content will be described by metadata that:

  • Address Functional Requirements – The main repository or any application that connects to the repository for managed content will be performing specific tasks. Metadata should be constructed to address these functions. As an example, content may be called from a Web App which may have certain search and security requirements.
  • Develop A Domain Model – A domain model is a description of the things the metadata model will describe and the relationship between those things such as a person or author is described by a name, location and email address.
  • Define Metadata Terms – Metadata terms are the properties that describe the things in the model. For example, a press release would have a title, release date, author and topic. An author can have a name, location or address and email address.
  • When designing a model using this approach, there are many dependencies that need to be addressed and it can be difficult to keep them organized. Before an organization begins to build their model, the following guidelines can help to keep this manageable and usable:
  • Minimize the number of metadata fields for a type of content – When users are presented with a large number of fields that they have to enter data into, they will find ways to avoid filling them out. Users are usually in a hurry and just want to get their files into a repository. Make their tasks more streamlined by only asking them to fill out a few important fields.
  • Avoid “Nice to have” fields – Organizations can easily fall into the trap of having too much data describing their content that isn’t need or will rarely be used. For example, I had a customer once who wanted a metadata field for capturing the font type used within the managed document. Since the customer was not a “Publishing House”, there was no need to store this data and it would have just been an extra field for the end-user to fill out.
  • Create a Global set of fields – Every department within an organization will have specific metadata requirements for their own business needs, but there should be a well defined set of cross-organization fields that any user can search on to find content.
  • Use Pre-defined lists when possible – Free form metadata fields are notorious for user error and poor searching.

The following is an example of building a Metadata model, loosely derived from the Dublin Core methods and keeping the above guidelines in mind:

Metadata Model for Managed Email Repository

Requirements: Allow users to search for emails based on standard email attributes in addition to priority classifications. Require users to supply pertinent metadata values during check-in procedures to ensure search ability.  

Domain Model: Managed Object – Emails

  • Content Type – Email
  • Responsible Parties
    • Sender
    • Recipient
  • Priority
    • Level
    • Type

Metadata Terms and Fields:

  • Content Type – Emails (Auto Selected)
  • Receive Date – (Date Field)
  • Sent Date – (Date Field)
  • Subject – (free form field)
  • Sender – (free form field)
  • Recipient – (free form field)
  • Priority Type – (predefined list)
  • Value 1 – General Correspondence
  • Value 2 – Legal Correspondence
  • Value 3 – Sales Correspondence
  • Value 4 – Human Resource Correspondence
  • Priority Level – (Predefined list)
    • Value 1 – No action required
    • Value 2 – Immediate action required
    • Value 3 – Management action required

Final Thoughts

For an organization which will manage many different types of content within the repository, each content type might have its own structure. Mapping out the requirements, domain and terms will help to keep information organized, allow administrators to see duplicate fields, and asses what is absolutely needed and what is extra data that is being stored. Modeling like this can take anywhere from a week to several months depending on the size of the application(s) involved, type of data being managed and size of the organization.

Gap Between Creation and Management – Part 2

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on December 14, 2010. 

Abstract: The following article has been split between two parts. Part two continues to provide details on techniques to bridge the gap between creation and management.

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In an Ideal World, Integration Would be Seamless

A lot still needs to be done in order to bridge the gap between creation and management when it comes to rich media files. An ideal solution would include a DAM product that is designed to integrate with the creation product’s management applications.

Users should be able to store a graphic in a repository, call it into a creation project, share it with other users on that project and be notified when that graphic is updated.The person updating the graphic should be able to perform a search to see all compositions that are using the file so that the artist knows the impact of editing the graphic.

While working in a tool such as Adobe Photoshop, a user should be able to navigate to a file system, to Adobe’s Version Cue or to an enterprise DAM repository like Oracle’s Enterprise Content Management to find the elements required to complete a composition.The user should then be able to store that composition in a DAM repository so that other users can use that same composition as an element in another project.

There have been limited co-development efforts between DAM producers and creative tool designers. Until true integration happens, organizations will have to work within the boundaries of the product or design their own solutions to get the best out of their resources.

Suggestions for Bridging the Gap Between Creation and Management

Companies need all the capabilities that the creative packages provide along with the extended functionality of DAM solutions. As demand drives efforts to bridge the gap between creation and management and as organizations and users become more sophisticated, both management and creation products will have to adapt to keep pace.Until then, here are some points that can help bridge the gap:

  • Store all individual elements within a DAM repository. Have the DAM system configured for subscription services to notify users when new elements are added and updated, enable workflow process for approval and validation and apply security to match content utilization across the user community. Even though most DAM and creative applications are not integrated, users can still search the DAM system to find the elements they need, record in the elements DAM metadata record what project or compilation the element is being used for, and download a copy for use in the current project.When the compilation is finished, store it in the DAM system for future reuse and workflows.
  • Utilize the built in work-streams of the creative tools. As elements are downloaded from the DAM, store them within the project of the creative tool. Periodically review notifications from the DAM system and update the project when elements are updated.
  • Try to maintain a single trusted file for any element within the DAM system. Refrain from simply storing elements on a shared file system or sending them to project members via email. Having a single and validated source of an element can help to increase consistency and reduce the time spent finding items needed to complete compositions.
  • Take the time, either with your own resources or with assistance from external consulting firms, to truly understand how your content creators work. The first step into maximizing any process requires fully understanding how people perform the tasks. Automate what needs to be automated and reduce the time spent on finding the things your creators need by increasing the enterprise search functionality.

In the corporate world where rich media files are used as individual objects or as compilations, it is important to manage them efficiently. By combining creation tools with digital asset management, companies can reduce production times, make the processes more efficient and increase productivity.

Even though the gap between creation and management still exists, it is getting smaller. Companies can find the solutions they need for their particular process by combining creation and management and using creative solutions — either that the company themselves create or one provided by external consultants.

There is no complete of the shelf solution for every process, but with a little ingenuity, a solution can be devised.

 

Content Management (UCM) Metadata Profiles Part 2

Originally posted by Troy Allen on CMSWire on May 11, 2011.

Abstract: The following article has been split between two parts. Part two continues to provide an overview of utilizing Metadata Profiles within the Oracle WebCenter Content (formally known as Oracle UCM Server).

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A New Approach to Unleash the Power

While working on a few of my most recent projects, I’ve started taking a different approach to metadata modeling for Document-centric applications of the Oracle UCM. By working from the outside-in, a model can be built that better drives the user experience.

The following is a simple guideline for building a metadata model without having to waste all of those sticky notes stuck to the wall. While this is specific to the Oracle UCM, it could be modified for other content management applications.

Metadata by Sticky Notes

Source 1 – StickySorter Free from OfficeLabs published Novermber 28, 2008 by http://workerthread.wordpress.com

Step 1. Determine the types of content that will need unique metadata options. Examples of these may include Marketing, Finance, IT, and Compliance. Content may also have special needs based on the formatting of the content such as images or video files.

Step 2. Create a usage modeling spreadsheet and layout the required fields for each type and what the optional fields will be; include notes on how the field will be used or specific criteria for the fields:

Step 3. Insert all required and optional metadata fields into the Configuration Manager or Metadata tool (note that some fields may already exist as system metadata fields).

Step 4. Determine which metadata field will be used to drive the profiles. It is best to use something like ProfileTrigger.

Step 5. Create Rules for Global Required fields and for Profile-specific required fields.

Step 6. Create Rules for Profile-specific Optional metadata and include any special field handling requirements gathered from usage modeling:

Step 7. Create Profiles for the specific types of content that require different screens and add the appropriate rules:

Step 8. Test the new profiles and validate with the end users.

Final Thoughts

Profiles within Oracle’s UCM allows administrators to create better interfaces for their users while improving the systems capabilities around the metadata it collects for each managed object. If a user is presented with too many fields or has to put too much thinking into the tasks of checking in content or searching for it, they will find ways not to use the system.