by November 3, 2011 0 comments













Andy
Mulholland, CTO,
Capgemini


I have
been meaning to get around to reading an IBM Research report entitled
From
social
media to Social CRM
‘. In an illustration of social
networking this was highlighted by a colleague working on social CRM
to those of us who are registered as interested in this topic via our
Capgemini internal social network, in itself a useful example of the
power of social tools to help people share experiences, knowledge and
content without bombarding each other with emails.

The research
backed up what many practitioners will feel they have experienced
already with facts about how customers are using social networks to
learn about product experiences, but this is still pretty well
unconnected with the actual marketing of products. The report draws
the obvious conclusion about the need for a more structured approach
rather than the hit and miss of relationships of customers and
enterprises which all too often are centered on the complaints
department and make public all the wrong kind of messages!

Well, an
enterprise has internal IT so that’s the structured end for sure,
but if you reflect on the value proposition of the external use of
social technologies and business use of social media then the
benefits are all about seizing unstructured opportunities. So the big
question is how do you go about doing this, and back to the headline,
how do you get the linkage between an enterprise’s structured
internal IT and the unstructured but opportunity-rich series of
events and people that social media, networks, collaboration, etc
supports? At this stage I should warn you that this blog is not
focused on CRM but is focused on the challenge of enterprise
integration in supporting this issue.

I got
the
closest answer I have seen yet in terms of an enterprise-level major
technology vendor in Prague directly after Oracle OpenWorld when I
was invited to be the guest speaker at an internal Oracle event
training their European staff on the collection of capabilities that
make up Oracle WebCenter. This is nominally described as being part
of Oracle Fusion Middleware which provides the integration backbone
to support and connect both traditional IT and the four major parts
of Oracle WebCenter: Web Experience Management, Composite
Applications & Mash-Ups, Enterprise Content Management and Social
Networking & Collaboration.

I say
nominally
because the headings don’t really convey how much there is ‘in
the red stack’ and most of all exactly what Oracle means by being a
full stack vendor in terms of some different and genuine business
benefits in this new area. This blog is about what we need and what
we gain from this, but it is well worth taking a closer look at some
of the Oracle content to gain a real feel for their thinking and
capability, so based on the event and talking to their key staff,
here’s a recommended paper that is low on sales, and high on
insight:

Transforming
business processes in Social by Design
.
I suspect that many CIOs
react to Oracle’s terminology ‘a full stack’ by thinking of
this in terms of technologies and products with the implied
technology lock-in and are rightly suspicious. This might be true in
the core IT back office, but when you get to the new world around the
front office the way Oracle uses the term is around process and event
integration moving through the stack of capabilities. If you get into
the detail it’s pretty interesting, and lays out an approach to the
headline challenge that’s worth reflecting on whatever your product
and vendor strategy.

Oracle
is
perhaps able to do this as I think it is alone in having the three
core blocks of business functionality as well as the underlying
technology to be able to make it function, for everyone else it’s a
technology integration task in parallel to the process orchestration
and integration. That’s not saying it can’t be done, it can and
at Capgemini we are doing this, but it does give Oracle the
opportunity to provide a thought-provoking view on what good looks
like. So what are the three business blocks?

Clearly, the
new ‘go-to-market’ activities around Web-based social models,
content and interaction is the first, and the third is the ERP and
data engine. The second fits between these two and is often
overlooked even though it’s just as important; best of breed
vertical sector specialist applications. Oracle has been buying, and
integrating specialist vendors in this market for some time, and if
you are successful in ‘managing’ your interactions with the
market, customers and experienced employees, it’s specialized
vertical sector applications you are most likely to need to use to
actually capture the opportunities into process, and then on into the
transactions of core ERP to produce the structured data.

Interestingly,
the
big debate with the Oracle folks was about how specialized
vertical software crossed with horizontal software through common
user interfaces; the user experience had better be good or the
capabilities are not going to be usable. So that’s why it’s
interesting to take the time to understand the Oracle point of view
on ‘the red stack’ even if you are not an Oracle customer,
because it’s really about a view of business process integration
across the stack from the one player with all three business blocks
as well as the enabling technology.


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