Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Iowa named member John Klein as “Entrepreneur of the Year” during their annual meeting on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in Des Moines. Klein and partner, Jason Stortz, started their computer consulting business five years ago in Klein’s basement. Since its humble beginnings, Redstone Content Solutions has grown to become a nationally recognized leader among information technology service businesses. (source)
“John is recognized by his fellow EOers as a leader who lives the EO Vision of business growth, personal development and community engagement,” stated Rowena Crosbie, President, Tero International, Inc. “He exemplifies the EO core values each day.”
Redstone also recently celebrated it's 5 year anniversary!
“Five years ago we set a standard to place our clients at the center of all that we do. The company we have built and the successes we’ve enjoyed are the direct result of customer confidence in our mission and loyalty to our partnership”, comments John Klein, co-founder of Redstone. “Without this support, our accomplishments would be far fewer and much less meaningful.”
Redstone delivers a full complement of strategic Oracle WebCenter consulting services – software development, implementation, training and support for customers across a wide range of industries. Redstone has achieved industry recognition as an innovative IT services organization that delivers global Oracle WebCenter solutions. The firm's solid track record for delivering results is a by-product of its investment in people, processes and technology. Read more about John Klein's EO Entrepreneur of the Year award and Redstone's recent accomplishments.
Congratulations John from all of us on the WebCenter team!
Digital Disruption – The change that occurs when new digital technologies and business models affect the value proposition of existing goods and services or bring to market an entirely new innovation.
Why is the shift to digital so disruptive?
As a global society, we are currently in the process of digitizing everything. We are wrapping our physical world with a digital counterpart, a world of information, which parallels and reflects our own. We want to know everything we can think of about everything we can think of.
This whirl of digital information changes the playing field for businesses, because digital information does not abide by any of the rules that we are used to in business.
In a digital world, products and services have no physical substance. There are no distribution costs. A single prototype can generate an infinite number of copies at no cost. And since the products and services are so different, the environment around them becomes unstable; as the digital layer interacts with the physical layer, everything in the ecosystem is up for grabs. Suddenly new products become possible and established ones become obsolete overnight.
Science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
In the business world today, you are competing with sorcerers. You need to learn magic.
Let’s take the music industry as an example of how technology changes the playing field. Music used to be very expensive to record and distribute. Every time a new technology comes along, the music industry has had to adjust.
The graph on the left shows units sold in the music industry, by media, since 1973. See the overlapping curves? Each technology has a lifecycle – early in the lifecycle sales are low, but they rise as more people adopt the technology. When a new technology comes along the older technologies suffer. But not to worry, people still need their music, right? Typically the lifecycle curve for “units sold” closely echoes the revenue curve.
But when the product becomes purely digital – when it enters the realm of magic – the cost of making and distributing the product plummets to nearly zero. This means more people can produce and distribute music, more cheaply and easily. More music becomes available to the public and purchases skyrocket – but the price per unit drops precipitously.
Take a look at the two graphs below. The left chart is units sold and the right one is revenue. Note how digital downloads (units sold) have skyrocketed, while the revenue curve is the smallest in years.
The core issue is that even though unit sales rise rapidly, the price per unit drops so much faster that the revenue from sales fails to make up the difference. The industrial-age company, which has built its business model on the high costs of producing and distributing physical products, now has a high-cost infrastructure which is suddenly obsolete. What was once an asset is now a critical liability. This opens the entire industry to new players who can offer services to this new world at a dramatically lower cost.
The product is now digital. So the album, which you once charged $15 for, now retails for about $10. Ouch. You just lost a third of your revenue. But it gets worse. In the old days you sold music by the album, because the cost to make and distribute single songs on CD kept the cost of singles relatively high. So people would buy albums which contained a lot of songs, it now appears, that they didn’t really want. The chart below compares the typical mix between album and single sales on CD vs. downloads. The product mix has flipped completely, from most people buying albums for $15, to most people buying songs for $1.
So the revenue per unit drops once again. Even with some people buying albums, the average revenue per unit is about $1.50. That means your entire industry has lost about 90% of your revenue, almost overnight.
In the world of manufacturing we talk about efficiency and productivity. You look to efficiency to decrease your costs and productivity to increase your revenue. In between you seek to make a profit. But you can’t streamline yourself to profits when the world is changing around you so profoundly. You need different strategies, different tactics.
The digital revolution is the biggest shift in the music industry since the 1920’s, when phonograph records replaced sheet music as the industry’s profit center.
What’s going on here? First, the means of making and distributing the product change. Suddenly the costs are so low that thousands of new competitors enter the market. Every artist can now compete with you from his or her garage, bringing new meaning to the word “garage band.”
But as if that weren’t bad enough, this also changes the things that people buy and the way they buy them. It’s a cascading effect.
So who wins and how do they win? Let’s look at Apple’s iTunes strategy. Apple looked at the entire industry as an ecosystem – people buy music and they play it on a device. If they like the experience they buy more music. In time they might buy another device, and so on, and so on. This is not a business process, it’s a business cycle.
Sony had everything that Apple had – in fact, much more. They had a powerful music-player brand, the Walkman, the established industry leader for portable music players. They had more engineers. They had a music division with 21 record labels.
Sony’s divisions, which worked in their favor for efficiency and productivity, worked against them when it came to collaboration and innovation. The company was divided into separate operating units which competed with each other internally, making it difficult to collaborate on projects that spanned across multiple units. Sony was a classic industrial-age company, focused on productivity and efficiency.
What did Apple do that Sony didn’t? They focused on the system, not the product.
If you want to record your own music, Apple makes the software for that. If you want to sell your music, you can sell it on iTunes. If you want to play it, Apple makes the device. In case you hadn’t noticed, Apple had to look at the entire ecosystem of the record industry through a new, digital lens, including:
- Understand the digital infrastructure and how it changed the playing field.
- Relentless focus on user experience – simplicity, “just works” design, delight customers.
- Smart partnerships: Apple began by giving away the money: Record companies made 70 cents on every 99 cent purchase, with the rest split between artists and merchandising costs.
- Interoperability: Apple chose to support an open format that would work with any player, while Sony chose a proprietary format for their first digital media player.
Think creatively. Understand, provide for, and support the entire ecosystem. Fill in the gaps when you can. Eliminate middlemen if you can – partner with them if you must. Partner with value providers (like artists and record companies that own large repositories of music). Be fearless about cannibalizing your own core business – if you’re not doing, it somebody else is.
The core difference is between an industrial, manufacturing-based model which focuses on efficiency and productivity – making more widgets more efficiently, and an information-based model which focuses on creativity and innovation. The industrial model thrives on successful planning and logistics, while the information model thrives on systems thinking, rapid learning and adaptation to a changing environment.
What can you do? As a company, you will need to innovate differently. That’s the subject of my next post, which we will discuss next week.
In the meantime, you can hear more from Dave on Digital Disruption in our Digital Business Thought Leaders webcast "The Digital Experience: A Connected Company’s Sixth Sense".
Oracle BPM Suite offers in-built adaptive case management capabilities to manage unstructured processes and empower the knowledge workers to improve customer experience
Avio Discusses Oracle's Business Driven Process Management
Dan Atwood of Avio discusses how Oracle BPM Suite empowers businesses users to design and improve processes and achieve higher visibility and efficiency.
By Ty Duval, Consulting Senior Practice Director, WebCenter, Oracle Consulting Services
At the Crossroads
I frequently encounter companies at the crossroads in their efforts to become digital businesses. Their journeys proceed along familiar paths and I can readily anticipate what their next steps should be. To begin with, these firms launched their initial web sites more than 15 years ago, and have steadily added multiple web-based applications (running on disparate systems) to support targeted initiatives. IT and business leaders are certainly web-aware, if not already web-savvy.
Yet a lot has changed over the past decade. Web-powered solutions are no longer nice-to-have additions to enterprise architectures and applications. Rather, these solutions are core capabilities for achieving strategic business objectives.
The Business Value for WebCenter
IT leaders must now provide both internal and external customers with the branded experiences for managing and using online content, while sharply reducing costs and accelerating time to market. It’s necessary -- but no longer sufficient -- to simply consolidate web sites by introducing standardized platforms and services that reduce technical footprints.
Instead, IT groups need to refresh, modernize, and mobilize their enterprise application infrastructures. There is also an evolution of responsibilities. Individual business units, not the IT groups, should create and manage all of the content required for engaging customers and driving the branded experiences across their organizations.
Of course, Oracle WebCenter provides the tooling for delivering effective enterprise-scale applications. Yet implementation makes a big difference. At OCS, we focus on three factors for deploying digital business solutions – consultative engagement, content inventory, and content reuse. Let me explain why these factors make a difference.
First, the OCS engagement model is a consultative process. We work along side business stakeholders and creative teams to define the requirements for building branded experiences. With our deep technical knowledge and product expertise, we can help define how to use the right tool for the right job in the right way.
There is often a gap between what the business envisions and what the tools deliver. By being part of the conversation from the start, OCS consultants can bridge the gap, and make timely recommendations that leverage the key capabilities of the enabling tools and technologies. Then, when it comes to implementation, consultants can rapidly prototype and produce frequent enhancements on an ongoing basis. Utilizing an agile development methodology, they can work closely with business users and designers to mold the digital environment.
Second, branded experiences depend on content. In any engagement, it’s essential to determine what information already exists and can be readily incorporated into the new solution, as well as what content is entirely missing and needs to be created. A content inventory maps the “to be” state about what information customers require, against the “as is” condition describing and categorizing all the content items that are currently available.
OCS consultants work with business stakeholders and creative teams to identify the kinds of content needed to support particular experiences. It is also important to identify the content owners who are responsible for producing the needed information, both currently and in the future. Often the content already exists in one repository or another. The design challenge then is to compile and organize the information from disparate sources.
The content inventory can also uncover the missing text, images, and rich media assets that customers expect as part of their experiences. OCS consultants can then work with line-of-business organizations to define new content management processes – the people, tasks, and activities required for creating and maintaining these needed information sources. Once deployed, the line organizations should be responsible for managing the content without IT support.
Third, a successful digital business initiative depends on content reuse – the ability to create content items once, manage them systematically, and distribute them as needed across the enterprise. As an example, there should be a single source of content that describes the capabilities of a new product on a company’s web site, and the corresponding promotions contained in personalized email messages sent to prospective customers.
When it comes to building branded experiences, more is at stake then storing content within a shared repository or relying on a predefined set of editorial workflows for review and approvals. Reuse requires an appreciation for the power of content and an understanding about how to manage it for competitive advantage.
This is where WebCenter deployment expertise pays off. OCS consultants have the technical skill sets and business insights for defining the content models and metadata essential to ensure content reuse. They can utilize the appropriate capabilities of various WebCenter products for business results.
Knowhow and Experience
In short, there’s an art and a science to building branded experiences for digital businesses. Successful companies are going to transform – and digitize – key aspects of their ongoing operations, and create new business processes along the way. Different firms and even entire industries are going to pursue their own particular paths.
But there are common threads to weaving together the applications for next-generation, digitally empowered environments. It takes knowhow and experience. When implementing WebCenter, OCS consultants have the insights, methodologies, and tools to help companies make the journeys and become digital businesses.
The July 2014 edition of the Information InDepth: Oracle WebCenter Newsletter is now available! Feature stories include:
- New Oracle.com Wins Raves: Re-Engineered for Personalized Buyer Journeys
- Survey Reveals Rising User Expectations for B2B Interactions
- Meet the Oracle WebCenter and Oracle Business Process Management (Oracle BPM) Team: Andy Kershaw, Senior Director of Oracle WebCenter, Oracle BPM, and Oracle Social Network Product Management
There are also new infographic videos, customer and partner spotlights and more! Read your copy today!
By Mitchell Palski, Oracle WebCenter Sales Consultant
The Important of Enterprise Mobility
Enterprise mobility is a growing area of interest for all organizations – public sector and commercial – mainly because of the widespread use of mobile devices. A majority of users have mobile access to the web and an ever-growing percentage of those users depend on that capability to successfully perform their day-to-day responsibilities. Rather than combat this trend, the burden is on IT development teams to develop user interfaces that enhance the productivity of their workforce and encourage user participation through mobile devices. I wrote a blog in April 2014 called “The Evolution of Enterprise Content in the Mobile Era” in which I talked about the enterprise benefits of mobile access to content. Aside from the benefits to end users, I also noted that organizations can analyze usage analytics from personal devices to gather information about their mobile workforce. The point is this; enterprise mobility isn’t just important to end users’ satisfaction, it’s also important to an organization’s operational awareness.
Oracle WebCenter Portal is a Web platform that allows organizations to quickly and easily create intranets, extranets, composite applications, and self-service portals. Oracle WebCenter Portal provides users a more secure and efficient way of consuming information and interacting with applications, processes, and other users. Oracle WebCenter Portal provides IT with a comprehensive and flexible enterprise portal and composite applications solution to quickly build portals, websites and composite applications. This common user experience architecture is based on ADF and combines run-time and design time customization of applications in one.
Oracle WebCenter Portal supports enterprise mobility through several development techniques:
- Responsive Design – develop an interface that adapts the layout of a website automatically based on the dimensions of the device viewing that site.
- Device Settings and Page Variants – control how a Portal renders on specific devices or groups of devices.
- Mobile Applications – provide users with native applications for their iOS and Android devices.
1 Responsive design is a client-side strategy that depends on CSS Media Query to carry out the client-side responsiveness. Oracle WebCenter Portal is based on the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), whose user interface components (rich client components) are based on JavaServer Faces (JSF). When developing a responsive Oracle WebCenter Portal user interface, your development team will have to leverage those ADF components to quickly and easily build interactive user interfaces. When building a responsive user interface layout, developers are not limited to using ADF components – they can also leverage the traditional HTML5+CSS3 technique. Here’s how it breaks down:
Interactive Components Page Layout ADF Yes Yes HTML5+CSS3 No Yes
What it comes down to is this:
- Oracle WebCenter Portal comes out-of-the-box with a plethora of UI components that can be dragged and dropped onto a page. No ADF knowledge is needed to accomplish this.
- ADF is used for any UI component that interacts with Oracle WebCenter services. This includes anything from an Event Calendar to an Administration link.
- ADF, HTML5, or a hybrid of the two, can all be used to design the layout of your Portal.
Oracle recommends the use of JDeveloper to develop page templates and skins for Oracle WebCenter Portal. In JDeveloper, you can build new templates and skins from scratch or refine and further develop existing ones that come with Oracle WebCenter Portal.
Oracle WebCenter Portal includes the capability to recognize which type of device a given request comes from, and to render the portal properly on that device. Portal administrators can use device settings to specify which page templates and skins to associate with specific devices or classes of devices. In addition, administrators can create and edit page variants – alternative pages designed to display on specific groups of devices.
- Managing Device Groups for a Portal
- Creating new device groups
- Editing device groups
- Assigning templates and skins to device groups
- Creating a Page Variant for a Device Group
- Create a page variant
- Assign that variant to a device group
- Use Oracle WebCenter Portal’s browser-based tools to build the Page Variant
The advantage of using page variants is that you aren’t just altering the layout of the page based on a device’s dimensions – you are actually providing an alternate user experience. You are also controlling what content is actually being displayed on that page. You may want to completely re-structure the way that your navigation renders, or which Business Intelligence reports show up on the home page, or provide links that are more useful to mobile workers rather than those in the office. Responsive design can be incorporated into this technique, but the real value in using page variants comes from defining mobile user’s goals and tailoring the interface to optimize their experience.
Mobile Applications for Oracle WebCenter Oracle ADF Mobile enables developers to build and extend enterprise applications for iOS and Android from a single code base. Based on a hybrid mobile architecture, ADF Mobile supports access to native device services, enables offline applications and protects enterprise investments from future technology shifts.
The Java language is used for developing the business logic in Oracle ADF Mobile applications – a fairly commonplace skillset. This makes mobile app development easy for most organizations because it doesn’t require their Java developers to learn any new programming languages. The Oracle Fusion Middleware stack has a set of APIs for all products, including Oracle WebCenter. These APIs can be used to access Oracle WebCenter security, to display Oracle WebCenter services (i.e. People connections, announcements, events, etc.), to render content from the Content Repository, and perform many other Oracle WebCenter-related actions. Local device services such as camera, phone, SMS, and GPS, can also be accessed through the Apache Cordova platform. ADF mobiles can authenticate against a remote login server and then make the appropriate tokens accessible for further web service calls to data sources.
For developers that already familiar with developing with Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF), the transition to using ADF mobile will be even easier. Developers can still expose Java classes and web services as “data controls”. JDeveloper uses a declarative binding layer and drag-and-drop technology to create forms, lists, charts, and other data visualizations from an application’s data controls. Developers that are already accustomed to building interfaces using these declarative technologies will find ADF mobile easy to use, especially considering that the ADF Mobile components are already designed for mobile devices, allow for additional customization through CSS3, and support touch gestures.
Conclusion Why is Enterprise Mobility Important?
- More and more users depend on web capabilities to successfully perform their day-to-day responsibilities
- Encouraging user engagement through mobile devices can enhance the productivity of your mobile workforce
- Organizations can analyze usage analytics from personal devices to gather information about their mobile workforce
- Responsive design in page templates and skins
- Apply layouts and skins to the UX for specific devices and device-groups
- Develop a mobile application using ADF Mobile
At the end of the day, there is no substitute for hands-on training and reading the Oracle Documentation. For more guidance on this subject, reach out to your local Oracle representative and open a discussion!
1Building a Responsive WebCenter Portal Application, April 2014, By JayJay Zheng
2ADF-WebCenter Responsive-Adaptive Design Beyond, By Martin Deh
Guest Blog Post by: Geoffrey Bock, Principal, Bock & Company
Customer Conversations What are Oracle WebCenter customers doing to exploit innovative digital technologies and develop new sources of value? How are they mobilizing their enterprise applications and leveraging opportunities of the digital business revolution?
To better understand the landscape for digitally powered businesses, I talked to several Oracle WebCenter customers and systems integrators across a range of industries -- including hospitality, manufacturing, life sciences, and the public sector. Through in depth conversations with IT and business leaders, I collected a set of stories about their mobile journeys -- how they are developing next-generation enterprise applications that weave digital technologies into their ongoing operations.
In this and two subsequent blogs, I will highlight several important points from my overall roadmap for developing digital businesses.
Beyond an Aging Infrastructure As a first step, successful customers are contending with digital disruption, and leveraging their inherent strengths to transform operations. Today they are web-aware, if not already web-savvy. Most organizations launched their initial sites more than fifteen years ago. They have steadily added web-based applications to support targeted initiatives.
Yet the customers I interviewed are now at a crossroads. They realize that they need to refresh, modernize, and mobilize their enterprise application infrastructure to build successful digital businesses.
- One IT leader describes how her firm implemented a cutting-edge enterprise portal ten years ago. Designed for order processing and resources management, the portal now runs outdated technologies and is unable to support needed employee-facing applications.
- Another business leader has a similar story. The company still relies on a custom designed web-based application. The technology is obsolete and the people knowledgeable about maintaining the application are difficult to find.
- A third IT leader describes how her organization collects information through several Cold Fusion sites, and needs to replace them in order to deliver more flexible self-service applications.
Rather than simply enhance what they have, leaders are opting for modernization. They need to develop and deploy native digital experiences. Web-based applications that are bolted onto an aging infrastructure are no longer sufficient.
Change and Continuity Yet there is also continuity around integrating the end-to-end experiences. Let’s take the case of a large manufacturing firm now mobilizing its digital business around Oracle WebCenter. The business leaders identified the multiple steps in the buying process – the information customers and partners need to have to assess alternatives and make purchasing decisions.
The firm had developed multiple web sites to publish product information, offer design advice, and schedule follow-up meetings. But the end result was a fragmented and disconnected set of activities, relying first on information from one system, then from another, and lacking an end-to-end view for measuring results.
The leaders realized that they needed to connect the dots and deliver a seamless experience. In the case of this manufacturing firm, a key step blends online with real-time – helping customers schedule appointments with designers who advise them about design alternatives and product options. (From the manufacturer’s perspective, designers are channel partners who sell the finished goods and deliver support services.)
The breakthrough that accelerates the buying process focuses on these customer/designer interactions -- assembling all of the necessary information into a seamless experience, and making it easy for customers to engage with designers to finalize designs and place orders. As a result, this manufacturing firm mitigates the threat of digital disruption by mobilizing resources to complete a high-value task.
The firm empowers its partner channel by reinventing a key business process for the digital age. This becomes a win-win opportunity that increases customer satisfaction while also improving sales opportunities.