May 20, 2013
Why What You Do Not Can Bite Your Pocketbook. Marketers Have Their Interests Front and Center, Not the Customers’ Interests
A few days ago, I sat through several presentations about enterprise search. The systems struck me as quite similar. The emphasis was placed on providing basic information access to users. For the purpose of this short essay, I will not make distinctions among search vendors which position themselves as providers of analytics, business intelligence, discovery, and Big Data access, among other synonyms for search and information retrieval.
The missing pieces of the cost puzzle can make budget deficits a reality. A happy quack to Vermont’s Department of Information and Innovation. See the discussion to drive down the cost of doing business. States are paragons of fiscal probity.
However, the talks caused me to reflect on what the vendors left out of their presentations.
Here’s a checklist of the omissions in commercial systems which are now being marketed as an alternative to the high profile and expensive solutions available from Dassault, Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Microsoft, and Oracle, Each of these large enterprise software vendors acquired one or more search systems. Each has taken steps to integrate search with other enterprise software solutions.
The gap the acquisition of such companies as Autonomy, Exalead, and others is now left to smaller and less well know vendors of search. I don’t want to mention these companies by name, but a quick search of Bing or Google will surface many of the firms vying to become the next $100 million vendor of enterprise search systems.
The first omission is a component which can acquire, normalize, and present textual content in a form the search system can process. For newcomers to enterprise search, the content acquisition process can add significantly to the cost of deploying an enterprise search system. Connectors are available from a number of specialist vendors. Most of the search vendors provide some basic tools for acquiring content. Depending on the organization, the vendor provided tools may be adequate for acquiring documents in text or Web pages in HTML. Other document types may be more problematic. A vendor offering a system which requires documents to be in a supported XML format often emphasizes the system’s ability to slice, dice, parse, and perform certain operations with alacrity. What’s omitted is the time, cost, technical expertise, and work flows required to get content into the search system. Cloud based enterprise search solutions and certain lower cost enterprise search systems leave content to the licensee or offer for fee consulting services to assist with these often complex activities.
April 12, 2013
MuleSoft is making headlines for its ability to connect applications on-site and in the Cloud. As it launches into an IPO, big funding is rolling in. Read all of the details in the TechCrunch article, “Readying For An IPO, Enterprise SaaS Integration Platform MuleSoft Raises $37M From NEA, Salesforce And Others.”
The article begins:
“MuleSoft, an integration platform for connecting SaaS and enterprise applications in the cloud and on-premise, has raised $37 million led by NEA . . . This bring the company’s total funding to $81 million. MuleSoft lets organizations integrate their cloud and on-premise applications. The company’s newly launched platform allows for a complete integration platform to enable connectivity to any application, data service or API, across the entire cloud and on-premise continuum.”
For organizations that already have a large infrastructure and need to connect their scattered components, MuleSoft may be a good solution. But, for organizations that are just launching a content management and enterprise search infrastructure, you want to do it right the first time. In this case, LucidWorks would be a great solution. LucidWorks can turn every bit of multi-structured data into a business advantage and is available in the Cloud. Scalable and cost-effective, LucidWorks can help prevent constant restructuring and reassessment of outdated infrastructures.
Emily Rae Aldridge, April 12, 2013
April 12, 2013
DestinationCRM.com informs us, “Oracle Releases RightNow Cloud Service Update.” The latest version seeks to increase community engagement and improve message relevancy. It also includes new ROI reporting tools. Writer Leonard Klie tells us:
“The company said the new release will help businesses increase efficiency, improve transparency of decisions to customers, and reduce follow-ups with automatically generated audit reports that document each step of the decision process, enhance customer satisfaction by only asking contextually relevant questions and providing timely, accurate answers that apply to the customer’s circumstance, and faster response to business changes in policies, legislation, and pricing through updates that can now be managed by business users through a single source document, which gets automatically deployed to the Web.”
The article lists some of the new functionalities: a dynamic message template designer; the iPad-specific mobile agent app; customer portal framework extensions (with an improved extension wizard); a customer-engagement engine; chat ROI reporting; policy automation; social community management (to both highlight and bury specific content); new survey expiration options; and a set of public APIs with which to build rich cloud services. See the write-up for details on each of these.
Oracle hopes the new features will allow its customers to respond more rapidly to an ever-changing business landscape, while making things simpler for their clients’ IT departments. We hope so, too.
Cynthia Murrell, April 12, 2013
March 22, 2013
New Zealand (NZ) Post has been using the RightNow platform and according to the ZDnet “NZ Post looks to Bolster Oracle RightNow Adoption” plans to expand the usage of the Oracle cloud-based RightNow customer management service. Oracle purchased the CRM software company in 2011. New Zealand postal service began using the RightNow platform as a sales customer relationship management (CRM) tool. They then expanded the product suite so that it covered a variety of different channels such as email and social media. New Zealand Post had a joint venture with DHL but they ended it and bought back the shares of Express Courier. According to the New Zealand Post head of customer channels Russell Stephens, with this new addition New Zealand Post now wants to combine the customer care process for the courier unit with its main business.
“We are currently looking to deploy RightNow across the CourierPost business, and that will give us great benefit in both contact centres that work across our parcel and courier business.”
Stephens has been using the RightNow technology for several years and one of its most notable feats is the ability to give a single view of customer interactions with New Zealand Post across multiple channels.
“There have been instances where a customer was complaining about NZ Post’s services on Twitter, but the company could see that the person was already on a live chat with a staff member and was able to respond to the customer accordingly on Twitter. I think that is a really cool example of when those channels come together. In the old world, that wouldn’t have happened and the customer would just be on the phone with us.”
Seems like NZ Post is already a fan of RightNow technologies and its new relationship with Oracle simply means business as usual.
April Holmes, March 22, 2012
March 21, 2013
If there are two areas even the most fledgling enterprise developer should keep an eye on, they are open source and cloud service. If you combine the two, they converge into a supercharged cloud service orchestration (CSO) platform, and many users are turning that way for their enterprise needs. Sys-Con Media weighs in with their story, “Cloud and Open Source Draw Big Wagers.”
The article states:
“At this moment in time, the leading CSO platform is OpenStack. Dozens of vendors and cloud service providers (CSPs) have piled on this effort, from Rackspace to HP to Dell, and most recently, IBM has announced that they’re going all in as well. Fizzy to be sure, but all Coke, no Mentos. Then there are CloudStack, Eucalyptus, and a few other OpenStack competitors. With all the momentum of OpenStack, it might seem that these open source alternatives are little more than also-rans, doomed to drop further and further behind the burgeoning leader. But there’s more to this story.”
What’s more to the story is that the cloud has yet to be completed vetted and many customers are looking for safer solutions. One that comes to mind is a solution like LucidWorks Search, which can be launched on-site, in the cloud, or as a hybrid. For those who need to ease into the full cloud option, the hybrid functionality adds peace of mind. But for those who are ready to take the plunge, LucidWorks offers distributions through the trusted marketplaces of Microsoft Windows Azure or Amazon EC2.
Emily Rae Aldridge, March 21, 2013
March 15, 2013
In the last few years cloud technology has taken off. It seems that many of the world’s biggest companies all have their head in the cloud but there are still some people out there that aren’t sold on the technology. The Tech Eye article “Forget the Cloud, Get a Mainframe” talks about a large retailer that has stayed away from the cloud. Tasmanian retailer Coggans is not relying on cloud technology but instead has decided to upgrade its Unisys mainframe system. It will be used for their mission-critical applications as well as its online infrastructure. This move is newsworthy for several reasons. The most obvious is that with the popularity of cloud technology why pass on it. Secondly, Australia is not big in the mainframe game and only about 6 organizations within Australia actually use the Unisys’ mainframe system. However, Coogans continues to forge ahead with its mainframe system and has its reasons for staying away from the cloud. According to the IT manager Peter Jandera
“if there was a disastrous crash of the company production machine, the outfit could switch to a disaster recovery environment. Both systems are separate and there is also an offline backup of the entire environment. No one guarantees the last mile and there were real dangers because the cloud means that you do not necessarily know where the data is going. All it would take is a person with a space to cut through a cable and the company is stuffed.”
It seemed that everyone was moving to the cloud so it’s always nice to see that some people are “bucking the system” and choosing other viable types of technology. Perhaps this busts the field wide open for OpenText BRS search engine and Stairs III and could highlight a shift in the industry. Even if it doesn’t it’s always good to see a bit of old mixed in with the new.
April Holmes, March 15, 2013
March 13, 2013
Demand for enterprise solutions is soaring and the companies that provide them are expanding. Shasta Ventures is the latest to make an announcement about expansion in response to increased demand. Read more about their new staff additions in the TechCrunch article, “Shasta Ventures Doubles Down On Enterprise Software Experience With New Hires.”
The article begins:
“Shasta Ventures is doubling down on enterprise software experience with the additions of Zenprise CEO Jayaram Bhat as an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) and Issac Roth as Venture Advisor at the early-stage venture firm. As the company tells us, this is a move to grow Shasta’s enterprise software, cloud and SaaS practice.”
Shasta Ventures is just another enterprise software solution company to add staff in response to demand. LucidWorks is another that recently upped and expanded its expert staff. LucidWorks is not an up-and-comer, but a trusted, industry-vetted standard. Even more, LucidWorks uses Lucene and Solr as their open source infrastructure. Enterprise is hot and so is open source, and the combination of the two has moved beyond a trend to become a necessity.
Emily Rae Aldridge, March 13, 2013
March 13, 2013
Google has added some support items to its cloud menu, we learn from “Google Adds Fee-Based Support Services for Cloud Platform Customers” at ComputerWorld. These options are available for use with Google‘s Cloud Platform products like App Engine, Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, and Big Query. This is an important step for the company, which has been rightly criticized in the past for subpar technical support.
Turning to an unoriginal but easily understood metals theme, Google has named the service tiers Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The free Bronze level just lets you in on documentation, forums, and billing assistance. For $150 per month, Silver hooks users up with the Cloud Platform support team via email, where one can ask about functionality, best practices, and service errors.
Writer Juan Carlos Perez discusses the highest precious-metal options, which are a bit more complex:
“The Gold tier, which starts at $400 per month, adds around-the-clock phone support and consultation on application development, best practices or architecture issues. In the Gold tier, the $400 fee is the minimum charge for all customers, and Google then adds a percentage of the customer’s total monthly usage fees for all Cloud Platform products if those fees exceed $4,000 per month, according to the company. For example, a customer that spends between $4,001 and $10,000 per month in usage fees would pay 9 percent of that monthly total to receive Gold-tier service. Those who spend more than $200,000 in monthly usage fees would pay 3 percent. The top Platinum tier gives customers direct access to a technical account management team. To obtain pricing for the Platinum tier customers need to contact Google.”
Of course they do. Gee, now they’ve made me curious.
Differing levels of response-time promises accompany each paid tier; on urgent issues, Silver customers need wait no longer than four business hours, while Gold and Platinum players should get a response within the hour. For less crucial concerns, Silvers and Golds should see a response within a business day, and Platinums should hear back in under four business hours. The number of an organization’s users who may access the Support Portal also varies with tier, with two for Silver, five for Gold, and an unlimited number for Platinum users.
Cynthia Murrell, March 13, 2013
March 5, 2013
Open source themed conferences are surging in popularity. In addition to the strong open source community maintained by online communities like SearchHub, conferences are another meaningful way to get like-minds together and innovate quickly and effectively. A similar cloud computing themed conference is making its way across the pond with the CloudConf this summer in Paris. Rude Baguette gives the highlights in, “CloudConf brings Heroku, Elastic Search, dotCloud, and Hadoop to Paris June 7th.”
The article says:
“The latest event brought to you by dotConferences, CloudConf brings together speakers form the world’s leading cloud startups to speak about the most important topics in Cloud Computing. The event will feature Noah Zoschke of Heroku, who came out to Paris last month as well for UXD4Startups, as well as Shay Banon, the creator of Elastic Search, which just announced a $24 Million fundraising. Solomon Hykes, founder of dotCloud, will also be present, with dotCloud being (one of) the only French startup(s) to have gone through Y-Combinator.”
Last week, North American open source fans enjoyed one of the best conferences available at ApacheCon. LucidWorks is a recurring sponsor. As a major player in the open source enterprise solution field, LucidWorks recognizes the value of investing in the developer community. Stronger code leads to stronger value-added solutions.
Emily Rae Aldridge, March 5, 2013
February 21, 2013
If only he had had access to Oracle’s RightNow, Willy Loman’s story might have ended differently. Is that what Greg Sirbu is trying to say when he evokes Arthur Miller’s 1949 opus Death of a Salesman? The literary allusion frames a fictional conversation in Perficient’s blog post, “When? Now? Yes! RightNow! You’ll Find it in the Cloud. . . .”
Sirbu recasts Miller’s scene between the ill-fated Loman and his employer, Howard Wagner, as a modern-day conversation. This time, though, the Salesman is able to suggest their company (Widget, Inc.) adopt RightNow, Oracle‘s cloud-based customer experience platform. His pitch sounds a lot like Oracle’s promotional material, explaining the software’s features. The blog’s creator, Perficient, is eventually brought into the hypothetical dialogue:
“That sounds very complex Loman,” Howard said. “Our information technology staff is busy with many other projects, they may not have the time right now to bring what sounds like a great solution up-to-speed in a timely fashion.’
“Howard, we don’t need to worry about that,” Loman said. “Oracle has a solution implementation partner, Perficient, that can bring all the necessary consulting resources to bear to ensure that RightNow is structured just the way we need it built for our business.”
“Sounds like we need to explore RightNow, right now!” Wagner said.
Of course he did. Such a turn of events would have ruined Miller’s play, but that’s beside the point, I suppose. It is an interesting tactic; will enough readers recognize the name “Willy Loman” to make this an effective device?
Formed in 1998, Perficient offers their clients a competitive edge with a variety of Internet-based business technologies. With offices around the world, the company maintains its headquarters in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Cynthia Murrell, February 21, 2013