Oracle OpenWorld 2013 Reflections: What’s Old is New Again – Document Imaging a Hot Topic

After Fishbowl employees return from OpenWorld, we all get together and discuss what went right, what went wrong, and how we can improve. We also summarize the WebCenter-related discussions we had at the event, and what the next steps for each of us will be to take those conversations and turn them into opportunities. What surprised me this year was the number of OpenWorld discussions we had around document imaging, and specifically image enabling business processes like accounts payable and employee expenses.

I was surprised because while there were Oracle WebCenter Imaging presentations at OpenWorld, there weren’t any big announcements regarding the product. The big announcements were Oracle WebCenter’s offerings around Cloud and Mobile. Furthermore, while some of us did have document imaging discussions with attendees at past OpenWorlds, they seemed to be few and far between. So, why all the document imaging interest and discussion this year?

Well, let me take a step back and provide a little historical context. About 5 years ago, the Oracle WebCenter product management team was working on a WebCenter Imaging integration with Oracle E-Business Suite, starting with Oracle Financials for accounts payable processing. What they released was sort of a jump-start component called the Application Extender Framework (AXF). This component provided the various  WebCenter Imaging hooks into E-Business Suite (workflows, metadata mappings, image viewer) that would enable E-Business Suite users to process invoices in the context of their payables workbench. The first few releases of this component did work but also had some issues. However, the biggest issue facing Oracle WebCenter Imaging and its AXF component at the time was that a 3rd-party document imaging upstart had already become the preferred imaging solution for invoice processing in E-Business Suite. Oracle E-Business Suite users that were also using this product, found that it worked well and most did not want to be first to market with a relatively new imaging solution.

Fast forward 5 years later and Oracle WebCenter Imaging has become the de-facto choice for document imaging to support Oracle E-Business Suite processes. The imaging upstart that was eating WebCenter Imaging’s lunch some 5 years ago has gone the way of acquisition and really isn’t heard from much anymore. Effectively, if there is an imaging deal to be had within Oracle E-Business Suite, it goes to Oracle WebCenter Imaging. This has been strengthened by an integration with Oracle Forms Recognition (OFR), which can intelligently process invoices and extract the necessary data from them. Furthermore, there are a lot of Oracle E-Business Suite customers using WebCenter Imaging to process thousands of invoices daily, and those successes continue to build upon one another with strong references and ROI data to support the invoice processing use case.

Anyway, back to the question as to why WebCenter Imaging was a popular topic at OpenWorld this year – at least for Fishbowl Solutions. I think the main reason for this is what I highlighted at the end of the paragraph above – it has successfully been implemented at many organizations with more coming on board all the time. Its value proposition, and the value prop of imaging in general, is it helps organizations streamline the manual processes involved to process invoices, removing keystrokes, steps and the overall lag (cycle time) involved. This immediately translates into ROI, and it is this ROI story that has other Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards customers excited.

All that being said, implementing Oracle WebCenter Imaging and the other products that support it for end-to-end invoice processing (SOA, Business Process Management or BPM, Oracle Document Capture, OFR, and AXF), and integrating it with the respective Oracle ERP application is still fairly complex. Depending on such things as invoice volumes and workflow complexities, Implementations typically take months. Nonetheless, once implemented, the ROI is there and can be realized quickly.

I would also like to think that the heavy traffic of attendees interested in WebCenter Imaging that visited the Fishbowl booth at OpenWorld had to do with the successes we have had implementing the product and its complementary components for invoice processing. With each of the implementations being different in one aspect or another, we have been able to build up our knowledgebase and best practices for WebCenter Imaging, helping to reduce complexities and decrease time to value. If you and your organization have implemented Oracle WebCenter Imaging or are considering it, and you would like to image enable your accounts payable process in Oracle E-Business Suite or PeopleSoft, please contact us at 952-465-3400 or

Thanks for reading!

Jason Lamon is a product strategist and technology evangelist who writes about a range of topics regarding content management and enterprise portals. He writes to keep the communication going about such topics, uncover new opinions, and to get responses from people who are smarter than him. If you are one of those people, feel free to respond to his tweets and posts.

Oracle WebCenter Mobile Success:: Content And Now Portal!..

Fishbowls Mobile division  have been focused on delivering enterprise applications and support for Oracle WebCenter over the last 5 years.

Focused on delivering both Native and hybrid Applications (ADF Mobile PhoneGap & Cordova) for Android IOS and BlackBerry.

In the last week, we’ve released a new update to our WebCenter Content app “Fishbowl2Go” and also a preview edition of our WebCenter Portal application “Fishbowl Connect” for IOS; soon to be available on both Android and Blackberry App Stores.

Check out Fishbowl Solutions apps for WebCenter here

Fishbowl Connect Overview
Fishbowl Connect enables intuitive mobile collaboration for Oracle WebCenter Portal. Allowing business users and management to easily view and post discussions, connect – follow and collaborate with other members, search and submit content both from your workspace and collaborative portal environments.

Here are some of the rich features that have been built into this release:

Multilingual Support (i18n)
Currently English, French however we are working on also releasing Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian in the next month or two.
With this we also provide your linguistic teams the ability to easily customise the language semantics displayed through a web based editor.

Brand Distinction
We know you all don’t want to have Fishbowl Connect branded app and so inbuilt is the capability for your marketing team to easily enhance the app templates, customise the functionality and add additional screens to the springboard, change the theme to fit in with your brand.

ADF Mobile Support
Our app or features can be integrated into ADF Mobile applications enabling your ADF Mobile dev teams to enhance or integrate existing ADF Mobile modules introducing additional springboard buttons to access existing solutions.

Responsive Design – Adaptive Design & ADF Taskflows
If your site is responsive – adaptive you also have the capability to import the view into the app to integrate with existing ADF Business components / taskflows. Providing seamless integrations with existing applications so users no longer need to switch to a browser and navigate to components this can be exposed within the mobile app.

Cached Offline Support
All screens that are accessed while the user is accessing the application are cached enabling temporary offline support. This cache is dropped when the app is restarted.

Global Configuration File
A static configuration file enables quick updates throughout all installed mobile applications providing full control over all installed apps (Android, IOS, Blackberry) giving IT admins full control – one of the capabilities is to turn off/disable features ie access to the content server during scheduled maintenance out of hours periods. 

File Contributions
Currently we only allow photo and text WYSIWYG submissions through the app to portal we are looking to expand this to enable more file types and also the ability to allow users to choose the app to load documents from WebCenter Content.




Discuss Oracle WebCenter with Fishbowl Solutions at Oracle OpenWorld 2013 – Booth 2226

Fishbowl Solutions is looking forward to another great OpenWorld, which includes the opportunity to meet with WebCenter customers and discuss their projects. Please check back to this blog soon for more information on our OpenWorld activities, including previews of our presentations, booth demonstrations, and the opportunities you will have to engage with us while at the event. You should also make plans to visit us in Moscone South – booth 2226.


54 days and counting…

Fishbowl’s ShipIT Hackathon Event Produces Four, New, Value-Add Components for Oracle WebCenter Content

The weekend of November 10th was known as Innovation Weekend at Fishbowl Solutions. Fishbowl’s development, sales and marketing teams participated in a “ShipIT Hackathon” event to develop new Oracle WebCenter Content-based products. If you aren’t familiar with hackathons, just imagine a very intense software programming session where the end goal is to develop usable software within a set period of time – here is Wikipedia’s definition, and you may remember that Fishbowl participated in a similar hackathon at Oracle OpenWorld. Anyway, Fishbowl’s WebCenter UI and UX design extraordinaire, John Sim, was visiting from London and he was the catalyst for Fishbowl’s internal hackathon. Here were the rules that he helped establish:

  1. The new software/functionality should either support one of Fishbowl’s current products or provide new ways to interact, utilize, or provide an integration with Oracle WebCenter Content.
  2. The finished product should be deployable to Fishbowl’s internal WebCenter Content system and be usable by Fishbowl employees.
  3. Teams will have only 24 hours to complete their product.
  4. The winning team would be decided by votes from all participants, but participants could not vote for their own team.

At 3:00 PM on Friday, November 9th the hacking commenced. Fueled by Red Bull, pizza, coffee and sugar, four teams of Fishbowl employees developed the following WebCenter-based programs by 3:00 PM on Saturday, November 10th where they were presented and voted on. Here they are in order of finish:

  • 1st Place – WebCenter Content Multi-Checkin
    • Enables users to drag and drop content items directly into Oracle WebCenter Content from desktops or file shares and be tagged with keywords.
    • Checked in content bypasses the check in metadata screen and instead is grouped within a user’s “workspace”.  Users can return to their workspace at a later time to add metadata.
    • Integrates with Fishbowl’s Duplicate File Checker to ensure that duplicate content items do no enter the system.

    (The winning hackers – left to right: Paul Heupel, John Sim, Tom Jaede)

  • 2nd Place – Filtered Search Results and Grid View Metadata Updater
    • Update metadata on multiple items at once using a simple grid format.
    • Content Server query defines items to display in grid view with configurable sorting and result count.
    • Easily configure columns to view and update both standard and custom metadata values.
    • Uses Excel-like functionality within the browser such as copy, paste, drag, and fill-down.
  • 3rd Place – Duplicate File Checker Desktop Application
    • Lightweight desktop application can detect and remove duplicate content items from user desktops or network file shares.
    • Users simply browse to a folder or item and select the content they want to check against already existing in Oracle WebCenter Content. Any duplicate items are returned to the user in a grid view, and the user can select any duplicates for deletion.
  • 4th Place - WebCenter Content and Google Drive (Docs) Synchronization & Contribution
    • Provides ability to import content stored in Google Drive to Oracle Webcenter Content.
    • Google Drive files can be batch imported and their metadata can be mapped or the files can be published directly to WebCenter Content.
    • Includes ability to also link to Google Drive document directly from WebCenter Content.

Aside from some mild cases of indigestion, carpal tunnel, and weariness; the participants in Fishbowl’s ShipIT hackathon all agreed that it was a great event to be a part of. It was really exciting to see what could be developed in a limited amount of time when a group of people worked together and were driven by a deadline. The best part was ending up with four new WebCenter-based products that solve real-world problems and add immediate value. If any of these products interest you, feel free to contact us at 952-465-3400 or

You can see more pictures of Fishbowl’s ShipIT Hackathon here.

As always, your comments on this blog are appreciated.

OpenWorld 2012 Recap – Fishbowl Solutions Aligned with Oracle’s WebCenter Strategy

Another year; another OpenWorld. It seems that Oracle’s big event comes faster and faster each year and then goes by in a flash. Amidst the glitz and glamor and the sheer spectacle that is OpenWorld, the event has much to offer customers, vendors, partners and general technology enthusiasts. This is the event where attendees get to hear directly from Oracle’s top brass on what’s new, what’s coming, and what’s faster/better. For WebCenter customers, here are a few takeaways from me and my Fishbowl colleagues on what we felt were some of the major stories from OpenWorld 2012.

New WebCenter Content User Interface

The WebCenter community has been abuzz for many months now regarding a new user interface for Oracle WebCenter Content. This new interface was shown at a few sessions and within the WebCenter demo areas at OpenWorld. The responses from people I chatted with were all positive and how could it not have been. After all, WebCenter customers have been waiting for years for a new user interface, and it looks like in 12c they will finally get one.

Can’t wait until then? Fishbowl has been providing user interface enhancements to the Content Server for many years. These enhancements have specifically aided business users in contributing content to WebCenter. One such product is Fishbowl’s Policies and Procedures Solution Suite, which provides an intuitive, visually-rich interface to specifically manage quality documents, governance manuals, and standard operating procedures. Through a combination of search, browsing, workflow and alerts, Policies and Procedures Solution Suite can help improve access to quality control documents while enforcing their follow through.

Stance on SharePoint

We have mentioned in many other blog posts (here & here) some reasons why Oracle WebCenter customers who may also be using SharePoint should reconsider their decision to use more SharePoint or go to SharePoint altogether for content management, or when building an intranet, portal or any other content-backed business system. Fishbowl Solutions was front and center with our stance on SharePoint at OpenWorld. We featured our SharePoint Connector Version 2.0 for Oracle WebCenter, which provides an integration that enables content resulting from collaboration in SharePoint to be transparently and seamlessly stored in Oracle WebCenter Content. The main value proposition with this connector is that enables organizations to continue to use both SharePoint and WebCenter and leverage the benefits of each.

The key point that we want to have resonate with customers is that WebCenter should be the final system of record for content. This includes content not only existing in SharePoint, but also in other ECM systems, file shares, and even desktops. My colleague George Sokol participated in a session at OpenWorld titled “Living with SharePoint”. This session provided attendees some data and examples on what living with SharePoint would represent, namely high services cost, 3rd-party license costs for additional functionality, and potential governance dilemmas (I documented more of these issues in this white paper). All these things can be reduced with WebCenter, but the reality is most organizations want to continue to use SharePoint for work-in-progress collaboration and pair that with robust enterprise content management. Fishbowl’s SharePoint Connector for WebCenter enables organizations to do just that.

Integrations in the WebCenter Stack

Oracle has done a great job providing integrations between products across their various product/technology stacks. One popular example is the WebCenter integrations provided for E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel applications. Basically, these integrations enable content management to be invoked in context of business processes, so, for example, when users are processing invoices they can quickly reference the image of that invoice which was processed with Oracle WebCenter Imaging.

At OpenWorld 2012, Oracle also spoke about integrating components of WebCenter with each other. One popular topic was the integration of WebCenter Sites (Fatwire) with Oracle WebCenter Content. Another popular topic was integrating WebCenter Portal with WebCenter Content. Oracle has made this integration possible with the Content Presenter task flow. Although this integration does provide the ability to surface content from WebCenter Content to WebCenter Portal, Fishbowl has found that most organizations are looking for integrations that provide greater scalability while leveraging standards-based technologies (JAVA, JSP) over proprietary (iDoc).

Fishbowl provides an integration framework called Intranet In A Box (IIAB) that integrates WebCenter Content with WebCenter Portal by leveraging WebCenter Spaces as the container to which content will be surfaced to. This framework eases contribution through profiles defined in WebCenter Content, including categories, sub-categories, topic pages, articles, contacts, images and landing page assets. IIAB also includes JSR-286 portlets for interfacing with WebCenter Content. The value of IIAB is it removes some of the complexity around integrating Content with Portal while easing content contribution. Organizations using IIAB have been able to build WebCenter Content and Portal-based corporate intranets in less than 60 days, including the University of Pretoria. Fishbowl’s best demos at OpenWorld were of Intranet In A Box, and organizations that have made the investments in WebCenter Content and Portal but have struggled to build out next-generation intranets and portals were very interested.

Another Go at Social

There was a lot of buzz at OpenWorld regarding the Oracle Social Network (OSN). Oracle announced OSN at OpenWorld 2011, and we are starting to see more and more examples of how OSN can be applied. I had the privilege of participating in the OSN team’s Developer Challenge as I got to present John Sim’s “Avengers Assemble” application. The OSN Developer Challenge was open to any Oracle or Java technologist (hack) that wanted to build an application that leveraged OSN’s REST API and another service or application. The entries must help solve a business problem, and John focused his efforts on helping to keep teams on the go in touch. John specifically used Google Maps and PhoneGap to build an application he described as a Mobile GeoTagging Solution. John provides much more detail on this solution in this C4 blog post.

Mobile ECM  

Oracle provided further details at OpenWorld 2012 on their mobile application – Oracle ADF Mobile. According to this blog post, Oracle ADF Mobile uses a metadata-based development framework enabling developers to develop one application for multiple platforms (iOS and Android, for starters). It can also easily incorporate HTML5, Java, and the devices native container. As business processes become more and more mobilized, Oracle will be in great position to help facilitate the various business process steps that occur between the user and back-end systems like Oracle E-Business Suite. Oracle has the enabling technologies like SOA and BPM to provide a tightly integrated system for mobile processes.

Fishbowl Solutions has been developing Oracle WebCenter-based mobile applications for over two years now, and we were fortunate once again to be joined at OpenWorld with a customer that has succeeded deploying the mobile applications we have available for the iPad and Android devices. Banner Engineering was kind enough to speak during the WebCenter Content Strategy and Vision session at OpenWorld and also during a social business panel. Banner has rolled out a Mobile Library application that has enabled their sales force and distributors to reference sales collateral stored in Oracle WebCenter from their iPad and Android devices. This application has improved the overall sales process, making customer meetings much more interactive and engaging, and also provided a competitive advantage for Banner – their competitors are still bound to paper catalogs and the like to share product information.  Banner created a lot of excitement with their story, and this excitement carried over to the Fishbowl booth. Fortunately, we had enough iPads to circulate to show off the application and its features.

As a WebCenter partner, it was definitely reassuring to see that alignment existed between Fishbowl’s current software and services offerings and Oracle’s stated direction and positioning with the product that was discussed at OpenWorld . We are excited to see where the next year takes us.