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.

Marvel and Oracle – Success and the unsung heroes

Iron Man 2

You have probably seen the Iron Man 2 trailers and maybe even the movie by now.

If you have been paying attention you may have seen the Larry Ellison cameo in the movie.  If you haven’t been paying attention then let me tell you that Oracle and Marvel have been doing a nicely successful business together for some time.  And they have not been shy about telling everyone about it.  Marvel has been a long time Oracle customer, successfully using many different parts of the Oracle technology stack including Oracle Enterprise Content Management.

But for all the ads, for all the bally-hoo around the movie(s), around the Larry-as-Stark comparisons, around the general coolness that goes with a company that creates super heroes, their IT success comes from a number of factors.

oracle and marvel ad

oracle and marvel ad

1) They have an executive management and core IT team who champion the IT projects, technology as well as the human processes that are necessary to effectively use the software and keep operations running at maximum efficiency.

2) They have the vision to take advantage of what the Oracle platform offers, especially as it pertains to interoperability of all the parts.

3) They rely on experts like Fishbowl Solutions to work with their teams to take their vision, combine it with the technology and produce success.  Here’s what they recently said about working with us: “Working with [the people] at Fishbowl is always a pleasure. [They] respond very quickly and the solutions are right on target with what we need.”

Want to know more?  Send us an email

The Changing Face of Enterprise Content Management

Content management systems are increasingly becoming back end “black box” content stores. This trend towards commoditization puts a decreasing importance on the system and an increasing importance on the ways in which the system capabilities are surfaced. There are several trends that I have observed and continue to see manifest though customer interactions, blog chatter and market awareness.

I am seeing a resurgence in portal fronted web applications. The difference between these and the all-or-nothing portals that were popular 5-10 years ago is that these that leverage rich ECM capabilities on the back end to provide versioning, document libraries, digital asset management, conversion, transcoding, workflow and other “rich” ECM features.

I am seeing WCM systems that are splitting into two camps -
1. Rich WCM that is fully integrated with and takes advantage of sophisticated ECM capabilities
2. Light-Weight WCM that is more like free public blogging software that is quick, cheap and easy but lacking sophistication of top-end systems.

I am seeing “in application” ECM capabilities surface in back-office and process applications like PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and Siebel. It is noted that EMC/Documentum’s recent announcement about their change of direction alludes powerfully toward a deeper relationship with SAP.

I am also seeing something of a retrenchment in the pure-play content management space. Basic capabilities are being re-discovered, often to the exclusion of other, more advanced features. This seems to be due, in part, to three factors:

  1. The SharePoint effect: basic content management catching on with the average worker rather than just the content management professional.
  2. The rise of niche web 2.0 capabilities in the office setting that do one thing well: for example Yammer does micro-blogging in the enterprise well but is disconnected from other information management strategies
  3. The continued consolidation of software and features from the big enterprise vendors: Oracle boasts massive storage capacity and ingestion speeds when their ECM system is combined with RAC database clusters, Exadata machines, SUN servers etc.

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Three Common Mistakes in Pursuit of Enterprise 2.0 and the Next Generation Workplace – Part 3

The pursuit of the Enterprise 2.0 utopia promised, described and promoted across the web has attracted the committed, the curious and the cautious. As we move further up the adoption curve the amount of success as well as failures increase. This is the second in a short, three part series about the common mistakes in Enterprise 2.0 strategies and how to avoid them.

The three common mistakes of E20 are:
1. Technology treated as an ends rather than a means.
2. IT as leading the business rather than supporting the business.
3. Information architecture that is walled and gated when there is no good reason for it to be that way.

Let’s continue to take these one by one.
Mistake 3. Information architecture that is walled and gated

Despite the previous caricature of “BSTech”, many specialized web and enterprise 2.0 systems are very good at what they do. Those that are suffer from another, more insidious problem. When BSTech is well made and highly utilized it produces lots of sequestered information. This yields a somewhat counter-intuitive result. The enterprise becomes a victim of its own success. More use and more adoption produces more, good information. But as that information becomes more desirable, its ability to 1) be found and 2) be accessed is decreased.

walled and gated garden

Content “walled gardens” are the individual information stores of separate systems. All organizations have them. Very few are required for legal, regulatory or intellectual property reasons. Most exist because nearly every system comes with one. CRM data is stored in the CRM system. Web analytics reports are stored in the analytics system. Accounts Payable information is stored in the AP system. Content is in the CMS. Let’s be honest for a moment. There would be no market for SOA systems, enterprise search and integration platforms if systems could natively share information with each other. So this is a reality of the world in which we live. But isn’t all the information the Organization’s information? Ask yourself this: if the system-imposed information sequestering was not there, might I be able to access information that is highly relevant to me that I am otherwise allowed to see ? It is because of a fractured enterprise information architecture that many employees are prevented from accessing highly relevant content. So they are left either re-inventing the information, jumping through efficiency-killing access request hoops, or lobbing requests for “something you think might help” to other people who have no stake or incentive in helping.

For all the vaunted benefits of a network effect where BSTechnology is concerned, the benefits only accrue only when there is actually a (…wait for it…) network. Lots of user adoption is not the ticket to success. It is a part of the success formula, but it is not complete by itself. Unfortunately, the focus for many in the enterprise 2.0 and next generation workplace discussions has been on user adoption. Make no mistake, adoption is necessary to success but it is not sufficient. So if network effects (which state that the value of the system grows the more it is used) require a network, then the concept of a host of walled gardens and sequestered information stores is fundamentally antithetical to enterprise 2.0 technology goals.

Facebook Social Network Slice - Billy Cripe via Facebook

Facebook Social Network Slice - Billy Cripe via Facebook

Social networks require that people use them, engage with others through them and share ideas with them. If all the ideas and users have to be created within the system in order to use it, they would suffer. So we see social tools for the business able to integrate with corporate Identity management (e.g. LDAP and Active Directory) systems. The ability to hyperlink to other content is among the most basic of expectations. The advantage of Portals would be substantially diminished if your portal server could only bring together pages, code and content that were created within that portal server. Enterprise content management systems that only allow specific, invited people to consume content that would otherwise be available for a much wider audience are fundamentally flawed. This is because those kinds of systems put artificial constraints and limits on the network – the ability to connect, access and consume information. They create many walled gardens of information. Admittedly they often do a great job of creating that content. It is rich, desirable, relevant and usable. But it is not available to the network. It is available only to those few who were originally invited into the walled garden. The organization suffers as a result.

So what is an organization to do?

Answer to Mistake 3. Except where required for legal, regulatory or intellectual property purposes, consolidate your information stores. Now before the IT readers have a heart attack, understand this: consolidation does not necessarily mean migration into a single physical system. Consolidation means bringing content and information into a single logical (not necessarily physical) information hub. The aforementioned SOA capabilities, enterprise search indexes, and integration APIs are wonderful tools (means – not ends!) with which to get a handle on organizational knowledge. This is a critical step in preventing enterprise 2.0 goals from becoming merely department 2.0 realities.

Once IT has a handle on the information out there, they can start to help bring it together in meaningful and predictive ways. What makes a meaningful way? Look at the solution to mistake 2: focusing on the business problem, the stake holder, and crafting a solution to that problem is what makes a solution meaningful. Composite applications are one way to do this. Compositing simply means bringing two or more different things together. Think of it this way: today we can bring together people in a social network. That social network, whether your Facebook profile or LinkedIn group or Fishbowl’s CollabPoint team is treated as a single entity. It is the team, the friends list, the group. That group is a composite of many different bits of information that combine to create something all together different and exciting and useful. Composite business applications are very similar.

Think of the customer care process. It is made up of many smaller processes, applications, tools and technology. Before they are customers they are prospects.

    They may have attended an event, or sent you an email or visited your store (responding to a media based ad like a blog or your website or a television commercial – 1).
    Some contact was made (phone, email, in person visit – 2).
    They were probably added to a marketing list (excel or database or list – 3).
    Eventually they responded to some invitation and received a visit from sales (sales tracking or CRM system – 4).
    They became a “lead”. Sales has its own processes of presentation, demonstration, test-drives, samples etc (scheduling system, calendar, technology demo system – 5).
    Eventually the lead becomes a deal and the contact becomes a customer (conversion of lead to customer or migration into a new Sales Automation system and Entry created in an Accounts Payable system – 6 and 7).

The technology used up to this point was probably a combination of 7 or more separate systems. And the “process” has not even advanced to the invoicing, collections, support, call center and ERP (for restocking etc.) systems.

Is it any wonder that the drive and call for process efficiency and system compositing is growing? Any compositing, any combination of any of these steps in the process yields efficiency and delivers additional revenue (or cuts cost). When portals are used to not just show side-by-side glimpses of still separate systems but rather to bring together information from separate systems into a single content object efficiency is gained. When ECM systems are used to house a single piece of content that can be delivered to several different systems without copying, speed and intelligence are boosted. When support and call center complaints are trend-mapped and delivered to product management problems can be spotted and handled early – before they get out of control. When the sales force is proactively given access to the marketing team’s campaign materials rather than only giving it to them if and when they ask, better messaging and coordination can take place. This provides mutual reinforcement of the overall message or campaign you are delivering and adds credibility through consistency. It means that each sales rep can tap into the collective power of the marketing team and all the trend and market research they’ve done rather than spending precious cycles trying to discover what the next big thing is going to be.

These are just examples of how the next generation workplace ought to function. I’m interested in your stories of where you have seen or are starting to see these kinds of incremental successes. Add your thoughts below.