Content & Experience cloud: Higher Ed Edition

Our collaboration with Oracle on the Content & Experience cloud isn’t limited to the commercial sector. We are bringing the same great usability to Higher Ed! It all starts with our Usability First methodology. Contact us below if you would like to talk to someone at IntraSee about how you can benefit from Usability First.

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It’s been said that it’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey. At IntraSee we understand the complexities of your ERP environment and how overwhelming it may appear to be to get to the final destination of your choice, which is: a world class user experience running in the Cloud.

That’s why we offer usability solutions at every step of the way:

  • PeopleSoft on-premise
  • Mix of on-premise plus multiple Cloud applications
  • Everything in the Cloud

IntraSee is here to help get you to your ultimate goal in a way that is both simple and effective. It involves dealing with the two unavoidable realities that stand in your way.

The first reality is that you can’t ask your employees, managers, students, faculty, and line of business to wait another five years before you can provide them with the User Experience (UX) that they are demanding now.

The second reality is that your current ERP systems are a mix of multiple applications and technology stacks that stand in the way of your ability to resolve the first reality. Resolving this expensive and time consuming concoction is not something that can easily be achieved overnight.

For many organizations this is seen as the ultimate Catch 22. Fortunately, it isn’t.

At IntraSee we have many years of dealing with this conundrum, and have come up with a methodology that allows you to deal with the realities of ERP life, while also responding to the needs of your user base. We call it Usability First (UF).

Like all the best principles, this one is simple.  And, even better, if executed it’ll make you a very popular person in your organization.

Step 1: Address the poor user experience (UX) immediately

How you do this is by selecting a Usability Cloud solution.  This allows you to immediately address the usability needs of your user base, while also opening up access to all the tools and techniques that being a full adopter of the Cloud would give you. And, along the way, you become acquainted with your Cloud future. This can be a 9-12 week process. Which is a lot shorter than 5-10 years! And yes, you can do this even if your PeopleSoft applications are all still on-premise. And yes, your Usability Cloud can fully integrate with any other Cloud applications. Both Oracle and non-Oracle. The list is endless: Taleo, Fusion, Salesforce.com, Office365, SuccessFactors, SumTotal, Kronos, etc. etc. etc.

Step 2: Now you’re finally in the Cloud, let’s start using it!

Now that you’re in a better place you can start using the power of PaaS (you’ll now already be using SaaS with your Usability Cloud).

We do this via our industry leading Oracle Cloud Platform Adapter (OCPA) that plugs directly into the Oracle PaaS ecosystem.

  • Oracle Application Building Cloud Services
  • Oracle Sites Cloud
  • Oracle Documents Cloud
  • Oracle Process Cloud
  • Oracle Social Network Cloud

Learn more about the OCPA and our collaboration with Oracle in our Blog post.

Step 3: Now you can take your next Cloud steps at your pace

At this point your user base is happy, and you’re building things on the platform of your future. So now you can start turning off your on-premise solutions and start turning on alternative Cloud solutions. Not happy with PeopleSoft Talent Management? Just turn on Fusion Talent Management Cloud. The adjustment will be clean and simple. Your Usability Cloud will manage the UI change seamlessly, and now you’ll be running more stuff in the Cloud. One day you’ll be running everything in the Cloud. But you’ll do it at your pace and within your own level of comfort. Also in the full knowledge that you made your user base happy on day one!

That’s the power and value of the IntraSee Usability First (UF) approach. Contact us to discuss your personalized Usability First strategy.

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Wow, what a week in San Francisco! With over 60,000 attendees and a massively broad set of topics, there was a lot to consume at OpenWorld this year. We know not everyone can fit OpenWorld into their schedule, so we will summarize the conference in three key points for you 😄

Cloud

There wasn’t a single sign at OpenWorld that didn’t have the word “Cloud” on it! Literally, Cloud was everywhere. It was clear that Oracle is now giving every customer multiple options for moving some or all of their applications to the Cloud. And even your entire infrastructure, if that’s what you want.

Larry’s big keynote was all about how Oracle’s Cloud is faster and cheaper than Amazon AWS. Larry doesn’t even think it is close for that matter. Some of the performance statistics he presented were eye-opening for sure.

For PeopleSoft, they will now be delivering “Cloud Manager” in 8.56 which is due out “very soon”. Cloud Manager will make managing PeopleSoft in the Oracle Cloud incredibly easy. Need a training environment for a week? Click, click, deployed. Want to copy your development environment into Oracle Cloud? Click, click. You get the point. Cloud Manager will help spin up, tear down, copy and migrate PeopleSoft environments and there are no command lines. This is all via the Cloud Manager web page. And it will have special hooks into MyOracle Support and Oracle Cloud that other cloud providers will not have.

As for IntraSee, we announced a new collaboration with Oracle to make taking steps to the Cloud much easier. Starting in November we will be offering our world-class UX solutions to our clients  who are looking to utilize the many Oracle PaaS (Platform as a Service) applications, such as the Content & Experience cloud and the Application Builder Cloud Services (ABCS). This new integration fits perfectly into our Usability First methodology. Rest assured, that as you adopt more and more Oracle Cloud services, that we will provide you with a seamless user experience every step of the way. Read more about the announcement here: https://intrasee.com/announcements/video-oracle-intrasee-usability-cloud-collaboration/

Elastic

Elastic Search is a new search engine that will be replacing SES (Secure Enterprise Search) in an upcoming PeopleTools 8.55 patch and officially in 8.56. We will be writing up a deep dive post on Elastic soon, so check back here for that. You know that Elastic is solid and scales because even Wikipedia is using it. Elastic is a welcome addition to our search user experience. At OpenWorld they announced that SES and Elastic will only co-exist on the 8.55.xx release. Once you move to 8.56, SES will be shut off. This is important to plan for. If you want to do a live swap without downtime from SES to Elastic, plan to do it on 8.55 and not during the 8.56 upgrade.

Oracle also announced that SES will be supported for 18 months from the availability of Elastic, so customers will have time. You will need to stay on 8.55 to enjoy that support, however. Finally, Wells Fargo, the beta customer for Elastic, said it was, “a walk in the park compared to SES”. We will certainly take that walk and have more to announce on IntraSee products and Elastic soon.

Update (November 3, 2016): See our Blog post on Elastic

Fluid

The final topic was Fluid. Some customers have implemented some Fluid features, but based on the show of hands vote in one session, a good 90% have not yet started with Fluid. The biggest news is that Oracle announced that they no longer plan to convert every component to Fluid. Complex components just don’t work well in Fluid, so they have come up with another plan. In 8.56, Oracle will be releasing “Classic+” (classic plus). This is simply a CSS stylesheet that makes classic pages look more like Fluid. This means your buttons, edit fields and labels will look the same and it addresses a major UX challenge with the mixed styles of Fluid and Classic.

This also means that customers who once planned to convert customizations to Fluid, may now opt not to. That Classic+ may be enough if mobile phone support is not important for that particular customization. This will create some other UX challenges on small devices, but we will talk more about that in a future blog post. But rest easy, at IntraSee we can provide mobile capability for all your classic components.

Customers who presented on their Fluid projects all had common things to say. First, you have to keep Fluid pages simple. Complexity, like too many edit fields, nested scroll levels and the like, do not work well in Fluid. Customers also shared feedback that their development teams were somewhat unprepared for the amount of web developer knowledge they needed to work with Fluid. If you find yourself in the same predicament, contact us below and we can help. We have mastered the art of combining both Fluid and Classic components in one seamless user experience.

In Conclusion

It was a great conference this week. It is clear that Oracle expects that most organizations will be mostly in the Cloud in the next 5-10 years. If you want to talk more about your options in getting to the Cloud and how IntraSee can help get you there at your pace, contact us below.

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As we have discussed on many of our earlier blogs, the key component of a successful user experience is to provide a one-stop shop so that your users are not in “hunt and peck” mode trying to find what they need. But this shouldn’t be news to anyone. Back in ancient times the Greeks created central marketplaces called agora’s, while in Rome they used the term forum. In other parts of the world it would be referred to as a souk (Arabic), bazaar (Persian), mercado (Spain), etc. One of the oldest covered markets in the world, that is still operational, is the Grand Bazaar in the great city of Istanbul (constructed in 1455/56).

The concept was simple. Don’t make the buyers (or the user as we say today) traipse all around the city/country when they needed to buy goods. Instead, have all the sellers come to one place to make life simple and quick for the buyers. This was the very origin of the concept of providing a great user experience. Who doesn’t love a good market!

Today, especially with the advent of the cloud, it may appear that the software industry has forgotten centuries old lessons. Data, content, and applications are scattered across the cloud-based stratosphere, and consumers are confused and frustrated that things are not where they belong and easily accessible.

Well, today we see a move in the right direction, and IntraSee is proud to be a part of that.  Oracle will be announcing at OpenWorld this month that they will be combining four of their excellent cloud solutions into one fully integrated solution – the Content and Experience Cloud. Plus, they will also be enabling a vendor marketplace as part of that solution whereby other company offerings (and we will be one of them) will also be fully integrated. The ultimate one-stop shop/market place.

Please see the following video for more details, and also stop by and see us at OpenWorld this year.

We will be co-presenting with Oracle and providing more information on this collaboration during the following session:

Empower Your Employees and Drive Productivity with a Modern Intranet Experience [CON7261]

Wednesday, Sep 21, 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. @ Moscone West – 2014

If you can’t attend OpenWorld or have any questions, please contact us below and we will be in touch.

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At IntraSee we have a passion for implementing solutions that astonish and delight, and we enter each project with absolute confidence that it will be a resounding success. Oftentimes our clients will ask us why we are so sure about what we are doing, and the answer to that is simple: Usability Testing. Over many years we have conducted complex testing and analysis across many organizations and demographics world-wide. Based on those results we have baked that feedback into the things we do and the way we do them. Ultimately it’s the people using the solutions that determine how successful a project actually is. Not the people implementing the solution. You may have hit all your project goals in terms of scope, budget and timeline, but if people don’t like what you did, then the project was a failure.

The perfect example of this was exemplified by the Jurassic Park movies. On paper it was a fantastic idea – who wouldn’t want to visit a dinosaur park?! An earth-shatteringly, brilliant blend of technology and entertainment. Many years went into its development, all designed and built by the best scientific minds on the planet. All they then had to do was open the doors to the general public and reap the rewards of their innovation and genius. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, four movies later (only the first two of which had a remotely credible storyline) we discover that many things could go wrong. A singular lack of usability testing (repeated over and over again), led to the same outcome: failure (well, not box office failure, but you know what we mean). The lesson learned (if indeed it needed to be learned) is that as smart as we think we are, there’s no substitute for having “real people” validate our hypotheses. How you do that we’ll cover in a future blog, but for the time being let’s ponder how Jurassic Park imitates the real-life experience of implementing ERP software – in 10 easy to digest lessons. And, yes, it’s truly scary! Editorial note: Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm) got nearly all the best lines.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: Oh, yeah. Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and um, screaming.

All projects begin with general excitement and great anticipation. Kickoff and initial design meetings tend to be stress free and filled with the hope that something great will happen. But what really matters is what happens when the go-live date occurs and your user base starts using the system for real. What you have to avoid at all costs is some kind of horrific reaction. With proper usability testing you can avoid that by learning all the relevant lessons early in the design/development cycle. Even if you are using an Agile methodology, if the only person providing feedback is the product owner, then you’re in big trouble.

  1. Dr. Ian MalcolmYour scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

The common mistake people make when implementing anything is to assume that more features and more stuff = a better chance of making people happy. Usability testing actually tells the opposite tale. What people really want is for you to make things easy for them. And, typically, that entails less things and less stuff.

  1. Sarah Harding: Don’t light that! Dinosaurs pick up scents from miles away. We’re here to observe and document, not interact.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Which is a scientific impossibility. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. What you study, you change.

This is a very true statement – there is no such thing as a perfect usability test. But you can dramatically improve the accuracy by minimizing interference with the subjects tested: such that you don’t end up “leading the witness” to false conclusions. That said, don’t get hung up on creating plans that you’ll never have the time or resources to implement. There’s actually many ways – low-fi and hi-fi – to conduct testing. What you are attempting to do is learn as much as you can, given limited time and resources. Don’t let perfection be your enemy. You may not be able to spend as much time as you’d like conducting usability testing, but you can do something. Be sure to make that a goal.

  1. Nick Van Owen: You seem like you have a shred of common sense, what the hell are you doing here?

Don’t underestimate the power of common sense. Make sure at least one person on the implementation team has it. And, of course, make sure you listen to that person! Many ideas, while great on paper, don’t actually fly with “real people”. So, the more feedback you can get from those kind of people the better. And that can be tough sometimes. Avoid designing a solution that satisfies the needs of the squeakiest wheel.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: Taking dinosaurs off this island is the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas. And I’m gonna be there when you learn that.

The best part of usability testing is that there’s generally just a handful of people to see the results of a bad idea, whereas going live with that bad idea generally involves your entire organization. And that’s not good. Recovering from that impression will cost you more than getting it right the first time.

  1. Sarah Harding: [referring to the T-Rexes] This isn’t hunting, Ian, it’s searching. They’re looking for their infant.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: Let’s not disappoint them.

It may seem very obvious, but when people start using your ERP system, they generally want to do it in the shortest amount of time possible. They aren’t doing this for the fun of it. And, generally, they don’t even see it as part of their job description. Don’t disappoint them. Your job is to figure out how best to make this a good experience for them. So watch and learn. Observing an actual usability test done well can be massively edifying.

  1. John Hammond: Don’t worry, I’m not making the same mistakes again.
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, you’re making all new ones.

One “popular” alternative to real usability testing is to just roll things out to production, wait for people to start complaining, and then take some of those complaints and turn them into a new set of business requirements, which then get rolled out into a subsequent phase. The quotes are placed around the word popular for a reason. While this technique may be popular with the project team, it’s not quite so popular with everyone else in your organization. All you are doing is churning out a different set of mistakes on a periodic basis. And, usually, at great expense.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: Sarah! Sarah!
    Nick Van Owen: Sarah Harding!
    Dr. Ian Malcolm: How many Sarah’s you think are on this island? Sarah!

When it comes to ERP solutions, less is most definitely more. While you may be able to craft a 1000 word explanation that describes a certain HR policy on a landing page, you would be better advised not to. Make it concise and simple. Usability testing (and common sense) says that the more words there are, the less chance that someone reads them. And what happens in that situation is typically a call to the Help Desk. “Can you please explain the policy for ……”. Calls to the help desk are symptoms of a problem. When was the last time you called amazon.com to get advice on how to buy a book?

  1. Ian Malcolm: Hey, when the adult sees us once again with his baby, uh, isn’t he gonna be like, “You”? You know, there may be some, uh, angry recognition.
    Sarah Harding: Who knows? He may be just happy to see us.

Things that may appear to be minor nuisances to you are, typically, major issues to “real people”. Don’t imagine for a second that they’ll be cool with them, because they won’t. Inconsistent use of fonts, badly worded labels, a mish-mash of navigation options, things not being where they should be, inaccurate search results, data scattered across multiple systems. They may all seem not a big deal to the testing team as they run through test scenarios for the umpteenth time. But try telling that to an already busy manager trying to complete a transaction.

  1. Dr. Ian Malcolm: I’ll be right back. I give you my word.
    Kelly Malcolm: [pounds her fists on the railing] But you *never* keep your word!

The worst thing about never taking “real people” into account when implementing ERP solutions is that eventually you will train people to never trust you. No matter how many times you tell them that the next version will solve all their issues, they’ll never believe it. And they’d be right not to. It’s very rare in life that we stumble across the perfect way to do anything. Only by truly listening and observing can we ever hope to improve the way we do anything. And then, once we think we have learned something, we need to test that hypothesis. And that’s the essence of Usability Testing.

If you would like to talk more about usability in your project, drop us a note and we would love to connect.

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