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Hilton Changes The Game, Mobile Enables It

Hilton announced on their web site that they plan to change the game when it comes to the guest experience at their hotels.  While the press release doesn’t state the investment, the Wall Street Journal quotes it at $550 million.  But what’s really cool is that the smart phone will become:

  • Your room key: bypass the line and head straight to your room
  • The way to choose your room: choose your room from a map of the hotel
  • Special requests: get upgrade, ask for amenities, etc.

At first glance you may wonder why it costs $550M but if you think about it, Hilton had to do quite a bit to make this work.  First they had to enable a map.  That probably comes from a back end system or two or three or four………    Of course, you have to then do the integration and put a nice wrapper on it because I guarantee that it doesn’t look good to start.  When you add in new amenities and want to build an infrastructure that’s more ecommerce like, then you make even more work for yourself.  Using NFC or some other standard also ensures a change in every single hotel room lock.  That will probably drive the majority of the cost.

But think about what they get out of this investment.  First, they get the cache of being first with a key enabling technology. Second, if they architected this right, they setup their application to do everything.  If you can get a special amenity ordered up then how hard should it be to order room service?  How about adding in concierge requests for tickets to that special event or restaurant?  Of course there’s the chance to treat all the elite guests in a special way.   They walk through the door and notify them you opened up a set of rooms they can choose for an upgrade.  Tell them they just earned faster internet or that they should stop by the mini-store for a treat.   The skies the limit as far as what you can do now that the Hilton App became a must use application.

I’m excited about the possibilities here.hilton

Enterprise Collaboration and Digital Transformation

@lizasisler pointed me to an interesting article on CIO.com about the need for digital transformation and how you get there. The answer is of course that you need to break down silos and enterprise collaboration tools will help……. along with cultural change and executive support.  See my deeper color commentary over at Perficient’s Microsoft Blog.

digitaltransform

What Executive roles champion and support digital transformation?

Why Social Needs to be Part of Your Portal

IBM’s 2014 Digital Experience Conference started Wednesday off with a great session by Mac Guidera, Social Workforce Strategist from IBM, titled “Why Social Needs to be Part of Your Portal.”  The session was very insightful blending a mix of statistics, trends, best practices and insightful thoughts.

Why Social Needs to be Part of Your PortalSocial Business Patterns

Patterns represent modernized processes with dynamic, repeatable and measurable “people interactions” created by building social into work and life.  These patterns are repeatable way to interact an engage, share innovative ideas, finding out who knows what and find information.  Key patterns include:

  • Customer Engagement
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Recruiting
  • Supply Chain
  • Expertise and Knowledge
  • Workplace & Safety

Each of these patterns has value propositions and ROI, for example Customer Service maps to customer satisfaction, increased revenue and efficiency.  Marketing can map to awareness, marketing effectiveness and trust. Read the rest of this post »

IBM Portlets Running on Liberty Profile on IBM Bluemix

You may not have heard of the Liberty Profile, unless you are interested in running WebSphere Application Server in a cloud environment like BlueMix.  Saurabh Agarwal and Jaspreet Singh presented this session at the IBM Digital Experience Conference.

What is this Liberty Profile? Liberty is a lightweight WebSphere Application Server that is already embedded in IBM Bluemix which runs on Softlayer.  By lightweight, I mean that the install of the server is fast, startup is fast, and it is optimized for cloud. Liberty is really targeted at developers and improving the experience for developers.  Rather than install the big WebSphere Application Server on every developer machine, which requires more memory, more CPU and more disk space, a developer can spin up a Liberty Profile locally or on Bluemix very, very quickly.  IBM estimated that developers waste 5 hours per week managing the large WAS installation on their local machines.

IBM Bluemix image

IBM Bluemix

Why talk about Liberty at the Digital Experience Conference?  When developing portlets for the Digital Experience, a developer will typically install a full WebSphere Application Server and Portal Server on their local machines. That is more disk, more memory, and more configurations to manage.  If all a developer needs to do is test portlets prior to deploying to a test server, this is a lot of wasted resources and time.

Liberty helps in this area because it comes with a Portlet Container.  A Portlet Container is simply an environment that enables running JSR portlets.   The Liberty Profile enables you to run JSR portlets that you will eventually put into WebSphere Portal, so it has the base libraries needed to run these portlets.  As you develop a portlet you can deploy it to Liberty for unit testing and skip all the configuration and installation efforts.

In addition to the Portlet Container, Liberty also has a WSRP Producer that you can use.  A WSRP Producer allows a remote portal server to access and display your portlet running on Liberty.  Imagine that you are developing a portlet, testing it on Liberty and want to see what it looks like in the full portal interface.  If you have a portal running on a test server, for example, you can use that server’s portlet consumer (WSRP Consumer) to show your portlet in context.  You don’t have to deploy the portlet to the test server, so it saves you some time there.

IBM also has Portlet Container Tools for the Liberty Profile.  These tools provide:

  • the ability to use a wizard to create portlet projects in the Eclipse IDE.  Here you don’t need to use RAD to create portlets that you will test on Liberty
  • a WSYWIG Editor for configuring the portlet (editing portlet.xml) and a JSR 286 event manager
  • configuration of the liberty profile server
  • publish, test and debug your portlet within Eclipse

All these addons to Liberty for portlet development are free to developers.  You will pay a fee to use Bluemix, but you will save time and money by using Liberty in your development environment. The cost of using Libery on Bluemix is extremely affordable.

Web Experience Factory ships with a Liberty instance so you can test portlets you create in WEF on your local machine without having a full WebSphere Portal installed.

When would you choose Liberty and the Portlet Container tools versus using Rational Application Developer and a full installation of WebSphere Portal?  Here are some considerations:

  • Liberty
    • Easy and no charge for the tools or license
    • Light weight
    • Portal customers using WSRP
    • Want to test portlets in Bluemix
  • Rational Application Developer
    • Target full WebSphere Portal installations that may have specific security or database configurations
    • Need Portal specific features such as Credential Vault, Business Process and Personalization
    • Need advanced features like JSF, Dojo & jQuery
    • Multi-channel portlet development

If you do use Liberty for your development, you easily migrate those projects into RAD when needed.

 

 

Consumer Engagement at Florida Blue with IBM Digital Experience

Glenn Kline of Perficient and Phani Kanakala from Florida Blue presented a case study of how Florida Blue, Florida’s largest healthcare payer, uses IBM Digital Experience to engage consumers.  Florida Blue’s mission is “To improve the health and well-being of Floridians and their communities”.  This really is a good reason to engage customers.

Florida Blue has been using IBM Digital Experience platforms since 2008.  Every year Florida Blue added new features and new sites to their customer experiences.  The IBM platform allowed the business people to manage content on the portal.  logo-header

Back in 2010, Florida Blue started to implement metrics and marketing concepts into their site to provide a more personalized shopping experience with guided selling.  They extended this to provide cost metrics regarding hospitals and doctors, so members could evaluate the potential cost of a provider against five others in their plan.

In the mobile space, Florida Blue was an early adopter of mobile sites and applications for their members.  After implement mobile capabilities with Digital Experience, they saw an immediate boost in customer transactions and shopping.  Today all sites at Florida Blue are accessible via mobile devices.  They have recently added videos, agent tools and more healthcare content for mobile users.

Today, they show 20-25% increase in traffic every year, but have to deal with ever changing consumer and regulatory changes.  Because of healthcare reform, they now have new customers for whom to provide an experience.  These are younger consumers who are demanding different engagement models, different payment services and new products.

IBM solutions that Florida Blue uses include the following:

  • Websphere Portal
  • IBM Web Content Manager
  • IBM Tealeaf
  • IBM iLog
  • DataPower
  • WebSphere Application Server

Glenn talked about why Web Content Management is so important to Florida Blue.  WCM helps them react quickly to consumer needs by letting business users manage the site content. One WCM system feeds multiple Florida Blue portals to provide consistency of content across their various properties.

On top of WCM, Florida Blue has implemented a lot of Personalization capabilities using IBM Digital Experience.  They used visibility rules to deliver reform capabilities tailored to each individual consumer.  Allowing the business to change the rules lets them react quickly to marketplace demands.  They load contract materials in WCM and then use personalization rules to select correct documents based on the individual user.

 

 

 

 

 

IBM Digital Experience in the Cloud: New Options and Capabilities

Tony Higham and Paul Kelsey spoke about deploying IBM Digital Experience on both an on-premise and public cloud.  There are 5 properties of the cloud generally recognized in the market.  IBM is fully supporting each of theses properties:

  • On-demand & Self Service – its there when you need it
  • Broad Network Access – a global network with fast access from any device
  • Resource Pooling – customers share computing resources at some level.  IBM is not really embracing shared hardware.  They are really into private instances on bare metal.
  • Rapid Elasticity – you get what you needXDXCloud1
  • Measured Service – pay for what you get

IBM is going after the cloud using the following concepts because the cloud presents real business value:

  • Months to Minutes
  • Heroics to the Easy Button
  • Automate Everything

Digital Experience on the cloud creates the entire infrastructure so you don’t have to separately install and  configure each type of software you need in the application.

Here is how IBM Digital Experience works on the cloud.  It really is the IBM PureApplication story.  IBM has built PureApp to provision application patterns quickly and efficiently.  You may have heard about the WebSphere Portal Pattern on PureApp. In the recent past PureApp was an on-premise box.  Now IBM has implemented PureApp Services on their SoftLayer cloud.  As a result, you can use the Digital Experience Pattern right on the SoftLayer cloud and have an instant cloud-based system.

In a non Pure App infrastructure, it typically takes several engineers and two weeks to install a WebSphere Portal cluster with a database and security in a production environment. What is the impact of PureApp on the portal?  This same environment can be installed in 45 minutes either on premise or in the cloud.  Paul demonstrated creating a clustered environment on PureApp.  Everything needed for a production environment is setup, configured and tuned.

With the new PureApplication Service on SoftLayer, you can run your entire WebSphere Portal cluster and take advantage of all the PureApplication capabilities on-prem.  PureApp on Softlayer is a pay as you go service in increments of three months. You can also incrementally add cpus and memory to nodes you have installed on SoftLayer.

Another interesting feature is the ability to move your Portal environment from on-prem to SoftLayer or from SoftLayer to on-prem depending on your needs.

 

 

Integrating IBM Digital Experience and Microsoft SharePoint

Jason Cornell spoke at the IBM Digital Experience Conference about how well IBM Digital Experience software integrates with SharePoint. When IBM talks about integration with SharePoint, its usually how to display SharePoint content or apps within WebSphere Portal.

There are a bunch of ways that IBM has enabled out-of-the-box integration with SharePoint:

  • IBM has Web Application Bridge to pull in SharePoint sites, libraries, lists, wikis, blogs, announcements and so on.  The Bridge displays content from SharePoint as-is or you can intercept the HTML produced by SharePoint and do some manipulation on it.
  • Another technique is to use RSS Feed portlets to display SharePoint RSS Feeds.
  • IBM has Exchange portlets that allow you to bring in mail and calendaring into Portal.
  • When you have SharePoint Web, REST services or SQL services, IBM can use its new Digital Data Connector to grab feeds from those services and allow you to manage the display of the data in Digital Experience.
  • When you use SharePoint for document management, you can use CMIS capabilities to provide access to those documents from your WebSphere Portal. IBM provides a sample portlet on the Digital Experience wiki that access a SharePoint library, displays content and allows writing content to SharePoint.
  • Sometimes you want to migrate content from SharePoint. For this you can use the IBM’s Web Content Integrator to feed that SharePoint content directly into IBM Web Content Manager.  In this case, the content will live inside IBM WCM.
  • IBM’s Search technology will provide search services against SharePoint sites.  Search results can be combined with content from other sites to have a unified search experience.

Jason demonstrated all these techniques in IBM Digital Experience software.  Some of the pre-built applications are available on IBM’s Solution Catalog and some are available on the Digital Experience wiki site. All of these pre-built integrations are free to use, though you will have to configure most them appropriately to connect to the SharePoint system.

IBM Digital Experience Conf: Developing Portlets Using JQuery

jQuery is one of the most pervasive scripting libraries in use today. The session “Developing Portlets Using Javascript and JQuery for Engaging Digital Experiences” by Stephan Hesmer, Web 2.0 Architect, IBM and  Jaspreet Singh, Rational Tools Architect, IBM provided good insight as to how to leverage jQuery in IBM WebSphere Portal.

First, a couple of key statistics to indicate why this is important and cannot be ignored:

  • 57.5% of websites use jQuery.
  • jQuery has a 93% marketshare.

WebSphere Portal still includes Dojo but it isn’t required for view mode.  It is required in edit mode however, especially for in place editing.    One key change in portal 8.5 however is when edit mode, the edit panel is now isolated from pages so it will not conflict with the page. Read the rest of this post »

IBM Digital Experience Conf: Marketing Integration

Rob Enright, a Digital Experience Strategist with IBM spoke about integrating Marketing Management with IBM Digital Experiences.  Customer expectations are soaring, yet it takes time to build your digital experience to keep up or even get ahead of those expectations.

Here are several themes IBM is focusing on:

  • “Insight to Action” with a few clicks – this will require more and more automation of the
  • Manage omni-channel campaigns that are coordinated across the channel.  This requires orchestration across departments and systems.
  • Self learning digital recommendations will require complex software that can take in basic input and learn new rules as they become apparent.

Rob talked about how technology can help these areas.  Interactive optimization is like having a good conversation.  The result is the customer having a feeling that you are talking directly with them.  Marketers need to listen and understand, then decide what to say next.  After that the marketer can then respond in the conversation.  

Within IBM Digital Experience we can combine content personalization with marketing messages.  Content is managed and personalized by WCM, while marketing messages may come from other places.

IBM Interact connects to IBM Digital experience using IBM Interact Spot portlets.  These portlets display content identified by the Interact campaign system.  Interact ties in to Digital Experience through offer codes set up on IBM Interact and then entered into Digital Experience.

IBM also has a Marketing Center Spot portlet that will integrate IBM Marketing Center in with Digital Experience.  Messages injected my Marketing center are not Web Content managed by IBM WCM.  Rather, the messages are managed in Marketing Center and injected at runtime.

Marketing integration has been a hot topic and IBM is doing a good job of making sure it’s marketing products are integrating with Digital Experience.

 

IBM XDX – What’s New in WebSphere Portal and IBM WCM 8.5

Rob Will, chief architect for WebSphere Portal, once again gave a great presentation at IBM’s Digital Experience Conference 2014.  The focus was on the new capabilities delivered in the last year.

The focus of the digital experience suite has been to provide a framework with tools and services to be able to deliver a great digital experience.  The focus has shifted from IT building the solutions to the line of business being able to own and deliver content and services themselves.  The innovative capabilities below are some of the highlights that direction.

IBM XGX - What's New in WebSphere Portal and IBM WCM 8.5 Mobile

  • Portal and WCM is in the framework business, not application business.  this translates to mobile as well.  Mobile web site business, not web application business.
  • The direction is to deliver mufti-channel digital experiences.
  • IBM Worklight continues to evolve.  It is an application development environment that includes a thin layer of native client code that simplifies building multi-channel web applications.  There are many new capabilities that plug right into portal such as a content adapter to WCM.
  • A new mobile simulator is built in to be able to preview portal content using device emulators prior to publishing.
  • Mobile is part of everything IBM does.

Read the rest of this post »