Perficient Blogs https://blogs.perficient.com Expert Insights Mon, 26 Oct 2020 22:11:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://i2.wp.com/blogs.perficient.com/files/favicon-194x194-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Perficient Blogs https://blogs.perficient.com 32 32 30508587 Dynamically Set Connection Strings in Web.Config https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/dynamically-set-connection-strings-in-web-config/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/dynamically-set-connection-strings-in-web-config/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 22:11:27 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282644 If you are struggling to set up the web.config files upon hosting your web application, here is a solution to how you can configure your Web.Debug.config and Web.Release.config file so that your application runs dynamically on both the dev and prod environments.

 

Web.Config

Leave the original web.config file as it is. Make sure you have your RedirectUri configured as well. Click here to see how you can manually set that up if your hosted site directs to your localhost upon authentication.

B6 P1

 

Web.Debug.Config

Add the keys for Environment(default) and Connection String in the Web.Debug.config file.

  • xdt:Locator=”Match(key)” indicates that we want to match with the key variable.
  • xdt:Transforms=”SetAttributes” allows us to set the corresponding key with the value we have assigned here. You can also “Replace”, “Insert”, or “RemoveAttributes()”. Click here for more syntax.

B6 P2

 

Web.Release.Config

Same logic applies to the Web.Release.Config file. Here is where you manage your configurations for your hosted site. Set the attributes for your Environment (default), ClientId, RedirectUri, PostLogoutRedirectUri, and ConnectionString.

B6 P3

 

Where Do I Find my Client ID and Connection String?

In case you are confused on where you can retrieve your ClientId or the ConnectionString for your Azure SQL, refer below.

In your Azure Portal, go to Azure Active Directory > App Registrations > Corresponding Web App to get your ClientId for the hosted web application.

B6 P4

SQL databases > Connection Strings > SQL Authentication

B6 P5

 

Hope that helped!

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If 5G is supposed to be a game-changer, what’s the game? https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/if-5g-is-supposed-to-be-a-game-changer-whats-the-game/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/if-5g-is-supposed-to-be-a-game-changer-whats-the-game/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 21:20:11 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282627 Part of Apple’s iPhone 12 family announcement included a big push around 5G capabilities and the promise of a better life, all because users will be able to do things faster than they did before.  Apple (and others) are calling 5G a “game-changer” but is it?  And if it is, what exactly is the 5G game and why should you care as a business?

Generically-speaking. The name of the game is speed. 5G translates to faster download speeds, reduced latency, and more available bandwidth.  While availability of 5G coverage is still limited in the United States, businesses should consider how to start building capabilities and products that leverage 5G now.

Improved Consumer Experience Possibilities with 5G

  • Video/Live Streaming
  • AR/VR
  • Realtime Data Automation
  • AI

Consumer markets have tried to deliver Immersive and personalized customer experiences with fits and starts, but with limited success. Consumers expect flawless experiences and to-date, existing networks have been a barrier to that.  With increased speed and bandwidth comes the ability to build experiences that don’t rely on end-users having the perfect connectivity conditions for a seamless experiences. At the same time, these improvements help businesses respond to customer needs faster than before with real, realtime data availability and automation processes enabled to respond in likewise near realtime. With the advent of 5G comes the possibility of finally realizing true 1:1 personalized experiences with AI-driven, realtime predictive modeling that can appear as to anticipate the customer’s next step.  Layer on AR/VR or streaming experiences that aren’t interrupted by glitchy renderings and the future could be a “fourth dimension” of consumer experience for shopping, entertainment, gaming, and communications.

Digital Product Development Innovation Possibilities with 5G

  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Automotive
  • Finance
  • IoT

Going beyond consumer markets,  5G capabilities may drive some more significant innovations and quality of life improvements many people may not even realize. Find some industry-specific thoughts here, but going beyond the obvious what if… With improved video and streaming capabilities there may be greater opportunities for more complex remote healthcare delivery.  With improved network capacity there may be cost efficiencies in delivering higher bandwidth to under-served communities and school districts. With faster and deeper IoT integrations there is opportunity to automate data sharing to reduce errors and improve safety across industries.  Intel is sponsoring a very cool labs program that brings innovators from across industries to collaborate on the art of the possible with 5G.  The overall potential for 5G to increase our existing cognitive surplus may allow for the imagination of digital products that significantly support and improve the very way we live our lives.

So Now What?

Regardless of consumer market or business focus, don’t snooze on the potential of 5G. Build into your 2021 budgets some capacity to research and experiment with applications and data that can be improved or better leveraged using 5G capabilities. Understand network rollout schedules for your key markets and device support trends amongst your key users.  Treat this a potential revolution; not evolution. That is the real 5G game and why you should care as a business.

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Changing SXA Placeholders Post Content Creation https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/changing-sxa-placeholders-post-content-creation/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/changing-sxa-placeholders-post-content-creation/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 18:37:19 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282619 Continuing Sitecore development on an already live site can bring about new challenges that did not exist prior to go-live. For example, if a particular component is already being used by content authors, you do not want to introduce changes to said component that would break pre-existing uses of it on various pages.

The Problem

You may end up needing to change an SXA Placeholder Key in which a component is inserted in. This can prove quite difficult to do if a component is used on hundreds of pages on a live site because the presentation details for that inserted component do not get automatically updated when you change the SXA Placeholder Key. You should not go in and manually update the component’s placeholder key to match the newer one. That takes too long, and the component would be hidden on the page until its placeholder is updated. With a large site, this can cause serious issues. The solution to this problem? Using Sitecore PSE to do the work site-wide. Below is a script you can use to do the heavy-lifting:

The Script

$contentPath = "master:/sitecore/content/home"
$deviceLayout = Get-LayoutDevice "Default"
$useFinalLayout = $True
$oldPlaceholderRegEx = "/placeholder-entries-\d{1,}"
Write-Host "Looking for Pages under Home..."
$items = Get-ChildItem -Path $contentPath -Recurse

foreach($item in $items){
    $renderings =  Get-Rendering -Item $item -Device $deviceLayout -FinalLayout:$useFinalLayout
    foreach($rendering in $renderings){
        if ($rendering.Placeholder -match $oldPlaceholderRegEx){
            $dynamicPlaceholderNumber = $Matches.0 -replace '\D+(\d+)','$1'
            $oldPlaceholder = $rendering.Placeholder
            $newPlaceholder = $rendering.Placeholder -replace $Matches.0
            $newPlaceholder = $newPlaceholder + "/placeholder-1-" + $dynamicPlaceholderNumber
            $rendering.Placeholder = $rendering.Placeholder -replace $oldPlaceholder, $newPlaceholder
            Set-Rendering -Item $item -Instance $rendering -FinalLayout:$useFinalLayout
            Write-Host $rendering.Placeholder
        }
    }
}
Write-Host "Done"

The Trickiness of an SXA Placeholder Key

The tricky part about updating SXA placeholder keys on a particular component’s presentation details is that you do not know the dynamic numbers being used to make that placeholder because they are not universal. For example, Component A can be in SXA placeholder “/placeholder-entries-1” on one page and at “/content/placeholder-entries-2” on another. You need to appropriately grab these different numbers to update the SXA placeholder key appropriately. That is what the above script does.

Walking through the Script

Let’s walk through the script above with an example. This script will loop through all page items found under “/sitecore/content/home”. Let’s suppose Component A on one of these pages lives in placeholder “/trophies/placeholder-entries-4”, and the SXA placeholder key is “placeholder-entries”. We have decided to change the SXA placeholder key to “placeholder”.

The if block inside the foreach loop will check to see if the placeholder contains the old placeholder (“placeholder-entries-“) by using RegEx. Since we have found a match for Component A’s placeholder in the presentation details, we will first retrieve the dynamic number at the end of the placeholder, 4.

We will then begin constructing the new placeholder key for Component A. We will use the -replace RegEx command to get rid of the “placeholder-entries-4” substring in the “/trophies/placeholder-entries-4” placeholder key. We will then replace it with the new SXA placeholder key to generate “/trophies/placeholder-4”. After that, we simply update the rendering on the Final Layout of the page.

What about Nested Components underneath the new SXA Placeholder Key?

Great news! The script takes care of that! Using the example above, you may have components inserted at “/trophies/placeholder-entries-4/my-other-placeholder-1”. The script will exclusively rip out the old SXA Placeholder Key you are trying to replace and generate “/trophies/placeholder-4/my-other-placeholder-1”.

How do you update this script for your SXA Placeholder Keys?

Update the content path to match the parent item you want to recurse through. Simply replace the $oldPlaceholderRegEx variable value with your SXA Placeholder Key and update the line assigning the new SXA Placeholder Key to the $newPlaceholder. For example, if your old SXA Placeholder Key was “my-items” and your new SXA Placeholder Key was “my-items-placeholder”, you would update these three lines in the script as highlighted below:

$contentPath = "master:/sitecore/content/home"
$deviceLayout = Get-LayoutDevice "Default"
$useFinalLayout = $True
$oldPlaceholderRegEx = "/my-items-\d{1,}"
Write-Host "Looking for Pages under Home..."
$items = Get-ChildItem -Path $contentPath -Recurse

foreach($item in $items){
    $renderings =  Get-Rendering -Item $item -Device $deviceLayout -FinalLayout:$useFinalLayout
    foreach($rendering in $renderings){
        if ($rendering.Placeholder -match $oldPlaceholderRegEx){
            $dynamicPlaceholderNumber = $Matches.0 -replace '\D+(\d+)','$1'
            $oldPlaceholder = $rendering.Placeholder
            $newPlaceholder = $rendering.Placeholder -replace $Matches.0
            $newPlaceholder = $newPlaceholder + "/my-items-placeholder-1-" + $dynamicPlaceholderNumber
            $rendering.Placeholder = $rendering.Placeholder -replace $oldPlaceholder, $newPlaceholder
            Set-Rendering -Item $item -Instance $rendering -FinalLayout:$useFinalLayout
            Write-Host $rendering.Placeholder
        }
    }
}
Write-Host "Done"

Conclusion

Updating SXA placeholders after the components have already been inserted into pages can be risky business. This script will save you from the issues that arise from this change. Cheers!

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Forrester Report Says Financial Services and Healthcare Are Our “Home Turf” https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/forrester-report-says-financial-services-healthcare-are-our-home-turf/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/forrester-report-says-financial-services-healthcare-are-our-home-turf/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 17:05:13 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282538 Perficient was listed  in Forrester’s recent report, “The Forrester Wave™: Digital Process Automation Service Providers, Q3 2020, The 13 Providers That Matter Most And How They Stack Up.” The report evaluates 13 service providers and illustrates how each provider measures up and supports application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals.

Digital process automation (DPA) services help a company formulate their digital transformation strategy, improving their customer experiences, and addressing the organizational change management aspect of a project. To achieve absolute success, a company must consider working with an outside vendor to maximize their return on investment during the DPA implementation.

The Forrester Wave examines implementation service providers for their work with DPA technologies and analyzes each vendor in three categories:

  • Current Offering
  • Strategy
  • Market Presence

In order to be included in The Forrester Wave, vendors, including Perficient, had to have:

  • A dedicated DPA practice and technology partnerships with vendors in Forrester’s DPA Wave.
  • The ability to deliver low-code applications and enable client business users to participate in the development process, with proven change management capabilities.
  • A proven track record of delivering process automation in the context of larger digital transformation initiatives.
  • Consulting offerings that cover strategy, user experience, and change management, along with technology.
  • Dedicated IP to accelerate project execution time and support vertical and/or horizontal use cases.
  • Relevance to Forrester clients represented in inquiries and client consulting.

“Perficient’s home turf is healthcare and financial services in NA [North America]… Perficient brings passion and expertise on human-focused, formal change management to its engagements.”

Forrester DPA Service Providers Wave Report, Q3 2020

It is an honor to be recognized for our DPA services. As a leading global digital consultancy, we believe inclusion in these types of reports amplifies our proven expertise with DPA technologies and our success in delivering incredible results for our clients after every implementation.

Why Perficient

The world’s largest financial institutions count on us to help exceed expectations and win in the market. As a company, team, and partner, we are ready and able to support you in your company’s transformation for the future.

Perficient not only brings a dynamic and passionate team to the financial services space but also customer-focused strategies to build and execute experiences that solve your company’s complex challenges. Some clients come to us for our financial industry experience, and others come to us because of detailed partner technology knowledge, but many count on us for both.

Together, our financial services team can help strengthen your operations and deepen your customer relationships.

Learn More

If you’re ready to take the next step and realize the benefits DPA provides to organizations, contact us today.

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2020 Embrace the Moment Gala for Michigan Council of Women in Technology https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/2020-embrace-the-moment-gala-for-michigan-council-of-women-in-technology/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/2020-embrace-the-moment-gala-for-michigan-council-of-women-in-technology/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 16:00:54 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282588 The Michigan Council of Women in Technology (MCWT) virtually presented the 12th annual Embrace the Moment – MCWT Digital Signature Gala on Saturday, October 17, 2020. This event empowers female leaders in Michigan who change the world through technology. I had the opportunity to attend this unique event and learn more about the incredible initiatives put forth to help bridge the gap in IT-related occupations held by women in Michigan and across the United States.

What is the MCWT Foundation?

The MCWT Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to inspiring girls and women in technology by encouraging, advancing, and retaining women in Michigan’s tech community. Comprising of a network of executives, students, business owners, entrepreneurs, and other leaders, the group collaborates to provide mentoring, networking, technology experiences, and leadership development through youth summer camps, college and graduate scholarships, professional networking events, and more. Perficient is a proud sponsor of MCWT, participating and sponsoring events such as Embrace the Moment, the MCWT Southeast Michigan Golf Classic, and through their scholarship program in partnership with Grand Circus to teach Java skills to our team members.

Highlights

During the event, I was able to enter and exit virtual rooms with various influential executives and ask questions and join in conversations about what companies are doing to promote this cause. I was also able to participate in discussions on the current and future atmosphere for women in technology. Amy Krause, Director of IT, Emerging Marketing, Corporate Services & IT Practice at BCBSM lead a discussion on women in technology and how BCBSM sponsors events to show young women the possibilities and opportunities in STEM.

The Success of Embrace the Moment

Over 500 individuals attended this lively event to engage with its multiple programs, auction, and entertainment by The Dan Rafferty Band. The gala raised $352,000 in gross revenue for the MCWT programs that inspire and help grow girls and women in technology. Visit the MCWT website for more information on the foundation and the event, and check out how Perficient celebrates women in technology.

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Boost Revenue and Profit Performance With Oracle IBPX [Webinar] https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/boost-revenue-and-profit-performance-with-oracle-ibpx-webinar/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/boost-revenue-and-profit-performance-with-oracle-ibpx-webinar/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 16:00:05 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282600 Global manufacturers face various challenges when trying to incorporate and deploy sales and operations planning and execution (S&OP) processes into broader financial forecasting. But they do share one common theme: no single view of the business plan, and the resultant uncertainty on how to execute on it.

Regular market disruptions are commonplace and can have an adverse impact on business operations and financial forecasts. It’s critical to be aware of these market disruptions early on, so that you can act and revise financial forecasts accordingly.

Oracle Integrated Business Planning and Execution (IBPX) brings together stakeholders in finance, business line management, and production to track progress and respond to interruptions and opportunities – improving collaboration and delivering a more accurate and timely business plan.

Join us to learn how to organize your company around a common set of forward-looking metrics to achieve optimum performance of your S&OP and S&OE strategy.

Discussion will include:

  • Creating a direct link and data flow between Oracle EPM and Oracle S&OP
  • How Perficient has incorporated IBP best practices into these combined suites of tools
  • Leveraging Consolidated Planning Dashboard with end-to-end view and drill-down capabilities
  • Gaining powerful insights that will allow businesses to react quicker to changing market conditions

Come prepared with your questions for Perficient’s team. We’d love to have you attend our live event. But if you’re unable to make it, all registrants will receive links to the presentation materials and a recording of the on-demand webinar post-event. Register today!

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Why Mapping User Needs is Critical to SEO – Here’s Why #251 https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/why-mapping-user-needs-is-critical-to-seo-heres-why/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/26/why-mapping-user-needs-is-critical-to-seo-heres-why/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 07:00:05 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282515 Google has been constantly making algorithm updates in the past couple years. Why? Has their focus shifted?

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge goes through different Google algorithm updates since March of 2018 and explains why Google made these updates.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

Subscribe to Here’s Why

Resources

Transcripts

Today I want to talk to you about the focus of Google’s updates. It’s like an oldie but goodie topic, but we all still love it, don’t we? And what I’m talking about here really goes back to the updates that began in March of 2018 when they began to have a different kind of feel to them—those things that they call their core algorithm updates, and where Danny Sullivan and John Mueller told us that if your traffic had been hit there really isn’t very much you can do about it but create great content.

From the very beginning of these updates, all the way back to the first one, we saw Google focusing on better understanding user intent. What do they mean by that search query that they type in? And then better matching the web pages and websites that they serve with search results to that intent, and try to improve the way those things matched up. And of course, Google has been doing this all along, so this idea of improving understanding user intent and better matching up with content is not new at all. But there was a point in time where the capability changed, and I believe that’s very much driven by machine learning.

Even with change capability, it’s an extraordinarily difficult problem. I mean, think about it for a moment—a two to four-word search query is not a lot of information to go on. Yet Google needs to give you the right answers anyway; they’ve got to figure it out. And, of course, no one has more data on what users mean than Google. So, it can measure that by tracking user actions throughout the search. What do they choose to click on? What search refinements did they make? Does their behavior in interacting with the search results indicate some level of satisfaction? And I’m not talking about bounce rate here, by the way; that’s a little bit simplistic because in some queries, a high bounce rate is a positive signal, so they have to really tease all that out.

On the other side of the coin, Google is clearly rewarding, in a big way, sites that have a great deal of depth and breadth for their content. Consider the very well-known example of NerdWallet, which is an amazingly successful site. It’s basically just an article information site, but they went extraordinarily deep. Here’s a chart showing their traffic over time.

Semrush Nerdwallet Traffic Over Time

And to give a different example, here is an affiliate website in another market. I can’t actually name the site, but it shows how they compare against large brand-name competitors, and they’re doing extremely well. So, it’s interesting to see.

Affiliate Outranking Major Brands

Now this behavior is not restricted to pure affiliates either. Here’s the view for a major brand publishing ten articles per month, which is a pretty decent volume of content, but it’s not huge.

Article Publishing Case Study

You see what their traffic results have been like as a result of that level of publishing.

What this illustrates to us is how Google’s updates have continually upped the dial toward picking sites with broader and deeper content. You can be an affiliate, small business, major brand—it doesn’t matter. You should get on this wagon train sooner rather than later. And what is behind it all, though? Let’s take a second so we can understand the motivation. Well, it’s Google’s keen understanding that user needs are really complex even when the original query may look like a very simple and straightforward thing. Satisfying a large percentage of the users going to your site must involve thoroughly mapping the entire user needs set. This is actually pretty complex, and it typically involves extensive research. Talking to customers, product managers, product marketing managers, service people, salespeople, seeing what ranks high in Google on queries, and more. But the bottom line here is to treat the process of completely understanding the wide array of user needs related to your products and services as a journey. It’s going to take time, and prepare to go five to ten times more deeply than you ever thought was possible before.

Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published.

Subscribe to Here’s Why

See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

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Turbocharge Your ERP Analytics with Fusion Analytics Warehouse https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/24/turbocharge-your-erp-analytics-with-fusion-analytics-warehouse/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/24/turbocharge-your-erp-analytics-with-fusion-analytics-warehouse/#respond Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:21:46 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282513 In late 2019 Oracle released Fusion Analytics Warehouse (FAW). FAW is built on Oracle Analytics Cloud (OAC) and powered by Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse (ADW). It provides personalized application analytics, benchmarks, and machine learning-powered predictive insights across all line-of-business job functions and business processes for Oracle Cloud Applications. It consists of prebuilt analytic applications that include a data pipeline, data warehouse and prebuilt KPI’s, metrics, reports, and dashboards. FAW is purpose-built for Oracle’s Cloud SaaS applications: ERP Cloud, HCM Cloud, SCM Cloud, and CX Cloud.  The first two modules of FAW have been released: Fusion ERP Analytics and Fusion HCM Analytics.  Additional modules for SCM Cloud and CX Cloud will follow.

In today’s data-driven world, no process can be considered complete or fully optimized without addressing the analytics related to the process. Although FAW can be deployed at any time – either during the ERP Cloud implementation or after – there are significant benefits to be realized from deploying FAW concurrent to the ERP Cloud deployment. Some of these benefits are:

  1. Improved design for ERP Cloud – especially in the areas of Chart of Accounts and flexfield design
  2. Improved ROI of ERP Cloud deployment through better analytics
  3. Increased visibility of ERP Cloud deployment by providing key metrics, KPI’s, and dashboards to senior executives and business managers
  4. Take advantage of the machine learning and predictive analytics available within Fusion ERP Analytics
  5. Leverage economies of scale from common team members for ERP and Analytics
  6. Distribute critical KPI’s and metrics via mobile devices
  7. Create a data foundation for future analytics and leveraging of machine learning

Fusion Analytics Warehouse Goes Beyond Transactional Reporting

The modules of FAW complement Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence (OTBI-which is part of ERP Cloud) and address the need for analytics beyond transactional reporting. Whereas OTBI is focused on transactional reporting with limited historical reporting and works with small volumes of data sourced from Oracle Fusion apps only, Fusion ERP Analytics is geared towards strategic and advanced analytics, supporting deep historical analysis, non-Oracle Cloud data sources and large volumes of data. Fusion ERP Analytics helps executives and decision-makers improve business performance and gives analysts the tools to uncover hidden insights.

Fusion ERP Analytics includes 15 subject areas and over 100 data warehouse tables covering General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. It comes with over 50 Financial KPI’s that are prebuilt to leverage the data in your ERP Cloud system. With Fusion ERP Analytics you can do the following:

  1. Quickly access critical Financial KPI’s and metrics with comparison to target values
  2. Leverage machine learning to drive alerts and discover relationships among metrics
  3. Analyze historical trends
  4. Gain insights into drivers of profitability
  5. Understand your cost structure and expenditure patterns
  6. Automatically gain access to key Financial ratios like ROE, ROA, Debt to Equity, Current Ratio and more
  7. Extend existing KPI’s and metrics or define your own KPI’s
  8. Drill directly from KPI’s and metrics into underlying detail
  9. Take immediate action on insights by linking back into the Cloud SaaS applications to execute transactions (e.g., purchase more inventory)
  10. Integrate non-Oracle Cloud data sources for true enterprise-level analytics

Oracle ERP Cloud and Fusion ERP Analytics represent a powerful combination delivering an integrated platform for flawless business process execution and deep, machine-learning powered analytics to drive improved business performance and continuous improvement. Perficient’s credentialed Oracle expertise and team of highly skilled implementation specialists can guide you on your journey to world-class business process execution and analytics.

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Keep your environments in sync with Episerver DXP! https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/23/keep-your-environments-in-sync-with-episerver-dxp/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/23/keep-your-environments-in-sync-with-episerver-dxp/#respond Sat, 24 Oct 2020 00:17:58 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282591 While iterating on projects it’s always a good idea to keep your lower environments in sync with the latest content and imagery from your production environment.  In some platforms this is a significant effort, but with Episerver DXP it can be easily automated!

Eric Markson from Perficient recently blogged about how to automate the orchestration of Episerver DXP.  Following in his footsteps, I’ve been able to successfully synchronize my Pre-production and Integration environments with production content and images in an automated fashion.  The process is quite simple.

First, we need to use the PromoteToEnvironment.ps1 script which you can fork or clone from here: https://github.com/ericmarkson/EpiCloud-Scripts.  If you want to learn more about this script, follow along on Eric’s blogs.  The jist of it though, is that we can call this with source and target environments with a number of switches.

In general, this script would normally be used to promote changes up.  Integration -> Pre-prod, Pre-prod -> Prod, etc.  The API also allows you to select what types of elements to promote: Code, Database, Blobs, etc.  What many people (including myself) don’t initially realize is: You can promote downward and skip the code.

This means that we can create two sets of automation:

  1. One to promote Code from Integration -> Pre-production -> Production (our standard Continuous Delivery style pipeline)
  2. A secondary to promote Database and blobs from Production -> Pre-production -> Integration

Setting this up is also incredibly simple within a tool like Azure Devops:

Content Migration Automation 1

In the above screenshot, I’ve created a release pipeline tied back to my application’s code base.  The application has the PromoteToEnvironment.ps1 script checked into source, which is used as an artifact on this release.  I schedule this release to run over the weekend, but really it could be executed every night if you wish.  For us, it takes about 30 minutes to execute per environment.

The job itself is quite simple as well:

Content Migration 2

 

The parameters here are also quite simple:

  • ClientKey, ClientSecret, and ProjectID: all of these are obtainable within the DXP portal.  Ours are set as variables attached to this release.
  • SourceEnvironment and TargetEnvironment: where you want to migrate to.  In this case we’re going from production to pre-production.
  • IncludeCode, IncludeBlobs, and IncludeDb: this is where the magic happens.  I don’t want to pull code from prod, because we’re using pre-production to test the latest code.  Instead, we want to pull the database and blobs, so we set these flags to 1.
  • SourceApp: for us, we’re migrating the CMS.  You could also migrate other parts of Epi as needed.

I personally thought this was really cool (borderline amazing) after working in other platforms where this type of task is nearly impossible.  It goes to show just how powerful the Episerver DXP platform really is.  Enjoy!

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Survive and Thrive During the 2020 Holiday Shopping Season: 3 Digital Commerce Trends to Act On Now https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/23/survive-and-thrive-during-the-2020-holiday-shopping-season-3-digital-commerce-trends-to-act-on-now/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/23/survive-and-thrive-during-the-2020-holiday-shopping-season-3-digital-commerce-trends-to-act-on-now/#respond Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:00:42 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282567 It’s hard to believe that the 2020 holiday shopping season is almost upon us, and it’s likely to be unlike any other holiday season we’ve seen to date. It goes without saying that this year will be different in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, and you already know the impact the pandemic has had on consumers and how they purchase, with many turning to online channels for items that they typically may have purchased in-store.

That being said, many businesses are still struggling to adapt to this “new normal.” Here are three commerce trends you can apply to your business, with little or no effort, to not only help you survive this holiday season but thrive with your customers.

Transparency, Transparency, Transparency

I’d argue that offering transparency to your customer, especially online, is not a COVID-driven feature to have on your commerce site. But the truth is that because of COVID-19, transparency has never been so important to customers.

Here are some ways to offer transparency with very little heavy lifting:

Site Banners and Cart Messages

Offering real-time inventory can be a difficult process and may not be possible with the little time left before the holiday rush hits. However, you can leverage key messaging opportunities throughout your site to establish customer expectations around inventory levels and shipping times. For example, when customers are in their cart or on the order confirmation page, displaying messaging that sets that expectation. Consider offering a proactive message that reads something along the lines of “Due to the holiday season and increased demand, shipping may be delayed. Please give us up to 14 days to process your order. If you have further questions, please contact customer support.” A message like this puts the control in the customers’ hands. So while you may not be able to offer real-time inventory data yet, you’re letting customers know that you are thinking about their purchasing experience and providing options if they want to inquire about an order.

Omnichannel Outreach

In addition to on-site messaging, consider looking at leveraging off-site omnichannel outreaching to customers. Leveraging avenues such as email, SMS texting, automated phone calls, social, etc., will prove valuable for providing customers with transparency around any delays or updates to their orders. As an example, CSR teams can leverage SMS and email communications for order or product updates. By being proactive, it puts more control in the hands of the customer. You may experience some order cancellations due to the delays, but the trust you’ll gain with that customer will keep them coming back in the future.

Supercharge Your Site Speed

One area that is often overlooked is how your site speed is impacted when handling all of the traffic and interactions that will be occurring during the holiday season. Site speed can have such a massive impact on conversion rates. In fact, a survey found that a one-second delay in a site’s load time can have a decrease in conversion rates by 20%. That’s a pretty telling statistic, especially because one second isn’t really that long.

Here are some ways to identify issues and get started:

Google Analytics Analysis

Google Analytics provides fantastic data and details around specific page load times for the various areas of your site, as well as bounce and exit rates. Start by diving into your key ordering pages and comparing the load times with exit and bounce rates. If you’re seeing high bounce and exit rates and your page load time is high, there is likely a correlation.

Hosting Environment Changes

If you notice some issues within Google Analytics today, you can bet these issues worsen as your site traffic starts to pick up with holiday shoppers. The best solution here would be to reach out to your managed hosting team and ask for input on how to decrease page load times. There are quite a few methods to achieve this that this could be achieved, and the hosting group you’re leveraging should have ideas on how best to achieve the desired results you’re looking for.

Leverage Native Site Features for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Specifically around up and cross-selling of products. In fact, a Forrester study has said the up-selling and cross-selling of products account for 10-30% of a website’s revenue. These features will help you maximize your opportunity to sell more products and keep customers coming back.

Here are some of those features to leverage:

Abandoned Cart Email Notification

We all know that the holidays are a hectic time, and that translates digitally as well. Users will have multiple windows open browsing various types of products, and at times a customer will become distracted and might end a purchasing session and forget to place their order. Leveraging abandoned cart email reminders provides a fantastic way to send an authenticated customer an email, reminding them that they forgot to submit their order. Many platforms have this feature available meaning it’s likely that the platform you are leveraging has this, or possibly an extension option as an alternative.

The Up / Cross-Sell

Would you like fries with that? Would you like to supersize that? The classic questions that McDonald’s has implemented to grow a customer’s food order translate to your business too. Using advanced logic to display items that might be associated with items a customer is browsing might require a platform extension to leverage.  That being said, most platforms give you the ability to leverage “recently viewed items” as a native feature. By turning this on, you can remind customers of products that they recently viewed and give them the opportunity to add products and increase their order size.

User Email Capture

One of the best ways to keep your customer acquisition costs low and maximize the visitors on your site is to capture emails. This can be done in a few ways, but one of the popular is through a modal pop-up within the site experience when a user first lands. Many companies will use this as an opportunity to offer the user a promotion or discount for signing up for their newsletter or making an account. This seemingly simple idea helps build your email contact list which is vital for re-targeting efforts. Building this feature will likely be a custom implementation, but it’s on that is simple enough to do in a relatively short amount of time. With the traffic increase your site is likely to receive during this holiday season, this feature is a must.

The Bottom Line

All these elements are important year-round, but especially during the holiday season. As crazy as it sounds, the pandemic means that many customers that will visit your site during this season may have never ordered online before or may have never ordered the types of products you sell. COVID-19 has upended the purchasing experience, and people who traditionally might have rushed to a local Walmart or Target to get the newest toy are now purchasing online.

With this, new customer behaviors are being formed– behaviors that are likely to continue even after the pandemic is under control. So in a sense, this holiday season is an audition for your business with new customers who, if your experience exceeds their expectations, will be back again to purchase.

As Will Rodgers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Use this holiday season as an opportunity to create digital experiences that make a fantastic first impression with new customers and keep them coming back again in the future.

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Four Microsoft 365 Network Connectivity Principles You Need to Know (Part 2 of 4) https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/22/four-microsoft-365-network-connectivity-principles-you-need-to-know-part-2-of-4/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/22/four-microsoft-365-network-connectivity-principles-you-need-to-know-part-2-of-4/#respond Thu, 22 Oct 2020 17:23:31 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282400 Welcome back to our “Four Microsoft 365 network connectivity principles you need to know” blog series, it has been almost 2 months since the first article (sorry for the large gap), so if you haven’t had a chance to read the first blog, you can check it out here. Last time we talked about the first network connectivity principle which involved optimizing your network traffic. Once you’ve done your due diligence with the planning and optimization of your network traffic, you can start focusing on the second principle of enabling local Internet egress. 

Principle #2 – Enable Local Egress

This second principle calls for enabling local internet egress from the location(s) where you have users directly into Microsoft’s global backbone.

Egress network connections locally

Image provided by Microsoft

This principle of local egress ensures that the requests from the most sensitive Microsoft 365 applications are not being backhauled across your private WAN but rather using your direct Internet connections to reach the destinations quicker. By using local egress, you maximize your chances that the connection is going to be routed through the closest Microsoft network POP (point-of-presence) for best performance. In addition, this principle also suggests that DNS egress for Microsoft 365 domains should be configured to egress locally, preferably through the proximate local DNS servers performing the recursive resolver (RR) functionality. This part of the principle is critical for traffic management decisions that the cloud makes by directing the user traffic to the closest set of front doors for best performance. 

Today, many traditional network architectures will have all outbound Internet connections traversing the corporate network through a central location.  With the new era of networking, Microsoft recommends adopting an Internet-facing network architecture as this is better optimized for supporting latency-sensitive cloud services (i.e. Teams, Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, etc.) Microsoft has done a lot of work in order to supply customers with the most optimal path to the cloud. How do they do this you may ask? Well, the Microsoft Global Network was designed in a way where they provide a Distributed Service Front Door infrastructure to customers, that consists of a dynamic fabric of global entry points which in turn routes incoming cloud service connections to the closest entry point. This results in lower latency due to the reduction in length of the “last mile” by shortening the route between the customer and the cloud. The diagram below depicts what the ideal architecture looks like for SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications. 

Local egress network architecture

Image provided by Microsoft

In this diagram, you’ll notice that regardless of where you reside (whether it be in your head office, home office, hotel, or coffee shop), by egressing locally you ensure the shortest possible route to the nearest Microsoft Global Network entry point. Egressing locally also reduces the load on your corporate network infrastructure and you can even rest assured knowing that the connection on both ends is secure as this will be leveraging client endpoint security and cloud security features. This summarizes the second of four network connectivity principles for Microsoft 365. Next time, we’ll tackle the third principle of enabling direct connectivity, so I hope you’ll check back soon to learn more about that topic! 

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Showcasing the Perficient Culture One Trivia Question at a Time https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/21/showcasing-the-perficient-culture-one-trivia-question-at-a-time/ https://blogs.perficient.com/2020/10/21/showcasing-the-perficient-culture-one-trivia-question-at-a-time/#respond Wed, 21 Oct 2020 20:38:26 +0000 https://blogs.perficient.com/?p=282533 Question: What is one of the best things about working at Perficient?
Correct Answer: Our incredible culture and the people who live it!

Company culture is all about the people who create it and live it every day. Examples of Perficient’s collaborative and engaging culture can be found across all offices, and our Chicago office is no exception. Over the past few months, this team has participated in Green Team meetings, a penguin watch, a team cook-off, and more. Being forced to work remotely during the pandemic was a difficult transition, but the team is doing all they can to stay connected – most recently by hosting a virtual team trivia night!

A New Take on Trivia

The Perficient Chicago team has always been a fan of trivia. They would often gather in various spots around Chicago to participate in trivia nights throughout the year. However, when the pandemic hit, all of these outings were canceled. The team went months without playing until a few employees came up with the idea to plan and host their own virtual trivia night in order to quell their inner trivia desires.

Trivia Night Together Mode

Employees across the office rallied around this idea and on August 21, 2020, the first Perficient Chicago Virtual Trivia Night took place. Perficient’s own Cole Easterday and Eric Arnquist planned and hosted the event on Microsoft Teams. Questions focused on topics ranging from current events to sports to Chicago-based trivia. The game also included a visual clue round to add some variety to the night. The event had a great turnout, and after a close race among the teams…Team Ddama eventually came out on top.

Keeping the Company Culture Alive

Gathering virtually as a team to participate in this event was an impactful experience for our Chicago team. It was a great opportunity for employees who have been separated for months to reconnect, and it also allowed some members of the group to get to know others who they might not usually work with daily.

“So much of our culture is impacted by our personal interactions. It’s events like these that help us to maintain and grow that culture further, even if outside factors restrict us from being able to see each other in person.”

Eric Arnquist, Senior Solutions Architect

Perficient has had to pivot many aspects of its business to adapt to changes brought on by this pandemic, including company culture. Our culture has only gotten stronger during this time, and the actions of our Chicago team are direct proof of this.


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Perficient continually looks for ways to champion and challenge our workforce, encourage personal and professional growth, and celebrating our people-oriented culture. Work on interesting projects for some of the world’s most recognizable clients and enjoy life while doing so.

Learn more about what it’s like to work at Perficient at our Careers page. See open jobs or join our community for career tips, job openings, company updates, and more!

Go inside Life at Perficient and connect with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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