Infosys’ blog on industry solutions, trends, business process transformation and global implementation in Oracle.

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January 30, 2017

Customer Experience cloud options for Telcos

 

The Telecom industry is experiencing a major shift from traditional on-premise to cloud based solutions. This shift is more pronounced in the Customer Experience (CX) and Billing areas as these BSS solutions provide the front end customer experience and are typically the first to be targeted for transformation and modernization. The cloud based solutions provide a richer digital customer experience, along with the other SaaS related benefits.

The SFDC ecosystem has established SaaS solutions such as Vlocity and Cloudsense, which offer the complete suite of customer experience capabilities across Sales, Marketing, Customer service, EPC, CPQ and Contract Mgmt. domains. These solutions provide the ability to capture and orchestrate both B2B and B2C Telecom orders on cloud. This maximizes the amount of functionality that can be enabled on the cloud and allows the Telco to retain only the core OSS functions in their on-premise systems.

Oracle has taken a step in the right direction by introducing Telco industry specific capabilities in its CX cloud applications such as Sales cloud and CPQ cloud. Refer to a blog on Oracle CPQ capabilities. In its earlier avatar, the CPQ cloud did not have the key Telco features around subscription based orders, asset visibility and complex product hierarchy management. By introducing these features in the latest release, Oracle has addressed a major white space its BSS cloud solutions for Telcos.

However, there is one more white space around order management and orchestration, which is currently housed in the Oracle Order and Service Management (OSM) in Oracle's communications stack. OSM, while an established and robust solution, presents the typical challenges around high degree of technical expertise needed to configure the orchestration plans and flows, requiring extensive IT involvement and long implementation time. This limitation is significantly mitigated in cloud based solutions, where the configuration is typically much simpler and can be handled by business super users. So essentially, the business gets a higher degree of flexibility and reduced cycle time to enable rapidly changing business requirements such as new product launches.

In the current Oracle stack, Oracle/SI partner, can consider a hybrid approach of moving the order management (OSM) to a private/hosted cloud. However, to provide a holistic solution, Oracle will need to create a fully cloud enabled version of OSM, the likes of which is already available in Cloudsense and Vlocity.

Oracle has to catch up with its key competitors as far as cloud based Telco solutions are concerned. It already has deep industry expertise. It is now a matter of working out its roadmap to enable the most relevant capabilities and plugging major gaps, which would enable Oracle's SI partners to aggressively position its cloud based solutions to support the transformation journey of their Telco clients.

January 16, 2017

Why Hyperion Financial Consolidation and Close Cloud Service (FCCS) may have tough road to success

Anyone who has attended Oracle's sales session on planning and budgeting cloud service (PBCS) in last two years would have heard the statement, "PBCS is selling like hot cakes" from the sales representative. Well... yes, it was and has continued to have a successful journey. Its higher adoption has sown the seeds for new hyperion cloud offerings in 2016, one of which is financial close and consolidation service (FCCS).

 

FCCS is not HFM on cloud

Initially, many people thought that the offering was hyperion financial management (HFM) on cloud. Let's put a setting stone and clear the air that FCCS is not HFM on cloud. It is an Oracle cloud offering to support financial consolidation and close process with a completely different database strategy as compared to HFM. Yes, you guessed it right, FCCS is not on relational database but on the same database platform as PBCS. It has 11 preconfigured dimensions and two custom dimensions. It provides a cloud-based offering for consolidation and close reporting with highly standardized out-of-the-box features built on years of experience and best practices that Oracle has learnt with its premier tool, HFM. Above all, it requires less or minimal administration and is very cost-effective as compared to on premise HFM, but still it may have to be prepared for a bumpy ride and user adoption as compared to PBCS. Let's see why!!

 

Constraints to adopt FCCS: Look and feel is different

In interactions with few of our clients who already use HFM and are planning to upgrade or use other Hyperion modules but exploring a specialized consolidation tool, we observed hesitancy to adopt FCCS. One of the key reasons was that CFO office was still reluctant to move actuals to cloud. Some of the clients who were inclined to FCCS moved away when they spoke to or sought opinion from Hyperion managers / directors of other clients. The fact that the look and feel is different as compared to HFM and database is not relational, Essbase could be another factor though to be fair to Oracle, they are trying to have same database strategy for both FCCS and PBCS offerings. But, we all know that usually the close and consolidation group and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) group have a different point of view.

 

Less flexibility with chart of accounts also may be a deterrent. Users need to be aware that having standard hierarchies or high level account members in key dimensions like entities and accounts allow for standardized reporting, calculations, and inbuilt financial intelligence which ultimately help in faster implementations. Oracle understands that PBCS was a different ball game when compared to FCCS as it was primarily for plan data. Clients can try PBCS for different lines of business or design in a way not to have actuals data in PBCS and hence, they are ready to play the waiting game.

 

Leverage Infosys Hyperion competency

Infosys fully supports Oracle Cloud strategy and Oracle Hyperion cloud and on premise offerings. So, if your firm has any questions related to Oracle Hyperion suite or enterprise performance management (EPM) strategy, please contact us at Infosys.com.


Part 2: The Taleo- LinkedIn partnership

   

In the previous post, we established the importance of Taleo as a strong player in the applicant tracking system (ATS) space, while also narrating a few glitches from the user perspective. This post explores the story of LinkedIn, and how the partnership has the potential of ushering in a stronger Taleo while benefitting LinkedIn as well.


An announcement by LinkedIn at the Taleo World Conference that evinced much happiness amongst the fans was the integration which allowed employees to apply for jobs on Taleo ATS system using LinkedIn profile. Some of these are being described below:


  1. Access to candidate's LinkedIn profile from within the Taleo system: Recruiters may source suitable candidates based on the LinkedIn profiles by directly drawing that information by accessing the profiles while within the Taleo systems.  This means that they have access to a plethora of information from the candidate's interest and publications to recommendations and updated contacts and skills. A very useful feature, it allows the recruiter to save a lot of time in double checking and toggling between the LinkedIn profile and the candidate selection page.

     

  2. LinkedIn profile upload: This feature is a life saver for candidates and saves them a lot of exasperation they otherwise face while filling out forms which are lengthy , as it allows one to directly upload data into the Taleo form using just information from your LinkedIn profile. candidates will be able to fill forms on Taleo by importing data from linkedin on a click of a button. This also helps in improving accuracy as far as the contact information is concerned. These auto filled data can then be edited by the candidate at will, thus saving loads of time, while maintaining accuracy in data.


3. Referral service: LinkedIn announced a new feature called Referrals during their TalentConnect 2015. It allows recruiters to solicit referrals from company employees.The tool intelligentlycaptures connections from employees network and allows them to forward jobs within their network seemlessly. This feature allows all recruiters like Taleo, Kenexa, Workday, and Lumesse to turn on this feature and use it from their respective job sites.


Although it is a feature that might not be requested for by the client upfront, This certainly looks like a place where some empathy can be shown to the recruiter's tough jobs, and employ design thinking and suggest these features and deliver them as required.


 


 


 


 






January 13, 2017

Service Modernization for Utility Enterprises

With the advent of the smart era, a new chapter in the customer service leaflet begun wherein the customer wanted to 'always search' and 'always share' actively. Furthermore, this wish list exploded to include simplified and personalized mobile services which made him neither repeat the problem statement nor wait unknowingly.

This revolution in customer desires necessitated the transformation of the customer service management platform to meet the seven powerful smart service mantras of:  

  • M -- Mobile-oriented
  • A -- Augmented interaction channels
  • N -- No repeating
  • T -- Tailored recommendations
  • R -- Relevant knowledge for self-help
  • A -- Active services
  • S -- Social monitoring

Amidst of the erratic deregulation, infrastructure demons, rising operating cost, and pressure to increase ROI, the energy and utility enterprises today have been trying to deliver quality services to its customers. In the yesteryears, the utility customer service imperative was simple, and hence, the investment into CRM was either not needed or was minimal. However, with the changed definition of customer relationship management (CRM) to customer experience management (CXM), the utility industry is also now looking at options for effective, efficient, and seamless customer information management as well as customer care / service solutions.

To address the need for an improvised customer service solution, utility industries have begun investing into an Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing (CC&B) solution which handles all aspects of utility related customer information -- service connection, billing, rating, payment processing, collection, meter reading, etc.

While CC&B addresses quite a few customer relationship features of providing a 360-degree view of the customer, contact center capabilities, account and contract management, self-care information etc. but it still lacks the Smart Service features. As a resolution, the customer service arm of the Oracle SaaS stack, Oracle Service Cloud's contact center, and web self-service solution delivers effective and personalized engagement to the end-customers anytime and anywhere on any device.

Oracle Service Cloud's few benefits are:

  1. Mobile agent desktop as well as self-service portal (a device / browser agnostic portal)
  2. Guided assistance for both agents as well as customers
  3. Personalized cross sell offers based on history of customer purchases / complaints
  4. Rules-based predictive / proactive maintenance
  5. Social sentiment monitoring
  6. Omni channel services -- computer-telephony integration (CTI), email, self-service, social, mobile
  7. Interactive customer engagement - feedback, chat

With Oracle Service Cloud integrated with the CC&B application, the utility enterprises will be able to leverage their existing investment in CC&B while taking advantage of Oracle's industry-leading customer experience SaaS product, Oracle Service Cloud. Furthermore, the service experience can be made richer with the web self-service portal of Oracle Service Cloud embedded within the Oracle Utilities Customer Self Service portal to cover the complete breadth of the self-service capabilities -- knowledge, proactive chats / screen share, feedback, etc.

Here is an example of how Oracle Service Cloud integrated with CC&B can help engage customers in a live interaction leading to the first call resolution (FCR) - 'Case Resolution with Live Chat'.


With Oracle Service Cloud, utility industries can creatively engage customers, capture their interests, recommend best products / offers, thereby increasing cross-selling opportunities and reducing the operating cost of maintaining bigger contact centers, thanks to the guided assistance which leads to call deflection. After all, nothing markets better than a happy customer.

Oracle CPQ Cloud for Telecom Industry Vertical

In saturated western markets, upselling or cross-selling generates more revenue than simply selling for telecom companies. So, it is no surprise that telecom companies are heavily hooked on asset-based ordering. Companies, not only in retail business but also in wholesale business, need to know the current subscriptions of customers to upsell or cross-sell new products to their existing customers. Hence, the new configure price quote software (CPQ) features will surely interest the telecom companies which are looking for cloud solutions. 

CPQ has come up with subscription ordering which has features like create, update, terminate, and delete the asset i.e. asset-based ordering (ABO) with moving average convergence divergence (MACD) capability. CPQ is also offering projected asset and follow-on order features. As CPQ will hold the asset details, there won't be any need to query other systems to get them. Sales user can see the current active assets of the customer on a new page called 'Customer Asset'. This page will show only those assets which are active in the given window. For Example, if a customer has subscribed for 'Friends & Family Calling Pack' from the month of December, then that pack will not be visible in customer assets in April.

Like any other customer experience (CX) system, CPQ will create a new asset when order fulfillment system sends the success response on the quote transaction line. If customer wants to modify their services, then sales user will select the required asset on the 'Customer Asset' page and modify. Modify action opens up a configuration window, which gives sales user an option to do some upselling or cross-selling while doing the modifications requested by the customer. If the customer changes his mind before the new modify order is fulfilled and calls back to change the order, then sales user can reconfigure the existing inflight quote. This will create a follow-on order in which CPQ compares the projected asset with a reconfigure order line to reflect the user-intended net changes in a subscription or asset. Sales user can terminate the asset from 'Customer Asset' page if requested by the customer, or requested by billing system if customer is not paying bills.

Let's say, for instance, John has moved to a new town and calls TownBest Telecom to avail phone, broadband, and television services. TownBest agent will configure the quote as per John's requirements and send it to the fulfillment system. John's service assets will be visible on 'Customer Asset' page in CPQ when the fulfillment system activates all the services. In the summer, John wants to see his favorite football league, so he calls up the TownBest call center to add Sports pack in his subscription. TownBest agent modifies John's subscription plan from the 'Customer Asset' page in CPQ and submits the quote for fulfillment. While doing so, the agent has successfully cross-sold 'Music Pack'. Before the new packs get activated, John calls back the TownBest agent to add Movie pack. The TownBest agent reconfigures the current inflight quote. As per the projected assets, CPQ will show Sports pack and Music pack in the new quote as getting fulfilled. In the future, John can terminate his subscriptions if he is moving out of town, or TownBest can terminate John's subscriptions if he is not paying his bills. In both the scenarios, TownBest agent just needs to go to the 'Customer Asset' page in CPQ and initiate terminate action.

CPQ subscription order feature is satisfying most of the things which telecom companies look for in a quoting tool. This feature will be a good selling point for CPQ in the telecom domain.

Oracle BigMachine CPQ - One Solution for many problems

Cloud products have entered into the market quite recently and spreading their reach in different sectors / domains. Oracle BigMachine Configure, Price, and Quote (CPQ) is recommended as quoting solution in many sectors. Here is a point of view on the CPQ capabilities for some sectors.

Professional services

Even today, many professional service sector companies rely on Microsoft Excel (XLS) files to create a quote. As in other sectors, using XLS file for quoting has many limitations like manual errors, discrepancies in different quotes as no version control on XLS, no single system to show all the quotes, etc. Other problem could be when quote is accepted by the customer, sales user has to create project and other details manually in resourcing system like e-business suite (EBS).

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CPQ can play a big role in streamlining the quoting process. In usual professional service quotes, we see job titles, their rate cards, project planning information, and others. Depending on this information, final quote value is calculated. CPQ can hold these job titles and their rates in its data tables. While configuring the quote, sales agent needs to select only the required job title and number of employees of that title. CPQ will calculate the price according to the rate card. Different variations like onsite / offshore billing rates, hourly / weekly billing rates can be configured in data tables.

Similarly, project information can be captured on configuration page by introducing few new attributes. This information may or may not have pricing impact. For example, introduce an attribute which captures the number of weeks each role / employee working on a project, or whether an employee works full time or part time. If required, specific information like which role will work on the project from which date / week can be captured. For instance, a business consultant will be on project only for first 2 weeks, senior developer will start from second week and will be on project till fifth week, etc. Simple formulas can use this information and give final cost of the quote.

If the quote is accepted by the customer, the sales agent can pass on this information to resourcing system like EBS to create project and corresponding opportunities / employee requirements. It is a direct integration between CPQ and EBS with no manual intervention requirement and reduces sales agents' work considerably in EBS as they have ready project created in EBS. Resource manager can directly start assigning employees to the newly created opportunities.

This will be beneficial to many service companies some of which got employee straight more than 100K and work on multiple proposals at same time.

Manufacturing

The CPQ has strong presence in manufacturing sector. With its new bill of material (BoM) feature, it has become quite easy for companies to integrate their CPQ system with fulfillment systems like EBS. As CPQ can create sales BoM similar to manufacturing BoM required in EBS for fulfillment, manual order creation in EBS is now a thing of past.

While configuring the CPQ product, BoM details can be imported and saved in CPQ data tables. According to the functional requirements, BoM can be added depending on values selected on configuration attributes. CPQ also offers functionality where user can select attributes for BoM item.

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For instance, a Japanese robotic company wants to configure its CPQ system where customer can configure robotic hands depending on its requirements. Robotic hands come in different shapes and sizes with different requirements for power ports, motors, and other spare parts. Company can create BoM for each of the robotic hand style and add entire BoM structure to quote when customer selects a hand. Customer also has option to select the BoM item attributes. For example, customer wants all its power sockets in two pin instead of three pin, customer can select so on Power Socket BoM item. If this selection needs adding new transaction line in quote for two pin socket, then CPQ can do it automatically.

Above example shows how the complex products in manufacturing sector can be easily configured by CPQ with no manual errors. Once quote is accepted by the customer, sales agent can trigger the order creation in EBS from CPQ action. CPQ to EBS integration has significantly simplified as CPQ sales BoM are similar to EBS. BoM in CPQ can also eliminate 'need to configure BoM mapping' rules in EBS.

Insurance and finance

CPQ and insurance sector are not new for each other. Insurance plans can be configured in CPQ quite easily employing current product models and parts or with new feature like BoM.

To understand it better, let us take an example where a finance company 'WealthGuru' is setting up its insurance plan on CPQ. To start with, company can have multiple product lines like tax saving plans and high yield plans. For each plan, there could be fixed set of holdings options. Either customers can select which holding / shares they want to invest in or WealthGuru can suggest how the investors should split their money. In tax saving plan, WealthGuru gives the fixed split. Simple recommendation rules and data tables can be used to configure plans and their corresponding holdings. Depending on plan selected, fund information section will be editable for user. User can capture the amount that customer wants to invest and on selecting the plan, CPQ can show how that amount can be invested in different holdings.

Holdings can be large cap shares, mid cap shares, emerging markets, and more. If WealthGuru wants to go beyond just holding names and give specific stock details under holding, then multi-level BoM can be employed. As BoM can have parent-child relation, CPQ can show under which holding which companies' shares are considered. So when customer selects emerging market, WealthGuru can show on quote the exact markets in which investment will happen. This will be a real customer delight as they will come to know where exactly their money is getting invested.  

Similarly, WealthGuru can explore option of 'Customer Asset' page to show customer's holdings from previous financial transactions. This will be useful to show customers how their investments are performing and they can take informed decision on their next investments. CPQ can estimate the returns on investments if financial advisors configure the formulas in the system.

So all in all, investment products can be configured in CPQ with all its variants. 





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