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Oracle CRM On Demand Integration Apps – cut down hosting server costs with client side solutions

Oracle CRM On DemandGenerally in Oracle CRM On Demand (or any other system to that matter), when customer business needs can’t be met using standard out of box features, developing custom integration applications (using web services) is unavoidable. These custom integration solutions needs hosting server and the customers end up spending hundreds of dollars in arranging these servers. Customers who opts for cloud based solutions doesn’t like to invest in and maintain the servers in general. This is one major pain point that many customers have faced or are facing over the years.

Oracle CRM On DemandWith the latest technology advancements and with few new feature additions to Oracle CRM On Demand this problem can now be addressed to a great extent. Now let us look at these developments in brief to see on how they can be leveraged to solve the hosting server problem.

1. Latest technology development (Evolution of JavaScript to server-side apps): Since its inception in 90’s, JavaScript (JS) has become one of the most popular web development programming language. The JavaScript mainly gathered the popularity due to its ability to deliver rich, dynamic web content, its relatively lightweight and its high ease of use.

Javascript

Although initially developed as a browser-agnostic scripting language, JavaScript made inroads in the areas such as mobility and server-side enterprise apps. At present, we are witnessing the shift away from server-side development in favor of client-side JavaScript. Organizations are preferring to go with backend API & rich client side applications due to obvious reasons. JS is the language everybody (developers) needs to know and it is not going to go away anytime soon.

The emergence of frameworks such as Angular, Ember, Backbone, Sencha, WebIx, etc. have taken the client side application development to the new heights and have made powerful enterprise apps development using client side technologies a reality.

2. Key feature Additions to Oracle CRM On Demand: Embracing the technology changes and to keep up with current trend, Oracle added the following features to CRM On Demand related to Client side technologies.

    a. Client Side Extension (CSE) in R19 – CSE are files (HTML, JPG, GIF, SWF, and CSS files) that you can upload to and host on Oracle CRM On Demand instead of hosting them on other servers. We can leverage the Oracle CRM On Demand security practices.

    b. JS API in R24 – API provided by Oracle CRM On Demand to customize the screens and perform CRUD operations on objects/tables.

    c. REST API – Planned in the upcoming releases

So using JS, CSE and JS API we can now develop fairly complex and rich client side solutions and host them within Oracle CRM On Demand. At the same time, it is also important to be noted that not every custom integration solution can be solved using Client side technologies. But there is a high probability of solving most custom requirements provided we exploit the powerful features of client side technologies, SOAP & JS API.

Considering the cost saving advantage it offers to the customers, integration solutions using client side technologies should be preferred option while architecting the solutions. All of this is good news for the Oracle CRM On Demand customers 🙂

Originally posted on Prashanth on Technology


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Oracle RightNow – Customer Portal Migration (Version 2.0 to Version 3.0)

RightNow (RN) introduced a new customer portal framework as part of November 2012 release. This framework is called Customer Portal Framework 3 (CP 3). And a new framework is mainly launched to address some of the challenges & limitations with CP2 (November 2009 release) and for software modernization & modularization.

As part of this blog article, I would cover the features & benefits of CP3. And the activities involved while migrating from CP2 to CP3.

Before we proceed further, let us understand the difference between Migration & Upgrading. Migration is moving from one version of the Customer Portal framework to a newer one. Upgrading is moving from one release of Oracle RightNow CX to a newer release. Before the November 2012 release, upgrading your Oracle RightNow CX application meant you also had to migrate to the new Customer Portal at the same time, absorbing all new features whether you needed them or not.

With CP3, migration process is quite simplified – you migrate the features you want when it’s convenient for you.

Why migrate from CP2 to CP3

CP3 – Features & benefits:

  1. Independent frameworks and versioning – Control when you migrate and what you migrate. Upgrading to new releases of RN will not have any impact on the existing functionalities of Customer Portal (CP).
  2. Automatic updates of backward compatible changes – All new upgrades are backward compatible
  3. Widget builder – Creation of custom widgets become simpler, quicker and accurate using the widget builder feature.
  4. Widget changes – New structure & process is defined to create custom widgets. This would help to modularize, easy code maintenance & fasten the development process.
  5. Easy migration – Migrating to new releases doesn’t have any impact  on the custom widgets.
  6. New file structure – Intuitive and easy-to-navigate file structure
  7. Connect PHP API – Framework Version 3 is built on the Connect PHP API and uses data objects from the Connect PHP API rather than internal APIs
  8. Software modernization – Usage of YUI 3.X in CP 3 improves performance and simplifies the coding

CP2 to CP3 – Migration Activities:

  • Adhering to new file structure
  • Widget changes (major activity):
    1. Widgets created using standard widgets: re-create the widget (extending standard widget) using the widgets builder feature of CP 3. Post creation, edit the code to duplicate (implement) its CP 2 functionality.
    2. Widgets developed from scratch: If the widget was developed from scratch to implement the functionality which was not available in CP, it is better to convert this widget code to work with CP 3 following CP 3 development standards. The detailed widget conversion process is defined in the migration guide referred below.
  • PHP namespacing: To avoid the conflicts between CP reference implementation PHP files and customer files RightNow and Custom namespacing is introduced. RightNow namespace contains reference implementation files and the customized files are available under Custom namespace.
  • Modifying display elements,
    1. Using HTML5 on custom pages: CP3 standard widgets and pages conform to HTML 5 specification. To take advantage of this, it is recommended to use HTML 5 doctype in all custom pages and templates.
    2. Editing widgets that open in a separate window: As mentioned above, YUI 2.X is replaced by YUI 3.X in CP3 framework. This change impacts display of standard widgets such as Login Dialog, Advanced Search Dialog and Product Category. So standard template needs to be edited as per the procedure mentioned in the document to correct the display.
    3. Changing the width of the Email Address field: In CP 2, email fields are <input type=”text”>. In CP 3, HTML 5 input types are used for email fields, so email fields are now <input type=”email”>.
    4. Editing the width of the OpenLogin dialog: The dialog that opens when your customers click one of the open login icons (for example, Facebook, Twitter, or AOL) needs to be adjusted editing OpenLogin CSS file after migrating to CP 3.
    5. Modifying the SocialBookmarkLink widget: The SocialBookmarkLink in CP3 offers Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Reddit options, eliminating Delicious, Digg, and StumbleUpon, which were used in CP2, and adding LinkedIn. If you want to continue using the earlier social networking sites with the widget, edit it according to the procedure mentioned in the migration guide.
    6. YUI resources: If your CP2 custom widgets includes calls to YUI modules, this code has to be modified as per YUI 3.X standard. Refer the guide for the details.
    7. Adding the PasswordInput widget: To support password hardening, CP 3 includes new password input widget.
  • Other functional changes,
    1. Using high-contrast mode for accessibility:  Edit the CSS files as per the instructions in the guide to make your customer portal pages viewable in high-contrast mode.
    2. Disabling incident receipt emails: In CP 3, by default the customer would be sent email notifications after submitting the question. This feature can be deactivated.
    3. Changing incident source for rules: If you have been using Connect PHP API in CP2, review your incident rules to see if any of them have an IF condition of Incident.Source equals End-User Pages > Ask a Question. If they do, edit the rule to also add the condition IF Incident.Source equals End-User Pages > End-User Connect
    4. Removing customer search preferences: The Connect PHP API does not store contact preferences in the database, so the use of profile_default attributes is no longer supported for CP3
    5. Changing the SmartAssistantDialog widget: Several default values are changed to simplify the code.
    6. Editing the CommunitySearchResults widget: See if the display_initial_posts attribute of this widget is used in CP2 code. This attributed is not supported in CP3 because community posts are displayed by default when the widget loads on a page. You can remove the attribute from your widget code.
    7. Login required configuration setting: CP 3 introduced a new configuration setting, CP_CONTACT_LOGIN_REQUIRED, which lets you require your customers to log in to most customer portal pages.
    8. Adding label attributes: Because of the data structure of the Connect PHP API, some business objects use more generic labels than those used in CP2. So additional attribute named label_input should be added to input widgets in CP3.
  • Customer portal changes on the agent desktop,
    1. Guided assistance styling on the agent desktop: CSS edits to make the desktop styling (of guides) more consistent with what customers experience on your customer portal.
    2. Replacing variables on the preview page: Variables names to be changed in the CP answers preview page that is displayed to the agents in CX console.
  • Converting custom code,
    1. Using Connect PHP API in custom scripts: If CP2 site includes custom PHP scripts that call normally unavailable product API functions (that is, functions you could use only after applying for access through the whitelist process), you cannot use these functions in Framework Version 3. Instead, check for equivalent functions in the Connect for PHP API.
    2. Direct SQL queries: CP3 doesn’t support this feature. Replace this with equivalent Connect PHP & ROQL.
    3. Using PHP5 style constructors: Instead of using the old PHP4 style PHP constructors (where the method name that matches the class name is the constructor), you should use PHP5 style constructors
    4. Custom models: Your custom models must use namespacing to indicate that they are extending RightNow models.
  • Optional code cleanup: Although it’s not necessary, you might want to take the time now to clean up Framework Version 2 code now so that you won’t be required to do it at some future migration
    1. Replacing business objects: naming convention changes
    2. Replacing unused widgets: ChatLaunchFormOpen, MobileEmailAnswerLink, and ContactNameInput widgets of CP2 to be replaced with equivalent replacement widgets of CP3.

Please refer to the CP2 to CP3 Migration Guide from Oracle for more details

Originally posted on Prashanth on Technology

 


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Microsoft Skype and Oracle Cloud CRM – Be where your customers are!!

Skype started in Europe in 2003, got acquired after 3 years by eBay and currently owned by Microsoft (bought in 2011) in a decade long run since its launch.

Using Skype one can call, see, text & share with others – wherever they are.

Being one of the most popular IM tool, Skype is available on computer, mobile, tablet, TV and even on home phone. Latest stats suggests around 300 million around the globe use Skype to stay in touch with those who are most important in their lives, from friends, to family, to business connections. One in three international voice calls is now made using Skype. Few more stats,

skype stats

To get started with Skype all we need is – Skype installed device with microphone and speaker/headset, a web cam and an internet connection.

Skype (Microsoft) has been investing in technology improvements, these changes are expected to significantly improve the reliability & performance of Skype to provide users with the best experience possible, across devices and platforms.

When you download & create Skype account, the free and paid services are,

Skype  the free and paid services

Skype in business world:

Skype, the low-or-no-cost voice-over-Internet service was first launched for individuals and is now popular with businesses too.

If access to information is democratized by Google, then Idea of communications is democratized by Skype.  If Amazon’s cloud services made it easy for start-ups to get in business, then Skype helped tiny start-ups go global adopting Skype as communication platform.

Skype is a good tool for High-tech technical support services, demonstrations & global meetings.

In cases where customers are having issues using a product, service reps could initiate a Skype call (i.e. Video conference & Screen share) with customers to see what the problem or issue is. This helps the service reps to quickly determine the root cause and show the customer how to solve the problem then and there. This also allows companies to have a kind of “face time” with the customers.

For more business use cases – “10 Cool Ways Companies Use Skype”.

Skype with “ORACLE Cloud CRM” Products:

Skype URIs are the preferred mechanism for integrating with the Skype client, and are supported on iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows (8, 7, Vista, XP), and Mac OS X.

Skype URIs enable developers to create innovative mobile, web, and desktop apps that initiate Skype calls and chats, enabling users to reach target group in a convenient yet familiar way.

The below listed Skype features are integrated with “ORACLE Cloud CRM” products using Skype URIs,

Skype Features Integrated with CRM:

  1. Click to Audio Call /Audio Call – Conference
  2. Click to Video Call /Video Call – Conference
  3. Click to Chat/Multi-Chat
  4. Group Video Call (GVC)

Oracle Cloud CRM products:

  1. Oracle Sales Cloud
  2. Oracle Service Cloud (RightNow)
  3. Oracle CRM On Demand

In their pursuit to provide better customer experience companies are identifying suitable channels where thier customers ‘hang-out’ and building processes around them. Skype with “Oracle Cloud CRM” enables businesses to be more customer driven and deliver defined customer experience at the same time reducing transactional costs making the combo the preferred solution 🙂

Originally posted on Prashanth on Technology