This post is a recap of a recent Oracle WebCenter Content digital asset management project we completed for a manufacturing customer. They have thousands of products, and each has its own set of images, illustrations, videos, and manuals. Over 20,000 different asset types like these supported multiple processes and are distributed across a variety of mediums.

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The Business Problem: Disparate Content Storage

The company was storing some of its assets within Oracle Universal Content Management (UCM). Others, however, were stored in employee laptops, file servers, and various other locations. The assets were also stored with multiple naming conventions. These factors made it difficult to find relevant assets for products and repurpose them across channels and teams, as well as collaborate on the assets internally or with partners. Employees involved in asset creation and management described it as “content chaos”.

Illustration 1: Content Creation Lifecycle
The company’s view on how content will be created and consumed. This includes the various audiences for the content illustrating the content types necessary (electronic and print) – technical specifications, price and availability, manuals, etc.

This disparate content storage architecture and inconsistent file naming also meant that there was limited visibility into when and where purchased assets like image libraries were being used. This made it difficult to share such investments throughout the company.

Selecting Oracle WebCenter Content for Asset Storage and Management

With these issues identified, the company set out to develop a strategy to implement a permissions-based, centralized document and digital asset management system.  They had been using Oracle UCM for some time, but their initial implementation was not architected in a way to best suit the needs to search, access, use, and share assets across the company.

The company had also recently deployed the Agility product information management (PIM) system. Agility is used to manage the fully lifecycle of the company’s products, including where and how they can be marketed and sold, as well as what they should cost. The company wanted to integrate Agility with Oracle UCM, so that they could relate products in Agility with associated assets in UCM. This would make it easier to support commerce channels, including the company’s website, print catalogs, and the future desire to enable the sales team to access the company’s full product line “binder” from their mobile devices. The company needed the content management system to be able to output multiple rendition types including videos and PDFs.

For these reasons, the company decided to upgrade Oracle UCM to WebCenter Content 12c. An added benefit of 12c was that it provided the ability to integrate with third-party audio and video transcoding systems. This enabled the company to leverage FFmpeg software, which records, converts, and streams audio and video data. This video rendition engine is an open source product and therefore free, which helped keep implementation costs down as no additional licenses needed to be purchased.

The company partnered with Fishbowl Solutions to perform the upgrade to WebCenter 12c and integrate the product with Agility. Fishbowl had engaged with this company previously to scope out the future use of Oracle UCM (WebCenter), as well as design how its digital asset management component could be architected to achieve the following:

  • Simplified Image Access and Control
    • Provide an easy-to-use system that minimizes non-value add tasks. Users should have simple input mechanisms, assets should be transformed transparently to the user, and end up distributed to the right channel based on product name and metadata values.
  • Simple Scalable Solution for More Effective Collateral Control Across All Brands
    • Simplified solution architecture that is scalable to the needs of the company’s brands and shared functions and clarifies/enforces the defined “fit for purpose” solutions.
  • Image and Referential Content are Appropriately Managed throughout the Lifecycle
    • Knowledge workers want a solution that manages data according to organizational policy and standards within the systems they use on a day-to-day basis and does not require significant additional effort.

Oracle WebCenter Content 12c Implementation and Agility Integration

The company created a “Portfolio Initiative Roadmap” identifying these 9 key initiatives required to build out their Enterprise Digital Asset Management Solution and Program:

  1. Establish Foundation
  2. Marketing and Creative Services Enablement
  3. Sales Enablement
  4. Training and Certification Enablement
  5. Engineering Enablement
  6. Archive and Access AP Images To/From Oracle WebCenter Content
  7. Creative Services Enablement
  8. Ecommerce Enablement
  9. Evolve Foundation

Fishbowl worked with the company to deliver roadmap item number one: Establish Foundation. With this initiative Fishbowl needed to first upgrade Oracle UCM to Oracle WebCenter 12c. This included migrating the creative assets into the new instance. In parallel with the content migration and upgrade, the Fishbowl team designed an integration between Agility and Oracle WebCenter. This integration would enable Agility’s product taxonomy and data model to be associated with WebCenter’s metadata fields. This essentially would enable metadata between the systems to be shared and synced, making it easier to standardize on how assets were named.

The Fishbowl team did an outstanding job researching, planning, troubleshooting and creating the migration schedule for the Oracle Universal Content Management to WebCenter Content 12c upgrade. We did encounter one issue the night of the release, but the team developed a resolution and was ready to attempt the upgrade within 3 days.  I had the utmost confidence their plan was solid and we would attempt the upgrade mid-week.  The next attempt went very smoothly and users were in WebCenter Content the next morning.

Manager, Digital Strategy, Manufacturing Company

This integration would also provide renditions of the assets stored in Oracle WebCenter to display in Agility. For example, photographs and images of the company’s products are rendered via Oracle WebCenter’s digital asset management component to produce various formats – high and low resolution, 1200 x 1200, etc. Since Agility would be used by many departments at the company, including marketing, creative services, sales, and engineering; it was important that various formats of the assets could be easily found. This would help accelerate the execution of campaigns through web and email channels, as well as when print-ready images were needed to create or update product installation manuals and catalogs that were stored as PDFs. Additionally, associating the assets with the products in Agility would enable them to be paired so that they could be part of the product’s lifecycle – when products were discontinued, associated assets could be removed from the system. The following graphic illustrates the Oracle WebCenter and Agility integration:

Illustration 2: WebCenter Content and Agility Integration  Fishbowl designed a filter to capture all of the IDs of content items checked into the PIM Asset profile and added these to the Send To PIM Table. A system event was then added in WebCenter which runs about every 5 minutes, and this checks assets that are in the Send To PIM Table and adds them to the PIM Table. After it is added to the PIM Table, an API call is made to the PIM system to pull the assets from that table and add them to the appropriate product with any relations associated to it (i.e. the high resolution image for a specific product). After it is added into the PIM system, an API call is made to WebCenter with the updated path of the asset.

Results

This company first invested in Oracle WebCenter about five years ago. Although the system was being used to store some technical and business documents, the feeling amongst senior leadership was that the return on that investment was minimal. It hadn’t reached widespread adoption, and it was viewed as a system that wasn’t streamlining business processes and therefore wasn’t saving the company money.

This company, like most WebCenter Content customers, wasn’t fully aware of all that the system had to offer. Oracle WebCenter Content’s capabilities had to be reimagined, and in this case it was the Manager of Digital Strategy at the company that found an ideal use case. He was aware of the “content chaos” that the marketing and creative services teams were experiencing, which was part of the reason campaigns for specific channels took a long time to launch, as well as how the assets for such campaigns couldn’t be repurposed easily.

With the implementation of Oracle WebCenter Content 12c, and its integration with Agility, that has all changed. WebCenter has been identified as the system to store and manage assets, and as those assets are checked in they are automatically linked to products in Agility. This means that employees across divisions and geographic locations can easily locate the acceptable product assets for use in marketing, sales, engineering, training, or installation purposes. Outdated assets can easily be removed from the system, either manually or based on a content lifecycle schedule. Furthermore, having a standardized repository for the assets will better ensure they are reused across divisions and geographic locations, and no longer does the unknown location of assets impede internal or external collaboration. Furthermore, the open-source FFMpeg video rendition engine didn’t require the purchase of additional licenses, reducing future license and maintenance costs. Overall, the WebCenter and Agility-based digital asset management system has provided the foundation to effectively and efficiently control and deliver assets to the company’s targeted commerce channels.

The Fishbowl consultants on this project have all proved to be a very valuable part of my digital content strategy. I am very happy with the level of support I have received and amazed by how quickly they are able to provide conceptual ideas, working POC’s and final deliverables. They have been instrumental in developing and implementing the integration between Oracle WebCenter’s digital asset management component and our new Agility PIM application. I view them as members of my team, and they were all key in the successful implementation of our digital content management system.

Manager, Digital Strategy, Manufacturing Company

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