Social ERP Emerges—A Deep Dive into Oracle Social Network

In this report, TEC Senior ERP Analyst Ted Rohm continues his in-depth look at social enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. Download the report and get the details on the Oracle Social Network, Oracle’s enterprise social collaboration tool, and how it fits within the Oracle Social Cloud suite of products.
In a couple of previous posts on the emergence of social enterprise resource planning (ERP), Part 1 and Part 2, we talked about how social ERP software capabilities are transforming the way people work and gave an overview of how the ERP vendors are bringing the social facilities to their products. In this report, we are going to take a deeper dive into the Oracle Social Network, Oracle’s enterprise social collaboration tool, and how it fits in with the Oracle Social Cloud Product Suite.

Oracle—Oracle Social Network and Social Cloud Product Suite

Product Background and Insight
The Oracle Social Network (OSN) was announced at Oracle OpenWorld in 2011 as part of the Oracle Public Cloud suite of solutions. OSN was designed and developed in conjunction with the Oracle Fusion, Unlimited, and Business Unit Application families. The past two years have seen Oracle fleshing out a broad suite of cloud solutions with a strong focus on the social component of the entire customer experience. The Oracle Social Cloud is made up of four social products—Social Network; Social Marketing; Social Engagement and Monitoring; and the most recent addition Social Data and Insight. Other cloud solutions, including the Marketing, Sales, and Service clouds, and the Oracle Fusion products are all able to leverage the Oracle Social cloud services.

The entire suite of Oracle Social Cloud offerings provides some of the broadest solutions and tools in the marketplace. Social Engagement and Monitoring allows a company to listen inside and outside of the organization to effectively engage, monitor, mine and measure social and conversations for key insights like customer’s likes, dislikes, desires, intent, sentiment, and more. Social Marketing supports managing social properties and driving marketing messaging. OSN delivers the enterprise social network collaboration backbone. And Social Data and Insight brings everything together to provide a single, 360-degree view of social activity, including the ability to monitor a virtually unlimited number of external data sources. The full suite of social solutions provided by Oracle allows organizations, including Oracle, to fully manage all facets of the social, mobile connected world.

The suite of Oracle Social Cloud solutions is much broader than the scope of this series, but interested readers should check out these tools on the Oracle Web site.

OSN Solution Overview and Capabilities
OSN is a secure private network that manages stream-based, real-time conversations; lets a user set up collaborative groups and communities; connect to internal and external parties; set up personal profiles; track favorites; monitor trending topics and themes; and view, annotate, and edit content. OSN is very feature rich and has been architected to be the enterprise collaboration solution for organizations. OSN is built on four constructs that provide the foundation for interactions: conversations; social objects; content; and activity streams. A conversation is the central collaboration object that drives collaborative processes. Once a conversation is started, members can be added to the conversation, allowing them to review it and comment on it. Additional tools (such as maps, voting, and approval tools) can be brought into the conversation as apps. Conversations can be broken out into smaller teams for private discussions and ultimately published publicly for broader dissemination. Conversations can be escalated, de-escalated, and put into tracks, known as Collections for collecting and organizing them. Figure 1 provides a view of a conversation within OSN.

Figure 1. Screenshot of a Conversation within OSN.

The second key construct underlying OSN are social objects. The social objects are typed conversations that are explicitly coupled on-to-one with objects or processes within enterprise applications. Users or groups can engage with, follow, and post messages and content related to a social object. The social objects enable the integration with ERP systems of record and will be discussed further in the next section.

The final two constructs are content and activity streams. OSN provides tools to assist with the creation and flow of rich media. Content can be annotated, versioned, and edited in place within a conversation to enhance collaborative processes. Activity streams, the final construct, are used to surface a summary of updates across conversations, social objects, and people. Activity streams have further evolved into what Oracle calls a Live Digest. The live digest presents only activity that has not been previously reviewed, which allows the user to quickly respond to the latest slice of activity.

OSN is built to enable collaboration on the Web, mobile, or within existing clients. It is primarily available via a Web-based client and has a Outlook plug-in for advanced capabilities inside the Outlook client. Oracle also supplies iOS clients for the iPad, iPhone and Android. Figure 2 provides a view of OSN on the iPad.

Figure 2. Screenshot of OSN on the iPad. 

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