7 Steps To Oracle Commerce Cloud Success
By: Mat Herron, Community Writer
The term cloud isn’t new, but the cloud buzz continues to dominate technology conversations around the globe. According to technologyreview.com, the term ‘cloud computing’ can be traced back to 1996 to an office park just outside of Houston where a small group of technology executives were plotting the future of the Internet business and called it ‘cloud computing’ inside the offices of Compaq Computers.
Now, fast forward to 2018. Cloud computing has started replacing complex legacy systems with API-driven platforms that are easy to learn and deploy. Many Oracle Commerce organizations are contemplating a move to Oracle’s Commerce Cloud platform to reduce complexities. “While moving to this new solution might look daunting, it doesn’t have to be,” says Adam Thibodeaux, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Object Edge.
Recently, CommercePros hosted a webinar, where Thibodeaux outlined the “Seven Steps to Oracle Commerce Cloud Success,” which illustrates the strategies companies can use to make their transition to OCC as seamless as possible.
Step 1: Define organizational goals and objectives: Ask yourself why your company is upgrading? Do you want to go to market faster? Save money? Does your business want to migrate to the cloud platform or modernize resources? The theme here is determining concrete goals in advance and working forward.
One characteristic of large organizations is that their decision-making authority can be spread out over many people and many departments. This diffuse method often leads to a lack of accountability, confusion and re-work.
Company leadership needs to be invested in the goals of this transition, to prioritize the “iron triangle” (scope, time and budget), and to keep the number of decision makers small.
It is important that enterprises understand themselves and their organization, so they stay on course to reach goals.
Step 2: Determine delivery methodology: OCC offers companies a significant opportunity for change, both to the organization itself and the way it delivers its products. To handle this shift, Object Edge recommends businesses adopt an existing methodology, like Agile Scrum, that can scale rather than customize their own. This adoption doesn’t have to occur on day one, but businesses can usually move to an Agile delivery model within two to three months.
Step 3: Work with OCC, not against it: Object Edge, worked with a large Canadian retailer that is a great case study in how OCC’s out of the box solutions can enhance a business’s eCommerce approach. This company brought in Object Edge digital experience team to assess and advise on the best practices for using OCC.
With this approach, the retailer was able to avoid unnecessary customizations, create a compliant style guide, manage content migration, implement product variants, optimize product taxonomy and use OCC’s industry performance patterns with known conversion rates.
Companies need to ask themselves what they want out of an implementation partner, and Thibodeaux offered some tips: Look for a firm who has the technical OCC knowledge, extensive implementation experience, and user experience expertise with the platform. Also, determine whether the partner has served successfully in an advisory/consultative role on how to best use the platform and to lead or keep pace using modern practices. Finally, this is a big decision, you should not just be looking for a platform change, you should be getting intrinsic business and IT benefits out of the effort. Having the right partner differentiates an implementation from a transformation.
Step 4: Analyze your Oracle Commerce/ATG platform: Once your team and leadership are on board, how do you get everything built in your ATG environment to a cloud platform without hurting your business?
First, the company needs to perform a thorough analysis of its ATG/Endeca state. This means identifying key components, extensions, modifications and integrations. This analysis will reuse time invested in Endeca, promotions, product types and product data, reduce human error, create an audit trail, and inform future architecture.
Step 5: Design your architecture for the long-term: This is perhaps the biggest opportunity for an Oracle Commerce shop moving to OCC.
Using ATG was a great development platform for the practices of the day, which did not include middleware. Custom code and integrations were done directly on the platform, which makes upgrades and innovation difficult.
OCC, by contrast, is built-to-last as an API-first architecture, meaning all functionality is available via services. Customizations are externalized, and integrations are done via middleware. This results in an architecture that provides more modularity. It also protects the OCC upgrade cycle, which typically happens every 8-10 weeks.
Businesses also have the option to choose from various headless architectures to suit their needs. This could be a full headless architecture leveraging Angular or REACT frameworks or hybrid non-integrated or integrated headless configurations, depending on goals and needs.
Step 6: Migration: First, decide what to migrate and why. Then, choose what your business will reuse, asking the following: Do I need this customization? Does OCC provide a better alternative? What is the ROI on this customization, and does it differentiate us? What does my implementation partner suggest?
Companies should perform the automated migration first to save time and manage all the moving parts to the transition, followed by a manual cleanup.
Step 7: Finally, prepare for frequent upgrades: In the past, ATG users could expect a new release from Oracle up to three times a year, and if they could get away with it, avoid upgrading for 2-3 years.
Oracle prefers that OCC users never fall more than two releases behind, which means you should be ready at the very least to take an upgrade every 6 months. While that schedule might make businesses concerned about operational risk, Oracle has created a robust support team and as a result, in the last two or three years, OCC upgrades have gone smoothly. They are backward compatible and lead to reduced support costs over time.
Depending on a company’s “iron triangle,” a transition from ATG to OCC could take anywhere from four months to as long as six to eight months, but that longer time frame includes design, he said. Businesses should also plan for a dip in their SEO traffic, a normal occurrence when switching to any platform.
There are cases where Thibodeaux does not recommend leaving ATG. For example, very large retailers with a high degree of division of labor where hundreds of people are working on a platform simultaneously.
Overall, OCC’s suite of ready-made tools allows for sustained, methodical enterprise growth, offering more desirable functionality that is easy to learn and independent of architecture.
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