Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview with Uma Welingkar, Product Management Director for Siebel Open UI

Among many good reasons to believe that Siebel CRM will live long and prosper is that the good people at Oracle proved that they can deliver real innovation in the form of the Innovation Pack 2012. Of course the spotlight is - and will be in the in the medium term - on Open UI.

Siebel Open UI
I am very glad and thankful that Uma Welingkar, Director of Oracle Product Management has taken the time to answer some of my - and the community's - questions on Open UI. The interview was conducted via e-mail and Uma's answers are very interesting. Here is the full interview:

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Siebel Essentials (SE): Uma, first let me congratulate You and the Open UI team to the GA in December last year. How long did Oracle work on this new UI framework?

Uma Welingkar (UW): It took about 15 months from concept to the release of 2012 IP [SE: Innovation Pack] for Open UI.  There were a number of folks across the development and sales consulting teams that helped drive some of the ideas for the new framework. We showcased the concept at Open World 2011 and the feedback from customers was overwhelmingly positive and we started.

SE: What were the major drivers and objectives, business- and technology-wise, for the Open UI project?

UW: The major business drivers for user experience was  simplicity and usability which translated from a  technology standpoint for  the need to support multiple browsers and devices.

Siebel has focused on the 3 major tenets:
  • Contemporary: Siebel runs in all browsers and all browser-capable devices using the latest web technology standards, such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML 5 while providing a native application user experience.
  • Productive: Siebel is designed for a user experience that reduces clutter and user keystrokes.
  • User-sensitive: The user experience enables Siebel to adapt easily to business needs, device types and user preferences.
This new framework allows our customers to develop and design business process once and deploy to multiple devices – desktops and tablets.

SE: For many other applications like Fusion Applications, Oracle selects its own ADF technology for the user interface. What where the main reasons for the Siebel team to develop a new framework?

UW: One of the major reasons for choosing the latest web technology standards  (HTLM5, JQuery and CSS) was that is uses the existing investment that both our customers and we have made with Siebel. Siebel’s dependency on Active-X controls made employee (High Interactivity) applications only available on IE browsers. With the browser and device explosion, we needed to provide our customers a cost-effective solution to build rich-interactive web based applications that could be used for both employee based as well as customer facing applications. This allows our  customers to leverage  both their software and hardware investments to extend Siebel to multiple devices with no new added deployments costs.

The main reasons for developing this new framework:
  • Allows our customers to continue to use the business logic and configurations they have already developed.
  • Provide a fully extensible framework that allows customers and partners a platform to innovate.
  • Provides enhanced accessibility support with native screen reader support  and dynamic content via WAI-ARIA.
  • No compile time controls (Active-X controls) which allows customers the ability to change OOB controls provided to the ones they like.
  • Allows Siebel to move away from explicit certification against each browser to supporting standards based approach giving customers the flexibility to support browsers of the end-users choice.
SE: As I heard, customers were involved early in the project. How did the Open UI project benefit from the beta customers?

UW: Siebel for the past 18 months has adopted "Agile" methodology for development which means we have a 2 month product increment cycle and this allowed us to showcase and demo complete feature sets to our customers. Customers were able to provide valuable feedback that allowed us to make changes prior to the GA release as well as ongoing improvements as we deliver features in the upcoming Innovation Packs with Siebel. We have also had a number of training sessions starting June of last year with partners and beta customers that allowed us to not only make changes to the product but also documentation and training materials.

A number of our partners worked with us to build out industry flows and solutions and showcased them at OpenWorld 2012 and also presented at the Open UI Customer and Partner Panel.

SE: Can you share any information on the customer uptake on Open UI in this early stage?

UW: Since the release of Siebel 2012 IP (8.1.1.9/8.2.2.2) we have had about 1000+ downloads of the software within 30 days of the release. We have a number of them in the development phase for Open UI at this point across the various regions and industries.

SE: How is the customer feedback so far?

UW: The customer feedback so far has been very positive, a number of customers as well as partners feel this is a game changer for Siebel. We have had a very good collaboration model with the field and our sales consultants and pre-sales team have been engaged with customers to provide customer specific demos and gather valuable feedback for the next phases in the development of Open UI.

SE: What highlights does the Open UI team plan for the next Open UI release?

UW: Over the next couple of years, we continue to focus on usability and mobility as our key drivers for Siebel. The Siebel core framework team is focused on delivering and enhancing the framework to allow customers to make UI changes easily without the need to re-compile the Siebel SRF. Our goal is to ensure we deliver controls that are part of our Active-X library into the Open UI library. The best practices document available on MOS provides high level guidance on what’s being made available in the upcoming releases targeted for Spring and Fall of 2013.

In addition to the framework, the cross industry and industry team is looking to deliver new flows based on Open UI.

SE: Uma, Thank You so much for your time.

***End of interview***
Summary

It is good to see that Oracle's efforts to modernize the Siebel CRM flagship are much appreciated by customers and partners. Besides that it makes me proud that Oracle management takes much time to talk to customers and conduct interviews like the above.

have a nice day

@lex

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