What do we mean by Oracle Intelligent Advisor adoption ?
The ability of Oracle Intelligent Advisor to become a strategically useful, appreciated part of the company / organization landscape once acquired. This article details some of the things I and others have seen in projects that can accelerate or, inversely, slow down the adoption of Oracle Intelligent Advisor in an organization.
This article is all about our opinions here at Intelligent Advisor IT Consulting OÜ – and that means you might not agree. That is cool, after all we’re here to share and discuss, not to dictate. PS, if you are in a hurry, an infographic version can be downloaded here from Easel.ly or the PNG version is at the bottom of the article. (If you want PDF copy of the infographic just let us know in the comments).
Some of the content will no doubt recall the excellent work done by Jasmine Lee, in her seminal document “Is Oracle Intelligent Advisor a good fit for my business?“, but there should hopefully be some new ideas in here too. Adoption concerns the people, the processes, and the underlying technology of Oracle Intelligent Advisor so these ideas come from different angles!
1 – Training
Simply put, a customer needs to start with an understanding of the basics of product functionality and project roles. There are two core things to understand. Intelligent Advisor is a platform for turning business policies and rules into automated services – you use it to design rules and policy and then use it to make these available to others for consumption. Some examples of the risks and traps that come from a lack of training :
a) Labelling Oracle Intelligent Advisor as a rules engine – this is like labelling a modern smartphone “a phone”. It has a whole raft of technology and functionality that organizations can benefit from.
b) “you can use Word, you can write, no training needed – off you go, now deliver our business requirements!” Learning Oracle Intelligent Advisor is a very personal journey and many people, through their existing skill sets – or simply because they love the product – find it easy to get started. However, for other people this may not be the case, their learning curve may be steeper, and projects need to assess skills and train members of their Intelligent Advisor team accordingly. Above all, we need to move away from the assumption, that everyone who can write a Word document can immediately be a member of the project team. The presence of well-trained project teams helps accelerate adoption.
Oracle Intelligent Advisor is equipped with a variety of tools – automated testing, debugging, loop detection to name just a few, and understanding and applying these can reduce the time to deploy or update and reduce potential errors. But the rule designers and other practitioners need to be aware of them and know when to use them!
Training is a cost of course, but so is a failed project. With training, your team will be better placed to leverage the functionalities of Oracle Intelligent Advisor and be more able to consider usage scenarios with confidence – which means a better return on investment in the software thanks to increased autonomy, lack of dependency on a third party for maintenance and administration, and so on.
It is important to not generalize but the larger the team and the more complex the project scenarios being implemented, the more the need for a structured training plan becomes apparent. So, budget time and effort for training. Plan the skills acquisition as a journey, engage with the staff and encourage a shared vision of today, tomorrow, and beyond. Communicate this plan outside the Intelligent Advisor team as well.
2 – This is not just about Interviews
The second point is a spin-off from the first – get a good understanding of where Intelligent Advisor is NOT the right choice. Jasmine’s PDF document, mentioned above, is a perfect starting point. Another angle is understanding when to use (or not to use) interviews. There are thousands of customer interviews out there. Sometimes it feels like Oracle Intelligent Advisor is just Interviews for some people, and I would go so far as to say that some of the use cases for which interviews are delivered, are not suited to Oracle Intelligent Advisor.
Once you have read Jasmine’s eBook, you should familiarize yourself with Fiona Guy’s excellent article Can Intelligent Advisor be used for simple data collection? as it raises some very pertinent questions about the process of selecting the right tool for the job. Until everyone has a good grasp of key ideas like determination, relevancy, goals and decision reporting for example, selecting suitable use cases is challenging. In a sense, this must be part of the training journey as well – not just what and how, but why and when!
3 – User Interface Questions
I’m not criticising their choice out of context, rather what it revealed: nobody in the room had any understanding of the “binding” that exists between the rules written in Oracle Policy Modeling and the Interview.
This is key to positioning the solution and avoiding the challenge of the “new user interface to replace Oracle Intelligent Advisor”. Consider the following. Perhaps the IT department is pushing for a “modern framework” – Angular, React, or whatever. Perhaps the user interface of Interviews is being used as an argument to prove Oracle Intelligent Advisor is not the right tool for the job.
There is nothing wrong with choosing to do this in some circumstances, however we should beware the situation whereby a technical question in respect of the Advice in Websites icon above, leads in fine to the removal of all the others. I have seen with my own eyes the cost of a re-implementation of a new HTML interface using an external library, with significant lift and shift from the standard Oracle Intelligent Advisor HTML Interview and a lot of development time involved.
The result was a customized graphical interface with the rules embedded in the solution code. The organization lost all the functionality represented by the other icons in the diagram above in one shot – the entire Oracle Intelligent Advisor solution stack with rapid updates to policies, complete auditability, comprehensive testing, etc. etc) was removed. By making that choice the customer was back to square one building custom solutions each time, dependent on the IT department. The cost of customization and loss of rapid return on investment should be very carefully considered.
4 – Web Services
Mention web services and the business sometimes shrugs and passes the conversation to the IT department. However, the capacity your organization’s logic through Web Services using the same rules is a core element of Oracle Intelligent Advisor. All of the third column in the diagram below is powered by Web Services (not to mention the array of administrative Web Services used by CICD and Devops).
Using Oracle Intelligent Advisor to replace existing business logic is a common scenario. Challenges can arise when a customer is considering how to position Oracle Intelligent Advisor in this space. For example, Oracle Siebel CRM implementations typically contain a considerable number of what are known as custom Business Services – the concept is synonymous with custom scripting / programming in technical code.
Selecting which Business Service(s) are good targets for replacement with Oracle Intelligent Advisor requires an understanding not just of the logic in Siebel and the business goal of that logic (determining eligibility of a customer / citizen, assessing compatibility with certain services or products, communicating with another application or another component of Siebel CRM) but also whether it fits.
It is not something that can be done with a broad brush and cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. But Oracle Intelligent Advisor Web Services are the right mechanism for such a replacement, and the organization needs to focus on the right services to replace and make clear the benefits – easily accessible and readable logic, single source of rules, business-driven testing tools, shorter time-to-update and so on. This also helps identify the areas where Oracle Intelligent Advisor would be overkill (for example replacing field-level validation) or not adapted (an appointment optimization engine, knapsack style problems).
5 – Optimize and Streamline your Word, Excel and Web-Authored content and approach
One situation that we have been confronted with in the last few months is the preponderance of duplicated rules. To be more specific, we are happy to see customers who are using Oracle Intelligent Advisor more and more, but at the same time we are seeing a lot of repetition. For example, a customer develops an Interview that contains a set of rules designed to report on eligibility for a specific service or benefit.
Then, later on they decide to create another Interview that does the same thing. And they copy and paste the rules, duplicate the data model and Screens and continue to manage these as two separate items, even though the logic, or the legal requirement, is completely identical. This is essentially a failure to leverage (or be informed about) the concept of Inclusions. There are many useful scenarios. I’m just going to put a link here to a very useful page from the online help introducing Inclusions, as it shows five different and good ideas for when to use them. I’m the first person to admit that Inclusions do not meet all requirements, but I do find that customers can use them in many situations and correctly used they can provide a decent level of reuse.
Another area where I have seen inclusions provide a payoff is in the creation of a multi-stage journey for complex web services. For example, a customer wishes to implement an online calculator for some benefit or service. The initial phase of the implementation calls for a cut-down, on-line simulator-style approach, dealing with a subset of the final release in terms of complexity and results. The simulator may start life as an individual project, but in the longer term it may become an inclusion in the parent “complete” project.
They are not suitable for all situations (smaller projects may not need Inclusions, complex scenarios with a large number of inclusions need careful management, not every customer has Collaboration enabled and so on) but they are definitely an accelerator when used appropriately.
Newly introduced in 21B, the Hub Authored Decision Services and Referencing capability shown above offers yet another lever to reduce duplication, facilitate maintenance and separate concerns. With better design, your business rules will be easier to maintain, easier to test and easier to administer.
6 – Use Performance Analysis Tools built-in to the product
Existing customers who have already experience with Oracle Intelligent Advisor may have simply not taken up the new Performance Analysis functionality that is incredibly useful for performance analysis in general, but specifically as a way of tracking whether new additions to existing projects have created a faster “engine” or have slowed it down.
The logging and JSON-based test case performance tracing are great for curious minds to better understand where they may be seeing changes in execution time. I would also add from personal experience that seeing these numbers, addressing issues and solving them really brings people on board with the product.
These are Oracle Intelligent Advisor adoption accelerators – highlighting percentage performance increases to users, higher management or to the rule developers gives a real sense of accomplishment, pride even. It’s the power of Oracle Intelligent Advisor in action.
The other advantage of this new(ish) set of statistics is that it motivates the customer to make use of Test Cases in potentially new and exciting ways. Test Cases are sometimes underused and perhaps undervalued – they are not just for testing complete Use Cases, they can be for testing specific user stories, specific intermediates or indeed specific bugs that have been squashed.
7 – Grow, Share and Engage with your Community
The final suggestion around Oracle Intelligent Advisor Adoption one that in some sense has little or nothing to do with the product. Customers that communicate internally, for example to reveal usage statistics for their latest / previous Interview versions or to showcase some studies of user behaviour using the visuals provided by the Oracle Intelligent Advisor hub build their own powerhouse of feedback for what works and what does not, and they can leverage this information as a tool to help frame their journey. I have spoken before in praise of the Hub Statistics but I’ll do it again here.
I have had more than one customer who has leveraged these charts and their data (exported, oh-so-easily into CSV and used elsewhere) to create a compelling picture of their journey in modelling and improving Interviews.
Number seven, therefore is basically “communicate”. In fact we can go further and recommend that customers communicate externally as well – both within the Forum and hopefully within the Product Strategy Meet-ups and other Virtual Meetups.
By sharing experiences and knowledge, they grow their own network of friends, supporters, shoulders to cry on and more. Several times in the last 12 months I have seen customers have a Eureka moment when listening to or watching what another customer has done, thanks to a Meetup.
Similarly, several customers have realized that they need to look outside their own industry for ideas when it comes to Oracle Intelligent Advisor. Learning the best ways to do something in Oracle Intelligent Advisor means being curious and agnostic – a pharmaceutical company might just have a trick or two up its sleeves as far as Cross-Entity Reasoning is concerned that a Manufacturing company or a government agency needs to solve their own problem.
As a corollary to this curiosity, customers who build their own repository of ideas (whether it be through a tool like SharePoint, or an FAQ built using Service Cloud B2C for example) find it easier to communicate internally because they have lots of good ideas at their fingertips.
More thought on Oracle Intelligent Advisor Adoption – More Tips?
So that wraps up this short article about Oracle Intelligent Advisor Adoption – and hopefully it has given some ideas on how to maximize it. If you have any tips or ideas to share, then the comments below are the place to do it!
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Here’s the PNG version of the graphic, just leave a comment if you want the PDF.