OpenWorld 2015 - A Sneak Peek at What is Coming on Siebel

This blog post sets out some of the learnings we took away from an invite-only session with Siebel product management, focussing in particular on key roadmap items for IP2016 (and beyond).

Today, Boxfusion – along with a number of the leading Siebel customers – were treated to an invite-only session with George Jacob and the Siebel Product Management team at Oracle OpenWorld 2015. This blog post sets out some of the learnings we took away from this session, focussing in particular on key roadmap items for IP2016 (and beyond).

Firstly, it is clear that Oracle are investing heavily in Siebel – we saw slides showing roadmap plans up to 2022, and George was quick to highlight that Oracle are speaking with some customers in the room about roadmap items in the 10-15 year timeframe.

Of course, before we jump in, it is incumbent to highlight that everything below is subject to Oracle Safe Harbour – these are roadmap items and Oracle cannot commit to everything shown/described being part of future releases.

Roadmap Developments

So, onto some of the things that were discussed in the session (and which are being shown in Oracle’s demo showgrounds this week at OpenWorld):

Usage Pattern Tracking (UPT) – arriving in Siebel 15.5

As its name suggests, this is analytics to track the navigation pattern of users in the Siebel application. Captured to a log file, this data shows views accessed as well as actions taken on applets.

This has multiple administrative and application management uses that can lead to downstream business benefits: for example, by knowing the views accessed most of all, and the actions taken in them, Siebel customers can focus in on those areas of the application that could show most ROI from usability improvements. This helps to build a solid business case for some focussed, deep process analysis along with improvements that leverage the power and flexibility of Open UI – something more and more of our customers are asking us to do.

Further, UPT also enables customer to know where to focus testing effort, as well as capture the exact sequence of events that were executed prior to an application crash.

Initially available in Siebel 15.5 as part of the core application (i.e. there is no licence cost), Usage Pattern Tracking is expected to be enhanced in future releases to enable capture of script calls, both from eScript and jQuery.

CalDAV Support – Siebel 16

Long desired by many Siebel customers who utilise the Siebel Calendar, CalDAV support is coming to Siebel and will enable effective synchronisation of the Siebel Calendar with any third party tools – such as Outlook or calendars on iOS or Android – that support the CalDAV standard.

Thus users can capture appointments using the device/calendar that they are most familiar with, with those appointments synchronised into Siebel automatically.

Composer - Siebel 16

Oracle has for some years been working on moving Siebel Tools functionality into a web –based “Composer”. This would (see caveat later) result in no requirement to use Siebel Tools - instead developers would login to the Siebel Web Client to configure the Siebel application.

Darshan Kumar, Senior Director of Siebel Product Development, demonstrated the Composer functionality live to the audience to update applet layouts and add new list columns – this was very impressive. Effectively rather than updating metadata in the way that one does in Siebel Tools today – e.g. by adding a List Column and setting properties in a very non-visual manner before compiling to see the results – instead the Composer allows the developer to create a Workspace (see below) and then have a view of the running application within a Composer “window”. The developer is then able to work upon that running application, dragging items such as buttons or captions around the Siebel Application screen and dropping them in new positions, as well as being able to click to insert new list columns – an incredibly visual method of Siebel development.

This looked very powerful – and even though it is only scratching the surface of what a typical Siebel developer does, it bodes well for where the Siebel Product Management team are taking Siebel from the perspective of increasing business agility and lowering the cost of change. Indeed Darshan confirmed that all of the configuration functionality available in Siebel Tools will be moved to the Composer (over the coming Innovation Pack releases) – with the one exception of database schema changes. This will always continue to require Siebel Tools.

Workspaces – Siebel 16

The big new announcement, “Workspaces” is the next development to support the evolution from Siebel Tools to the Composer.

Similar to the concept of “sandboxes”, Workspaces enable Siebel developers to “branch” off a mainline repository configuration (which was referred to as the Master Repository), taking a baseline of the Siebel configuration that they can then develop upon. These Workspaces exist within the Siebel (server) application database.

So far, so like the traditional Siebel Tools paradigm – except rather than performing a “check out” to copy a baseline of objects to a developer’s local database, a Workspace baseline exists solely in the web client. Additionally, the baseline is a complete copy of the master repository, and developers can make changes to any object they wish (not just a subset that have been “checked out”).

So how are conflicts managed? Let’s walk through a development scenario:

  1. Developer 1 logs into the Siebel application and “creates” a new Workspace. All objects from the Master Repository form the baseline for that Workspace.
  2. Developer 2 logs into the application and creates a new Workspace. Again, he/she sees the same baseline of objects.
  3. When Developer 1 makes a series of changes within his/here Workspace, and “submits” the Workspace changes back in to the Master Repository, the version number of the Master Repository is incremented. The changes that have been made are then copied into Developer 2’s Workspace.
  4. At this point however, if Developer 2 has made changes to the same objects that were updated by Developer 1, conflict resolution kicks in – Developer 2 is asked whether to accept or reject the conflicting changes. At this point, Developer 2 is free to decide how to proceed with the changes that are being copied into their Workspace – and you’d hope that any decision here would be supported by a conversation with Developer 1!

What else does the Workspaces functionality offer? Another significant improvement over the standard Siebel Tools “check out – check in” approach is that Workspaces supports Version Control! Within Siebel, it is now possible to revert to prior configurations at the press of a button (each Workspace record also shows a list of the objects that were changed). Historically, rolling back to a prior configuration was incredibly difficult to achieve in Siebel and we’re confident that this will be well-received by IT teams.

Though at present Version Control is limited to configuration changes, in future it is hoped that Open UI scripting may also be possible to include within a Workspace (and hence Version Control). This is however a long way off.

As Darshan also pointed out, the Workspaces functionality will also make it much easier to perform parallel development across staggered releases. This again is a welcome development (how many customers have attempted to create two separate development environments – and subsequently had to keep them in synch – in the past?)

With Innovation Pack 2016, it is expected that developers will be able to choose to use either Workspaces or continue to use Siebel Tools in the traditional manner.

Other Useful Information

Beyond the key roadmap items above, there were a few further nuggets of information that the community may find useful:

  • Siebel 15.5 release date: This was confirmed to be imminent, arriving next week/end of October.
  • Drag-and-Drop Outlook Attachments: An issue that some customers face when implementing Siebel Open UI, is that drag-and-drop of Outlook Attachments into Siebel no longer works. Though this is well-known to be an issue with Microsoft’s implementation of drag-and-drop from Outlook, the Siebel Product Management team are only too aware of the impacts on customers of this limitation, and have come up with a potential solution. This takes the form of an Outlook plugin and is expected in Siebel IP2016 – and it is also expected to be backported into Siebel IP2014 and IP2015.

Find Out More

Boxfusion are at Oracle OpenWorld 2015 all week, and will be understanding more about the Siebel Roadmap (beyond this sneak peak) as well as the roadmaps for Oracle Business Intelligence and all of the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud offerings. We are also delivering a presentation with our customer, CIMA, based upon our work together delivering a modern customer portal based upon Siebel Open UI.Siebel Platinum Specialization

Boxfusion are accredited by Oracle as an Oracle Siebel CRM Specialized Platinum Partner. If you’d like to find out more from us about what is coming up for Siebel, please do contact us on +44 203 283 4315.