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Siebel Innovation Pack 2016 New Features and Benefits – Part I

Get an insight into the major features of the Innovation Pack 2016 (IP2016) release for Oracle Siebel CRM. 

This series of blog posts give an insight into the major features of the Innovation Pack 2016 (IP2016) release for Oracle Siebel CRM which has just become available. The central themes for this release are Business Agility, Customer Experience and Industry Innovation. We have been able to get an early insight into the new features and put them to the test, so we are going to share our insight into these features that helps you understand what can be achieved. 

If you are interested in this topic and want to learn more, read the second blog in this blog post series, entitled  'Enable your Siebel Application to interact with your desktop'. 

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Simplified Search and simple Open UI enhancements

'Open UI enhancements’ is the first blog post in our ‘Siebel Innovation Pack 2016 (IP2016) New Features and Benefits’ series. This post aims to highlight how Siebel CRM customers can use these new features to boost their productivity. All of these features are simple to use once customers are aware of them and will no doubt become integrated into their working routines.

Introduction to Simplified Search

Some of the exciting new changes included in IP2016, come in the form of updates to the humble search facility. Oracle have made the function simpler to use whilst increasing its capabilities.

Single Search Field

In the Innovation Pack 2015 (IP2015), to search for records from the global toolbar, users needed to drill down to Business objects then search in specific fields in a 6 click process. While the IP2015 search is still available as ‘Advanced Find’ in IP 2016, users can skip the process and use the default 1-click process.

Users do not need to specify where they want Siebel to search and therefore Siebel will return results from all searchable fields within the application.

The search box is located on the right side of the global toolbar. Users can click on the search field to bring it into focus. For ease, previous searches appear underneath the search field before you start typing.

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Figure 1 – Single Search Field brought into focus displaying search history

While the reduction in clicks speeds up the process, the global nature of the search means users can now search fields across all business objects with ease.  The default option is an open search by pressing enter after typing your search term. The option to search a specific area remains by clicking one of the suggestions below the search field.

This less restrictive format brings great benefits to users. When they have the name of an account for instance, a search will return the account but also contacts associated to the account. This skips a step where previously the user would search for the account then navigate to contacts on the account then drilldown onto the contact record they want.

For example, I set up an account called ‘Boxfusion Consulting Ltd’ then added contacts. In the results, we can see several, not just the Account at the top. The ‘Consulting’ result is in fact a contact set up with the first name ‘Boxfusion’. ‘Admin’ appears twice, as one is a contact record and the other is an employee record.

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Figure 2 – Example search Results for ‘Boxfusion’

By default, the search bar allows fuzzy searches. Therefore searching for part of the words will return all results that contain that snippet. In my example, I modify the search to ‘oxfus’. The results are exactly the same. Compare Figure 2 and Figure 3.

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Figure 3 – Example search results for ‘oxfus’

This is a useful feature for when a user only has partial information. For example, a user only has part of a phone number but doesn’t know who the number belongs to. It could be an account or a contact

In Figure 4, the search for ‘991’ returns the result for the account ‘Boxfusion Consulting Ltd’. When ‘Boxfusion Consulting Ltd’ is drilled down onto, it can be observed that “991” is part of the phone number for the account.

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Figure 4 – Example search result for ‘991’

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Figure 5 – Drill down on Figure 5 result showing full phone number
Dockable Search Results Pane

As you may have noticed in the Single Search Field section, the search results now appear in a dockable pane that is by default located on the left side of the page. Previously, a search would navigate to a search result pane. Users can now search without losing their context.

While by default the search pane is fairly narrow in order to be unobtrusive, it can be easily expanded for easier viewing by pressing the button with two arrows pointing away from each other.

The search pane has the cool feature of being able to be undocked and positioned anywhere on the screen. This makes it perfect for users to easily customise where they want the search results to appear. To enable this feature click the ‘Dock’ button on the search pane. This is a small black square with a grey arrow on a larger grey box.

A benefit of having the results in a search pane is that the user can keep the search results even as they navigate through different pages. This could be useful for example where a user wants to check a detail view of multiple accounts. The user could search for the accounts and when done with an account, press the next one on the search result list. This saves them having to return to the query.

Plug & Play Search Engine Support

Another new function is the ability to introduce 3rd party plug and play search engines to Siebel. We haven’t had an opportunity to put this into practice yet but they would be a very interesting feature.

We can add search engine support for external search engines. At a basic level, we could introduce a Google search within the Siebel application. A more useful application is for companies which store documents in a separate system to their CRM system.

For example, a legal company that keeps legal documents in another database. A search engine could be added so that lawyers could search this database within Siebel.

Another example is a university that keeps a database with all of the details of books in its library separate to the Siebel system. University staff could then search for books while in Siebel without interrupting their work flow.

Simple Open UI Features

In addition to the flag bearing updates, there are plenty of small updates to the user interface.

Oracle has been responsive to consumer demands, introducing features out of the box that previously required time intensive custom configuration. These progressive updates help to make the application more intuitive and give productivity gains.

We use the Tab Synergy theme for the screenshots in this guide to help you.

Global Toolbar

The classic toolbar options have added to the Synergy theme. Simply, click on the arrow next to the keypad logo on the top left hand corner shown in Figure 6.

This hides the rest of the toolbar but exposes the classic options that users will be used to through older themes as seen in Figure 7.

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Figure 6 - The button to show the classic toolbar options.

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Figure 7 - The classic toolbar options after pressing the arrow.

As the Synergy theme most closely resembles other Oracle products such as Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and OBIEE, we believe it is most advantageous for companies to use. By keeping this toolbar, it makes the transition for Siebel users accustomed to the Aurora theme easier.

Auto-Adjustment of List Applets

This feature helps reduce clutter on views throughout the application. List Applets now only have enough space to cover the data it contains.

Compare the two screenshots below in Figures 8 and 9. Note how much screen estate is freed up from hiding the unnecessary rows. This is especially useful when the detail applet contains useful information as it can be viewed easily without the need to scroll.

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Figure 8 – Innovation Pack 15 List Applet with one record

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Figure 9 – Innovation Pack 16 List Applet with one record

MVG Applets and association applets also auto-adjust in size. This makes the user experience cleaner and reduces the impact of the popup hiding screen space.

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Figure 10 – A MVG applet with Association Applet in Innovation Pack 2016

Boxfusion have seen strong demand for these features and we have previously implemented a custom solution for clients. It is great for customers that Oracle have implemented this across the board.

New Share Button Segment

A new addition to the universal toolbar is the sharing button. When a user clicks on this icon they are presented with four options by default.

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Figure 11 – New Sharing button in global toolbar

These are the standard buttons of ‘Send Email’, ‘Send Fax’, ‘Send Page’ and ‘Send Wireless Message’.

This grouping mimics the layout of many popular websites thus making the experience more intuitive for users.

Conclusion

As we have come to expect since the completion of the Open UI framework in IP2014, Oracle have started to focus more on the potential of the Open UI framework to improve user experience. These innovations are a welcome continuation of this pattern.

Hold on for the next in our series on IP2016

Boxfusion Consulting are an Oracle Platinum Partner and recognised by Oracle as Specialised in the implementation of Oracle Siebel CRM. If you would like to hear more about how Oracle Siebel CRM might be used to help your business, or how Boxfusion can help you gain more intelligence from your data, give us a call on +44 203 283 4315 or contact us here.