It’s been a busy but inspiring spring here at XStreamReports. One of our talented consultants, Mika Manner, attended two Exstream events, one of which was the OpenText Innovation Tour in Stockholm. The setting for this event was at the Grand Hotel, Stockholm, with beautiful scenarios close to the Royal Palace.

Overall a lot of focus was put on the prioritization of Security from the OpenText leadership, coverage of the recent release of 16.4 with its updates and features, and OpenText Cloud was a hot topic as well. We invite you to a short recap of each area:

Security prioritizing by Mark Barrenechea, Vice Chair, CEO & CTO, OpenText
GDPR, Security breaches, Military Airplane manufacturer, Cambridge, Facebook
Mark Barrenechea talked about how many companies have been looking at data security as a non prioritized matter, and shared several examples where the that has lead to data-breaches that have caused a lot of damage to those companies and its’ customers. One of them being the Cambridge Analytics/Facebook case that was heavily covered in media recently. Another example was Boeing, they were hacked and as a result became vulnerable for attacks.

Mr. Barrenechea pointed out that companies have to raise the priority of security from position 7, as it is today, to be number 1 to be able to mitigate these risks and limit the possible damage that can be seen as a result.

Together with Mats Hultin, CIO of SAAB, Mr. Barrenechea also discussed and shared how digital information has changed, and how today everything is more real-time and more intelligent, with the usage of OpenText Magellan and Cloud Solutions.


OpenText Cloud, what is it with
Savinay Berry, VP Cloud Services OpenText
Hybrid solution is here to stay for a long while
Mr. Berry presented an overview and explanation of what the OpenText Cloud is, but also what it is not; it is not to be considered as a competitor to Azure or Amazon Cloud. OpenText Cloud is not a hardware in the cloud provider. It is instead a SaaS solution where customers will be able to use OpenText Cloud Services for communicating with businesses and customers in a simple, centralized and flexible way. The new release of version 16.4 is the most advanced cloud ready version of Exstream. Although the focus on cloud solutions is now really getting into speed, it is important to remember it is still in the early stages. The hybrid solution where some of the software remains on premise will be here to stay for a long time according to Mr. Berry.

Omnichannel focus in new Release 16.4

In the breakout sessions focusing on the Experience track, we were presented with the new features of Exstream (former HP Exstream and StreamServe) available with 16.4, on examples for how those features can be used. For example, you can use voice and image recognition using the AI to maximize the business communication, or with the voice recognition you can use the AI instead of human operators to assist with customer communication. For the image recognition example, object identification was showcased where an image with a family was shown where the AI recognized if the people in the image were male or female, and water and trees.

Upgrading and benefits of Release 16.4
Christian Askland, Director of Product Management at OpenText, went through the upgrading procedure and the benefits of upgrading to 16.4. For instance there are some really nice new features like mail tracking and job visualization where you will get detailed information on how the job went. There is also support for more analytics with of the usage. For example reports related to processing volumes connected to the transaction based license. Other features to highlight is the ability to use images and rich media from Media Management integration, I.e. common CAS Browser, assured delivery of communications with OpenText notifications and even more features making it possible to deploy changes to documents without involving the IT department.

Conclusion with a presentation of future releaseplan
We were shown a releaseplan with even more AI functionality, like having video recognition, to be included in the future of OpenText CCM.


OpenText Innovation Tour was a great event, OpenText hosts it in multiple cities every year, and we hope to see you at one of these events next year!


We recently attended SURG in Stockholm, Sweden and part of the day was dedicated to covering the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its implications for the industry when it goes into effect. The GDPR was approved by the EU Parliament in April 2016, and following a 2 year post-adoption grace-period will start to be fully enforceable May 25th 2018, meaning organizations that are in non-compliance at that time will face heavy fines.

What is GDPR?
In short the goal with GDPR is that there is a common process of how to protect data in the EU. “The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.” (www.eugdpr.org)

Who does it affect?
This is a EU legislation so it is easy to assume it only applies to organizations within the EU, however while primarily organizations within the EU are affected, it is important to note that one of the biggest changes this regulation brings is that it impacts organizations outside the EU as well. The GDPR will also apply to organizations that “located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects. It applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location.” (www.eugdpr.org)

For customers this means companies within the EU are obliged to provide information on what data is stored. If they want to know what data they have on them, the company will have to provide them with this information on request. If they do not, they will be fined heavily.

Other key changes to be aware of
With any OT Exstream/StreamServe implementation it deals with customer data, and with this new legislation in effect it is urgent that companies understand how to comply. The road ahead is unpaved, as no cases exist yet on what would happen for a company that doesn’t comply or what exactly is required of the companies. There are heavy fines and/or the company might see its’ solution shutdown completely.

Penalties
There is a tiered approach to fines, and the maximum fine that can be imposed is up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater).

Right of access
As mentioned earlier, the GDPR outlines the right for a data subject to obtain whether or not there is any personal data concerning them being processed, and they can request a copy of such data free of charge. This is a major change and introduces a new level of transparency.

Right to be forgotten
Just as a data subject can request what is on file regarding their personal data, they also have the right to be forgotten – erased.

Data Breaches
Data breaches concerning personal data must be reported within 72hrs, and companies must notify their customers, the controllers, “without undue delay” of first becoming aware of the breach.

Consent
Consent must clearly be given, and practices that companies might have previously gotten away with will no longer be sufficient. “Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.​“

Adhering to the GDPR regulation and ensuring compliance will be important for any organization doing business with personal data connected to the EU, but the good news is a lot of companies that have already spent time and effort to creating a better Customer Experience, probably have procedures in place that comply with many of the requirements already or is very close to.

You can read more about GDPR here and how it might impact your organization or you as an individual: https://www.eugdpr.org


We attended the SURG meeting in Stockholm Sweden a few of weeks ago, and wanted to share some thoughts and good information for those of you who were not there.

Roadmap and overview
The day was kicked off with Christian Askland, Director Product Management OpenText, sharing the platform overview and roadmap. There were not a lot of surprises on what’s to come compared with what has been shared previously, however notably we can see release EP4 is now more defined and now includes Job visualization and tracking, and more REST APIs.

Exstream will move more and more to the cloud and web services, and Control Center will be one of those. Customers will be offered the CCM as a cloud service. I.e. Paas, Platform as a Service. By entering in log-in information on a website, the whole environment (tenant) was created in the cloud. In the 16.4 version you will be able to use job visualization and tracking in the Supervisor. This is something that was in the Process Manager in version 3.x and was dropped from the 4.x version until now.

   Image source: SURG

We’ve been exploring 16.3 since it was available earlier this month and there are some really nice features in the 16.3 version. One of them being able to use SparkPost to track emails. This will give you valuable information about whether the email has been read or not. A demo was shown on how to upgrade to version 16.3 by Mikael Friberg, and he recommended building projects using one Main project and then have several subprojects to make it easier to work with. Also worth noting that Scandux argument is reintroduced due to customer requests. In 16.3 you also have the possibility to use role-based Retouch where you can define what resources specific groups of users can access, and changes can be made to documents in seconds. PageOUT is obsolete and discontinued. Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) objects can now be used in CAS and use of script on output connectors is supported.

Training
In our last blog post we noted that it was yet to be clear what training for Exstream would look like, and that was clarified a little at this meeting. The latest training material is still only for 16.2, and OpenText will not have training material for 16.3 until spring of 2018. They are also completely changing the model for training, it is now Learning on Demand, where you can do the training on-line at your convenience with a yearly training subscription. You can find more information here: https://www.opentext.com/training/coursedetails.html?id=2392 The price for a yearly subscription is $5000 per year but only includes one certification attempt, additional certification can be done for a cost of $400. This makes training with OpenText a heavy investment, especially for someone who is just looking for a specific course/certification, but it can be beneficial for anyone who typically does a lot of training.

Other insights from SURG
Ericsson shared in their talk about how they’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of printed material, but an increase in electronic messaging and we will get more and more AI functionality in business. This is something we’re sure a lot of businesses are seeing, and will continue to do so. However, there will continue to be a demand in print as well, especially for business or organizations that are impacted by regulations in part to do so. Ericsson pointed out that even with print on a decline, one thing that will still be on demand when it comes to printing is label printing.

Part of the day was also dedicated to covering GDPR and its implications for the industry when it goes into effect. In short the goal with GDPR is that there is a common process of how to protect data in the EU. Companies within the EU are obliged to provide information on what data is stored. If you want to know what data they have on you they will have to provide you with this information on request. If they do not, they will be fined heavily. We’ll cover this topic more closely shortly as it’s an important consideration for our EU clients.

Overall, SURG was a great event and the new releases of features and applications we’ve seen so far with version 16, and the ones to come, will be great value adds for our clients.


On Tuesday, we attended the OpenText Customer Experience Management User Group meeting in San Mateo, CA. It was a well-attended event with many organizations looking to hear from others that have implemented OpenText CEM solutions and get the latest product insights. Going to the User Group meeting was time well spent, and we hope that OpenText will host more of these in the Bay Area in the future!

Customer Panel
The panel discussion had representatives from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Chevron, Franklin Templeton Investments and Kraft Heinz, as well as OpenText, and they provided some great insights from their experience going through a digital transformation and implementing OpenText CEM solutions.

One of the main takeaways shared was not to wait until there is a request to show value, be proactive and publish, so that when the request comes, you are able to show growth and value over time. Another was that with any investment and digital transformation quest, every organization has their “aha moment” when they can show value and success with their implementation. This aha moment will look different to every organization, but some of the aha moments shared related to seeing the value of insights regarding their assets and what is most used, or being able to show people the benefit of creating device agnostic content that can then be used cross-channel, mobile, social etc. as achieved through using a product like Exstream.

The panel also shared the advice that for any organization embarking on the journey of digital transformation, it’s important to keep it simple and to also consider the culture change. “It’s not just what you can do, it’s what you should do that’s important”. For some that means starting small, with a select set of documents or a specific business unit to show initial value before proceeding with other areas of the business. This is an approach we see often with our clients and can attest to as well. The capabilities with an OpenText CEM solution are extensive, but they should be used with intent and purpose for the best value for the business.

Customer Communications Management Product Roadmap and Technical Deep Dive
The focus of the CCM breakout session was OpenText Exstream, described as “a marriage of two solutions” Exstream and StreamServe (CCE) where both sides now get access to the benefits of the strengths from either product. Among those mentioned, for Exstream customers that never had a persistence layer that will now be available providing valuable job tracking and analytics, and StreamServe customers now getting access to the power behind Exstream and CAS being a core part of the platform for all channels.

As with any merger or acquisition, there is a level of worry amongst customers and users that the product they’ve invested in will be going away, but OpenText ensured that both customers of HP Exstream and StreamServe can expect to be able to continue using the applications they’ve gotten used to, and that upgrading will not mean losing anything but rather have access to more benefits and capabilities.

With EP3 coming out in a couple of weeks, there are some interesting news and updates to look forward to that are all part of OpenTexts’ efforts to stay committed to “efficient omni-channel communications”. We were given a preview demo of one of those, the new application Exstream Content Author. Exstream Content Author is part of the authoring solution, targeted for the business user and is intended to augment the Designer application. In the Exstream Content Author specific areas can be opened up to a marketing user (as an example), while keeping other areas and information static that that user can’t change. It will leverage CAS and in future releases will also support workflows, approvals and revision tracking is coming. We look forward to working with our clients to take full advantage of these new capabilities as they are released.

Training
Interesting to note from the information shared during this day was that although Exstream 16 is a “marriage of two solutions”, training is yet to be married for the two and is still separate for Exstream and StreamServe. Nothing was mentioned about when/if this will be the case in the future, but it’ll be interesting to see how long that will remain as such, as we are already seeing customers wanting that.


In the recent CIO Applications Utilities Special issue, XStreamReports was recognized as being one of the Top 25 Utilities Tech Solution Providers – 2017.

“This list gives you some of the most prominent organizations in the industry that provide sustainable solutions enabling utilities to enhance performance and environmental efficiency.” – CIO Applications

We’re happy to be recognized as a great solutions provider for utility companies to partner with to achieve their goals. We can offer custom best-practice Utility Bill Solutions for impactful communication, as an integrated end-to-end solution for automation, optimization and personalization of their high-volume document process. We’ve previously worked with companies like TPU (Tacoma Public Utility), FPL (Florida Power and Light), and Iberdrola (Previously EnergyEast) to reduce operational costs by streamlining the generation, collation, sorting and distribution of customer bills. You can learn more about our Utility Bill Packages here.

We look forward to partnering with more utility companies in the future to strengthen their Customer Communications.

Check out the CIO Applications article and Top 25 list, or you can read their coverage of XStreamReports directly here.


By Mika Manner, XStreamReports/XSR Sweden.

I had the pleasure of recently attending the 10th SAP for Utilities Conference in beautiful Huntington Beach, California at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa. With more than 1000 attendees this was a great chance to meet customers, IT professionals and see where the future for SAP CCM in the utility industry lies. In addition to great industry networking and insights, it was an excellent location and service adding to a great overall experience.

I was also interested in getting some insights on project planning and this event was a perfect place for that. There were a lot of interesting presentations and insights to walk away with, and here are a few highlights to share:

What is going on and what to expect?
When attending presentations, the data analytics and business intelligence efficiency theme was apparent. The need for information to be provided in real-time is crucial for both companies and for its’ customers. Some of the main issues that came up hindering this was slow transfer of data and lack of multi-channel information options. Like in the case of Oklahoma Gas and Energy, Puget Sound Energy and DTE Energy, a lot of the information flow was restricted to a few options, mostly using callcenter, but also mail to communicate with the customers. During major outages this would lead to very long waiting in phonequeues and because of that cause a lot of irritation for the customers. This had an impact not only on their customers experience and as such customer relations, but also on the maintenance plans for these companies.

A good example on how to improve the information flow speed was shared by E-ON, where they installed a cloud based solution in Microsoft Azure coupled with using SAP HANA as their data platform. Then implement multiple output channels for mobile, tablet and a web-portal services to get real time information distrusted. This allowed them to go from having a system response time from 10-600 seconds to less than 5 seconds. Replication of data load between SAP BW and SAP HANA is now done in real time, resulting in 1 minute compared to the previous 24 hours – huge improvements!

We are going to see more and more solutions going over to be cloud based, if not fully then partly, and thus have a huge impact on both efficiency and cost reduction. Multi-channel options for self-service will be a norm in the future and already it’s apparent it is expected by customers.

We at XStreamReports are very familiar with this, creating multi-channel solutions using StreamServe/OpenText technology, like the new Exstream product, to achieve document presentment both internally and externally. By doing so we maximize our clients investment and utilization of their software to provide their customers with an outstanding Customer Experience.

Project management ideas
A key factor in a successful project and implementation is keeping everyone involved informed. Everyone involved does not only mean the key persons working on the project, but also employees/users that will use the system as well. Having seen projects where users have almost been forced to work with a new system is not beneficial to anyone. I’ve seen cases where employees have resigned due to this. Involvement and training are key factors for a successful project. This was showcased in a presentation where Accenture worked with DTE Energy where they also brought in extra staff to cope with the system transition, proving essential.

Doing a thorough analysis of the project, avoiding scope creep and not being afraid to postpone parts of project that are not vital for the Go-Live are other valuable thoughts to remember to keep in mind for long-term success.

Micro-grids vs Macro-grids
With the devastating events of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the topic of how to handle major power outages was a timely topic and utility companies are working hard to find ways to minimize impact on its’ customers in such events. Solutions were presented involved the use of micro-grids instead of todays’ macro-grids to make power delivery more reliable. The solution basically is to use a self-sustainable power plant that is using solar panels. So if there is a major power outage on the normal grid it will ensure power to the customers within that grid.

Fireside with President G W Bush
One of the most attended and interesting events was the fireside talk with President George W Bush. It was a very entertaining insight on his life as the President, and life after. He shared stories about his family and insights in to politics. He had a way to express himself that brought an audience to laughter with words like “Misunderestimate me” or “Nucularenergy”. He told us that meeting other high ranked politicians was like going to a school reunion. Not a lot of fun. Also that his daughter had not agreed with him on running for President by saying “OK, go ahead and ruin my life”.

In short this was a great conference with many fantastic people.

Thank you!

Demo Image

Thoughts on mobility solutions at SAP for Utilities conference in Huntington Beach, CA.

City of San Diego (COSD) and Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OGE) have understood the value of using mobile solutions when it comes to customer satisfaction. Businesses that have many end customers that are dependant on getting information from a service provider when things go wrong, like in a case of a major power outage, could cause a really big strain on the callcenter of the company. Having for instance tens of thousands of people trying to get information at the same time will make the end customers very disappointed.

Using the implemented real time, two-way communication platform Smart Customer Mobile (SCM) not only takes care of this but also provides the customer with useful information about real-time and usage history, billing, service requests, savings tips and a lot more. The customer only needs to login to a website and start the communication. In future upgrades this will also include on-line payment ability as this is not already implemented.

There are many benefits to this as it reduces customer calls to the callcenter drastically, increases customer satisfaction and ultimately helps to achieve what a lot of businesses are chasing today – a great customer experience (CX). This is of upmost importance, since a dissatisfied customer might leave and also spread the word to others, making marketing to get new customers more challenging.

In short, ensuring your business provides a mobile solution is a win-win scenario for both the company and the customers.

I am impressed.

– Mika Manner, XStreamReports


The utility industry is in the midst of a transformation towards a more digital and customer experience centric approach, and it is changing the way utility organizations are doing business.

Utility organizations are re-thinking and re-structuring their Customer Communication Management (CCM) to adapt to today’s customer expectations. Creating the ultimate customer experience across all platforms that is consistent throughout the large amounts of interactions created is of outmost importance across print, digital, interactive correspondence and dynamic online bills. To achieve this the organizations must start with ensuring they have the right solutions and processes in place, an expertly implemented solution platform is at the heart of ensuring success with their CCM.

This is where OpenText Exstream, formerly Communications Center Enterprise (CCE) and StreamServe comes in. It is the best solution for utility companies to successfully complete their digital transformation and improve their customer relationships. Through years of successful implementations for our clients we’ve seen how it not only helps in ensuring that the customer experience is optimized through all channels and platforms to improve the organizations digital strategy with information being accessible to customers in a consistent manner on websites, print, email etc. The organizations business users have user friendly web-based tools to easily change and customize messages as needed to be able to respond to customer and organizational needs alike very quickly, resulting in happier customers, a more efficient and agile organization with reduced costs and need for support. For those times when customers contact call centers/support, it can help reduce call center costs and facilitate those calls to be better handled as call centers can pull up exact copies of what the customer is looking at/having questions about.

2016 brought some exciting news and industry changes with OpenText making acquisition in this space and paving the way for organizations further empower their employees to provide the best customer experiences and increased efficiency. We at XStreamReports continuously work with existing and new clients to support them in their digital transformation journey, and  with 2017 being off to an exciting start, we’ll continue to see the utility industry transform and OpenText Exstream presenting an even stronger solution in the market.

If you think OpenText Exstream/CCE/StreamServe might be right for your organization, contact us to learn more!


It’s that special time of year when we look back and think of everything that was accomplished in the last year. 2016 has been a great year, we’ve been fortunate to work with some great clients and partners for whom we’ve implemented great solutions and we’re very grateful for the amazing team we have at XStreamReports who made it all possible. This year also brought some great networking at inspiring events such as SAPforutilities and Enterprise World, and OpenText making acquisitions that will shape the future of our industry with Exstream 16 entering the arena in 2017.

A big THANK YOU to all our clients, partners and friends. We hope you are enjoying the beautiful holiday season and we wish you a all the best in 2017! Happy New Year!

 


Since OpenTexts recent acquisition of Exstream from HP Inc. there has been a lot of speculation regarding the future of OpenText CCM. With the Exstream and CCE/StreamServe products being so similar, many have been waiting to find out if they would decide to phase out one product, keep both alive or the thought to be most likely scenario – would the two be merged into one product, and if so, how would the products/features be merged? The answer has now been revealed, OpenText recently shared their future vision and roadmap for their CCM platform at the StreamServe User Group (SURG) event in Sweden.

The future of OpenText CCM brings together two market leading Customer Communications Systems into a single platform, that will deliver interactive, automated and unified communications supporting the evolution from CCM to holistic Customer Experience Management.

This also means yet another name change, Exstream will be the brand name for this solution. Both CCE and Exstream customers will be able to upgrade to Exstream 16 as soon as April 2017. OpenText presents this solution as a combination of CCE’s transactional processing model and integration strengths, paired with Exstream’s high-throughput engine to leverage accelerated benefits to each customer base.

For our CCE/StreamServe customers, here are some highlighted benefits you’ll receive upon upgrading to Exstream 16:

  • New document processing options with the powers of the Exstream Engine
  • Exstream 16 will provide an automated upgrade process for Design Center projects and StoryTeller templates
  • Existing content will be preserved through the Common Asset Service (CAS)
  • One single, strategic CCM Roadmap backed by a Global CCM expert RnD team

To us, the roadmap shared by OpenText is an exciting one and opens the door for additional value for our customers with an even  more powerful CCM solution. We are preparing for supporting our customers to make the upgrade, and excitedly wait for more details being released regarding OpenText Exstream 16.