Posted by Peter Curran
Cirrus10’s primary contribution to the Gear Up project at Nike, (aside from completing numerous user stories as part of the agile search team), was to document, train, and implement one key change which enabled the merchandising team to use Oracle Endeca as a platform rather than as a black box. A black-box implementation requires the merchandising team to go to IT for help every time a change in the customer experience flow is required. A platform, on the other hand, is how merchandisers control experience design to cater to any new scenario that comes their way – changing customer goals, new types of products, seasonal opportunities, location, etc.
The implementation change for which we advocated and which we then helped develop was a method that allows secondary products related to the customer’s goal to be promoted based on only some of the characteristics of the goal. For example, if the customer’s goal is to find running shoes with the right tops for certain weather conditions, we needed a way to promote those products with the characteristics that make sense (weather conditions) without requiring that the product also suitable for a certain road surface or running styles (attributes irrelevant to tops). We did this by modifying the search algorithm so that user’s intentions are identified at the outset and relevant results are presented up front.
Oracle Endeca is a key component of the customer experience platform.
This is due to the distinguishing characteristic of Oracle Endeca. Other systems are primarily black box implementations – they require that IT be involved every time a new behavior is needed by the business. Oracle Endeca provides fast faceted search along with a business tool that delivers an effective customer experience. This is the essence of the advantage of Oracle Endeca over tools like Solr.
Cirrus10 is focused on implementing Oracle Endeca as a platform for business users. To that end, our discovery workshops start with an understanding the customer stories that the business needs to support. Through an exploration of these scenarios and their associated customer personas, we learn the goals and vocabulary of the client and their customers. This process allows Cirrus10 to guide all aspects of an Oracle Endeca implementation – from data extraction, to relevance ranking strategies, to management of external taxonomies and thesaurus entries, merchandising rules, and Experience Manager landing page configurations.
For the Nike Gear Up site, once the new system was in place we created a set of wiki pages for the search team (the Nike IT team responsible for Oracle Endeca) describing the components of the platform, and how Nike producers a.k.a. the merchandisers, should use the platform to drive sales. We also trained members of the search team in the specifics of the implementation so that they could provide ongoing support to the merchandisers. All this documentation was put on the SharePoint site used by the commerce team and we worked with the lead producer/merchandiser to refine it as needed.