Updating Liferay DXP Service Builder Entity

If you are using Liferay DXP and Service Builder, then you would have come across the situation where the updates to entity does not reflect after the first service build. That is the service builder changes and the schema update reflects fine when the service is build and deployed for the first time in server, the subsequent updates to the service.xml to add new column, update column or data type, increase data length, or delete columns, etc. changes does not reflect or updates the schema when the service is build subsequently.

To resolve this some of you would have tried different manual steps like, deleting entries for your service directly from servicecomponent and release_ tables in database, undeploy the service module, or even drop the entity schema and then deploy the service again to overcome the issue.  This might not be an good option to try in the production. So, what is the correct way to approach this situation?

This blog is intended to help and share with others, facing similar challenges on how they can handle this through service builder upgrade process.

Service Builder Upgrade Process

Service Builder is a model-driven code generation tool built by Liferay that allows developers to define custom object models called entities. Service Builder generates a service layer through object-relational mapping (ORM) technology that provides a clean separation between your object model and code for the underlying database. At a brief there are following key steps that we perform,

  1. Create a Service builder module
  2. Create an Service Builder Entity Like Employee
  3. Build Service and Deploy

When we are changing the entities in service.xml and rebuild services, ServiceBuilder will update the SQL files used to create the tables, indices, etc. When you deploy the service the first time, ServiceBuilder will identify the initial deployment and will use the SQL files to create the entities and it will create the table in database.
But there are some cases where we need to update existing service builder entity in service.xml, like adding new column, changing column type, increasing column length, deleting column. In these cases, we can easily update in service.xml file and build service and deploy. But it will not update the table, for that we need to write an upgrade process for service builder.
Lets take an example by adding new column.

Adding New Column

  1. To add new column Like “Address” in existing service builder entity first update the new column name in service.xml and build the service.
  2. Create class “UpgradeEmployee.java” (You can give any name), extend the Liferay Upgrade Process and override doUpgrade method.

    public class UpgradeEmployee extends UpgradeProcess {

    private static final Log log = LogFactoryUtil.getLog(UpgradeEmployee.class);

    private static final String EMPLOYEE_NEW_COLUMN_NAME_ADDRESS = “address”;

    @Override
    protected void doUpgrade() throws Exception {
    log.info(“>>>>>> UPGRADE PROCESS FOR SERVICE BUILDER : START >>>>>>>”);

    /**
    * First Parameter Table Name
    * Second Parameter New Column Name
    */
    boolean isAddressColumnExist = hasColumn(EmployeeImpl.TABLE_NAME, EMPLOYEE_NEW_COLUMN_NAME_ADDRESS);
    log.info(“is Address Column Exist: ” + isAddressColumnExist);
    if (!isAddressColumnExist) {
    String addressColumnType = “STRING”;
    alter(EmployeeImpl.class, new AlterTableAddColumn(EMPLOYEE_NEW_COLUMN_NAME_ADDRESS + StringPool.SPACE + addressColumnType));
    }

    log.info(“>>>>>> UPGRADE PROCESS FOR SERVICE BUILDER : END >>>>>>>”);
    }
    }

  3. Add below dependency in service module build.gradle file

    compileOnly group: ‘com.liferay’, name: ‘com.liferay.portal.upgrade.api’

  4. Now Register the UpgradeEmployee using UpgradeStepRegistrator for that create “EmployeeServiceUpgrade” and implement the Liferay “UpgradeStepRegistrator” interface.

    @Component(
    immediate = true,
    service = UpgradeStepRegistrator.class
    )
    public class EmployeeServiceUpgrade implements UpgradeStepRegistrator {

    private static final Log log = LogFactoryUtil.getLog(EmployeeServiceUpgrade.class);
    @Override
    public void register(Registry registry) {
    log.info(“>>>>>>>>>>> Registering Employee Upgrade >>>>>>>>>>>”);
    /*
    * Old Schema Version 1.0.0 which is specified in bnd.bnd
    * New Schema Version 1.0.1
    */
    registry.register(“1.0.0”, “1.0.1”, new UpgradeEmployee());
    }
    }

  5. Update new Schema version in bnd.bnd file which we have specified in above class

    Liferay-Require-SchemaVersion: 1.0.1

  6. Now deploy the service, the new column should reflect in your database.

Dropping existing Column

  1. Remove Column name like “middleName” from Service.xml and build the service.
  2. Add below code in doUpgrade Method

    public class UpgradeEmployee extends UpgradeProcess {

    private static final Log log = LogFactoryUtil.getLog(UpgradeEmployee.class);

    private static final String EMPLOYEE_NEW_COLUMN_NAME_ADDRESS = “address”;

    private static final String EMPLOYEE_COLUMN_NAME_MIDDLE_NAME = “middleName”;

    @Override
    protected void doUpgrade() throws Exception {
    log.info(“>>>>>> UPGRADE PROCESS FOR SERVICE BUILDER : START >>>>>>>”);

    /**
    * First Parameter Table Name
    * Second Parameter New Column Name
    */
    boolean isAddressColumnExist = hasColumn(EmployeeImpl.TABLE_NAME, EMPLOYEE_NEW_COLUMN_NAME_ADDRESS);
    log.info(“is Address Column Exist : ” + isAddressColumnExist);
    if(!isAddressColumnExist) {
    String addressColumnType = “VARCHAR(200)”;
    alter(EmployeeImpl.class, new AlterTableAddColumn(EMPLOYEE_NEW_COLUMN_NAME_ADDRESS + StringPool.SPACE + addressColumnType));
    }

    boolean isMiddleNameExist = hasColumn(EmployeeImpl.TABLE_NAME, EMPLOYEE_COLUMN_NAME_MIDDLE_NAME);
    log.info(“is Middle Name Column Exist : ” + isMiddleNameExist);
    if(isMiddleNameExist) {
    alter(EmployeeImpl.class, new AlterTableDropColumn(EMPLOYEE_COLUMN_NAME_MIDDLE_NAME));
    }

    log.info(“>>>>>> UPGRADE PROCESS FOR SERVICE BUILDER : END >>>>>>>”);
    }
    }

  3. Update New Schema Version in bnd.bnd and EmployeeServiceUpgrade class.

    Note: If you have already created EmployeeServiceUpgrade class then do not create again just update schema version

    @Component(
    immediate = true,
    service = UpgradeStepRegistrator.class
    )
    public class EmployeeServiceUpgrade implements UpgradeStepRegistrator {

    private static final Log log = LogFactoryUtil.getLog(EmployeeServiceUpgrade.class);
    @Override
    public void register(Registry registry) {
    log.info(“>>>>>>>>>>> Registering Employee Upgrade >>>>>>>>>>>”);
    /*
    * Old Schema Version 1.0.1 which is specified in bnd.bnd
    * New Schema Version 1.0.2
    */
    registry.register(“1.0.1”, “1.0.2”, new UpgradeEmployee());
    }
    }

  4. Update Liferay-Require-SchemaVersion in bnd.bnd
    Liferay-Require-SchemaVersion: 1.0.2
  5. Deploy Service Builder Module
  6. Now deploy the service, the existing column should be dropped from your database.

Updating Column Name and Data Size

If you want to change column name “username” to “modifiedBy” with type VARCHAR(100) from VARCHAR(75).

  1. Follow the same step as above and add below code in doUpgrade method

    // Change Column Type with Column Name
    boolean isUserNameColumnExist = hasColumn(EmployeeImpl.TABLE_NAME, “userName”);
    log.info(“is UserName Column Exist : ” + isUserNameColumnExist);
    if(isUserNameColumnExist) {
    alter(EmployeeImpl.class, new AlterColumnName(“userName”,”modifiedBy VARCHAR(100)”));

    }

  2. Similarly update schema version in bnd.bnd as well as EmployeeServiceUpgrade class.
  3. Deploy the service
  4. Now deploy the service, the column name and data type update should reflect in your database.

Adding New Entity in Service Builder

Sometime table is not created once service is deployed for that as well, we need to write Upgrade process.

  1. Add new Entity Like “LeaveRequest” in existing service builder
  2. Build Service.
  3. Same as above Create class “UpgradeEmployee.java” extend the Liferay Upgrade Process and override doUpgrade method.

    public class UpgradeEmployee extends UpgradeProcess {
    private static final Log log = LogFactoryUtil.getLog(UpgradeEmployee.class);

    @Override
    protected void doUpgrade() throws Exception {
    log.info(“>>>>>> UPGRADE PROCESS FOR SERVICE BUILDER : START >>>>>>>”);
    boolean isLeaveRequestTableExist = hasTable(LeaveRequestImpl.TABLE_NAME);
    log.info(“is Leave Request Table Exist : ” +  isLeaveRequestTableExist);
    if(!isLeaveRequestTableExist) {
    runSQL(LeaveRequestImpl.TABLE_SQL_CREATE);
    }
    log.info(“>>>>>> UPGRADE PROCESS FOR SERVICE BUILDER : END >>>>>>>”);
    }
    }

  4. Now Register the UpgradeEmployee using UpgradeStepRegistrator for that create “EmployeeServiceUpgrade” and implement the Liferay “UpgradeStepRegistrator” interface.(Same as above)Note: If you have already created EmployeeServiceUpgrade class then do not create again just update schema version

    @Component(
    immediate = true,
    service = UpgradeStepRegistrator.class
    )
    public class EmployeeServiceUpgrade implements UpgradeStepRegistrator {

    private static final Log log = LogFactoryUtil.getLog(EmployeeServiceUpgrade.class);
    @Override
    public void register(Registry registry) {
    log.info(“>>>>>>>>>>> Registering Employee Upgrade >>>>>>>>>>>”);
    /*
    * Old Schema Version 1.0.3 which is specified in bnd.bnd
    * New Schema Version 1.0.4
    */
    registry.register(“1.0.3”, “1.0.4“, new UpgradeEmployee());
    }
    }

  5. Update new Schema version in bnd.bnd file which we have specified in above class
    Liferay-Require-SchemaVersion: 1.0.4
  6. Deploy the service builder module. Table will be created after deploying.
  7. Now deploy the service, the new table schema will be created in your database.
abc

Liferay Upgrade from 6.2 to Liferay DXP 7.X

Liferay launched its Digital Experience Platform (DXP) to facilitate businesses to upgrade the creation and management of experiences that aids the end-to-end customer relationship. Migration to the Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is one of the most significant moves a business can make when switching from legacy technology. Before starting the upgrade/migration, it’s crucial we make the whole plan for migration. Following the migration, topics are felt in these categories

When mingled with the novel characteristics of modern digital business where customers can have more conversations than ever with companies of their choice, the lack of a supporting platform can be the difference between net new customers or a loss of competitiveness.

1. Prerequisite for migration

Before upgrading to Liferay, make sure you first take care of the following point

1. Make sure that Liferay is patched with the most recent service pack.
2. Create a test environment and use copies of the database and server.
3. Clean unnecessary database data to improve portal performance and make the migration process faster. For pruning, the database perform the following task

a. Removing Duplicate Web Content Structure Field names. Liferay has provided Groovy scripts, i.e., https://portal.liferay.dev/documents/113763090/114000078/NormalizeDuplicateFields-6.2.x.groovy you can run in the script console.
b. Removing Unused Objects

i. Data cleanup – In the Control Panel, navigate to System Settings → Upgrades (in the Platform category) → Data Cleanup. Select the module and execute Data clean up.
ii. Specific objects must be checked, and unused must be removed following are the object types.

1. Instance: Remove unwanted instances as they consume the highest objects in the hierarchy.
2. Sites: Remove an unwanted site. The objects associated with the site will also get removed.
3. Removing Intermediate Journal Article & Documents Versions: when we make any modifications to a journal article, it is saved as a version. We can safely remove old versions of a journal article, and documents that are not required it will free significant space.
4. Users -Remove all inactive users, and it’s related data to optimize the process.
5. Layouts: As layouts associated with pages
6. Unwanted Data: Remove unwanted data like preference, documents, Resource permission, etc.

4. Testing the copy of the database after pruning data.

2. Database migration

In this step, we will migrate our database from Liferay 6.2 to Liferay 7.x

1. As many update statements will be executed during migration, we must tune the database before migration. The following are steps to tune the database.

a. Deactivate the data integrity measure taken by databases as it impacts the performance.
b. Turn off transaction logging as it is not required during upgradation.
c. Increase the interval to flush commits to disk

2. Liferay provides a data migration tool for seamlessly migrating the database using simple steps.
3. For Oracle and postgres Database, add db connector jar file into {liferay.home}/tomcat-9.0.6/lib/ext folder.
4. Before starting the database upgrade process, Create com.liferay.portal.search.configuration.IndexStatusManagerConfiguration.config file and add indexReadOnly property in com.liferay.portal.search.configuration.IndexStatusManagerConfiguration.config file is set to true. (indexReadOnly=”true”)

3. Liferay Code Migration

1. Once the database is migrated you need to upgrade the code to make it compatible with Liferay.
2. Liferay provides a code migration tool in Liferay IDE. You can migrate the code using this tool by following simple steps.

a. Setup Liferay Workspace – Create a Liferay 7.x workspace if you don’t have otherwise import the workspace
b. Liferay Workspace Setting – Download the Liferay 7.x bundle you are upgrading to and convert .cfg files to .config files as they allow specifying a property value’s type and allow multi-valued properties.
c. Fix your upgrade problems:

i. Auto correct your upgrade problems as mention in upgrade tool.
ii. These are some problems that cannot be auto corrected you have to update them manually according to the breaking changes documentation.
iii. Mark your addressed problem resolved and remove the problem marker
iv. Upgrade Service builder and rebuild services to persist update.
v. Upgrade customizes plugins like a hook, fragment, Model Listener, etc.
vi. Upgrade theme, Layout, and templates
vii. Upgrade Ext plugins

3. For JSP hook migration, you need to create a hook module from scratch and override the required jsp.

4. Post Migration Steps

1. Post successful database upgrade change indexReadOnly=”false” in com.liferay.portal.search.configuration.IndexStatusManagerConfiguration.config. Otherwise indexing will won’t work.
2. Regenerate the search index
3. If you are using Liferay DXP, then delete the license folder from {liferay. Home}/data directory.
4. Tune your Liferay server by increasing memory in the setenv.bat/setenv.sh file.
5. Now start the Liferay server and copy the license file to the deploy folder if you are using the Liferay DXP.

5. Common issues/error Occurred after Migration

1. You must first upgrade to Liferay Portal 7XXXX – This error will be shown in logs when you start the Liferay DXP/CE server with a Liferay 6.2 database before the upgrade
2. NullPointerException at ThemeServicePreAction – When you had started the migrated server but the migrated theme is not found at that time, this exception will be seen in logs.
3. PwdEncryptorException: invalid keyLength value – This exception will occur when the specified password-encryption algorithm is incorrect. We need to specify the correct encryption algorithm in portal-ext.properties i.e passwords.encryption.algorithm.legacy=.
4. NullPointerException while upgrading DDM – When there is any orphaned template is there, and you run migration at that time, this exception will occur. To resolve this issue, delete the orphaned template.

As we have seen, it is not difficult to migrate to Liferay we just need to make proper migration plans and execution steps according to our portal.

We facilitate businesses to migrate from propriety legacy, expensive, and inefficient systems with Liferay Portal Migration Services with high-security and minimal downtime. We facilitate up-gradation and migration, leveraging an automated migration toolkit. With our domain expertise, we understand how to assess and document existing processes, dependencies comprehensively, and issues when carrying-out migration plans.

Why Migrate to Liferay DXP?

Digital experience platforms are a priority for business leaders who aspire to optimize the customer lifecycle. The challenge is, there are numerous platforms to choose from. According to Forrester, application development and delivery professionals have “a discomfiture of riches” to facilitate them to deliver, manage, and optimize customer experiences. While options are plentiful, budgets are not, as leaders must also pick how to split their priorities between marketing, IT, and business. Nevertheless, an emphasis on a digital experience platform is still needed to improve the customer’s journey.

  • 80% of the buying process is predicted to occur without any human interaction by 2020
  • Sirius Decisions states that 67% of the buyer’s journey is now accomplished digitally
  • 53% of buyers turn to social media in their evaluation of various tools and technologies
  • 83% of customers need some customer service while making an online purchase

When mingled with the novel characteristics of modern digital business where customers can have more conversations than ever with companies of their choice, the lack of a supporting platform can be the difference between net new customers or a loss of competitiveness.

Attributes of the Modern Digital Platform – Liferay DXP

The modern digital experience platform is a blend of multiple digital strategies that backs web, social, customer support, email, and other components. Independently, these pieces are expensive and disjointed, eliminating the competencies needed for a robust and rewarding digital experience.
Forrester suggests applying unified platforms presented as an ecosystem of services and solutions that connect people, processes, objectives, strategies, and technologies. An ecosystem facilitates a piece of the customer’s journey but doesn’t necessarily “own” each touchpoint, rather than serving as a collection of puzzle pieces that work as one.

Migration to the Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is one of the most significant moves a business can make when switching from legacy technology. The effort level can vary significantly, from an easy task requiring running an existing plugin to an equally involved and complex development project demanding several staff-hours and resources. The question is: How can businesses know the level of effort required for their migration?

Liferay Digital Experience Platform

Liferay launched its Digital Experience Platform (DXP) to facilitate businesses to upgrade the creation and management of experiences that aids the end-to-end customer relationship. Liferay is noted for its reliable end-to-end performance that has been developed entirely in-house. Some key, high-level differences from prior versions in DXP encompass:

• Modularity

New, modular design enables businesses to design robust, adaptable, lightweight, and innovative systems for the digital world. Liferay’s functionality has been distributed into hundreds of modules, allowing the businesses to utilize only what they require for their project. The unrivaled level of extensibility generates an endless amount of possibilities

• Upgrade Tool

A novel individual upgrade tool dramatically enhances the experience of upgrading Liferay installation to the latest version. Upgrading to DXP is now separated into Core upgrades and Module upgrades, the latter of which can be executed independently. Liferay DXP also has built-in safeguards against any errors that may occur during the upgrade process.

• Single Page Applications

All applications on Liferay DXP are automatically configured as single-page, only loading necessary components. This ends up in reduced bandwidth usage, load times, and rendering time in the browser. Faster loading performance results in higher user retention and satisfaction.

As with any platform, business leaders will always be pushed to upgrade at some point. Let’s see four reasons why an upgrade and migration are in your business’s best interest as it protects and strengthens your digital experience investment.
The effort level can vary significantly, from an easy task requiring running an existing plugin to an equally involved and complex development project demanding several staff-hours and resources. The question is: How can businesses know the level of effort required for their migration?

Why should Enterprise Migrate to Liferay DXP?

Doesn’t matter if the remote work is a longstanding policy or an interim solution, employees require support to flourish. If you are interested in implementing an intranet that optimizes collaboration and performance from any location, reach out to one of our digital workplace experts.
• Improving Customer Journey
Market forces evolve faster than ever, compelling businesses to accelerate their innovation to keep up. Furthermore, the capability to unify operations, marketing, business, and customer service are critical components of every business. Those that upgrade and migrate their Liferay investment accomplish their business operational goals while lowering costs needed to go-to-market, creating much-needed business agility.
A platform migration adds the following capabilities:

  • Execution of Digital Strategy: At the heart of fast-tracked business results is fair process. Upgrading your investment in Liferay DXP offers businesses the ability to create and manage modular business processes, flexible workflow tools, and a scalable platform to meet evolving customer demand.
  • Audience Targeting and Management: With so much noise online, businesses want to reach the right customers with the right message. Liferay DXP has modernized audience targeting, enabling the creation of visitor segments based on metadata, including user profile custom fields, user language, IP address, sign-up date, and last login date. On the back end, businesses can utilize this data to generate reports for segments and campaigns, develop loyalty programs, offer customer onboarding, and filter out users.
  • Site Content Sharing: Liferay DXP can share different content pieces between child and parent sites. Being able to inherit content smoothly eases the burden of content creation.
  • Easy Content Creation: Authors now have access at any time to Liferay’s powerful authoring applications thanks to AlloyEditor, a visual content creation tool created with React.JS. The authoring application enables easy uploading of media content, an inline image editor, geolocation of web content, and multi-step staging for content review before publishing. AlloyEditor is also in Liferay DXP’s blogging application.

Integration with Employees and Partners: Employee advocacy is the new key to business success, having grown more than 200% since 2013, according to the Altimeter Group. Additionally, socially engaged employees are 27% more likely to feel optimistic about their business’s future and survival. Investing in Liferay DXP provides the advocacy platform to contribute to great internal and external community experiences.

• Effortless Asset Integration
Migrating to Liferay DXP offers businesses a blend of both fronts- and back-end solutions that negate the need to purchase a third-party system. Migrating to Liferay DXP involves the following benefits:

  • Integrated Digital Assets and Social Content: Liferay DXP involves support for common enterprise digital assets, eliminating the need to buy third-party systems. The platform facilitates a full document management system (DMS), including integration with SharePoint and Documentum, asset management for videos and images, and blogs, wikis, knowledge base tools, and forums.
  • Service-oriented Architecture (SOA): Business processes and businesses are complex, demanding that many pieces work in unison. Liferay DXP brings in an open SOA framework that enables the integration of existing HR, accounting, or sales systems that unify data for a complete organizational snapshot. Accessibility is further achieved through Liferay’s single sign-on (SSO) support.
  • Modern Experience: Web platforms must embrace smartphones becoming the device of choice for web accessibility for end-users. Liferay has incorporated the ability to build mobile portal platforms, aided with responsive design, push notifications, and pre-built interfaces. The addition of permissions and device sync lets your users access the data they need from their preferred platform.

• Business-ready Forms
Comprehending what your community and website require is fundamental to providing the experience to keep users coming back for more. Migrating to Liferay Portal opens businesses to new support for form creation, enabling advanced data capture while supporting built-in applications and extensions.

  • Technical Changes: Because of the new Liferay Forms application, several portlets are shifting from XML data to JSON to reach enhanced flexibility regarding containing additional data that XML could not provide.
  • Liferay Forms: Accumulating data is much more dynamic, with complex multicolumn layouts and the capability to span several pages. The new application offers more control over form fields, such as customizing fields or hiding them with visibility expressions.

• Developer Tools
Lastly, we touch on Liferay’s developer capabilities. Liferay DXP comes with several out-of-the-box resources and offers access to a wide variety of developer tools to extend platform capabilities and personalization further. The availability of code-driven and click-driven content building means that everyone can build an engaging digital experience.

  • Technical Add-ons: Developers can utilize the Liferay Developer Studio and Liferay Sync to develop personalization’s or manage multiple websites, respectively.
  • Blade Command Line Interface (CLI): Developers looking to produce new modules can use the Blade CLI to create new projects usable with any development environment.
  • Liferay Workspace: Liferay Workspace is a bespoke environment for modular development to hold and manage Liferay projects. Liferay Workspace is compatible with several development environments, allowing versatility for any team

How Can Businesses Switch From Their Current System to Liferay DXP?

Liferay DXP comprises an open framework and API, which can be utilized to use any data that businesses might have in your existing system. Migrating to Liferay DXP includes migrating your installation and code (your custom apps) to the new version.
Here are the high level steps to migrate to Liferay DXP:

1) Upgrade Development Environment
2) Migrate Plugins SDK Projects
3) Upgrade Build Dependencies
4) Fix Upgrade Problems
5) Upgrade Service Builder Services
6) Upgrade Customization Plugins
7) Upgrade Themes
8) Upgrade Frameworks & Features
9) Upgrade Portlets
10) Upgrade Web Plugins
11) Upgrade Ext Plugins

Way Forward

Exploring all the exciting advantages offered by Liferay DXP, no business can ignore it to create their business portals. One or another day, your business will expand, and you will need a smart and intuitive technology to build or migrate your portal. So, why not migrate to Liferay today and start availing its advantages.

These reasons are enough to explain the significance of the Liferay Digital Experience Platform and might make you migrate to Liferay from other portal technologies. If you are looking for someone to migrate your portal to Liferay, contact us or drop an email at [email protected], and one of our agents will shortly get back to you with your queries.

Intranet – Your Digital Workplace to Manage Business Remotely

Curbed travel. Canceled events. Closed schools. COVID-19 is jolting up how we communicate, and the workplaces are no exception. As businesses brace for COVID-19, the occurrence of remote work is set to rise steeply, as will the requirements for well-honed best practices. The capability to rapidly implement effective remote work processes is what will differentiate the winners from the losers.

The intensification of remote work popularity is because of the evolution of technologies like ultra-fast internet connections and mobile devices. Tools such as cloud-based storage solutions also empower individuals to collaborate with colleagues instantly from anywhere in the world.

Sustaining Business Continuity by Going Remote

While the judges may be out on the advantages of remote work, in general, undoubtedly, it can be the best option during crisis scenarios. Whether it is an outbreak like COVID-19, a natural disaster, or a security threat, remote working can safeguard employees and ensure business continuity during testing times.

Sustaining business functions during the disruption demands meticulous planning, streamlined communications, and a well-versed understanding of employee requirements and preferences. Digital workplaces can be leveraged to keep everyone informed, encourage collaboration amongst the scattered workforce, and centralize crisis response efforts.

How can Intranet Support?

When the business continuity is on the line, the intranet can be helpful in the following ways to help weather the storm:

1.  Keeps remote teams connected

Regardless of the industry or the office setting, employees are supposed to communicate efficiently. While most businesses leverage email platforms, email can only go so far. Did you know an average employee checks their email roughly 36 times a day? That is much distraction.

Intranet empowers people to communicate in real-time or face-to-face via instant messaging and video chats. This means groups can resolve issues and brainstorm keys from one simple platform. The intranet ensures no more lost communications in an email thread. Intranets are also a terrific tool to nurture a healthy company culture. Senior management can leverage the platform to share the organizational vision and objectives, promote ideas, and share topics of interest. HR professionals could post policy updates and new initiatives to keep employees engaged. Employees will feel more engaged in their workplace due to better internal communications.

2.  Boosts Employee Productivity

Even with the growth of the digital workplace, several businesses still use manual and paper processes to manage tasks. The intranet platform tackles these challenges by streamlining several processes to amplify employee productivity. Businesses that embrace automation are known to save time and cut down on human errors.

Depending on manual processes is a great time-waster. Employees must find the latest version of a document, fill it out, scan it, then email it to the appropriate stakeholder. On an intranet platform, all these tasks can be carried out online in an effortless manner.  The stakeholder is then notified through email and is reminded to act promptly.

3.  Makes Information Sharing Effortless

Regardless of where employees work, businesses have much information to store. Data is stored across numerous platforms like emails, word docs, Google Drive, etc. making finding information an arduous task. Instead, leveraging an intranet platform as a central, one-stop-shop for all business information means it will be hassle-free for employees to see what they require. The intranet must possess strong search capabilities so that employees can quickly locate relevant information.

One of the most remarkable advantages of having a single source for information is the familial information gained by everyone in the company. This can be an enormous competitive benefit for an organization, cutting downtime to onboard new employees, saving the knowledge from those who have left the organization, and making this accessible to present employees. Acknowledging that all the information an employee might require is trusted and accessible enables them to work faster and feel more confident in the work they produce.

4.  Keeps your Data Secure

Every business has confidential files or information that requires to be kept private. There are several types of internal and external threats that could compromise company data. Security violations, weak passwords, and unauthorized access could jeopardize everyone. An intranet is a closed, private network that safeguards businesses from unauthorized users. With a platform like this, employees working remotely can keep their projects safe.

While the intranet contains information that is useful to all employees, not everything is relevant to everyone. Some businesses want to restrict access to sensitive data. Remote businesses can create custom privacy settings, so only specific people can have access to information.  This adds an extra layer of security against everyone who may hack into your system.

5.  Improves Collaboration and Feedback

The finest way to encourage employees to make use of the intranet is to pull them in. Employees will naturally leverage a tool when they are drawn in by their peers or their work. Intranets have smart features like @-mentions, comments, easy document sharing, or some form of notifications. Leveraging mentions and comments facilitate to bring in the right people at the right time to add to work and keeps all feedback and contributions contextual.

A seasoned intranet facilitates real-time page editing with teammates and task assignments with deadlines. Having a central place to capture feedback and working with the team encourages collaboration, since all data is available to involved stakeholders and updates are in real-time.

6.  Helps build Transparent Company Culture

To bring out the best in employees, businesses need to create a space to feel comforting sharing thoughts and opinions. 87% of people want to work for a transparent company. An intranet can help building a transparent company. Everyone can contribute, like, and comment on anything shared within the organization, enabling transparency between execs and employees.

When employees feel empowered to open up realistically at work, they build robust relationships with peers. This nurtures a deeper understanding of one another, leads to more substantial levels of trust, and ultimately empowers everyone to contribute their value to the business thoroughly.

Provide employees with what they need to make the most of remote work

Doesn’t matter if the remote work is a longstanding policy or an interim solution, employees require support to flourish. If you are interested in implementing an intranet that optimizes collaboration and performance from any location, reach out to one of our digital workplace experts.

Self-Service Customer Experience – The New Normal

Customer experience has forever been a way for organizations to distinguish themselves. But, COVID-19 has transformed the rules of the game.

The customers are now increasingly self-isolating, prefer digital and contactless engagement mediums, are more mindful about spending, and are expected to be making different lifestyle choices for some time. Curating customer experiences for this new normal may call for essentially different approaches. But the opportunities to develop value are several.

In an age of social distancing, the way organizations interact with customers is evolving. Physical touchpoints are being minimized in favor of no-touch self-service models that are increasingly safer, cost-effective, and efficient. Customer service, today, at every touchpoint, is almost wholly contactless.

In the interim, Asian Paints, India’s largest paint company, takes the self-service route by allowing its dealers to place orders through a self-service web portal.

Does this change to self-service models imply that human-powered customer service will fade? No. Customers still prefer talking to a human-like call center agent while addressing some issues. However, even in call centers, the first layer of communication today is self-service chatbots and portals. These tools empower customers to search for answers and solve routine issues on their own.

With the proliferation of COVID-19, massive transitions in customer expectations have reframed the way organizations engage with devices. Present-day customer is more mobile, digital, and connected than ever before. They want relevant information and functionality wherever they are, on-demand. They also require organizations to help themselves with methods like the ability to view an account, pay a bill, or schedule an appointment in a few clicks.

Self-service mediums like customer portals are a significant part of fostering such an experience in post-COVID 19 worlds. However, not all portals are developed equal. Most conventional portals fail to deliver the modern user experience that today’s customers want.

————————————————————————————————————————–

59% of customers and 71% of business buyers say self-service availability impacts their loyalty

—————————————————————————————————————————

Modern Portals Put the Customer First

These same connections also enable agents to provide a more tailored customer experience.

Present-day customer portals are defined by much more than their self-service capacities. Nothing like conventional customer portals built for transactions than fostering relationships – today’s customer portals are connected, personalized, and readily available from any device. They make it hassle-free for customers to search for information, manage accounts, and connects with agents whenever required.

————————————————————————————————————–

        68% of service professionals say one bad experience inflicts more damage to a

customer relationship than five years ago.

—————————————————————————————————————

The Advantages of Digital Experience

The advantages of a customer portal range across all areas of a business – from customer experience to internal process to technical factors. The portals boost customers at every stage of their customer journey. For instance, when a customer thinks ordering a product, the portal will cater a consistent point of access to look for what they want, buy-in a few clicks, track deliveries, and now even allows viewing restocking dates, warranties, and order history – across multiple devices.

For the business, customer portals deliver more than just customer satisfaction. They also have a built-in capability to amalgamate various systems and data sources to cater to a connected and personalized customer experience. The key to this is a CRM system that enables a single view of the customer.

An entirely integrated portal caters to customer profile information, interests, history, and actions that allow more personalized service. It is demanding for IT departments to maintain and upgrade a legacy portal’s back-end systems. Weighed against their predecessors, modern customer portals are smoother to maintain, upgrade, and integrate with fundamental data sources, business systems, and processes. They also provide a higher level of security via updated capabilities like application monitoring.

Development Priorities For Modern Customer Portals:

It is central to recognize solutions that serve the requirements of both the customer and the business. The ideal solution must cater to a seamless service experience for customers and grown efficiencies across business units.

  • Unify Data and Processes from Any System

  • Customers anticipate feeling like they are dealing with a single business, not a series of    disconnected parts. Amalgamating business’s service and business processes through knowledge articles, live-agent chats, and third-party systems develop unified customer experience. For the business, a seamless capture of portal activities caters to a holistic view of the customer for agents. For the customer, this ends up in a better experience.

  •  Provide Personalized Engagement

  • 80% of service teams agree that a shared, single view of the customer empowers departments to cater to a more consistent experience across every channel. Connected CRM data boosts businesses to intuitively deliver tailored suggestions, including services, products, and notifications.

  •  Enable Connected Self-Service

  • 81% of customers try to take care of issues themselves before reaching out to a live agent. With the right tactics in place, self-service portals can become the crux of the service process by smartly surfacing the most relevant responses to customer queries without involving agents. In practice,
    this method has led to a 31% growth in case deflection and a 22% rise in customer satisfaction.

What’s Next?

A new method of customer success needs investment in an innovative customer portal that is integrated, personalized, and caters seamless self-service. The transactional, conventional portals of the past no longer meet the expectations of present-day connected customers. With a combination of innovative solutions and smart design tools, customer portals are not the only turnkey to develop, but also meets the needs of customers, businesses, and IT departments alike.

What are the Digital Transformation Trends and Challenges?

Believe it or not – the world has gone digital. From a 3-year-old toddler to a 70-year-old grandfather, everyone is glued to their mobile screens for one reason or the other. We are reliant on our smartphones to make the simplest of decisions like which movie to watch, what hair color to get, and where to go for next summer vacation. We are the digital generation, and there is no better time to put our businesses online. Yes, digital transformation is the need of the hour irrespective of what industry you’re into, what goods or services you’re providing to the customers. While all this may sound optimistic, there are substantial digital transformation challenges and constant upgrading that can hinder a business’s digital growth. In this blog, we will discuss the upcoming digital transformation trends to look up to for the year 2020. We will also dwell on challenges that digital businesses will likely face on their journey to becoming digitally transformed.

Digital transformation challenges 2020

Ever-evolving customer experience

The customers are always in touch with the brands they use or consume. They are always connected through physical contact at the retail stores through social media and, of course, after-sales services. Bad customer experience is a silent killer. Brands have to use digital media to lure customers towards the brand and not just drive sales. You have to put the customer at the top of every business activity or planning to win them over forever. The key is to build a customer-centric culture.

Employee resistance

Digital transformation is synonymous with employee pushback, as they may feel threatened by the ongoing digitization of process. Some of the ‘core’ team professionals might feel their jobs getting redundant or irrelevant given the technological advancement. The creative individuals will adapt to the change and transform their profiles with technology at the back of it all while others will simply call it quits. The best idea here is to bridge the skill gap to achieve what digital transformation aims at.

Short-term view challenge

Planning digital transformation extends beyond three to five months. The management must ensure that smaller milestones are marked and celebrated when achieved. This keeps the morale boosted by those in the plan for digital transformation. A pro-longed journey with so many people involved can cause staff exhaustion, frustration, and demotivation. This can be reversed.

Digital transformation trends 2020

Analytics are the backbone

Companies with massive digital investments must look at analytics in a big way. There is way too much customer data ready to collected, harvested, and interpreted to draw insights for better business decision-making. Flying blind with vague goals can be fatal for organizations in 2020. The future is in data for every single company looking to make it to 2021.

Automated Intelligence and Machine Learning

Businesses investing in analytics tools must also use AI and Machine Learning to churn out big data for useful insights. The sheer of data collected can be overwhelming and confusing for humans to interpret, which is why AI and machine learning are integral to digital transformation for 2020. AI and Machine Learning tools are easy to use, intuitive, informative, and extremely good at data analysis. Thanks to AI, big data can now be analyzed with a fraction of seconds to draw out results that help make informed business decisions. Besides, AI and Machine Learning will be increasingly used to leverage modern data architecture and mitigate the data governance problem that has plagued our businesses for the longest time.

5G

Although almost always associated with mobile data, 5G is way more than what we think it is. The tentacles of 5G spread as far into smart cities, smart manufacturing, and intelligent vehicles. The telecom giants are continually working to push the deployment of 5G to smooth out digital transformation for companies. This will allow them to push large chunks of data via AI and ML to produce faster, more accurate, and reliable information. With the Internet of Things and Augmented Reality, 5G will allow us to build smart homes where one motion can change the lighting, temperature, air quality, and open the windows as your command. The year 2020 will be a milestone for those aiming at the digital transformation of their business. With the well-defined digital transformation roadmap and enthusiastic human resources, companies do have an excellent future for 2021.

What is Digital Transformation? How do you define the Digital Transformation Roadmap?

Have you ever thought of how we moved from record-book keeping to complicated Excel sheets? How did we switch from journal-ledgers to smart accounting applications? Most businesses had no better options than digitizing their process to meet the changing needs and expectations of the customers. A new or even an old company can remain competitive and relevant in the industry only if they adopt digital transformation. The term has been used and abused by the CIO’s and CEO of marketing firms that it has lost its original meaning in the way. We’ve heard people saying ‘digital transformation’ out and loud in the office when they were just moving to the Cloud. If not this, then what is digital transformation?

Digital transformation is the integration of technology in all aspects of business operations to change the way a business delivers value to the customer. It is the reimagining and realigning of business in the digital age to meet the needs of the digitally-enabled consumer. Big or small, every business starting now should future-proof their operations by going through a digital transformation roadmap. They can no longer depend on screen stickies or ledgers for the coming age. Right now is the time to think, analyze, interpret, and integrate to build, grow, and sustain businesses by enabling them digitally.

What does digital transformation do to your business?

Digital transformation doesn’t any way ask ‘how quickly can you do things with technology?’ instead, it reflects on ‘what can be done best given the technological investments already in place?’ Do you see the difference? Think of how Netflix used its OTT platform to pull customers out of the Rent CDs stores and switch to an ever-growing digital library of Netflix.

The traditional CD rentals are nowhere to be seen now because the same content is now available on TVs, computers, iPads, and mobile phones too. Further, Netflix used AI to understand the streaming behaviors of users only to draw out more customer-driven solutions like the mobile-only Netflix subscription package at Rs 149/monthly. Essentially, the customer experience is at the prime focus of all the digital transformation happening around the world.

How to define your digital transformation roadmap?

Every company needs a unique digital transformation roadmap that helps achieve its business goals. Most would agree that digital transformation is not a one-day job. It is a continuous effort to drive change in the organization with coordination, harmony, and excellent management. A classic digital roadmap has to include the following steps to be able to deliver results successfully.

Articulation of the goals

Vague goals never drive fruitful results. A roadmap means nothing without an achievable goal in place. Think about how much digital transformation is needed in your business? What do you wish to achieve with digital transformation? A clear goal-driven plan will attract more participation, cooperation, and buy-ins from the investors and employees that are quintessential to the success of the digital transformation plan. This will boost employee morale, partner’s faith in the program, and align company actions towards the achievement of the goals.

Vision and Strategy to achieve them

A company needs its design thinkers in harmony with the roadmap to foster real innovation. Design thinking is a way to develop a systematic process of thinking in innovative solutions for the current problem at hand. This creates synergies between the IT and design thinkers to build viable solutions for the coming-age. This is the most crucial step in the transformation process, where the planners decide how they want to take forward the plan of action. Do they wish to do in one go or take baby steps, one day at a time?

They must identify the changes that will occur as a result of the actions and how to counterfeit all the initial inhibitions, resistance, and reluctance amongst the team. Having a defined strategy in place ensures that the team has full confidence in the plan and is willing to go the extra mile to formally take up digital transformation.

Identify gaps/roadblocks in the journey

Digital transformation means less human interference and more automation. Humans will go out of work if they do not adapt to the changing nature of their jobs. This fear could steer away from the employees from actively taking up the digital transformation process. This is one example of a digital transformation roadblock that could hinder success.

Organizational restructuring, technological paralysis, changes in investor/supplier ecosystem, or modification to business plans are more of such hiccups that could stop you from achieving your goals. If there are alternative available or scope of better decision making, then it must be a part of your digital transformation roadmap.

Implementation

Without a roadmap, you will never know if you’re moving closer to your goals or entirely in the wrong direction. What you have on paper will be slightly different from what you experience while implementing the plan. Your roadmap should include milestones, those when achieved should ensure the success of your project. The ultimate goal might be years away, but smaller targets achieved would boost morale and company image as the plan starts showing results. The continuous change should be validated with more modest achievements to ensure smooth movement of the project without any hiccups.

Scroll to more