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Bringing Endeca Into ATG: Why Should I? And How?

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Digital Commerce

May 9, 2013

While the Oracle Commerce solution includes both Endeca Commerce and ATG Web Commerce, exactly how the two are meant to be combined has been a lingering question.

Endeca ATG Oracle Commerce

 

In this article, we’ll talk about why ATG Web Commerce should include Endeca, and how to start that process.

Since the acquisition of ATG and Endeca over the past few years, the vision of the Oracle Commerce solution has been steadily taking shape. Since both provide complementary features to each other, it was no surprise that Endeca Commerce has been integrated into ATG Web Commerce.

There are several questions around how to complete this integration, and we’ll cover the technical details in an upcoming three-part series. Until last fall, though, the main question was, “Why should I bring Endeca Commerce into ATG? It already has ATG Search.”

Features of Endeca Guided Search

The answer from Oracle was relatively simple. In their opinion, ATG Search lacked several of the features offered by the Endeca Commerce system. I won’t cover the Endeca marketing pitch, but there were several key differentiators Endeca brought to the table, including:

  • Limited data modeling, and fast discovery against complex, multi-entity data;
  • Ability to include not only a product catalog but also additional data sources to complement cross-sell and up-sell merchandising;
  • Scalability and performance of the MDEX engine, with the ability to add capacity as required;
  • Dictionary and spelling features are always contextual to the data within Endeca, and where the user has browsed on your website; and
  • Merchant empowerment through Experience Manager.

Why you now need it

In the end, Oracle made a simple decision: ATG Search would be phased out, and customers would need to utilize Endeca Commerce instead. The shift itself has been gradual over the past year. However, as of the end of April release of ATG Web Commerce 10.2, it was clearly identified:

“The 10.2 release will be the last release of ATG Search. Current ATG Search customers should be making plans to move to Oracle Endeca Guided Search.” (Source: Oracle ATG Commerce 10.2 - What’s New)

Although the features that Endeca Commerce offers add significant value to an Oracle ATG Web Commerce solution, ATG Search will not be available in the next release. If you plan on staying current with ATG, or you have a new project starting, you will need to use Endeca in your end solution.

How do I incorporate (or migrate to) Endeca Commerce?

We won’t cover the technical aspects in this approach, but the question we’re asked the most often is how to deal with different integration scenarios. This breaks down into three groupings:

1. New clients and existing ATG projects in flight. If you haven’t started a new implementation for an ATG project, then your starting point is simple: Endeca Commerce should be added in as part of the sale itself, and planned from the beginning. Plan on Endeca forming the core of the search and CX through Experience Manager from the beginning.
If you have an existing project already under development with ATG, then are you utilizing ATG Search? If so, we recommend going back to the client – possibly with Oracle’s support – to point out that while ATG Search can be utilized on this existing project, there is no upgrade path for using it and so it may make sense change now. The earlier you are in the project cycle, the easier it will be, and probably depends on how you deal with product releases that occur mid-development.
2. Existing ATG Search customers. If you have a planned development cycle, incorporate Endeca Commerce into it. Otherwise, this may be a good time to touch base with your customer to notify them of the new Oracle ATG release, and work on a new sales cycle with them. In either case, plan on migrating them from ATG Search to the Endeca Guided Search functionality.
3. Existing ATG Web Commerce customers. Whether or not they are currently using ATG Search, Oracle recommends that you include Endeca’s Experience Manager as part of a new phase of development, to enhance the CX experience.

Starting over… or not?

Regardless of the scenario you’re presented with, there’s no need to rip apart an existing ATG solution and re-do it with Endeca included. The best way to approach this – both for your team and the customer – is to implement phased changes to an ATG website. This reduces the time required for implementation and your clients will see a faster return on their Endeca integration.

Start off with the lowest hanging fruit, Endeca’s Guided Search functionality. Replace the search box that may be present on every page with a box that is powered by Endeca’s Experience Manager. At that point, you haven’t made any significant changes to the client’s website, and can also offer type-ahead (also known as look-ahead) functionality.

As part of the first phase, the search results page should be modified to be driven by Endeca – a single page that now allows you to offer all the power of the Endeca experience with Guided Navigation – with products returned with the search functionality built into the Endeca system. Your end users will benefit from a better CX and your merchandisers can utilize features such as Boost & Bury, record spotlighting, and relevancy ranking.

Next steps

Once you have those core pages powered by Endeca, the next step is to gradually shift the other pages of your website into Experience Manager to provide your business users with the control over them. This removes the need for application development when a change is required because users themselves can now create all the dynamic pages they want and reorganize existing ones on the fly – within reason, of course!

When you tackle the search results as your first phase, your client will quickly start to see a return on their Endeca Commerce integration. From that point on, the data required for future development should already be inside the Endeca system, and it’s a matter of transferring additional pages to Experience Manager for your merchandisers to maintain.

For the technical integration itself, the first part is taking your existing product catalog and passing it onto Endeca to index. We’ll cover that in our next article.

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