Wednesday, 12 August 2020 23:55

Oracle Cloud performance enables personalised customer engagement video, says iLiveIT


Consumers and businesses alike are on an intense bootcamp right now in establishing effective virtual communications. Customer Communication Management and Experiences provider, iLiveIT, has built a platform to drive hyper-personalised, hyper-scaled communications and says its Oracle Cloud that gave the power to make it work.

In this current pandemic, it is more important than ever to ensure customer engagement is effective, personalised, and relevant. iLiveIT started life in 2011 working with all major South African telecommunication providers, expanding since then to Australia and Greece, when it saw a gap in the market in managing vastly personalised customer communications.

Riaan Groenewald, Chief Operating Officer, says many businesses personalise their customer messaging only by “Hello Name”, but they can have so much more. “We dynamically create content personalised to each individual with more explanation of their services and spend.”

For one example, companies send out invoices and statements with standard basic information on what the customer owes and the due date. However, iLiveIT expands this. “We get involved to create infographics to display the data they have in a more customer-friendly way via all channels. We design and distribute over the lifecycle from onboarding to their first invoice, to cross-selling and up-selling and notifications and make it enjoyable,” Groenewald says.

The thought of making an invoice enjoyable is novel, but one Groenewald says iLiveIT is achieving for its customer’s customers. “We can create infographics according to spend analysis and display on the invoice they’ve had so many local calls or international calls or data usage in total. We show the most active time during the day, and if they have more night calls or day calls, the time they’re using the most data and so on. We create an infographic to display that, we show the most favourite number they dial and allow them to add someone's name to it. We have add-on services where we predict from historic spend if you are at risk of overspending and getting penalties, and we can advise you will save money if you upgrade to a better package.”

"We're not just presenting a communication but giving personalised service," he says.


Pictured: a sample of customer-specific personalisation iLiveIT can provide.

These ideas aren't limited to text. One of iLiveIT's latest innovative product offerings renders, compresses and distributes millions of personalised videos, creating a single seamless experience to customers.

This takes processing to a different level. Donovan Solms, Chief Technical Officer explains, "Video is intense, especially if a client wants to deliver via streaming email. A 5-10MB email can be hosted wherever but if we’re delivering streaming video via MMS we have a limit of 300-500KB per video so there’s a lot of compression and specific sizes. The knowledge out there on generating HD-quality videos and streaming videos don't really apply to our situation so we needed to put together services to achieve this in the cloud without expensive solutions. The most important regard is processing power. The thing that makes a video take long to render is animations especially if it’s really complex and here we need to scale up and down rendering servers as needed.”

Oracle Cloud
iLiveIT reviewed and tested three major cloud vendors before partnering with Oracle to provide the reliability and processing power it needed to process files and data quickly. The iLiveIT teams say Oracle’s Generation 2 data centre has driven down costs, increased security and providing performance 3-4x faster than competitor cloud providers. In practical terms, this means the rendering time of millions of videos has gone down by hours and single videos from minutes to seconds.

The main draw to Oracle was performance. Groenewald and Solms explain they tested extensively, and particularly with PDF rendering. They saw a 3-4x increase in PDF rendering on Oracle, providing 10-12 PDFs per CPU core per second.

iLiveIT sees the reasons for the impressive performance increase as the full CPU core Oracle Cloud provides instead of a vCPU, and the generous amount of RAM per server for similar or cheaper pricing than other cloud providers.

"If we're rendering three or four or five videos at the same time in the pipeline each has its own assets, fonts and images to be pulled in and without a lot of memory, they have to be loaded each time. Having more RAM means we can keep them in memory which helps with rendering performance as well as the warm-up time from clicking the button to when the first video is done,” Solms said.

iTWire was keen to understand this more, and spoke with Karan Batta, Senior Director, Product Manager at Oracle, overseeing Oracle Cloud Infrastructure hardware. “It’s about customer choice,” he said. “We put the customer’s interests above our needs.”

While a public cloud competitor offers machine instances which can only be divided in certain ways to suit their underlying hardware, “our fundamental difference is how we built it. What if the customer wants to add a core one-by-one? Why be constrained by shapes and sizes? Oracle Cloud’s underlying secret sauce is the bin packing - all of our virtualisation stack, I/O virtualisation, business logic runs outside the machine. It’s a separate piece of silicon allowing us to provision whatever the customer needs. The customer simply picks their number of cores and quantity of RAM and they’re done,” Batta explained.

Beyond hardware iLiveIT also finds the Oracle Cloud global account management features greatly simplifying their management and accounting, no longer needing to deal with multiple vendors, regions, currencies and exchange rates.

Video offers the highest open and view rate
iLiveIT's experience places the business to give credible expert insights and advice to Australian organisations in how to engage with their customers.

"In Australia, people think a video is expensive," Groenewald says. "We look at in cents and are working to educate the market that it is affordable, how to use it and how to do it at scale. A lot of people are warming up. The consumer gives you about eight seconds, which is becoming less-and-less as technology develops so you must make the best use of technology. We can create any format in any channel but our experience shows the highest percentage of opens and views is with video messaging, telling a story about what the customer has done and what their spend is.”

iLiveIT has honed this technology over many years, including a previous company whose first personalised video was in South Africa in 2004 to help consumers understand their handset upgrade options. The video had to be below 100KB and work over a GPRS connection. Since then iLiveIT has seen technology improve worldwide but says even in Australia one telco is limited to 300KB MMS, which has to include not only the video but the text and vCard and any other items. “We’ve been doing it for years, to millions,” Groenewald says.

iLiveIT says its platform is an enabler for Australian organisations sending customer communications. It charges per communication with no licensing fees even as the platform evolves to always be ready for the next available technology.

iLiveIT has been operating in Australia for three years and includes a large telecommunication company, banks and an insurance provider among its customers.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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