Tuesday, 9 July 2019

2019 Kscope - Seattle and the Event


Sometimes I worry that my event posts are very 'samey', however from the start this Kscope was different.


First the travel was without issue - worthy of a post on its own! Unfortunately others were not so lucky and I sympathise, but for me, this time it was excellent.

I had been to Seattle with Kscope before so it felt very familiar. Sadly I wasn't able to travel earlier and so missed the Community Day which to me is something that makes ODTUG stand out.

The event kicks off with symposiums and I was a bit cautious about this. The content at Kscope is very EPM heavy which on its own is not a bad thing, ODTUG embraced this community when Hyperion was acquired by Oracle and they certainly have the community support. However development tools have lost their way. Some content has gone into the database track and some into emerging technologies. I don't count APEX in this, that is an amazing community and somewhat of an enigma, and isn't going anywhere. Anyway more about dev tools later, I spent the day moving between tracks and found myself looking at data visualisation and know it is something I will need to investigate further.

I loved the keynote presentation from Jason Latimer, which is a big thing for me as I hate magic, although here the presenter was using 'magic' to encourage us to ask questions, wonder and look for answers.

As well as my sessions I also took part in a panel session that Helen Sanders organised Changing Landscapes: Staying Relevant in the Database—Relational, Big Data, and Beyond! It was very interesting and does demonstrate the changing face of our world.

ODTUG have ambassadors to look after speakers and sessions. I like to do this, if I sign up I will be in the session so I pick subjects that look useful to me. I volunteered for a couple of Analytics roadmap sessions and a fellow VBCS session

I was also the ambassador for the 'fight' of the event. Oracle SQL v ANSI. This session was the brainchild of Alex Nuijten and Chris Saxon which started to take shape at the end of last year. The session takes on the shape of an actual boxing bout and the audience determines the winner. The first bout was in Germany at DOAG last November and again in Dublin this March. Here at Kscope Chris was not there and Connor McDonald, his 'Ask Tom' colleague took up the gauntlet.

Did they take it seriously! watch the videos. Connor first then Alex.

On this occasion ANSI won, and Alex got to wear the belt. (I made this after the first match, since the original one they had was a bit plastic).

I helped at the Women in Technology lunch and the table I facilitated had great ideas to encourage women and embrace success.

Somewhere in the event there was a quick ACE Briefing - so much information in so little time! And a great ACE Dinner. Thankyou Oracle and congratulations to all those who joined the program or were promoted at the event. 

Bob Rhubart captured me for a 2 minute tech tip at the Groundbreakers lounge - I spoke about Digital Assistant Governance.

There was a great party at the MoPop, the ODTUG Board all went way out in their costumes. I loved Opal and Natalie were my favourites (I'd like to add Roel in the list but found him a little unnerving).

And to finish off Kscope I had another look at the Data Visualisation

It was great Kscope and thanks to Opal and the rest of the team. Read Opal's blog here. See you in Boston!




Related Posts:
Development Tools at Kscope
My sessions at Kscope


2019 - Kscope - Development Tools



First I want to say Kscope19 was excellent as always and a big round of applause to Opal Alapat and her team for the conference. This conference is all about the community and has unraveled support from Oracle Product Management and a good mix of expert and customer stories.

I do however want to share my fustration  When I first attended ODTUG it was all about Development Tools but over the last few years it has become so much less so that I think for me, this year it failed to deliver on those tools. I am not saying it was a bad conference, quite the opposite and I am so glad I went, I learnt a lot about analytics which are becoming more pervasive in large Cloud Application implementations, and something I need to know more about.

When I first attended KSCOPE (not sure it was called that back then), there was a thriving Fusion Middleware (FMW) community. Forms and Reports still had a large following and ADF was a new product. I often talk about the lag between marketing and adoption of products and I think ADF fell into this category, it seemed a slow burn. 

ADF was important to me, Fusion Applications were written using ADF and I expected that people would extend using ADF. Other products such as SOA suite were also covered here and the community had some great characters like John King, Lucas Jellema, Lonneke Dikmans, Sven Vesterli and Luc Bors, to name just a few experts. 

One of the great things about ODTUG is how much support they have from Product Management and I loved how much they brought to the event. Delegates did attend sessions but as part of the portfolio, many were more interested in the SQL and the rapid growth of APEX, few people came solely for the FMW content. 

When Cloud came along and FMW morphed into PaaS there was a new wave of products and ‘survival of the fittest’ meant it would take a while for the best to rise to the surface. Mobile was launched and that was very exciting, initially that used ADF and I thought it would accelerate adoption, but then they dropped ADF from mobile. PaaS was also difficult. Each component was fine but using them together was a challenge, in fact the ACE program held a hackathon at the AMIS conference to see how many we could use at one time and the PaaS ACE Directors would showcase this at the PaaS Forums for the next few years.

In the meantime the development tools track dwindled at Kscope and eventually is was consumed into the Database Track. APEX was growing and EPM became a large part of Kscope. I was concerned because I understood why something like Forms and Reports were on the decline but I felt PaaS was just starting. I missed Kscope last year as it clashed with something else (thankyou Kscope for giving us the dates for the next 2 years, it won’t happen again). My last Kscope in 2017 had very little PaaS content and from what I saw in the agenda there was even less last year, however this year with the introduction of an Emerging Technology track I thought it might be better.

When the content is down, there is nothing to excite possible delegates who would want this as their main track, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the agenda was launched, although I had my VBCS session accepted there were only two others. Mia Urman talking about it with E Business Suite and a session by Shah Smeltzer one of the Product Managers. 3 sessions isn’t enough to make this sustainable. Both had audiences made up of people who wanted to know what the fuss was about, not people who had come to the conference for that specifically.

Recently there have been grumblings in the community about Oracle not pursuing ADF and I don't agree. Our world is at hyper speed, we talk about agile, the ability to try things and fail fast, or things that develop so quickly they are unrecognisable. Well that is true of the technology behind them, some will fail, some will morph and some will kick others out. Remember cassette tapes? Remember CDs? The struggle between VHS and Betamax? Oracle are now using JET based development for the refresh of the Fusion UX, so the extension tool of choice is now VBCS, and that today looks nothing like its original ABCS incarnation. That however is progress.

PaaS adoption is growing, I see NO Cloud Applications deal that doesn't have a substantial PaaS component today, regional user groups are covering these but there is no global home today. It isn't just for SaaS customers, look at the rise of chatbots, digital assistants. Lots of case studies here are independent developments. And if you are a partner you MUST be part of the PaaS community run by Jurgen Kress, it is awesome.

However all is not gloom, I spoke to several ODTUG people and Kevin McGinley who will be the conference chair next year and there will be lots of thought as to what is included and how it is marketed. I would like to see something like a development solutions track, and yes I'm happy to help.










2019 Kscope - My sessions and the joy of Mentoring


Last year Certus and Accenture had been working on a solution for government, part of our engage.gov offering.

The solution involves an extension to Oracle Cloud using both PaaS and Planning Cloud (PBCS).

I thought it would make a great  pair of presentations, looking at both the PaaS development and the PBCS components. We had partnered with Brovanture for the PBCS and I knew the consultant working on that component, Jazmin Ribeiro.

Jazmin was up for it, it gave us both a chance to understand the full solution and hopefully get a couple of sessions at Kscope where there were tracks for both development tools (albeit within the database) and EPM, where PBCS sits.

Jazmin
Jazmin had been to Kscope twice before (winning the ladies 5km race both times) but hadn’t had a session accepted and I know how difficult it can be to that that first one accepted. I hoped that by submitting the two together, both sides of the same coin, we would get accepted. So we submitted the story and waited.

I had my session accepted but initially it wasn’t a success for the PBCS abstract, however once I explained the ‘two for the price of one’ , ODTUG came up trumps with a session for Jazmin. They had a slot of only 30 minutes on the Monday which actually for your first time is quite a good idea. Then we found out our original session clashed with one from her colleagues, which she really wanted to see. I felt a bit like a diva asking if we could swap and then I realised that Connor and Alex had their SQL boxing bout that morning and that would be much better at the end of the day, which was when Jazmin and I had our slot, and they had no issue swapping. Thank you boys and Opal for your help. And her colleagues presentation was on integration challenges in the same project and they won a Kscope award. Well done.

I love encouraging new speakers and Jazmin is exactly what user groups need, someone under 30, and it doesn’t hurt to encourage women to speak either. The future of user groups depends on the next generation. However there is one problem, I approach new sessions by thinking about it for a long time, mulling over my storyboard and pulling together slides at the last minute. Jazmin on the other hand wanted to create the presentation and rehearse well ahead of time. Good discipline for me but outside my comfort zone as well.

Jazmin and I ready to present

First job was to bring in the solution architect and understand the whole picture. Rather than just two sides to the story there is actually three; The Cloud Apps (HCM), the extension (VBCS) and the PBCS, and of course don't forget the integration. We decided to create the presentation with the challenge, 3 component overviews and 3 more detailed sections. That way any presentation could be given to the correct audience, 2 overviews and the detailed content depending on what we were trying to share.

The VBCS component was originally a Proof of Concept created by John Ceccarelli in Product Management, without his help we would never of got this off the ground. Thank you John.

Then when we arrived at the conference we had a quick run through, checking out the room and the equipment. 

The first of the two sessions was Jazmin and the PBCS. I had a cameo role doing the problem statement and the other two overviews. She was brilliant and gave a great presentation. There was a good audience and they all seemed very interested. I had high hopes some would stray over to the database track to see part II


However when it came to my session, it clashed with a live broadcast of EPM and Analytics announcements from Oracle and with a much reduced Development Tools audience, come start time the room was empty. I told Jazmin to go to the broadcast and when someone did turn up we had a one to one conversation about the presentation. Disappointing but the presentations are there for re-use at other events.








Wednesday, 3 July 2019

2019 OUG Scotland - I Learnt a Lot - A Coincidence - I think not



A bit late on this blog for the annual UKOUG conference in Scotland. I love the regional events, they cover a little bit of everything and give a chance for people to come together, learn and build local connections.


Polly Pervis from Scotland IS gave a great talk about IT in Scotland. How more local can you get?

Then there were 36 sessions over 6 streams. I had the privilege of presenting twice. Up first on which cloud route for applications and at the other end of the day another on extending SaaS with PaaS.

I had good audiences for both, and they are too of my more popular sessions currently. Another is on Chatbots with SaaS but they had Grant Ronald presenting on this so I got the chance to listen to him and catch up on a PoC we are working on.

Why do people attend conference? To learn and to network are the most common answers but sometimes I find people on the 'circuit' simple give their presentation, take part in the networking events and don't actually learn anything new themselves.

At this event I spent time with SplashBI who have an offering for Oracle SaaS and I wanted to understand how it works. This has led to several conversations and a better appreciation of how they have approached this.

I also spent time with Mike Durran from the analytics product management team and we discussed how they were looking to support SaaS more and more and he put me in touch with the lead for the Fusion Analytics Warehouse now called Oracle Analytics for Oracle Cloud Applications announced by Larry Ellison at Open World last year. More information was released last week.

Some of the conversation was under NDA but again an example of the value of being an ACE Director. I had never met the VP Mike put me in touch with, I am not an analytics expert but he was willing to talk to me and we had a real conversation about their strategy and approach and it very encouraging about how they are adding value to SaaS.

I then had the opportunity to followup all these conversations at Kscope last week where there were dedicated analytics.


There seemed to be travel and weather issues that affected a lot of travel to Glasgow but I was lucky and both my flights were simple.




Monday, 13 May 2019

2019 - Accenture Oracle Leadership Council


Six months into Accenture (although the acquisition of Certus happened in April it was October before we moved over) and I got an opportunity to see how the size of the organisation can benefit their customers.

Every year Accenture host an Oracle Leadership Council, a C Level event where Accenture customers who use Oracle, come together to share stories about how innovation has help their businesses.



I expected this to be similar to senior level user events I have attended before but I underestimated the event. The main sessions were all customers sharing their stories, their business challenges and successes. In breakout sessions Accenture shared some of the IT projects that help to support these successes.

The event took place in Dana Point, Orange County, California straight after my speaking at Collaborate. Me, being me, I managed a quick couple of Scuba Dives before it started. Water was colder than I expected but not as cold as home, so I was happy.

I know from my time arranging UKOUG events that things you never considered can impact your plans. This conference is annual and has a been in the planning since last year's event. It starts with a networking event on the Sunday evening but this year there was an issue - it clashed with the first episode of the last series of Game of Thrones. Now I have never watched this, too gory for me, but I do understand the GOT effect. I live in N Ireland and it has had an unbelievable impact on our tourism. So how did Accenture deal with this conflict for its guests? Simple, they added a GOT screening before the networking event, a bar and popcorn in the main conference room, with a giant 22 foot screen.



Monday started the customer stories, which were really powerful and generated lots of conversations. I spent some time with a European customer looking at a big cloud project and they were able to talk to other similar sized organisations as to their approach and strategies.

I had the opportunity to speak in a session led by my fellow ACE Director Julian Dontcheff on the range of Oracle Cloud solutions though to autonomous. I talked about the PaaS components we are using in the engage.gov solution in Central Government. Cloud is improving all the time, when I first looked at chatbots just 18 months ago, you had to manage the IT stack supporting mobile, but now that is an autonomous offering and that means it is so much easier to use.

On the Monday evening there were industry dinners, smaller groups of like minded customers, and Tuesday evening there was a gala dinner on the lawn enjoying the Californian sunset. It did get a bit chilly but blankets were provided.

Tuesday afternoon there were networking events, wine blending, hiking, golf and whale watching which I joined. The expert on the boat was confident we would see a grey whale and dolphins but it was a bit early to see other whales. I too was confident about the dolphins as I had seen a pod that followed us when diving on the Saturday. 

We were not disappointed we saw a pod of common dolphins in the first 10 minutes. Then we heard there was a grey whale a few miles out so we speed off to see. The gray whale was in the distance and they don't tend to breach, but we clearly saw the blow, several times. Everyone was happy they had seen a whale and a colleague who attended 2 years ago said it was already better than that trip. Then we found a bigger pod of bottleneck dolphins and we were all enthralled when the boat suddenly sped off. Another boat had spotted a blue whale. The biggest animal in the world. Wow this was their first sighting of the season and we spent an hour watching the magnificent creature come to just below the surface, send us clues, change the colour of the water and then breach the surface. We watched this cycle 4 or 5 times until we got what we wanted, the tale flip. I'm not a brilliant photographer but I was happy. All too soon we had to leave.



Wednesday morning started with the Accenture Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Paul Daugherty presenting his Tech Vision for 2019. Then it was followed by Oracle examples of these 5 trends. Each year they launch the main report and then follow it with versions from each of their industry and technology groups. I had the chance to input into an early draft of the Oracle version and it was good to see how that developed. In the Oracle version chatbots / digital assistants get a few mentions underlying the importance of the work I have been involved in.



Then the event came to a conclusion with a few more customer stories, including West Midlands Police. Dean Sweet was interviewed remotely by our own Lucia Jarrett who lead their Oracle project. 

Their story is very high profile in the UK at the moment, they first spoke at the OOW London and everybody loved the benefits of the project. Having it remote was a risk but the technology worked, Lucia was a brilliant host and their story captivated the whole room.



Oracle also had some of their C levels in attendance and David Donatelli talked about their Cloud strategy towards the end of the event. David BowinSenior Director Product Strategy Oracle from SaaS Development was also there and it was an opportunity for him to see many successful Cloud Application companies, long after their implementations.

Throughout, refreshments were in the MyConcerto Lounge. This allowed all the customers to see and experience this innovative platform from Accenture. I want this platform for my presentations, be able to call up digital content on demand and not a collection of boring, slide decks I need to navigate when someone asks a question. 

The event for me was an eye opener. Customers sharing stories has always been the ethos of a user group, so my expectations was a C Level special interest group, but this was far more. At a strategic level the discussions were more business focused and certainly not product focused. Oracle was the enabler not the discussion. I have always believed that any successful event is also an opportunity for all parties to reflect back on the benefits and outcomes rather than any project challenges they experienced, and here there were success stories in spades.

Here's hoping they invite me back next year.






Monday, 6 May 2019

Chatting About Chatbots



Wow, chatbots are everywhere.

In my presentations I talk about this being the fastest Marketing-to-Reality I have seen in technology, and I stand by that.

Based on my presentation at UKOUG in December I was asked to be part of an interview for Oracle Scene. Actually the UKOUG magazine has been renamed Pass The Knowledge which I managed to misspell on twitter, or did I?



The #PTK interview included Grant Ronald, Product Manager in Oracle, and he has already introduced the article on Linkedin. The article can be found here



Looking after #PaaS4SaaS is my role in Accenture, and everyday I talk to more and more  colleagues, both technical and account teams to answer their questions. Then showing customers how it can help them, is what I love best.

Recently I have been working with Oracle SaaS development Centre of Excellence on how the skills being delivered in HCM will be delivered, and how as a partner we can extend that.
Having them early in our system, means we are ready to help our customers get the best from this exciting innovation and of course I will be speaking about them in conferences. Thank you to David Bowin, Ryan Patrick , Ian Wallis and of course Grant Ronald at Oracle, and my colleagues Ian Staff and Hayley Dobson.

There is also internal reviews of all chatbot platforms I have been involved in locally and am really happy at what a compelling solution Oracle is, both for their SaaS and as an enterprise platform.

Another part of the Accenture ecosystem in Accenture recently held a POC for an EMEA organisation and again Oracle proved itself. The project lead on that and I, were interviewed on a recent 'Lets chat' webcast, an internal program for their extended sales team. 

The global lead of Accenture Oracle HCM, Brandon Johnson asked me to write a white paper on our findings and thoughts about the Oracle Digital Assistant and I am very pleased with the final document. Thanks to Brandon for the commission, Chau Troung and Ian for their input. You can find this on Accenture's website


Love to chat more? Get in touch.


Monday, 15 April 2019

My User Group Thoughts



Collaborate has three user groups that come together to create the largest user group events of the year. This was a year of change, not only the venue but also the user groups themselves.

IOUG joined with Quest, which I believe is a great way to safeguard the legacy of IOUG and to grow the reach of Quest. However I spoke to several IOUG people who think of Quest as being the home of TOAD rather than the user group


OAUG changed their name to OATUG to include technology. I heard somewhere during the week 40% of the content is already technology,  it probably is, but the technology they cover is dedicated to that used with E Business Suite, so I’m not sure if I was a technology person I would know whether the content I want is covered by IOUG through Quest, OATUG or ODTUG.



UKOUG New offices 
I believe user groups do need to be refreshed and restate their objectives, and  I was very pleased when at the end of last year UKOUG tweaked their brand by adding the very important independent to the name. I was very proud to have led that part of Project Reach before I left the board and love that they have decorated the new building with the mission statement as well.

UKOUG mission statement

Emerging technology is something that all the user groups have to do with all the time and it’s a guessing game as to how much and when I’ve often talked about the gap between Oracle Marketing and full-scale uptake in the user base. At first it is easy to get presentations from Oracle as they promote the new products and then as early adopters appear they are in great demand for their story but we must quickly provide content for those who have actually moved. 

In my area of SaaS, I think many user groups including UKOUG and those at Collaborate are struggling with this last category. The number of customers who are now using cloud applications is high and yet there is very little content about the things that are important to them, the update cadence and the new functionality delivered that they have yet to switch on. There is plenty of content for those thinking about going to cloud. We also need to ensure we have content for those staying where they are, which Collaborate did well and UKOUG have an event in June.

The same problem is true of PaaS, in ODTUG, middleware lost it stream a few years ago as attendance wasn’t high but hopefully now the new emerging technology stream will address this. I have a session this year on VBCS.


I don't have a quick answer, but perhaps user groups need boards or advisory teams that represent all the communities. There are many of us in the user group communities who are traditional and old school. That may be where the passion is but is it totally representative?