Sunday, 3 March 2019

I'm Changing My Profile - I'm NOT Not technical

I'm changing my profile.

'I'm not technical but.............' that's how many of my presentations start.

Occasionally someone would say I was, and I'd just laugh it off.

I'm changing my profile. Let me tell you Why:

A few weeks ago someone I really admire, asked me to if I wanted to be considered for a Women in IT celebration panel. I was really honoured to be asked.

However the response I got when I said yes, was a surprise," but you can't say you're not technical".

She also shared with me a blog post 'If You Can Use A Fork You're Technical' by April Wensel.

Photo from April Wensel Blog

I thought about the post, and I agreed with it. 

April says "Therefore, when we say someone is “technical” or “not technical” or “not very technical,” we’re communicating virtually nothing. Everyone is “technical” by some definition in some domain and is capable of learning other technical skills in other domains. Being more precise in our language will improve our communication."

I used to be technical, I started my IT career as a Cobol programmer (I'm too old to be a developer).

I've shared how I got into IT before, it wasn't exactly planned. And I think that was the start of it, I always had a little bit of feeling a fraud. I've spoken at STEM events and that made it worse, I left school at 16, no IT degree for me.

I was good at programming and then analysis, but it wasn't what I wanted to do, I wanted to work more at the strategic part of the process, helping the customers understand what they needed and how IT could help. 

And even though I didn't think of myself as overly technical I very much agree with the Women in IT initiatives, as long as they are to encourage women, not simply to moan.

I have been blessed I've worked for people who allowed me to find my role and whilst sometimes difficult to articulate, I have always added value and been encouraged.

I have been told, my role doesn't constitute being technical and I guess I just accepted that, but actually, more people have disagreed and believe I am, and laugh (or sigh) when I say I'm not.

I'm changing my profile - I'm a Technical Linguist 

My skill is in understanding the technology, not just What it Does, but How but it does it, and then being able to articulate that to any audience, technical or business user and any level, beginner to C Level.

Alex Gorbahov was the first person to articulate this in Australia 10 years ago. Then I have also been recognised by Oracle not only as an ACE Director but with an award in 2011

I also believe that to be successful in IT you need to be able to work both deep in the technology and the business. In 2014 Thanks to OTN and Bob Rhubart I had the chance to make a two minute tech tip video, and since I don't do technical, I took the opportunity to talk about the importance of IT & Business speaking, something that came up in my AppAdvantage session. (You need to watch it to understand why I am wearing socks on my hands).

I spend a fair amount of my time understanding new technology, what sits under Fusion Applications and the PaaS to extend it. Then I make that real for organisations using Fusion Applications. I guess you could call me a Technical Interpreter but that is a word I struggle to say quickly (I also can't say bureau properly either). 

So I'm going with Technical Linguist.

The journey to changing my profile, started with being sent the blog post, but that week I was at a Storytelling in Business Course and I chose this as my topic. As we went through the course I had to tell it 4 times and my colleagues were all so supportive, not only for the story but for the outcome.

I'm changing my profile - I'm a Technical Linguist 

And I love it!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

2019 - Oracle Open World : London

In the middle of January, Oracle brought Open World to London. I'm not sure it is actually Open World but it was a great event and much appreciated by those in region.

For me it was my first outing as Accenture in action. We started in Accenture in October just a few days before Open World in San Francisco and although I was really welcomed felt I was still one step removed.

Wind on less than 4 months and its a completely different story. Here I was part of the Accenture team responsible for the booth content. I actually spent Christmas week watching Accenture videos I had never seen, selecting content for a video loop, but it accelerated my learning.

I got to work with Accenture Alliances, Marketing, both UK and Global teams. It was very stressful but I knew it would be fun. Just 4 weeks ago I was posting about having a less stressful UKOUG and here I was front and centre of the action at another event. Obviously no rest for the wicked!

Accenture were a major sponsor and had a large stand on the floor, as I was also speaking and having customer meetings I was only on the stand officially the first morning,, but I was back whenever I was free.

We had the WeDo team on our stand and I love how they bring the PaaS to life.

WeDo and Accenture Spain team

Accenture's Yves Bernard was part of the keynote and gave a great talk on Accenture's vision; I say talk because this was powerpoint free and he used holograms to get his point across. Watch his talk here

Accenture also have a non powerpoint way of taking about what we do as well. This MyConcerto was launched at OOW in San Francisco and I'm looking forward to using that more in my day job,.

As well as Yves, Accenture also had a place on the Security panel and sponsored both the ERP and HCM solution keynotes. My colleague Lucia spoke on ERP with her customer Dean Sweet from West Midlands Police.

Dean, Yves and Lucia

West Midlands Police have implemented both ERP & HCM to support their Shared Service. However not all their information is held there, some is still in specialist, industry or shared solutions which are somewhat static , so they use RPA to run reports from those frequently and expose all the information through a number of portals created using Oracle CX cloud. This gives them information in minutes and all has been checked by their officers. Read more about this story in an interview Dean gave to Diginomica. (although they exaggerate a bit, it talks about £30m savings and I thought Dean said only £28.5m).

Dean and Lucia speaking

The HCM keynote was led by Chris Leone who heads their development organisation. He talked about the innovation Oracle are delivering in the next updates and then my colleague Tim Warner tased about the pace of innovation and how to handle that. I then demonstrated some innovation Accenture are working on with Oracle PaaS, specifically Digital Assistants and our own MyConceierge. Finally Dean talked about how he is using the innovation implemented.

Other customers also spoke, Skanska on a HCM panel and the Home Office talked about their METIS project, where ERP is now live and HCM under way. Again Diginomica covered their story.

The stand became a real hub, I met up with old friends and colleagues, including Viswa who I posted about previously, and got to meet lots of new colleagues, but what touched me most was old and current customers, throughout my 25 years in the Oracle world, making the time to say hallo..

Tim Warner, Mark Sweeny & I

My event finished with a back stage meeting with Eddie Izzard. Did I tell you I love my job?

10,000 people attended this year and I understand the event will be back again next year. I loved it and I hope to be part of 2020 too. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Encouragement Pays Rich Rewards

Encouragement is something we can all give. It doesn't have to be formal mentoring, just encourage someone in their journey and help them find the right path.

Many years ago, in 2007, I had the privilege of taking on a graduate in a new Business Intelligence Team I was building. I selected him because he pushed himself forward and said he wanted to learn. 

This was at the start of the learning revolution of youtube, whilst I was looking for traditional learning for him he was finding the content and just absorbing everything. I called him my human sponge. I was very proud of that team and missed them hen I moved into a new role 2 years later.

Unfortunately my star pupil left after his graduate program, more because a traditional employer was hindered by process and unable to keep up with his phenomenal rise.

Now Viswa is a senior manger and still going his knowledge.

We have kept in touch, occasionally he still asks me for advice, and last week at Oracle Open world in London we had the chance to catch up.

Encouragement doesn't cost much but the rewards can be amazing.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Fusion the Name is Back in Fashion!

In 2014 Oracle tried to drop the name Fusion from it's applications. I even wrote a blog.

I've held workshops where we had a swear box for every time someone said Fusion.

Then I was forced to start using the F Word again when Cloud Applications could also mean putting EBS in the Cloud. People were confused.

Watch here, it is used in the title of the video, on the slides and he says it at 5:44 minutes. And if you didn't see this live, or watch it later, I do recommend you do so now, a good roundup of what they intend to do.

However, I have now decided Fusion is the right term to use. Larry Ellison used it at OOW, and if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me!

The Need for Wi-Fi and Good AV


Like it or not, our world is moving to the cloud. As ACE Directors we are encouraged to not only talk but to demo the cloud.

All you need to run the cloud is a browser, and ADEQUATE wifi.

When locations are chosen for events, it is not enough to ask if they have wifi and then believe it will work. Everyone is using the wifi and as a tech audience we are even worse. It isn't about having wifi, it is about the strength and bandwidth.

As I type this, I have just seen an news article on the BBC that yesterday, Christmas Day, the sheer number of Alexa (and other devices) being connected at the same time caused issues.

BBC Website 26 December 2018

Too many times I am unable to show my demos because there is little or no wifi. If you are using a technology that is available offline, then you may be able to have it running on your PC, but that isn't cloud! My SaaS and PaaS world can't be run in an image locally, they need wifi access!

Many times I have to run on 4G but some venues have really poor 4G and abroad I cannot afford to roam for that period of time.

AV is just as bad, showing a powerpoint is normally fine, but once you start showing screen shots of applications, or running code many older buildings struggle. I think organisers should have a presentation put together that includes these, plus colours, and audio / video and test the venue.

Oracle is red, if the red doesn't work, it simply doesn't look Oracle!

Perhaps speakers should be asked to rate Wifi and AV as part of their feedback on a standard scale so venues that fail are not used again until fixed.

RANT OVER! (for now)

2018 My Sangam Sessions

AIOUG has a good number of Apps delegates, both functional and those who support both Fusion and on-premise applications. So, for me I had great audiences.

One day one, I gave my ‘Back to Basics’ session. This is one aimed at EBS administrators. It might not matter to the Oracle salesman what is under the solution and probably not to the organisation, but to those who have invested time in running the current solution they want to know what is under the covers even if they can’t actually touch it.

My session followed one with a similar abstract from Basheer Khan. My first thought was not only it could be duplication but what if we don’t agree? Basheer has a different style than me and is more hands on with the technical, so actually we complimented each other very well. Having seen what Basheer had to say, I was able to add to some topics he had covered and spend more time on those he didn’t.

I’ve known Basheer since the start of Fusion and he was part of the usergroup initiative I led in the Product Development Committee. He is also a fellow UX Advocate. He is a real gentleman and great educator, but here at Sangam he was also an Indian who had made a very successful career and business in IT. A real inspiration.

I always judge my session by the questions, not by the number of delegates, although here
I had about 60-70 which was amazing. Questions show the level of understanding you have delivered to the room and help me to develop the session further. I was very happy.

Day two, first up for me was my ‘Which Cloud?’ presentation. This is based on an Oracle Scene article I wrote. To me it is very simple, but delegates love it. Feedback I have had is that it talks about all the options in one session, rather than their account manager selling Fusion, the EBS team telling them not to worry, they will go on supporting and enhancing EBS and perhaps their IT team for or against a cloud platform. I always leave a lot of time for questions in this session, and they came. Each answer is of course prefaced with the famous Ask Tom, ‘it depends’ but I love this paper.

My third session was ‘Extending Fusion, #PaaS4SaaS, AGAIN straight after Basheer on the same topic, but again from different angles. Great for delegates. As is common at conferences the Wi-Fi was not up to par, but Sai came to the rescue with a 4G dongle. It worked fine for my PC but not so with my phone so the chatbot portion was a little light on demo, but I always have screen shots. It all worked and since Basheer showed a lot of ADF I was able to shorten that portion and do more on the new Digital Assistant and VBCS.

I could talk all day on Fusion and this conference certainly gave me plenty of opportunity. Throughout both days I had many corridor discussions with delegates about the products and PaaS solutions.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Oracle Developer Advocates

Connor McDonald and Chris Saxon are Developer Advocates in Oracle. Their role is to engage with the community and encourage them to use the Oracle database. They are also 2/3rds of the famous Ask Tom with Maria Colgan, In Memory PM, being the third

They work closely with both the ACE program, who are non-Oracle, Oracle advocates and user groups who bring the users together. In fact, they often represent the Oracle side of the ACE program, Chris hosting the ACE dinner at UKOUG and Connor giving a talk on the program at Sangam18, just two examples. I am not a database practitioner but have always been aware of their presence and impact, and over the last few months have watched them more and more and how they add energy to so many events.

I’ve known Connor for a long time, in fact at one time we both worked for Fujitsu, albeit at different ends of the earth. His presentation style is legendary. Hundreds, and I mean hundreds of slides, that tell a story simply in a rapid-fire approach. He makes it look simple, but I once had the privilege of observing Connor create a presentation whilst staying him in Australia, and I promise the simplicity comes from an equal number of hours of preparation. More recently he has added videos to his repertoire and they are just so entertaining and deliver that community message so well. My favourite is still his UKOUG 2017 video.

Chris is someone I only met a few years ago, and a very different character to Connor. At first, I thought he would be over shadowed by him, but that was unnecessary, Chris has developed his own way of engaging and often works with ACE Directors on entertaining and different presentations that are still packed with knowledge sharing.

At OOW this year Chris and Alex Nuijten came up with an idea to have a competition between Oracle and ANSI SQL standards. Not a simple compare and contrast presentation, or even a debate but a full-on sparring match. Several times I saw them in the hotel lobby or sat in a corner discussing the various attributes they wanted to highlight. I asked what they were up to and they shared their vision of an actual boxing match with me and I loved it and persuaded them I could make a great ring girl walking across the stage with the round boards.

The first match, and I do hope other user groups who invite them to repeat the session, was at the DOAG. They came on to the stage, complete with boxing gloves and a typical fight build up complete with voice over, provided but Bob Rhubart. It is this attention to detail that sets advocates apart.

Their arguments were well rehearsed but flowed so naturally, each one backed up by a worked example. This was serious education. I won’t tell you who won, because I want you to see it, and learn from it. They did have a championship belt for the winner, but it wasn’t of suitable quality, so another reason for having the season repeated is I made them a new, more fitting prize.

More recently I was at Sangam and both Connor and Chris was there. This is a conference of very long days and energy giving sessions are a must. Connor did many but the one I loved was to kick off day two he had a quiz. Everyone had to stand up, and then he asked a question, with 3 possible answers. Each answer had a gesture, like hands on head, arms folded or hands on hips. You had 3 seconds to decide on your answer and adopt the pose, then if you were wrong you had to sit down. The questions continued until a winner was found. The questions ranged from Oracle related, to database questions and a good sprinkling of fun, like where did the ‘Scott / Tiger’ password come from on the database?

It was such fun, and we have several rounds and I just love the different ways people attempted to cheat. Again, it looked simple, but you can guarantee a lot of work went into that.

Chris finished the event with a card trick. Again, I won’t spoil the details for those who haven’t seen it yet, but he got someone on stage to pick a card in a SQL statement and then correctly ‘read’ the volunteers mind as to the card. Very, very entertaining, with a lot of work into the presentation but with an education sound bite as well.

You may think they have the ultimate job, travelling the world and playing at SQL, but I promise you there is a lot of work happening behind the scenes. But the energy they bring to their audience, the education they deliver and the love of Oracle they engender to their followers is a credit to their role.