Monday, 11 December 2017

Bloodhound; One Small Step

The Bloodhound Project, is a truly inspirational initiative to inspire a generation in STEM.

Oracle are the Cloud partners for Bloodhound and I have been privileged to watch this this partnership develop and see how inspiring it is.

I have heard Sir Richard Noble, Andy Green (the driver) and Mark Chapman, Bloodhound SSC Chief Engineer all speak at various events and been inspired to get involved.

I truly believe the lack of women in STEM including IT is down to a lack of this encouragement from early in school. My own daughter decided on an office career in the Military and was told by her school it wasn't a job for a girl. That was only 10 years ago.

At the Oracle Cloud day in November, Mark Chapman spoke and told a story about the questions they get asked in schools. He said adults only ever ask questions they think they know the answer to but that children just ask away. He told of a child who when he had spoken about how far the car could go, asked what would happen if you put the car on it's end? He answered but it isn't supposed to do that, and again the child questioned, him 'but what if you did?'. He and their teacher then did the maths and although he did give an answer in his talk, I can only remember that it was 'past the moon'.

The Bloodhound charity, have little car kits they give away, where you build a Bloodhound model car and use a ballon to create the 'thrust'. I went to New Zealand and Australia that evening for the Oracle Development Community APAC Tour and had one of the kits in my suitcase. At the end of the tour I stayed with a friend in Perth, and her 5 and 7 year old grandsons came to visit.

I told them about the car, and what it was trying to achieve. The 7 year old amazed me that he knew the concept of thrust, (although the 5 yer old told me he did too). We built the model, which I actually found a little hard (but then I am not technical), and we successfully got it to move across the floor.

The instructions said to think about how you could make it go faster? The boys thought about surface and we tried again and a marble work surface and several other places.

When I was explaining the concept to the boys, I told them about the 'how far will it go upwards?' question. I told them it would go further than the moon, and the 7 year old said 'Would it reach Mars?" followed immediately by 'It's about time someone worked out how to do that'.

I shared my little story with the UKOUG Welcome in IT breakfast, after Caroline Apsey the Oracle Bloodhound Evangelist told the Bloodhound story. I think a few more advocates were recruited there.

UKOUG also work with Oracle Academy who deliver content and training for academia and they have committed to inspire 3.5 MILLION students worldwide through this initiative, including Java training based on the Bloodhound data Oracle are making available to all.

Then just yesterday I received a message from my friend in Australia to tell me her grandson had taken the model we made to school and shared with his class.

I only arrived home just this weekend with a second kit in my suitcase and intend to share it with a little boy at my church. His mum wants me to share it with his class. I'll get all the information and presentation from Caroline and would love to do this.

Well done Bloodhound. To me you have already succeeded.

Friday, 1 December 2017

2017 ODC APAC Tour - Fun in the Sun

I'm sat in the sunshine in Perth, as I contemplate the long journey home after the Oracle Development Community APAC Tour. Actually the tour isn't over, China and India are still to come, but I have to say goodbye because UKOUG 2017 starts on Sunday and that is where my priorities lie.

Connor McDonald has been on some of the dates, he leaves today for UKOUG and does Sangam (India) on the way home. 

I did 5 legs where I gave two of my three papers.

              Wellington, NZ : November 20th -

I loved the audience here, people came to hear my two sessions on Back2Basics and VBCS, not because they are SaaS users specifically but because they were interested in something outside their normal topics. I love this approach and am always suggesting people pick one or two sessions to broaden their oracle horizons.

Richard Olrichs was also talking #PaaS4SaaS, and it was great to see how more interest in the middleware offerings.

               Auckland, NZ : November 22th

This time I managed to attend Richard's session myself. I gave the same 2 sessions as in 

               Sydney, Australia: November 24th  –

This event was held in the Australian Masonic Museum which was amazing. I didn't realise there was so much history to be shared.

Again I was really pleased with the turnout for my sessions, and I also took the opportunity to hear a few more, again learning myself. 

               Melbourne, Australia: November 27th

Great turnout and a brilliant apps / dev track with lots of interested delegates. Here I switched the Back2Basics for the Government EBS to Cloud story, which is very relevant. Lots and lots of questions from delegates.

There was also a panel session where delegates could ask whatever they liked. Interesting to hear seeds of interest in PaaS offerings from Oracle.

               Perth, Australia: November 29th

Perhaps it is wrong to have a favourite, but this is mine. The community in Perth all know each other and learn together through their user group. Again lots of questions around SaaS and great discussions with the local Oracle team. SaaS has arrived in Australia.

I am especially proud of my #PaaS4SaaS VBCS presentation, which I did in all 5 cities. Each with 3 live cloud demos. Occasionally wifi was a little challenging, but all worked and in each city I finished with a working mobile app. You certainly don't need to be technical to use VBCS. 

As ever I took the opportunity to have fun on tour. I started by having a weekend with an old friend in Auckland, then in New Zealand, Richard and I made best use of time, with oceanside walks, the cablecar and a bus tour in Wellington, and a visit up the SkyTower in Auckland. 

In Sydney we walked to the Opera House and had dinner in the sun, being joined by my twin Pete Sharman. I took the opportunity to dive in Manly whilst Richard did a quick bus tour before leaving for home. You can read Richard's tour blog here.

I also had the pleasure of catching up with Bambi II and her husband Tony, and Daniel Strassberg for dinner.

Melbourne I met up with Bambi I and her husband Fred for another lovely dinner.

In Perth we finished with a dinner with Connor McDonald, and then I stayed on with Penny Cookson and her husband Spence. Dived with sea lions and caught up on all the work from back home, whilst enjoying their summer, and preparing for UKOUG.

These as well as all the old and new friends at the events, is why I love travelling. Friends around the world, more than just colleagues in the Oracle eco-system.

Thank you to Francisco for the tour organisation, NZOUG, IAOUG and AUSOUG usergroups especially Joseph and Millina and not least Oracle Development Community for making it possible.


Monday, 13 November 2017

How close is UKOUG 2017?

I said in my last post I’m just off to Asia Pac and actually I return to the UK on the morning of super Sunday

What I label as UKOUG2017 is actually our three conferences co-located in Birmingham.

  • Tech2017 which starts with Super Sunday something has been running for a number of years now and it’s really great to see people who give up all of the weekend to come and learn more.
  • Apps2017 which is what I’m leading this year 
  • JDE2017 All things JDE

I’m going to say it again, please don’t just look at the streams that are titled with your area, as there is so much more content that maybe of value to you. Just last week, Neil Chandler, Tech2017 lead, and I went to a Data Visualisation Meetup. I'm Apps, Neil is Database, and yet we both learnt things that could be relevant to what we deliver. 

In the apps world I was very interested in the new trends that I heard about at Open World, chatbots and blockchain being two that I see a real opportunity for in the applications; despite being labelled a luddite by the UX team. I’m really pleased to say that we have Oracle speaking on both of those topics and chatbots actually appears in several different presentations. We have content on GDPR and on Support,  two subject topics which are very important to all users regardless of what specific applications you are running.

In the tech conference we have lots of first time speakers, who are being mentored, even on stage by experienced speakers. Thanks to Alex Nuijten for the idea.

I’m particularly proud of what we doing with the WIT session and now on my biggest worry is that this is a limited number of places and you need to sign up in the mobile app but I’m really excited about what we doing there. I posted just after open world about wanting to change the title to Welcome in IT and I think your find that the content we've got definitely does says welcome.

This year we have an external marketing company working with us, and they have worked with community keynotes and leads to create a series of blogs. They are a great insight to what is coming and here is the first one they did for me.

I love this event, there is so much that people can learn. I know how busy I’m going to be but and I hope that I will get to a number of sessions and the ones that I really don't want to miss I’ve managed to volunteer as the session chair.

I also know just how much work that goes into this event from the committees who work tirelessly to make sure we get the best content, to the office who provide project management and cross the 'T's and dot the 'I's. They are currently working their socks off to make sure that we get the best possible conferences

If you haven’t yet registered then please do especially those of you that are members don’t waste your allocation, make sure that you’re there. We have some great offers on membership itself, so make sure you register or contact Darren for the right option for you.

Still don't believe me? We look at these great videos from Connor McDonald and Brendan Tierney.

This is my last year on the board so please come say hello and if I’m asleep in some corner, it’s because I'm just come back from Australia; wake me up, I don't want to miss all the fun.

Friday, 10 November 2017

2017 DOAG - Thanks to My Friends

I mentioned in my last post that I had been accepted by the DOAG and had to break my commitment as I have extended my trip to Australia to include New Zealand.

I didn't like to let down the DOAG, and I had two presentations. One is a customer case study on DHL, who are owned by Deutsche Post, so lots of local interest, and then my 'Extending HCM with VBCS'.

Luckily Luc Bors from eProseed, our development partner was already speaking at DOAG so he is able to give that presentation, and a colleague of mine in the UK, is going to present the DHL case study. Ramya will be better than me she was part of the implementation team.

DOAG is a great conference, it's fun and I know you will all enjoy it.

2017 ODC APAC Tour

The 2017 OTN APAC Tour kicks off in 10 days, although not sure if it should be called Oracle Developer Community APAC Tour. now they have changed their name.

Last year I had hoped to join this tour, but at the last minute, things didn't work out. So I am really pleased to say I will be going this year.

Originally I had submitted for New Zealand and Australia but it appeared I would only be in Australia, so then applied for DOAG. Then I was asked to do New Zealand as well as it is more cost effective and that is fantastic but didn't want to let DOAG down, however that is now sorted (next blog) and my flights are booked and I'll soon be on my way.

It is a long, long way to travel I don’t really mind I have my own coping techniques for the actual journey. This is an region where cloud applications are starting to be adopted and somewhere where I always get really good conversations with the customers delegates.

There are three presentations that I will be giving during the tour:

  • Extending Cloud HCM presentation on Visual Builder Cloud Services. I gave a basic version of this as a webcast for APAC earlier in the year so I want to add some more functionality to that presentation.
  •  Government EBS to Cloud Case Study.  Specifically in Australia there are a lot of public sector users of Oracle on premise and I know the story will be relevant to them. I’m not quite sure what Oracle have done around the security physical security, here in the UK we have a data centre dedicated to Public Sector, but what I can assure people is that as the need is there then Oracle will react to it.
  • Back to Basics. This is one that I did in Croatia just a couple weeks ago which is back to basics on cloud applications. In the days when we were waiting for Fusion to be released, I did it a series of presentations that looked at how it was built, the principles behind it, how essbase is baked in etc. All the sorts of things for understanding how was put together, particularly for those who support that side of their systems today. I know that Oracle sell you a cloud solution and in theory you don't need to know this and you can’t touch it, but it’s what you been responsible for for quite a long time and you do have an interest in what’s going on. I was asked by Croatia where I had given the original presentation many years ago if I would update it. This was a very interesting exercise, to see how far it has come after five / six years availability.
So those are the presentations I will be delivering and I’m really looking forward to the conversations. I think it’s a couple of years since I’ve been to APAC, and I know the adoption of Cloud Applications has ramped up. Certus has an Australia office and in the last year they have implemented a few systems, most notably for People's Choice.

From a personal perspective I love that it’s summer there and I love how Christmas is celebrated one of my favourite memories of two years ago was the massive Santa Claus in Sydney built out of beer crates!  This is going to be fun for me, again ,I’m going a few days early to see a friend in New Zealand , then the first weekend I’m going to dive in Sydney, Manley Bay which is somewhere I love and then I have the opportunity to in Perth.  I’m going to get stay with that Penny Cookson, one of the driving forces behind the user group there. I’ve even managed to work it so on the way back I get the chance to visit a great aunt in Singapore just for dinner at the airport as I pass through. 

Thanks for the great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to spending time with other presenters, especially the ones I haven't travelled with before and going back to user groups that really appreciate me being there. So I hope I see, if you haven’t already registered, do so, it’s going to be a great set of events.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Oracle User Experience - Starts with Listening to the User

Standard Life (now Standard Life Aberdeen) were an early customer in 2011 of HCM Talent & Performance; part of HCM Cloud Applications. They run this in co-exisitance with their Oracle eBusiness Suite.

As an early customer they developed a great relationship with Oracle Development and are members of both a traditional Customer Advisory Board that works with Product Strategy and also the Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OAUB)

The User Experience team have in their remit to talk to customers, listen to them on how they work, and have them validate current design patterns and processes Oracle are working on.

As well as talking to new customers, and customers who sign up to their outreach events, such as Users Groups and Cloud Days, it is important to both the UX and Product teams to work with some customers regularly and this is what they achieve through their advisory boards.

Last week Oracle visited Standard Life Aberdeen in Edinburgh for two days, with Product Management giving them updates on Release 13, and the UX team holding interviews on usability.

View from the Office Window
As Certus were also working with Standard Life Aberdeen , delivering training on new components of HCM Cloud to be adopted; they invited us to observe the two days. Certus are also members of the OUAB Advisory Board and I am an OAUX Advocate, so these are people we know very well.

The two days of sessions, contained lots of interactive discussion, especially around user adoption and feedback. 

The individual sessions were also well received with the UX team leader sharing a comment from one of the participants “he looked through his list of issues from last time and to his pleasant surprise, every single issue had been resolved and he was not able to come up with any new issues that he could identify this time around.”

I would like to thank Aberdeen Standard Life, especially Sarah Wormwell, Head of People Technology & Change for the invitation, and Oracle UK for their hospitality at The Home Restaurant.

If you would like to hear direct from Sarah, about what it means to actually 'Live in the Cloud' come and hear her presentation at UKOUG Apps17 on Wednesday December 6th.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

2017 hroug - Croatia

I came to #hroug2008 and although I really enjoyed it there were not any english speaking presenters and I found that intimidating. However now the SiOUG and hroug events run back to back, it is very different.

The event is still held in Rovinj but now on an island at the Hotel Istra. To even get there you have to go by boat.

It is a beautiful setting complete with its own castle which is where my sessions were held.

My VABCS presentation was on the drinking v sleep patterns of delegates which is the main source of conversation at this event. I felt very old as I was tired before the parties started each day. 

This mobile app even clicked into the detail - my own skills are improving! I like to make the effort to do something very conference specific, it shows the delegates it isn't simply cut and paste.

Taking advantage of the wonderful surroundings, I managed another dive, and a couple of early morning swims to the next island and back (about 200m). The visiting speakers even had an afternoon off when only local people were presenting and they took us to the nearby town of Pula, and gave us a walking tour. Beautiful.

The parties are legendary but I didn't really take part, although when the whole island is the party venue even in bed you can hear the music.

My second presentation was a 'back to basics' for Fusion SaaS applications. When I was here in 2008 the developers asked what it would mean to them, so now they are mainstream I thought it a good idea. I found an old presentation on understanding fusion and set about updating it. The principles are the same, but so much has moved on, and is now reality not theory. I loved putting it together.

The Croatia event was not too far from where Slovenia was and again I had Roel Hartman as a driver back to Ljubljana for my flight home.

Thank you hroug, it was fun.