Sunday, 5 February 2017

Oracle Modern Business Experience

I spend a lot of time at conferences and expected to enjoy the Oracle Modern Business Experience last week, I didn't expect to be simply blown away.

The targeted marketing obviously worked they say there was over 6,000 registrations, however I still had an advert for it on my Facebook today 3 days after the event.

As you know my area is the Cloud Applications (formerly known as Fusion) and probably 75% of this event showcased customers who have made the move. It is amazing that to think there are so many users today, just a few years ago it was a struggle to get a reference customer and when one did speak you saw them rolled out at every event. Today there is a abundance.

As ever I was like a mother hen, proud of my several Certus customers who gave presentations about their projects and took part in customer panel sessions.

I was privileged to attend the Oracle Women's Leadership event on the first afternoon and the speakers were so inspirational. 

The first session was a panel session 'Grab the Power to make the Change': 

Safra Catz talked about being a tiny women in Wall Street and not being taken seriously, so instead of fighting it she went after customers from the emerging tech industry, and then eventually moved to Oracle.

Joanna Fielding from HSBC and Kimberly Ellison-Taylor talked about how they had sponsors who held them be recognised for their talents. Later I spoke to Kimberly for quite a while on the value of the afternoon to men, however would women have been as candid if they had been there? Perhaps they should have a video link :)

Emma Codd from Deloitte talked about Respect and Inclusion and the work she has done in her organisation, the video she had made for their program is brilliant.

Then there was another panel on "marketing to Millennials' with Amanda Jobbins VP of EMEA Marketing at Oracle, Catherine Walker from Vodafone and Maria Topornicka from Middlesex University and Alex Broadley from Hang Technologies, who inspired us that at only 22 she was doing so much.

There was a lot of thought leadership sessions that were not Oracle specific and I enjoyed several of those but, and if you follow me on twitter you already know, my favourite session of the two days was Dr Brian Cox. It was amazing how much he packed into a standard presentation.

I heard many people say that this event was better than Oracle Open World for Cloud Applications and that shows it was a game changer. They will be posting some content here

And remember if you are interested in what it takes to move to the Cloud Applications, UKOUG have just the content you need 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

UKOUG Member Advocate Election

If you are a member of UKOUG, you may have just been asked to vote for our next Member Advocate for the board. If you are not the main contact on your membership can I ask you to contact whoever is and lobby them to vote.

There are two candidates, and I have had the pleasure of working with them both over many years. Both have equal amounts of passion for the aims of the usergroup, but I have only one vote and have to make a decision. I am asked who to vote for, and not just for UKOUG, I have spoken up as to who I have supported in other usergroups.

Fiona Martin has been on the board for 4 years, stepping in when it was at its most broken and has worked tirelessly to take the steps to ensure UKOUG has turned around most issues and is taking baby steps for the future.

Brendon Tierney is a very important part of the Irish Community and we have worked together on every one of the 12 years we have held OUG Ireland conferences, he is also the editor of Oracle Scene one of my favourite offerings from UKOUG.

I am declaring with you the fact that I am supporting Fiona for this election, Brendon is a fantastic volunteer and great friend, he knows I am writing this post. Here are my reasons why:

This position is a board position, it is not about individual parts of the community. There are only 3 advocates, and they must balance representing ALL members with the running of the company that supports that Community. Fiona has been involved as board sponsor with many communities and lead the Tech Conference for 3 years before stepping up as overall conference lead in 2016.

UKOUG is in a much much better place than it has been, the strategy work that Fiona has been responsible for over the last few years has begin to bear fruit and we can see that project teams have delivered. This volunteer strategy has allowed members to step up perhaps for an event project rather than a long term committee position, and this has been invaluable to our organisation.

Fiona and I are both Alliance Directors, which basically means our day job is to look after the relationship between our own organisation and the unbelievably complicated Oracle. That means we have a wide understanding and have learnt to how to navigate Oracle. Skills really needed for UKOUG. It also means we have the flexibility to give the time and input your usergroup demands.

Fiona also has core skills in Sales and has mentored the UKOUG staff, this has been invaluable as we have recovered slowly from a big loss a few years ago. Her commercial acumen is for me the number one reason I would ask you to vote for her. Remember UKOUG is a company, with staff and the board is not just about what to deliver to members but the business of doing so.

In the past two years we have had an interim Executive Director and a period of time with a vacancy during which Fiona stepped up with even more time and expertise given to UKOUG. James Jeynes was appointed in November and Fiona and I with our experience on the board have been helping him to get up to speed with not only UKOUG but also the entire Oracle ecosystem.

Today the board has both an Executive Director and Finance Director with less than 5 months experience, and a new Non Exec Director that will be appointed at the end of March, as Bryan Foss completes his appointment. On the elected side Paul Fitton is getting to grip with his upcoming Presidency, and therefore I am the only person with experience of UKOUG and the board. I AM stepping down next March, I thought I should have done last year but I couldn't walk away when UKOUG needed the support.

Fiona being elected for another 2 years will be the best thing for the governance of our board.

Obviously I would like you to vote for Fiona but the most important thing is that you ensure your vote is used.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Show Me the Way (Well one way) to The Cloud (applications)

I had best start this post with a clarification, the way to Cloud Applications previously known as Fusion, a clarification I have a whole post about.

Oracle have been pushing the Cloud Applications for several years, and whilst they have sold well, the shift to E Business Suite customers moving their applications to the cloud applictaions has now well and truely gathered momentum with many deals I see today this scenario.

Oracle sell the applications as a solution as they should, but if you have EBS today, if you are currently supporting EBS you are also interested in how you get there?

My next speaking opportunity is the UKOUG event Applications: Journey to Cloud event on 8th March and hopefully there is something in the agenda for everyone.

But before the UKOUG event Oracle have their Modern Business Experience event this week. I love this event plenty of customers talking and thought leaders sharing their wisdom. This event is about the WHY you should consider the solutions Oracle offer and the difference they can make to your organisation.

The UKOUG event just 4 weeks later will show you the HOW; presentations from people who have made the move and what it meant to the support teams.

The Office of National Statistics is a well publicised Certus customer and their sessions at the MBX will talk about the drivers for and advantages gained by their move to Cloud ERP and HCM, and then at the UKOUG event they will be back talking about how their support team have taken to their new system and the opportunities it has given them.

I have a couple of presentations, one about how to approach your EBS to Cloud project and another on PaaS4SaaS which cold be how you take those customisations to Cloud.

Look at both agendas, so much being covered from two different angles, something for you all.

Forced into using the "F" Word Again

I have a confession to make, I am using the word "F" word again.

I was one of the first to insist we stop using the word 'Fusion' when Oracle stopped calling their Cloud apps Fusion. In fact at many meetings I instigated a fine for anyone using the word; money collected to pay for the coffees.

Within Oracle I still heard it though and that was frustrating, the worst offenders were Oracle support. The Cloud applications team in Oracle Support are called FAST, not as I first suspected a reference to their speed, but an acronym for Fusion Applications Support Team.

I thought it was getting through to most people, I heard it less and less. Within UKOUG we were very careful to talk about cloud applications and in my own organisation it was changed wherever possible. I started all my presentations with a simple slide:

Then mid 2016 all the confusion returned, as the term Cloud Applications has again morphed. I found myself having to say 'the applications previously known as Fusion' to make sure there was no confusion!

Oracle announced their strategy to encourage all on premise applications users, E Business Suite, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards etc to take their installations and run them on IaaS, Oracle Managed Cloud Service. I am not against this strategy, although I wish it was portrayed more as an option rather than the next step, in fact prior to Oracle releasing an IaaS offering for apps, many of their customers had successfully migrated their applications to run on other third party IaaS offerings.

What I am frustrated by is that I have to spell out in every conversation what I am referring to. I raised a call with Oracle about a Cloud Apps problem and the support analyst kept asking me what version of EBS I was on. I was blinkered and couldn't understand why he couldn't accept of I was using cloud apps and ended up being quite confrontational, so much so he got his supervisor to ring me. I said why couldn't the analyst understand I wasn't using EBS when I kept saying I was using Cloud Apps. He promptly gave me a lecture on the ability to run EBS on IaaS and that that was what they called Cloud Apps.

Then last week I contacted a partner who had an EBS technical solution and asked if they had a Cloud offering or plans for one, and this was their response:

If the customer is just hosted by Oracle OMCS or another hosting provider, we can perform the project as per usual.  It just involves additional steps with the hosting provider.  If you are asking about using our software on the Oracle Cloud (Fusion) product, that would not work due to the database access required for our “magic” to happen.   Please clarify the implementation
I had stumbled over the same obstacle.

So if you hear me use the "F" word, don't condone me, it's all in the name of clarity.

Monday, 19 December 2016

UKOUG 2016

First week of December and it's UKOUG. Wonderful tradition and something I passionately look forward to every year. This year again I was conference lead for Applications, but also a board member so involved in the whole thing.

There were 3 conferences co-located, Tech, JDE and Apps, and the buzz at the conference is a great feeling of belonging. The committees put on an amazing itinerary and people can move freely between the agendas, which I saw a lot more of this year.

I am not going to talk about sessions, most speakers have blogged, but I will say I wanted to attend so many and failed. But I did try and catch up with many of the speakers.

What I care most about is the off piste stuff, not just the agenda, but everything else you get from conference.

Sunday is the now very traditional Super Sunday with the 'super geeks' getting more content and then in the evening the volunteers' reception. We have normally had the ACE Dinner on the Sunday which means I haven't stayed too long at this but by popular demand we moved the ACE dinner till Monday and it meant all the fantastic volunteers who are also ACEs were not pulled in two directions, and I had the opportunity to thank more volunteers in person.

Monday kicked off with the Keynote. First our President Linda Barker and then Neil Sholay of Oracle, who talked more about the digital world and the need to be data driven. 

Neil spoke last year at the Tech conference and the feedback was so good we had a keynote across the 3 events this year. The turnout was amazing. 

Linda also introduced us to Paul Fittons are new President elect. Paul told us a little bit about him. 

Paul will take over from Linda next year and this is his opportunity to get to know the role in the run up to this. Paul spent most of the conference speaking to delegates, exhibitors and speakers, getting to know what he has signed up to.

Another speaker on stage was Laura Ramsey from OTN, they have sponsored our speaker awards for many years and this year also sponsored the Cloud Balcony and OTN lounge were people could try out and sign up for cloud trials. 

Well done to all the speakers who won awards. I love this initiative, rewarding the best but more than that encouraging the new speakers.

Jennifer Nicholson who runs the ACE Program for OTN, hosted the ACE dinner on the Monday evening when nearly 70 guests enjoyed the traditional Thai meal. 

The ACE program gets a lot of support from Oracle and Jennifer has to listen to all us ACEs moan about change. I hope she doesn't take it personally.
Tuesday morning kicked off with the Women in IT breakfast and I was pleased to see a few men attend. Each table shared what their organisations do, what they would like UKOUG to do and shared their details if they want to be further involved. There were lively conversations and we are going to facilitate speaking in schools, to get children especially girls, thinking about IT as a career really early.

Another great tradition at conference I love is the User Experience Team, and this was their 10th year at UKOUG. It is now so popular when I tried to book a session a couple of weeks before the event, they were full. Everyone who takes part learns so much about what is happening in Oracle applications development. 

Tuesday evening we had the party, which followed the apps community drinks. Last year I thought the apps community drinks failed to fully achieve the sense of community it was meant to, but this year it was a great success, which lots of ideas shared for next year's SIGs.

The party was fun and I particularly loved that Susan Duncan our Oracle chief liaison sang with the band. I had to actually get on stage and tell the audience, I don't think many of them recognised 'their Sue' as the professional singer.

Wednesday had a very different feel, with most people staying all day and the post lunch exodus was much less evident. I have seen lots of feedback for this. A result!

I sais I wasn't going to talk about sessions, but I got the chance to repeat the session I took part in at Oracle Open World, when my colleague Richard and I spoke with England Rugby on their implementation of ERP & HCM Cloud. It was wonderful and we had a very full room.

So as we start the post event process and start the planning for next year, I can say I loved 2016 and thanks to everyone who was part of it.

See you next year.

DOAG 2016

I sat down this evening to write about UKOUG and realised I hadn't blogged about DOAG 2016.

As I say every year I have venue envy at DOAG, but that aside I enjoy the event.

The day before the conference there was an EMEA User Group Presidents meeting and I represented UKOUG. This is the 3rd year this has happened. It is good to just discus what different groups are doing and how they work with each other to capitalise on each other's conferences instead of clashing. We also talked about how to User Groups cater for Cloud? This is a difficult one, user groups are about what their members are doing now, and keeping them educated with what Oracle are doing. We have to be able to predict what that means, how much existing and how much futures to include. But more about this on my UKOUG posting.

The actual conference runs Tuesday to Thursday but with being there Monday as well I needed to get back to the UK, so asked DOAG if I could have all my sessions on the Tuesday. Thankfully they said yes.

I had three talks, An update on PaaS4SaaS, my 'What does Digital Disruption mean to the Oracle Ecosystem' and "UX tales from real implementations'. I had good audiences and great questions. All developers should strive for good User Experience and they can all learn from the research Oracle has done for own development.

Oracle marketing held a number of closed sessions to hear from users on their thoughts about Cloud, and this included a session for the EMEA Presidents. The main outcome was the sense that Oracle are simply marketing at everyone, and talking about nothing else.

In fact I even felt my hotel was in on the Oracle Marketing.
The travel was fine although I did have to spend a night at Stanstead airport as there were no easy travel options, but it all went smoothly. I stayed in a lovely small hotel, although I am not too shore about some of the other 'establishments' on the same street!

So a short trip, no time for the markets or shopping, but two great evenings, Thanks TO OTN for the ACE dinner and DOAG for the overseas speakers' dinner. A really good user group meeting and a fantastic day of sessions.

Hope to be back next year.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

UKOUG - Something to REALLY Look Forward To

Each year one of the last conference events of the year is UKOUG.

The event co-locates our Applications, Technology and JDE conferences, and is jam packed with content from customers, Oracle, local and overseas speakers. There are almost 100 speakers recognised by the ACE program.

Why should you attend? The opportunities to learn are amazing, this event is big enough that it covers most specialities and attracts so many Oracle product managers giving us the roadmap information and making sense of the recent Oracle Open World announcements.

In the tech conference expect to hear a lot about 12.2 database, the online information appears to have been released and the first cloud release is still just days old. But even more content is about getting the most out of what you have today. Share your story with other delegates and learn from them.

In the Apps event we have streams looking at life in the cloud for those who have started their journey and those who are new to the Oracle world. We also have content for those who are thinking about moving from their current on premise solutions to cloud. And then again lots of information about getting that extra value today. The E Business Suite and PeopleSoft teams are over from HQ to give you that 'from the top' information, and the very popular one to ones.

A lot of delegates are Apps Technical, and feel split between these two events so we have made their sessions run in the same time slots as the technical event.And anyone can move between events.

JD Edwards are again at Birmingham and their product teams will be over in force. I will miss John Schiff a personal friend who has retired but no way is their commitment to our members reduced.

Look through the agendas the content put together by the volunteers is amazing, and there truly is something from everyone. Outside traditional sessions we have the exhibition, the user experience teams, a Cloud Balcony hosted by OTN and much, much more.

Don't just listen to me, watch this video of why it will be such a great event.

Traditionally the first Monday of December it has the feel of Christmas, just yards away from the conference centre is the Frankfurt Christmas Market (I think they are lost). Just wandering around, bratwurst and gluhwein just make it magical, and plenty of opportunities to get a little shopping done.

And if you are from Europe or even further afield and have often thought you would like to come to UKOUG, why not? our pre Brexit exchange rate is so terrible you will get a great deal.