Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Responsibility of Position

In my last post I mentioned the ACE Keynote Panel at RMOUG. I was very honoured to be part of this and wore my conference ribbons with pride. The idea of the keynote was to give people the opportunity to understand the ACE program, here what we were thinking and ask us questions.

The panel was moderated by Duncan Mills who had us introduce ourselves, and then Dan Morgan gave a little overview on the program itself. If you look closely you can see our mascot Stanley on the table. One of the things Dan talked about was how Oracle listen to the ACEs and how our feedback is taken very seriously.

Duncan asked us what we expected to happen in the Oracle World in the next 12 months. When he got to me, he laughed 'We all know what you are looking forward to', well yes 2010 is the year of Fusion Apps (please don't let me down Larry), but I decided I wanted to respond with something else and use my position as an ACE Director to talk about something more immediate.

So what I said was 'much sooner than over the next 12 months I want to see a big improvement in My Oracle Support'. Why did I say this? Not for the shock factor but because I mean it.

The introduction of My Oracle Support was a communications fiasco and there were too many teething issues. Threads such as "My Oracle Support" a non-starter in OTN Forum and just google 'My Oracle Support problems'. Dan Fink did an excellent survey and included the good and the bad comments.

We expect teething problems with new software but this was last November and I still hear people moaning today, is it as bad or are they just turned off so badly they have been tainted for ever? What I would like is frequent updates as to how it is going and an apology.

Why I am mentioning this again? Well I am waiting for Fusion Apps, I know so much has gone into testing it and I have said so much about the product you know I can't wait. But as a customer who has had a really bad time with My Oracle Support would I trust a much bigger software rollout? It is about Oracle's reputation and their customers' confidence in them. At the SUN launch Oracle said they would move their support as soon as possible to My Oracle Support, please don't do it till you are certain it will be seamless.

In my role I don't actually use My Oracle Support much and when I do have an issue I have to admit I try google first. However my first role in Fujitsu was running our Oracle Support offering and at one point I had two ladies work for me who spent the whole day phoning Oracle Support, in those days it was by country and they were on the phone to Oracle in Bracknell all day. When they got to 'You are next in the queue' they passed the phone to an Oracle resource. We wouldn't accept that today would we? I famously once sent a Christmas card to the 'lady on the phone' at Oracle UK as I listened to her more than anyone else in the whole organisation. Anyone else remember those days? Oracle support has come a long way.

Oracle listens to those of us in the ACE program, and with that comes responsibility to speak out.


Mohan Dutt said...

At the outset, let me make it clear I maybe a bit biased because I support My Oracle Support (MOS)
While it is true that there were "starting trouble" with MOS, the Support team outreach program has been superlative in reaching out to customers and helping them teach about tools and resource available for self-service or proactive support using Support Diagnostics, Support Configuration Manager, Health Check alerts etc.
With MOS knowledgebase, I hardly actually 'call' a support analyst except for a Service Request which requires a data fix script or Oracle Support to recommend a patch which we may have already discovered/shortlisted as a potential fix. For critical projects, we do collaborate with Premium Support and get the experts onsite to help us.
I think Oracle ACE community should help Oracle Support with their outreach program and educate the larger Oracle user community of the complete portfolio on MOS offerings. Though I am not a member of the Oracle ACE community, I try to evangelize Oracle Support offerings in every online and offline forums since I believe there are 2 sides of a debate and more often than not we are hearing only one.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Debra, for mentioning MOS again. It is an item that cannot be swept under the carpet.

Debra Lilley said...

I think the ACE Program and user groups do have a role to play in getting the message out, my point was that I am afraid people are so fed up they are not listening.

How can we turn around that perception? And does the average user find it intuitive and bug free enough yet.

I am not worried about those of us in partner organisations who use MOS enough to be experts at searching etc.

Ronan Miles said...

UKOUG had long and detailed discussion with Oracle about MOS at our TEBS conference last December.

UKOUG - and all the other major user groups had been party to the Oracle plans in the run up to implementation and everyone bought into the plan. We had participated in supporting all the comms, the outreach, commented on the use of Flash and the likely issues, etc.

So - when it all went pear shaped, we had to take some of the blame ourselves. However, it was very apparent that a lot of the problems were due to Oracle not having put in place a solid contingency plan to handle the difficulties users faced 'one the day'. Our focus at this point was to establish what was needed to give users service - and we have supported Oracle as much as we can and streamed information to our user base to assist people get service from MOS.

Currently, the IOUC Support Committee (of which UKOUG is a part) is linked into Oracle Support on a monthly basis to resolve any outstanding issues and get the service level to where it should be.

It is through this vehicle that I will be asking for assurance that any major changes will have complete contingency plans so we never get another circumstance like this again. This will include the onboarding of the Sun communities which will be occurring over the current year or so.

I know that many people in Oracle Support do feel badly about what happened and would personally apologize given the chance. But whilst words are fine, it is actions that count - and getting the right level of 'MOS' is the focus now.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Debra for raising this again.

@"Your OCP Advisor" :
I'm afraid I couldn't give a monkeys about being "educated" about the "complete portfolio on MOS offerings". I would happily settle for a system through which I could raise SRs and search the knowledge base without having to run a specific browser, that just WORKED (SR 3-1114041291) and wasn't slow.
The whole tone of your comment and use of the past tense is the same as we got last year when the implementation went so wrong -- that there's no problem, that us users just need "educating".

It's a classic case of shiny whizz bangs (ooooh Support Configuration Manager, oooooh Support Diagnostics), without getting the simple, and vital, bits working first. Sure "Support Diagnostics" might be great, but the damage done to MOS by such a botched implementation of the basics means that there is going to be very little credibility for the fancy bits. Who is going to spend any time whatsoever learning about the new functionality if they got burnt when they just wanted to raise an SR and couldn't?

As we're taught so many times in IT - look at it from the end-user's point of view. In this case, that's the poor sods using MOS. Sit down with a real user and watch them try to use it. And if you think they need "training" or "educating" - why? Why is it so unintuitive or complicated?

Debra Lilley said...

This started with me speaking up because I can. As I say, I rarely use MOS so cannot comment on specifics. You readers can.

Ronan has commented on how UKOUG are dealing with this with Oracle and we DO listen to our members.

I don't want a MOS bashing blog but I am interested in today's experiences. We all know about what happened on its release.