Monday, 3 January 2011

Why Don't People Understand Fusion?

Oracle have taken a lot of stick about how long it has taken Fusion applications to come to market, so at least they could have spent that time making sure we all understood. Well that is what I have thought and have been pretty vocal about it.

To start with Oracle did talk about it a lot and quite near the start I was asked by Oracle Marketing to present to them about how users were taking in that message. My Product Development Committee in the IOUC took the request seriously and interviewed selected users across the globe from many different communities and user groups. We wrote a white paper on how we thought the message was coming across and then we presented it to a group of executives in Redwood. I started by passing round large laminated cards that said Fusion on one side and showed a picture of something called Fusion on the other. They were all face down and then I had the executives turn them over. Only one was Oracle Fusion. My point was, that at that time there was a lot of talk about Fusion but not everybody got the message.

We had two main recommendations and I thought it would be interesting to see if they are still valid today. The first was that the different application families needed different messages, e.g. PeopleSoft, JDE, Siebel etc and the second was that Oracle were not talking to the technical community who seemed to switch off whenever Fusion was mentioned.

Oracle listened and then two important things happened. first they stopped talking about the applications as much, which I say again frustrated me but they did start talking about the technology, and although I don't take the credit they renamed the technology Fusion Middleware (FMW), which did make the technical community at least recognise Fusion.

Then we worked with the newly formed FMW for Apps team to see if we could showcase some uses of FMW. Markus Zirn the VP there had a great grid of functionality against app so he had case studies of each of the application families using say single sign on or BI Publisher or other elements of FMW.

Later Markus launched  the FMW Excellence Awards to showcase more examples and many user groups supported and joined in the initiative. But one of the best ways that Oracle have promoted the technology that Fusion Applications are written in for Applications Unlimited is all down to one person. Nadia Bendjedou and her white paper and presentations Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for Fusion.

Later nadia worked with us to design the Oracle Applications Planning Tool, a download that helps you have the conversation about FMW with your organisation.

 My own presentations have a basis in Nadia's paper and we have often presented together, and since the applications were showcased at OOW 2009 several user groups have put together excellent Fusion tracks. But we did present to the different communities separately, not a different message but relevant examples. again Markus' team stepped in to give some people in the ACE Program apps kits to allow us to give these demos.

In the mean time development kept to their promise to talk to user group leaders about the progress of the applications. they included us in their Inner circle and every 3-4 months we had the opportunity to ask questions of Steve Miranda. In the middle of December we had what will be our last question time, in just a few months the applications will be released. Each time we collect the questions there are a number repeated, that doesn't worry me, it is important for us as user group leaders and for Oracle to see that the answers are still not obvious to everyone. I want to publicly say thank you to Development for keeping that promise.

Does it mean the communication is bad? No I don't think so, the last year Oracle have given a lot of information and this year's OOW there was a smorgasbord of content about Fusion, I just think many users have ignored Fusion until it either resonated with them or they could ignore it no more.

The other evening I was watching a review of the top 20 TV adverts of the year, and I had only seen 3 of them. I commented on this on facebook and had some comments about our viewing habits and my 'being at home' habits and it made me think. a few years ago, TV advertising was very big and probably the main way people advertised their goods and services. I watch much less TV which with the choice of 100s of channels may seem odd, but I am more selective and have the opportunity to record what I want to watch, and when I watch them I ignore all the adverts, so I simply am unaware of them. The same is true for Oracle, we tune out what we think we are not interested in and then are simply unaware of everything else, most people have spent the last year or so trying to avoid big IT projects so why look at what you are not going to do?

As customers we are less interested in TV adverts, what sells things today is social media, the buzz on twitter etc when the iPad was released, stories from actual customers have sold far more than any TV advert. In the same way Oracle know that what will sell Fusion Applications is feedback, customer stories from early adopters and independent commentary from people like myself in the ACE Program and user groups.

So lets not talk about Fusion - Confusion, a term I HATE, we as consumers are selective about what we want to hear about and when the applications are released so will that desire for information and let's hope Oracle have the program in place to answer the questions and work with the user groups to ensure we give the independent assessments the users need.

P.S. I am still very excited.

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