Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Conferences and the OTN ACE Program

The airwaves have been busy with people talking about the changes in the ACE Director funding program. To be fair no one has criticised the program just the timing and the need by many to pull out of ODTUG's KSCOPE 2012 as this is the first event to be subject to the changes.

I am a great believer in the program and have blogged many times, to me it is the recognition by my peers of my abilty and most of all the joy I get from sharing through presenting. The funding from OTN has made it easier for me to do this, and just a week ago I talked about that in my latest posting.

Just days after that posting, OTN asked to speak to me as President of UKOUG. They have to spread their reduced budget around more ACE Directors and more events, and had had to review their rules. The premise is to bring the speakers to as many people as possible who would not otherwise benefit. They therefore decided to stop funding the most established and successful user group conferences from the start of their next financial year. These conferences, UKOUG, Collaborate, RMOUG and KSCOPE were successful and well attended before the ACE program started and I am confident will continue to attract the best around.

As President of UKOUG, I want to send my support to KSCOPE, I understand how hard this is for you with this timing, but you are a fantastic conference and you will continue to grow in strength. The changes had to start with the Oracle financial year and being first hit will hurt. Everyone who can will still attend and those who have to pull out will help you to find alternative speakers either with new content or allowing those who can attend to give theirs.

Yes of course as President of UKOUG I am sad that a few of our speakers will not be able to make it as often as they have recently, but I am also grateful that OTN helped to bring them to us to appreciate. By being on this list OTN are recognising us publically as being amongst the best, and they are not walking away from UKOUG, they are still sponsoring our Inspiring Presenter Awards, encouraging all speakers and especially the new ones; we will still have instalfests and  I want to publically say thank them for what OTN has and continues to do for users.

Additionally OTN have revised rules about what can be applied for and the criteria to be applied. This clarity is I think very important, the generosity in the past meant very few requests were turned down and people had become very confident of funding.

As an ACE Director who has benefited from the funding, I am a little sad it is being reduced, but I have been fortunate enough to have an incredibly supportive employer as well, to have given me the time to speak. It is very important that OTN are keeping funding for emerging conferences where the community have restricted to access to non Oracle speakers, and for the pre OOW briefings where we have open conversations with the executives responsible for what Oracle are producing.

As an ACE Director I am still incredibly proud to be part of this program and actually see that this may take away from some of the unfounded negativity I have heard where some people think it is about being an Oracle puppet in exchange for funding. It is not easy to gain ACE status, it is a privilege and recognition of recipients knowledge and sharing back to the Oracle Community.


Kathleen McCasland said...

Thanks, Debra. We at ODTUG feel the same as you. OTN has been incredibly supportive and many of us have benefited. We are sad, like you, that some of our regulars will not be able to attend this year, but so far the cancellations have been minimal. ODTUG Kscope12 will be as good as ever.
Kathleen McCasland,
ODTUG Executive Director

Markus Eisele said...

As you said, all I was disappointed about was the timing. Especially because there have been promises made before. And I am not sure if it wouldn't have been possible to find a solution without hurting the conferences (and speakers) too much. For Kscope afaik all European had to withdraw their submissions. And you can stress the point, that you have a very generous employer! Mine isn't supporting me at all with my speaking engagements. Wherever they are ...
To sum it up, it's not about blaming the OTN program or even the new rules. It's all about the timing. And I consider decisions like this a complete failure.