Thursday, 2 August 2018

Best Way to Celebrate the Old Certus - A grand Finale - Vote for Us




In May Certus was acquired by Accenture and I posted then about how it was a fitting outcome, much deserved.

Technically we move to Accenture on 1st October, so today we are still Certus, and it is business as usual.

It would be fantastic to have a grand finale and celebrate all that Certus has achieved.  A wonderful way to do that could be success in the UKOUG Partner Awards which will be announced at that time.





So I am asking you to vote for us. If you are our customer, or an end user who has been impressed with our projects or UKOUG presentations please vote. We believe in the user group and sharing the challenges and lessons learnt.




We have been nominated in 3 categories

UKOUG HCM Cloud Partner of the Year

The last year we have had several projects on the go. Phase two of DHL, a HCM project, which they shared at OOW and UKOUG; an architectural implementation of ERP for a global Financial Services; an amazing global HCM project with a very complex integration story as well as our joint project with Accenture at the Home Office which is currently in UAT, alongside HM Treasury that went live at the end of last year. We have also just kicked off a couple of other government projects.

All our projects are HCM and ERP but unfortunately we were not shortlisted for the ERP award. However our reputation in HCM is second to none so being successful here would be amazing.


UKOUG Middleware Partner of the Year Award

In true Certus tradition we continue to work with Oracle Product Development on PaaS, how we can extend the Cloud SaaS for our customers. We have continued to work with VBCS which I presented at conferences last year, and are currently working with Oracle on a prototype for managing workforces, which several of our customers are interested in.

Last year after Oracle Open World I was set the challenge by Certus to deliver a chatbot that actually uses HCM Cloud , no smoke, no mirrors and thanks again to help Oracle Product Development we first demonstrated this at the HCM SIG earlier this year, and then at Collaborate. We are continuously improving this and it will be a session at both OOW and UKOUG this year.

We continue with our eProseed partnership to deliver a wider PaaS4saaS landscape for a global construction company.

UKOUG Industry Product Partner of the Year


If we only win one prize this year, this would be the one. Our engage.gov solution for government is why we are leaders in government and were able to hold a Government Cloud Success Day in February and have many departments come and hear from our customers. engage.gov was designed to ensure that UK government could adopt Cloud as risk free as possible. Each project we have delivered has been on time and on budget and allows departments to embrace modern technology with confidence.

In the past I have been concerned that voters are put off because I was a UKOUG board member but that was never true, however this year I have finished my board commitment and am a 'free women' although still an active volunteer.

Please vote for us; help us have our grand finale.







Saturday, 28 July 2018

Rant - OPN and ADDM!


I should have good statistics for this blog, it should appeal to many different communities, OPN or the Oracle Partner Network will spark the interest of one community I work in and ADDM or Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor will have my technical friends thinking I have crossed to the other side. 

Actually the acronyms need to be used together: OPNandADDM

Oracle Product Names and Acronyms Drive Debra Mad!

I'm an Oracle ACE Director, a software advocate and this isn't a direct moan just at Oracle, everyone does it but they are a great example.

We all suffer from acronyms over use, and as someone who presents regularly I have to constantly remember not to use too many. A quick google on the overuse brings back many studies of the problems this can cause.

I teach a course that I abbreviate to AYNTKAO - All You Need To Know About Oracle. It is aimed at people having their first Oracle project, not necessarily someone starting an Oracle career, it could be a very experienced change manager or project manager who has not been exposed to them before. I try very hard to avoid the TLA, although many products in Oracle have moved to four or five letters (isn't this a sign to someone, somewhere, there are too many?).

You need to be careful, sometimes names are created to match the acronym

I have joked in the past I would like to meet the person responsible for creating the product names within Oracle, do they pick the names to match the acronym they will be known as? 

It would help if there was a single glossary, it would help. Tell me if I have missed one in my search. I can find them in some product documentation but very few people use one product in isolation.

Three things annoy me:

1. If there is an acronym use the right one!

eg E Business Suite is EBS - not E-Biz or E Bus even wikipedia is confused.

2. Within one organisation don't duplicate

As I said we don't use products in isolation so this confuses people. 

OCI in the database glossary stands for Oracle Call Interface but
OCI also stands for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

3. Be careful if you change a product name to re-use the acronym

I worked for the same company for 25 years. When I left because they had a company range of mobile numbers they re-used my number for someone else. Today almost 5 years later he still gets calls for me. How frustrating must that be?

OCS is Oracle Cloud Services (the organisation that manages the cloud), but until very recently was Oracle Consulting Services, who have been renamed simply Oracle Consulting or OC. People are still using the old acronym and getting others confused.

And what prompted me to write this blog? answer = ABCS



Google TODAY thinks I mean PBCS - but glance down the list and you soon find there is ABCS, the original name for VBCS which I think is changing it's name again (still following?)

I loved the name ABCS it was a great acronym for a product aimed at citizen developers, and I wrote an Oracle Scene article in 2017 and a presentation I was very proud of; it had a great ring to it. 

Extending your Cloud HCM is as simple as ABCs. 

It's name was changed From Application Builder Cloud Service to Visual Builder Cloud Service. ABCS was not to be used................

Until last  week when Oracle launched ABCS Autonomous Blockchain Cloud Service. Don't get me wrong I think blockchain has a big future in my area and I was excited about the launch



Oh and what does Oracle ACE stand for? Not sure this is official but Awesome Community Expert has a great ring to it!


Thursday, 19 July 2018

Thank you to all at UKOUG


My time on the board of UKOUG came to an end in March, and although I am still an active volunteer and have not left the organisation, I wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you.

First for the opportunity to grow both as an individual and in my professional career. I would recommend volunteering to anyone in our community, it will motivate and educate you.

I was very touched to receive a generous voucher from the board to say thank you for my service. 


I spent the money on a bench and some plants, so that I can enjoy the view from my house. 



As I said I haven't left, currently very busy with the Apps18 committee and hope you will agree we have a great agenda and will be joining us in Liverpool.  

I have also just applied for a role on Oracle Scene. You don't get rid of me that easily!

Saturday, 26 May 2018

OUGF 2018 - Kiitos kutsusta


Last Oracle Open World, Pasi Jaakkola the President of the Finnish User Group asked me if I would like to give an Applications keynote at their 2018 conference, their 30th Anniversary. 

I have spoken for this usergroup twice before, their 20th Anniversary Event and as part of an OTN Nordic Tour in 2014.

This year the event was held in Vanajanlinna just over an hour from Helsinki. Not only was it a fantastic location but it was unseasonably hot for Finland and just wonderful. I had a suite overlooking the lake and would love to take a holiday there sometime.

They provided a bus from the airport and we were given a little tour of the countryside including a visit to Pasi's home where we drank champagne as his family played music for us.

I had three presentations:
  1. My keynote - Cloud Applications, back to basics
  2. Extending Cloud Applications with VBCS
  3. Should I move to Cloud Applications, route to the Cloud
The Back to Basics session was the first of the conference, and as is common in Europe it was a predominately technical audience but they did seem interested. I talked about how the technology enabled the application and what components were used. I know Oracle tell you it doesn't matter, you are buying or rather subscribing to a solution, but organisations who have had on premise applications do want to know.

And even if the audience are not Oracle applications users, the principles of design are relevant to any development. As ever to me the measure of success was the number of questions I had, both during and after the presentation.

After lunch I had my other two presentations, one after the other.  The VBCS presentation was the first time I had used release 2 in a session and on the whole it behaved well, except for a small glitch at the very end on the mobile app. I had been more concerned about the wifi which had been patchy, but all worked out well. I really enjoy this presentation as I can make it relevant to the event, so we collected data on those intending to use the sauna. 

Then my final session was the 'route to cloud' that I gave not too long ago as community keynote in Dublin, and based on my Oracle Scene article at the end of last year. This prompted some questions around data centres and organisational strategies especially around cloud @ customer. 

Part of the reason I had such a great day was that the audience were interactive. Also there were some great speakers who asked questions and added answers to the conversation. 

That evening after a wonderful dinner it was time to enjoy the grounds of this amazing location. Finland is so far north it was way past 11pm before it was dark, and such a great time to relax and get to know people.

The Wednesday I had finished my sessions. Pasi works for Accenture, who you will remember have just acquired Certus and their global lead for the database, a fellow ACE Director Julian Dontcheff is also based in Finland. Also speaking were new colleagues from Enkitec and in total about 10 Accenture people in attendance so I was able to learn a bit more about how the company and specifically Oracle work.

This was a great conference, and I loved that I was able to present something new to a traditional audience and yet they all learnt and appreciated. The location was amazing and I'll certainly be back.




Wednesday, 23 May 2018

UKOUG Applications Conference 2018


We need your input!




The Oracle Applications world as many different answers as there are user organisations. So what content do we need to include in our UKOUG_APPS 2018 Agenda?


When I first got involved with UKOUG, we simply has E Business Suite, sliced by the different modules. Today we still have EBS, but we also have those looking at Cloud, and those who have already moved. 


The apps tech community is busy supporting these applications at all levels of the stack and to extend them. 


Business Analytics and some Hyperion based solutions are now mainstream with Applications.


We have users using 3rd party tools to get the most from their Oracle investment. Reporting solutions, archiving, configuration management, tax and foreign exchange.


You can see where I am going, our communities can be sliced so many different ways. 


Then we also want to bring you off piste content, like innovation, business challenges and emerging subjects.





So please reach out and tell us what you want to hear about, comment here, on my twitter , linkedin, however you can find me. 


Even better share your story, submit before 4 June. Let us know if you need help turning it into a presentation, or coaching if it is your first attempt. We can help.





Monday, 14 May 2018

Thinking About Oracle Cloud Applications Support


Last week Oracle announced a revision to their Cloud Applications Support . At first glance it looks great, anything that gives the customer more is welcome.

I haven't seen a lot of commentary on this but I like this from Denis Beagle from my friends at Diginomica oracle-announces-autonomous-services-media-day, he talks about it being paid for from the actual subscription costs. I totally agree with that statement but actually think Oracle is moving some of the role of implementation and customer success into support. This makes sense, when Oracle only had a few customers they could have named people in these roles but as the size and quantity of deals has grown the roles have been stretched. Smaller customers are now managed off shore and to move some of their remit into support is an obvious step.

More of interest to me is the paid for support. The company I work for has a post go live support offering for Oracle Applications and have found it very appealing for those to want to continue taking up the continuous innovation and have a consultant at the end of the phone.  This is especially important during upgrade times and the new move to quarterly updates will change the way customers look at their systems.I don't think Oracle is offering that but time will tell.

Thanks to Tim Warner Certus-Solutions

In fact I am currently on a tour of our customers talking about the key changes relevant to them in the last major, traditional upgrade to R13. Knowing their implementations we can filter out the changes we don't think are relevant to them and it makes it a much more focused conversation. But for all of them understanding the new regime takes a little getting used to. 

Finally in this look at support, I also read about an agreement between Rimini Street and Salesforce for their cloud applications . It was a big surprise but made me think, would we ever see one between Oracle or SAP and Rimini Street?


VBCS Goes Technical - but i still love it


Last weekend VBCS was upgraded and in this new version (18.2.3) it is so much more technical to look at.

I first saw this release at the PaaS Forum in March and was deflated, I loved that the product was so easy to use and felt that it did have a market in the system support teams as EBS customers moved to Cloud Applications.

The Product Management team were very helpful, at the PaaS Forum, John Ceccarelli gave me an in-depth demo of the product and whilst I absolutely see the value to developers I felt it was going to be too technical for the user base I was looking at.

John and Angelo Santagata  explained the changes were based on feedback from customers, and although I suspect they were talking to IT, I have to accept that.

I tried to get a beta version of the system that didn't work out until just a week before the upgrade, but as I am a paid user of VBCS I got the upgrade last weekend anyway.

My interest in VBCS is for extending the applications, although it wasn't ADF the technology the applications are written in, it did have an apps UI template, so was ideal for this use case. Oracle are now investing a lot in enhancing the applications user experience, the first of which can be seen in the current R13. This initiative which is ongoing is based on JET, the technology behind VBCS, so this is going to be an even better way to extend the applications.

A few weeks ago at Collaborate 18 I presented my low code version of VBCS twice to application users and cemented my view that there is a market here. When I got back from the Forum in March I also spoke to a local Business Development Manager in UK and I haven't changed my mind.

I took the opportunity at Collaborate to visit the demo grounds and the VBCS stand. I didn't get a chance to speak to Shay Shmeltzer but I would like to say, look at his blog, he has always had good training material and I see he has added some great back to basics concepts for people using the new VBCS. 

I did speak to Brian Fry, who finally got me the beta demo sorted and explained to me that this was the technology being adopted more and more by internal development. So long term this is the right answer.

Brian also told me the most important thing, that the no code isn't going away it has been rebranded 'classic' and I can still use it. There is no upgrade (as far as I can see) from classic to standard, so if you create an app using classic you need to use classic to amend it.

So the upgrade happened and I opened the app with a little trepidation.  There were some issues previously with upgrades but this time all was well. It opened in 'Visual' mode and there were no applications. 


However once I selected 'Classic' they were all there. This weekend I had a chance to test and amend them and happy to say, all is well. 



I am a member of the Vsual Builder Cloud Service "Design Advisory Board" and regularly take part in UX projects around this product. Thanks to the Oracle ACE Program I have great access to product management.

For developers the increased functionality in VBCS is excellent, but they haven't switched off the low code which I and some of my customers are interested in. I suspect the Visual side will grow and grow but that is OK, because as that maturity grows, so will the need to extend applications cloud and then it will be over to the developers.

If you want to have a go, try it with a cloud trial account. Try Oracle Cloud for Free







Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Sharing in Success - The Next Chapter in Certus


Mergers and Acquisitions are all the rage at the moment - Yesterday's Financial Times reported deals are now higher than before the 2007 crash.


On Monday amongst several high profile deals (Sprint, T Mobile ; Marathon Petroleum,  Andeavor : Sainsbury, Asda) you could be forgiven for missing the very exciting announcement: Certus is joining Accenture


This is all about the success of Certus and whilst the future looks great and full of opportunity for us all, I want to talk about why Certus were so attractive to Accenture.

The Certus story is about 2 people who believed that there was an opportunity to enter the Oracle Applications market when it was first announced Fusion would move to cloud and caused disruption for the existing partners. 

In turn Certus disrupted that market even further.  They surrounded themselves with like-minded experts to grow, and again at each stage of their success, they added another layer. 

They reached out to Oracle Development and spent many months, learning and proving their commitment. Then they used their learning to train people, becoming an Oracle Education partner. Customer projects followed and soon their first full Fusion implementation. They grew and grew.

There was no shortage of people wanting to join Certus, anyone who wanted to work with Cloud Applications knew Certus had real work.

Their reputation grew with their success and was recognised by customers, Oracle and other ecosystem. This week after the announcement I have had many congratulations for Certus - another great testament.

So proud to have been part of this success and to be part of the future. Accenture have bought a great team. 




Sunday, 29 April 2018

2018 Collaborate - Women and the ACE Program


My final post from Collaborate.

There was a WIT lunch and I really enjoyed it. My fellow #UGR Michelle introduced the speaker Heather Parks who I thought was very nervous. She had a great story to tell as a successful #WIT in Las Vegas and once she started to take questions all the nerves disappeared and she was much better.

She told a couple of jokes, one which I can't put in print! But the one I loved was 

'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas... in a database to be used to get you to come back and spend more money'

Then there was a #WIT Panel which Michelle facilitated. What I loved was how positive it was, no moaning, just positive stories and advice on how to get on.

The ACE Program had their traditional reception on the Monday evening and it was great to see a new Woman Seems Satapathy in the ranks and a new female ACE Director, well done Michelle Kolbe. However this isn't about targets or quotas and I'm equally pleased to see the men succeed in the program as well.


Mia Urman created an impromptu #WIT breakfast which was quite a feat considering the restaurant wouldn't reserve a large table. In fact they were very unhelpful and Michelle and I almost missed out, but we joined them just in time for the photo.

It was a good conference and great too see so many women taking part.


2018 Collaborate - Feeling Good



I had a great time at Collaborate 18 even if it was in Las Vegas (not my favourite destination).



I had plenty of sessions to deliver and even had time to attend several. The best one was from an old colleague in Fujitsu who did a comparison of EBS and Cloud Finance.
It was great to spend time with old friend, make new friends and room with the other 2 thirds of #UGR.
One of those was who worked with me on a project in Belfast probably 8 or 9 years ago and is now living in the US.




I took the opportunity to get a new profile picture since I have recently stopped colouring my hair and need one that shows the grey. Thank you Quest for the opportunity.



It was also good to see this man back speaking. My great friend Floyd Teter.




I had more fun with the ACE Program and several #WIT events.

See you next year in Texas.


2018 Collaborate - Certus Presentatons


Certus had 5 sessions at Collaborate, with both Quest and OAUG.



My first presentation was on Chatbots with HCM Cloud. This isn't the concept of internal chatbots with HR Helpdesk, but using Oracle Mobile to create a chatbot. Thank you again to Grant and Rohit for all your help.

I had a good crowd for what was the first delegate session after the main keynote. Tim Warner, my boss was my assistant and thanks to the audience gave me a 100% pay rise to keep me after I threatened to resign via the instant app in the chatbot. Great fun.
Then there was something new, Turbo Talks. Here OAUG had small areas in the exhibition hall. They had cardboard seats and using a mobile app could tune into one of 4 simultaneous talks. Mine was on the different ways you can extend Cloud Applications, and the pros and cons of each. There were a couple of technical blips but it was great fun and I would certainly do it again.




The third presentation was Tim's - he talked about the new UX in HCM Cloud Release 13 and the new patching regime. We validate or test the releases in advance for development, and have done 3 upgrades internally. There are a lot of changes, R13 is a real big upgrade but them we move to quarterly updates. It is really difficult to get your head around it and I got back to our first quarterly upgrades and they weren't exactly as expected!!







Then I had one more presentation to give, my VBCS presentation, with my now 'legendary' live demo to create a new app, link it to a HCM API, integrate it into the HCM menu and then top it off with a mobile app. It was so popular I did it twice! This presentation is based on the original article I wrote for Oracle Scene.


My Mobile App






















I had a great time presenting and hopefully all the attendees learnt something.


UGR - User Group Royalty


A irreverent look at life after Leadership.

Just a few weeks after my term ended on the UKOUG board I was at Collaborate in Las Vegas with two other past presidents, Michelle Malcher IOUG and Sue Shaw Quest


Conferences can be expensive and over the years I have taken to sharing accommodation whenever possible to cut down the costs, and this time the 3 of us shared a room. A lovely room. We got us a suite at a very good price at the Mandalay Bay and it was very nice, thank you.

It was so nice we referred to it as the 'Palace'. It was at the end of a very long corridor which we called the 'Royal Mile' and very soon we had called ourselves 'User Group Royalty'. I loved it, we have each worked very hard for our respective groups and are all still very involved.

We have each had the opportunity to meet many people over the years, been involved with international user group meetings (IOUC) and become very good friends. All three of us were speaking at the conference and Michelle (despite having said she would never write another one), had a new book to promote - DBA Transformations

Michelle and I kicked off the week with the Gospel brunch on Sunday at the House of Blues

So we worked hard, but we also had the chance to have fun. All 3 of us are in the ACE program, and joined Jennifer at the ACE reception on the Monday.

Tuesday we were back at the House of Blues to hear the Conference Room Pilots, a vendor band that were really good. And then Wednesday we went to the beach for the conference Party.

Thursday evening, Sue's husband Ian joined us and we went to the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur and then before leaving on Friday, Michelle and I did the Shark Reef. 

Life is Good. 






Sunday, 15 April 2018

Chatbots - A Public Apology at Collaborate


One of the first sessions at Collaborate 2018 is my chatbot presentation
Last year at Oracle Open World I blogged about a chatbots session I had seen when visiting Oracle's User Experience labs the week before. 
The blog was about how the idea of a chatbot seemed alien to me as a reason to use Oracle Cloud. I did recognise that this is a common reaction to new technology and that I had been caught out before with voice recognition.

Anyway roll on 6 months and it's a real hot topic, something at Certus we recognise the need to be on top off. We have to keep up with the continuous innovation that Cloud brings. There is no cushion of time, whilst you wait for a customer to upgrade.

I saw lots of chatbot demos, and even did an online chatbot training course through Oracle Alliance & Channels. However the content was hard coded and not coming from a database and certainly not from Oracle SaaS.


I knew I had to learn this and so I had employed my favourite tactic, I submitted a presentation for a conference. And it was accepted! Thank you Quest for giving me the opportunity to publicly apologise for my earlier scepticism.


So if you are at Collaborate - please come along
Session ID: 105380  Reef F 0945 Monday 
Abstract: Do chatbots have a place in your HR department? This session deconstructs the chatbot to explain how it works

Through the ACE program we have fantastic access to Product Management and so I contacted Grant Ronald and asked him for some advice. There was also a delay in getting the cloud instance built and time was running out, but Grant had an answer.

Rohit Dhamija a Principal Product Manager working for Grant, was happy to work with me. I got a chatbot built and he got to learn all about Cloud HCM. 

The demo of the will return details quicker than logging into the system, deliver an FAQ and even allow me to resign online!

So come along and see our presentation and learn how it is actually done, and what is happening behind the exciting demo.















Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Passing on the Baton, Still Supporting the Team


As you will have seen in today's UKOUG eBulletin my participation on the board has come to an end. The time has come to hand over the baton to Neil Chandler and leave the organisation in the very capable hands of our current board.

It is a little bit sad. I know it right to go but I also feel there were things I had not finished however the board are perfectly capable of taking over.

As I start the hand over I had the chance to reflect on what I have achieved in all my time on the board, both this period and the earlier period which ended with me being chairman and then president:

  • I have worked hard to welcome our 'acquired' communities of PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Hyperion, Siebel etc into the wider user group world.
  • Bringing the User Experience team and their labs to UKOUG
  • I've bought Women in Technology and Next Generation initiatives which although we are always looking for better ways to make a difference are at least on the agenda.
  • On a personal note, UKOUG gave me, as it has many other members of the Oracle ACE program, an opportunity and stage, to learn my craft as a presenter and the opportunities to share my Oracle knowledge. I will certainly continue to do so.
  • I also grew my career through UKOUG, many years ago when first joining the board I undertook Director training from the Institute of Directors, jointly funded by UKOUG (in the main via a grant) and my then employer Fujitsu. Through that and many, many hours of hard work I gained my Charted IT Professional, Chartered Engineer (Software) and Chartered Director. 
But it hasn't all been easy, user groups have many challenges, I have seen Oracle change beyond recognition, both through acquisition and their move to Cloud. The global crash put great pressure on training of all kind and usergroup events struggled with both attendees and exhibitors. Digital disruption has also bought social marketing which now competes with in person marketing. Oracle are a big competitor too, not a month goes by that they don't have an event or meetup. More personal to UKOUG, we have had a succession of interim leaders since James Haslam left and now with James Jeynes having moved on there is again lots to think about. I still believe user groups have a big role to play, our independence from and our ability to influence Oracle are a big benefit to our members and the meeting of like minds to learn from each other should never be underestimated.

Paul Fitton our President has talked about the current Project Reach which looks to address the current challenges and I know that those involved will all work to overcome them with exciting new ways of working. My most recent job at UKOUG was to revise and re-issue our Mission and Values.

I want to thank all those who I have served on the board with, Ronan Miles for his mentorship, Burt Spence for his original encouragement and more recently Fiona Martin. I also want to thank the staff led by Karen McCormack. It hasn't always been easy but we have always delivered.

Most of all I hope I have encouraged others and that I don't need to be on the board to do.
I'm not leaving UKOUG, I am still leading the Applications conference this year, and hope to volunteer in a number of other areas so you haven't heard the last of me.