Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Fusion the Name is Back in Fashion!


In 2014 Oracle tried to drop the name Fusion from it's applications. I even wrote a blog.

I've held workshops where we had a swear box for every time someone said Fusion.

Then I was forced to start using the F Word again when Cloud Applications could also mean putting EBS in the Cloud. People were confused.

Watch here, it is used in the title of the video, on the slides and he says it at 5:44 minutes. And if you didn't see this live, or watch it later, I do recommend you do so now, a good roundup of what they intend to do.




However, I have now decided Fusion is the right term to use. Larry Ellison used it at OOW, and if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me!



The Need for Wi-Fi and Good AV


THIS IS A RANT!

Like it or not, our world is moving to the cloud. As ACE Directors we are encouraged to not only talk but to demo the cloud.

All you need to run the cloud is a browser, and ADEQUATE wifi.

When locations are chosen for events, it is not enough to ask if they have wifi and then believe it will work. Everyone is using the wifi and as a tech audience we are even worse. It isn't about having wifi, it is about the strength and bandwidth.

As I type this, I have just seen an news article on the BBC that yesterday, Christmas Day, the sheer number of Alexa (and other devices) being connected at the same time caused issues.

BBC Website 26 December 2018

Too many times I am unable to show my demos because there is little or no wifi. If you are using a technology that is available offline, then you may be able to have it running on your PC, but that isn't cloud! My SaaS and PaaS world can't be run in an image locally, they need wifi access!

Many times I have to run on 4G but some venues have really poor 4G and abroad I cannot afford to roam for that period of time.

AV is just as bad, showing a powerpoint is normally fine, but once you start showing screen shots of applications, or running code many older buildings struggle. I think organisers should have a presentation put together that includes these, plus colours, and audio / video and test the venue.

Oracle is red, if the red doesn't work, it simply doesn't look Oracle!

Perhaps speakers should be asked to rate Wifi and AV as part of their feedback on a standard scale so venues that fail are not used again until fixed.

RANT OVER! (for now)


2018 My Sangam Sessions


AIOUG has a good number of Apps delegates, both functional and those who support both Fusion and on-premise applications. So, for me I had great audiences.

One day one, I gave my ‘Back to Basics’ session. This is one aimed at EBS administrators. It might not matter to the Oracle salesman what is under the solution and probably not to the organisation, but to those who have invested time in running the current solution they want to know what is under the covers even if they can’t actually touch it.

My session followed one with a similar abstract from Basheer Khan. My first thought was not only it could be duplication but what if we don’t agree? Basheer has a different style than me and is more hands on with the technical, so actually we complimented each other very well. Having seen what Basheer had to say, I was able to add to some topics he had covered and spend more time on those he didn’t.

I’ve known Basheer since the start of Fusion and he was part of the usergroup initiative I led in the Product Development Committee. He is also a fellow UX Advocate. He is a real gentleman and great educator, but here at Sangam he was also an Indian who had made a very successful career and business in IT. A real inspiration.

I always judge my session by the questions, not by the number of delegates, although here
I had about 60-70 which was amazing. Questions show the level of understanding you have delivered to the room and help me to develop the session further. I was very happy.

Day two, first up for me was my ‘Which Cloud?’ presentation. This is based on an Oracle Scene article I wrote. To me it is very simple, but delegates love it. Feedback I have had is that it talks about all the options in one session, rather than their account manager selling Fusion, the EBS team telling them not to worry, they will go on supporting and enhancing EBS and perhaps their IT team for or against a cloud platform. I always leave a lot of time for questions in this session, and they came. Each answer is of course prefaced with the famous Ask Tom, ‘it depends’ but I love this paper.

My third session was ‘Extending Fusion, #PaaS4SaaS, AGAIN straight after Basheer on the same topic, but again from different angles. Great for delegates. As is common at conferences the Wi-Fi was not up to par, but Sai came to the rescue with a 4G dongle. It worked fine for my PC but not so with my phone so the chatbot portion was a little light on demo, but I always have screen shots. It all worked and since Basheer showed a lot of ADF I was able to shorten that portion and do more on the new Digital Assistant and VBCS.

I could talk all day on Fusion and this conference certainly gave me plenty of opportunity. Throughout both days I had many corridor discussions with delegates about the products and PaaS solutions.


Sunday, 16 December 2018

Oracle Developer Advocates


Connor McDonald and Chris Saxon are Developer Advocates in Oracle. Their role is to engage with the community and encourage them to use the Oracle database. They are also 2/3rds of the famous Ask Tom with Maria Colgan, In Memory PM, being the third

They work closely with both the ACE program, who are non-Oracle, Oracle advocates and user groups who bring the users together. In fact, they often represent the Oracle side of the ACE program, Chris hosting the ACE dinner at UKOUG and Connor giving a talk on the program at Sangam18, just two examples. I am not a database practitioner but have always been aware of their presence and impact, and over the last few months have watched them more and more and how they add energy to so many events.

I’ve known Connor for a long time, in fact at one time we both worked for Fujitsu, albeit at different ends of the earth. His presentation style is legendary. Hundreds, and I mean hundreds of slides, that tell a story simply in a rapid-fire approach. He makes it look simple, but I once had the privilege of observing Connor create a presentation whilst staying him in Australia, and I promise the simplicity comes from an equal number of hours of preparation. More recently he has added videos to his repertoire and they are just so entertaining and deliver that community message so well. My favourite is still his UKOUG 2017 video.

Chris is someone I only met a few years ago, and a very different character to Connor. At first, I thought he would be over shadowed by him, but that was unnecessary, Chris has developed his own way of engaging and often works with ACE Directors on entertaining and different presentations that are still packed with knowledge sharing.

At OOW this year Chris and Alex Nuijten came up with an idea to have a competition between Oracle and ANSI SQL standards. Not a simple compare and contrast presentation, or even a debate but a full-on sparring match. Several times I saw them in the hotel lobby or sat in a corner discussing the various attributes they wanted to highlight. I asked what they were up to and they shared their vision of an actual boxing match with me and I loved it and persuaded them I could make a great ring girl walking across the stage with the round boards.

The first match, and I do hope other user groups who invite them to repeat the session, was at the DOAG. They came on to the stage, complete with boxing gloves and a typical fight build up complete with voice over, provided but Bob Rhubart. It is this attention to detail that sets advocates apart.



Their arguments were well rehearsed but flowed so naturally, each one backed up by a worked example. This was serious education. I won’t tell you who won, because I want you to see it, and learn from it. They did have a championship belt for the winner, but it wasn’t of suitable quality, so another reason for having the season repeated is I made them a new, more fitting prize.

More recently I was at Sangam and both Connor and Chris was there. This is a conference of very long days and energy giving sessions are a must. Connor did many but the one I loved was to kick off day two he had a quiz. Everyone had to stand up, and then he asked a question, with 3 possible answers. Each answer had a gesture, like hands on head, arms folded or hands on hips. You had 3 seconds to decide on your answer and adopt the pose, then if you were wrong you had to sit down. The questions continued until a winner was found. The questions ranged from Oracle related, to database questions and a good sprinkling of fun, like where did the ‘Scott / Tiger’ password come from on the database?

It was such fun, and we have several rounds and I just love the different ways people attempted to cheat. Again, it looked simple, but you can guarantee a lot of work went into that.

Chris finished the event with a card trick. Again, I won’t spoil the details for those who haven’t seen it yet, but he got someone on stage to pick a card in a SQL statement and then correctly ‘read’ the volunteers mind as to the card. Very, very entertaining, with a lot of work into the presentation but with an education sound bite as well.

You may think they have the ultimate job, travelling the world and playing at SQL, but I promise you there is a lot of work happening behind the scenes. But the energy they bring to their audience, the education they deliver and the love of Oracle they engender to their followers is a credit to their role. 




2018 Sangam - Encouraging the Local Presenters


At the Oracle ACE session at #Sangam18, all ACE speakers were asked what they thought the program meant to them. I talked about the part of our role that is to encourage local speakers. I shared the story that when I first went to South America on an ACE tour the events were small with few local speakers, that is now defiantly not true and they have many ACEs including Directors, they just needed encouragement.

I try hard to listen to at least some local speakers when they are in english. It is so easy at a conference to just spend time with the other overseas speakers, these are your friends and the only time you may see them, but that could add to the sometimes elitist challenge aimed against ACEs, and it doesn’t deliver on encouraging.

There is an ACE in Bangalore. Ashish Harbhajanka, a Fusion Solution Architect, who has been active on blogging via ‘Apps2Fusion’ for many years and has written SIX books on HCM. We follow each other, and it was so lovely to hear him say he found me inspirational.

He was given his ACE last year in recognition to his community contribution but had never spoken at an event! You might be shocked by that, but the amazing Tim Hall, Oracle-Base, made it to ACE Director without ever having spoken, the content he delivered through his website was so powerful.

I remember trying to get Tim to UKOUG and the first time he cancelled saying he was ill. At the time I thought it was simply an excuse but now I know him better he may well of been, but speaking for the first time is daunting, especially if you have a reputation to live up to.

Anyway, Ashish was to give his first presentation at #Sangam18, and asked me so politely if I would consider attending. Why not? His area is Fusion HCM, and he wants to share that knowledge. He asked me for advice and I said he knew his stuff and had no problem talking to a blank sheet when writing his books. I told him to pretend the audience is the same, people who need to be moved from an empty page to one full of knowledge.

At the session he was obviously nervous, he forgot to put his PowerPoint into show mode, but once the audience corrected him, he was engaged. He spoke very fast but again that gave him time for questions, this is still a topic that has many unanswered questions and many in the audience have yet to work with the product.

He was great and I am sure it was the first of many sessions he will deliver for AIOUG.

Anish is not just a fellow ACE Program member, he is a colleague, he is one of 400,000 employees worldwide in Accenture. Now work for Accenture and they have a big presence in India. Unfortunately, because I could only stay for 2 days, I had no opportunity to visit the office, which I regret but hopefully next time.

I wish Ashish all the luck in his speaking career and hope to hear him speak again sometime.



2018 Sangam - A Tale of Two Journeys


A few weeks ago, when posting I was going to Sangam I talked about my Yathra trip which whilst I loved the conferences, I hated the travel!

I have always been a nervous passenger on roads. In fact I am a real pathetic person, who used to hide behind the sofa when Dr Who was on, and have never come out from there. I can’t watch horror or sci-fi films and even dramas I close my eyes at, when violence happens. 

As a car passenger I am getting worse and if you don’t believe me, ask my daughter or poor Andy Haack who drove me to SAOUG in South Africa.
So, India, well known for its traffic problems is a very big worry for me and going to Sangam was fulfilling a commitment I had made to Sai Penumuru several years before.

I kept telling everyone I was only going for 72 hours but actually I spent 48 hours In India, 42 at the conference (obviously) and 24 in the air!

The flight over was Hell. I have had many bad flights but this one was bidding for a place in the bottom 10. Probably it wasn’t helped by the fact I have been really busy recently, travelling for work, making the cultural move into Accenture and working on some high-profile initiatives for them which are both exciting and challenging. 

I try to fly British Airways or at least One World as status matters to me. I rarely turn left on a plane but as long as I get an aisle seat on the left of the plane, I am usually OK. It is how I am treated that matters to me. Lounge access and even more importantly how problems are resolved.

Anyone who travels BA will tell you, they aren’t how they used to be. Top status is still great but it is very difficult to achieve by sitting in the back. I fly every week to London and that earns me between 5-10 points each way. To achieve top status you need 1500 points, and this year, somewhere between Open World and home I reached Gold for the first time in years. Armed with my shiny new card I expected this to be a good experience.

If the upgrade to Premium Economy is not too astronomical, I do sometimes, like for South Africa, treat myself. The ACE program pays only economy and that is fair, they have a finite budget and it makes it go further. However, for this journey it was not even available on the trip out.

The flight started to board on time, however there were 45! Wheelchair passengers, plus many elderly and many families with young children, who boarded early. A good 50% of economy. My status allowed me Group 1 boarding and yet space was already at a premium!
Many airlines limit the number of wheelchair passengers as how do you deal with that many in an emergency?

TECHNICALLY young children is those under two, although either these children were very big for their age or there was some other unadvertised definition on this flight. The idea is it gives them more time to settle the children into their seats.




I had selected 16B, a seat which had no seat in front and I knew it would be likely to attract those who walk past without caring who they knock with their backpack, but this flight proved everything Oracle-Base says about fellow passengers right, and more!

The guy in the window seat of my row, used the arm of my seat to rest his bag on whilst he took items out, whilst I was sat there, then he climbed over me and the central seat passenger again without saying anything. He also suffered from bouncy leg syndrome and a worse bladder than me. Each time he got up for the bathroom he again simply clambered over us. On the third time, I asked him if he could speak, and he was surprised at the question. Once he confirmed he wasn’t mute I asked him to consider using ‘please or excuse me’ next time. He didn’t listen but was a little more careful from then on.

Once we were all boarded and the overhead lockers eventually closed, despite being at beyond full capacity we were ready to go, but not quite, the captain announce that a passenger was unable to ‘travel today’ and their luggage would need offloading. Not sure if that was a visa or medical issue but it caused a two-hour delay.

Did I mention the very many children on my flight? Well sitting still for 2 hours when we haven’t even taken off does not help the situation. This plus an 11-hour flight meant that many were suffering with complete boredom. About 2 hours into the flight, we were served dinner. And on the tray BA had kindly included a little sachet of human nightmare. Advertised as a mouthwash, a small sachet that carried the warning that the contents, artificial colours’, may affect the behaviours and attention of children.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!!!


The meal itself was OK, but I am not sure about the choice. I have posted before on the ‘chicken or pasta’ choice', it could mean anything, but on this route the choice was simply ‘Vegetarian or non-vegetarian’.

The journey was made bearable by the gentleman next to me who was a PHD student in the US going home to surprise his mother. He is researching network security and was really interesting to talk to. Thankyou Michelle Malcher for equipping me with enough buzz words to be able to get beyond the first line if his story.

Finally, we landed, and I must say the hotel representative that met me was excellent. I was worried that being late meant we would hit the main rush hour, which is why I had selected a flight that was due to land at 5am. The driver told me it would still be OK, and I got into the back of the car. In my mind, I was going to use my travel cushion and sleep for the 90-120-minute journey, but before we left the airport, the car horns I had erased from my memory ensured sleep was not an option. Nor too was looking at the road, watching the lorries get too close and then a motorbike going between you and those too close vehicles. Tuk Tuks meander at a brisk pace and fill me with horror, so I pulled down the hood of my cushion and braced myself for the journey.

I had no intent of leaving the hotel, and when Connor McDonald told me it took over 30 minutes for him to cross the road, I was so glad our speakers’ dinner was on site. Connor also had to came home by Tuk Tuk as he couldn't get a taxi after his dinner outside.



However, after the event Patrick Jolliffe persuaded us to go to a local biryani restaurant not far from the hotel. 



The walk was OK, lots of traffic noise but I didn’t look at that too much as eyes on the pavement was more important, with many family sized holes in the short distance. We did have to cross the road but with Luis Weir my friendly Venezuelan and Patrick to help me, I survived. The food was lovely, and I felt very pleased I had been persuaded to venture outside and experience just a little bit of life beyond the hotel where not only I stayed but the conference was held.

My flight home was at 7am, which meant a 3.30am start to the airport. It was quieter and to be honest my driver never used his horn until we got to the airport, which is ironic as they are banned there!

Then the flight home was the complete opposite. I was sat at the bulk head, next to a lady with a young baby and a steward asked me if I would like to move so she could have some more room. The flight wasn’t full and in fact they had a row of 3 seats by the door with lots of leg room. Although you can’t lie across them, I could spread out and was able to sleep or work whenever I wanted. 

Also, on this trip the pursuer came to me and welcomed me as a gold member, treated me really well and made me feel valued. 

That should be the end of the tale, the travel got better the longer the trip lasted but I was also humbled by a delegate who when I was telling him of my fear shared his wisdom with me.


When we are frightened, we have two choices, embrace it or avoid it, and I was taking the wrong choice

Wise, wise words. Not sure how I will make a change but it is now top of my 2019 objectives. 



2018 Sangam - A Meeting of Minds



Sangam means, a meeting of Minds. It is the very definition of a community. 

Sai Penumuru is the president and a fellow ACE director. His passion is legendary, and he inspires that passion in his large army of volunteers that makes the All India Oracle User Group work.

AIOUG is made up of chapters around the country. The Yathra event in Feb / Mar visits these chapters on ‘the journey’. Sangam, or the meeting of minds is a two-day event that brings them altogether. 

Traffic in India is a big problem but that’s for another blog! Bangalore especially has terrible issues as the city has grown 500% in 10 years as IT has taken over, so the 2 days start very early and finish very late so people can avoid some of that traffic.

When a day is 11-12 hours long you can’t just have presentations, it is not sustainable. You need community activities, energy creating sessions and lots of variety.

I talk about the energy session in another post about Connor McDonald and Chris Saxon but Sai also encouraged the almost 1,000 delegate audience to take part in networking activities.

He asked everyone to ensure they ‘sat next to a stranger’ – get to know someone they didn’t previously know, and my favourite advice, ‘go to at least one session with a topic outside their normal area’. 

They had a selfie competition. Not just take a selfie, add a hashtag and post to twitter, that would be too simple. Indians love social media, something made clear even in the hotel, where the laundry list in the rooms said, ‘look as good as you do in social media’.  Each delegate had two names on the back of their pass telling them which two random speakers they had to get a selfie with, and post in order to get their conference T shirt. Judging by the sea of maroon in the group photos, most succeeded. There were prizes so the most tweets and we are talking some people having multiple hundreds over the 2 days.


This was also the 10thAnniversary of Sangam, and the hotel staff created a beautiful cake for the last session.

As well as my sessions, I took part in both a WIT and ACE session and an expert panel.

WIT Session leaders
I think the % of women at Sangam was higher than in UKOUG but the figures they showed were still disappointing for their industry, but there is improvement. 

There are opportunities, but they feel they have to fight harder to be given them. One girl spoke about how she took certifications in Linux, the database and several other specialisations, and yet still took time to achieve a role using them. There was also a big problem around shift work. I have often heard that women are asked questions they feel their male colleagues wouldn’t be asked, like ‘is travel a problem?’, ‘are you ok to work weekends?’ etc but here it was a level higher.

Many companies outsource their IT to India and that means there is a very big need for shift workers. One DBA, Aishwarya Kala, who works for Pythian, told us of one interview (not her current job), where she was asked if she was happy with night shifts. She said she was and then was told ‘I don’t want to hear any complaints that it is dangerous, that you need a taxi to come to work’. India currently has a problem with violence against women and yet the prospective employer saw this as another reason why to avoid female workers rather than help them.



But there are signs of hope. They shared a video of M.O.M, a super science initiative 4 years ago where India sent a probe to Mars and many of the team were women. This gave women respect, and a voice and this picture of them became a national source of pride.


At the ACE session, Sai asked each of us to share what the program meant to us personally. I shared my thoughts on how we must encourage the local experts in the events we participate in, to be part of the program. There was a roomful of people who raised their hands when asked if they had ambitions to be part of the program. Each ACE member agreed that they should share their knowledge for the benefit of themselves as much as their audience. To educate themselves, to improve their skills and their employment opportunities. If that results in others learning, then ACE membership will come naturally. Sai, himself an ACE Director, has ambitions for India to have the highest number of ACE program members, in line with Indian’s influence in IT.


just some of the team





















I loved this conference, I want to go again, and I wish Sai and his team, every success with their plans.



And my leaving thoughts to the conference are in this video recorded at the time.



Wednesday, 12 December 2018

2018 UKOUG Community Sessions - WIT and ACE


This was the first year Jennifer, the ACE Program lead was unable to attend UKOUG, but they still supported UKOUG and sponsored the speaker awards. Chris Saxon presented them on the program’s behalf and it was great to see a few more Lifetime Achievement Awards and a good showing of women in Apps, although it would be good to see more in the tech area. 

Chris also hosted the ACE dinner, which was a great chance Io catch up with friends. I was really pleased to hear that Ruben Rodriguez got his ACE Director, and I was proud to have been one of his nominators.

Every year I talk about how I want WIT (Women in IT), to be about encouraging women and this year the speakers didn't disappoint.

I again hosted the WIT breakfast, which like previous years was packed and not just with women. This year we had Daya Haines Haddock from the US who was another speaker award winner and Amy Simpson-Grange from Capgemini. I entitled the session 'Then & Now' and wanted to explore if things had changed. 



Daya gave a great talk on how she had built a successful career based on taking opportunities and making them her enablers.

Amy was awesome and not only shared her story but referred to a TED talk that really inspired.

Amy is a modern apprentice, started work with Capgemini at 18, doing her degree part time. Not only has she excelled, gaining a 1st Class but she now leads a team of developers and has really succeeded. 

UKOUG had a #PasstheKnowledge campaign where they encouraged people to make a video with what they learnt. Since we were all so enthused by these ladies the whole room made a video. Thank you Neil for being the man behind the camera.


click link above for #passtheknowledge video

The next day Amy also gave a session on Robotic Process Automation which I attended. Not only was I interested in the subject but this is was her first presentation, I have been encouraging her since I first met Amy in March.She is a natural. She coped with technical issues both before and during the presentation and her content was eloquent, engaging and educational. In fact I want the understanding RPA part of that session in the Business & Strategy content for apps!

Defiantly exceeded the encourage brief! Thank you ladies







2018 My UKOUG



My UKOUG                   

Obviously, my own sessions were on Fusion Cloud.

Monday I talked about Extending with PaaS, I had a really good audience and I was very happy. My second session was on Wednesday and was chatbots so I expected a good turnout for that. However I think 9am on Wednesday, after the party Tuesday and the only session before coffee, meant it was a bit disappointing. However, Grant Ronald the chatbot PM who helped me with the technology back in the spring, attended this talk for the first time and said he really liked it. That meant a lot.

I must have PaaS on the brain as I managed to tweet
about my sessions with a pun in the event hashtag!

I also did a Q&A with Fiona Martin (KPMG) and John Aldwinckle (Oracle), for those thinking about Fusion. This was a good session with lots of questions. Stuart Entwistle held a similar session on Wednesday for those in the Cloud; what did they want from UKOUG?

Whilst I love to present, we all love customer stories and I was so glad to see Sarah Wormwell from Standard Life win a Speakers Award for her story last year. 

Kevin Osborne who is from Office for National Statistics, a project I was part of the implementation, spoke about Life in the Cloud two years in, and it was such an engaging story. Kevin and his team have been through a steep learning curve but are so enthusiastic about their use of Fusion.


I also attended Amy's RPA talk.

Outside of sessions, I loved the talk by John McCarthy on his time as a hostage, 1,943 days. He hardly took a breath and had so much more to share, he was amazing. I had heard him before on a documentary, remember the events of his freedom well and have heard his fellow captor Brian Keenan speak in Belfast, so could relate to their story as an observer. Most important to me was that he made a point he bears no ill-will to Muslims.

I loved the event and hope you did too.





2018 UKOUG Conference


Although I am no longer UKOUG Board, I did still have responsibility for Apps 18. But you don’t do this on your own, you have a great team behind you. 

The main priority of the team is to deliver great content. After the for papers, and paper selection day we were quite happy with the agenda. However, as the weeks go on there are inevitably cancellations and then we have gaps to fill. This year it appeared to be a bigger problem than normal however the range of sessions actually delivered were I think, good.

This year we tried to concentrate on Thinking about Cloud, Living in the Cloud and Staying on Premise. I felt we didn’t reach as many cloud end users as we should have, but we did have a good number. I was very impressed with the on-premise communities.

In the run up to conference numbers were slow to grow, and just a week out I was very nervous, but then at the last minute, numbers increased, and I was happy that there were enough to make the sessions interactive and allow people the networking usergroup provide so well.

I was once told that the reason you should never organise your own wedding is because you spend the whole event worrying, and you notice every little detail that goes wrong. I always feel like that at UKOUG events although it was not as all encompassing this year as when I was on the board.

The 3 board members are all very involved in the event, all as speakers but with other roles as well. Neil Chandler for Tech content lead and I think he and his team delivered.

Martin Widlake spoke as president in the opening session and gave a great explanation of how UKOUG was changing. He was an engaging presenter and his passion showed. My only criticism was he forgot to explain the plans for Apps next year and he told me that himself afterwards, but there will be more communications.


I was especially pleased with the addition of ‘independent’ to the logo. Whilst still on the board I led the 'Mission and Values' preface into Project Reach and that was the top recommendation from my group of volunteers.

I also attended a session on Super Sunday from Brendan Tierney. Again, we don’t normally cover the same subjects but he was talking about Machine Learning and I had seen Heli’s session at DOAG and wanted to learn more. I found Brendan’s a great session to build on that and loved his approach. He said people learn better from example than by fact and I would wholeheartedly agree. And the fact he served Irish Whiskey just topped the session.

I must congratulate the board, and Karen with her entire team for the event. I and everyone else really enjoyed it.





Monday, 10 December 2018

2018 DOAG


Every blog about the DOAG could be the same. 

We expect a lot from German efficiency and they always deliver. My overriding emotion each year is venue envy. I love the building. I have been to literally 100s of events and this is the best venue by far. 


It isn’t too big, or rather it isn’t spread out over too big an area like you get in some US venues, but there is plenty of space for people to mingle and network. The atrium allows for the exhibitors to be spread over different levels and have constant footfall. Then there is the restaurants that allow people to sit and eat when they want. The DOAG don’t have breaks, there are sessions starting on the hour every hour, and the delegates decide when to break. The transport networks are simple and work and ensure delegates also get to be right in the centre of the town with all the restaurants and entertainment you could ask for.

This year I gave my PaaS Extensions and Chatbot sessions. The PaaS Extensions had a good crowd and I am having more and more discussions with delegates around this these products are being considered more and more. I am very happy with the latest demo I have added around VBCS. Again, this is a PoC where I have worked with Product Management, and this is how I learn, share with my colleagues and the community and then deliver solutions for our customers.

Duncan Mills attended my chatbot session and gave me great feedback on how I explained the concepts. That really pleased me because I like to think my personal skill is to take something technical, dissect it and make it seem simple to the business community and so the value it brings, at the same time showing technical people that value. Bringing the two communities together. 


I attended a great session from Chris Saxon and Alex Nuiten on SQL standards which I got to be their Ring Girl and I hope to see again, especially since I have now made them a new belt!


I missed the ACE dinner at the start of the event as my flight in was quite late, but I thank the ACE program for enabling me to be there. I also thank the DOAG for selecting me, making me feel welcome and their hospitality.



Sunday, 18 November 2018

2018 South Africa Oracle User Group


This was an amazing conference from the South African User group.



I have spoken before in South Africa, the first time in 2013 there were several hundred attendees and then they went through some tough times, but the passion never left and a few people have resurrected the event. Last year was good and this year they have done it all themselves, no outsourcing, all themselves and they excelled themselves.


Wolfgang the Conference Organiser

The event kicked off with a WIT dinner. It was fantastic and it did create a lot of conversation between the 30+ women who attended. It was a dinner, a networking event but I think I would have liked men to be allowed. It was discussed and on balance decided that the conversation might not have been the same. There was a golf day as well and although it was not closed to women it was a mens' event.
WIT Dinner

The Oracle keynote talked about what it happening in South Africa, including showing this video about the Oracle School which is now 10 years old. I am very impressed with the technical school at Redwood Shores and didn't know they had one in South Africa. The stats 10 years on are very impressive.

Then there was 2 days of great content. About 160 delegates, across technology and apps and a pleasant surprise to me that apps was about 50% and shared between JDE and EBS.

My first session was on extending SaaS and the room was full. I was so pleased. I did arrive early for the event and did have to add to both this presentation and my second to update for OOW.

Amanda the President Opening the Event
My second session the following day was the chatbot session, now explaining how the new Digital Assistants work. Again a full house, including my hotel guest Sorell.

Well done everyone this was an amazing conference.










2018 SAOUG The Travel Blog


I flew out overnight from London arriving very early in Johannesburg. 

This was my first time in a 787 Dreamliner and I was not impressed. I paid myself for an upgrade to premium economy and although the space was OK the lack of restrooms in this cabin was a real letdown. In fact you had to walk all the way through economy to the very few shared facilities in the rear. The pilot said it was to be a smooth flight and then we roomily had 3 hours of 'fasten your seatbelt, no hot drinks will be served' and when we were finally OK the queues for the toilets was unbelievable. Then once we had landed the pilot informed us we had just been the first automatic landing, glad he didn't tell us in advance!

Once we arrived, I had to wait for Andy Haack to arrive as the conference was a 5 hour drive in Central Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal and he was going to be my driver. ( I hate driving in unknown places and I was very uneasy about SA).

Andy picked up on my nervousness and teased me a lot about it, but he was a good driver (most of the time) and it was an amazing drive for the last 2 hours as we made our way up to the mountains. We stopped overlooking a dam for lunch and had a really tasty meat curry.



When we arrived at the resort, the view that greeted up was fantastic. I had a little snooze to rest and then we met up with the organisers for dinner. But not before experiencing the first of the beautiful sunsets. South Africa is also known for its wine and it didn't disappoint!



The Sunday was a free day for me and after spending time updating my presentations whilst enjoying the resort, I noticed the staff putting out cups for tea. It turned out this was for Remembrance Day. I asked if they were having the silence at 11 and they advised there was actually a service, at their own memorial. This was run by the MOTH organisation. I am from a military family and this service was fantastic. I met lots of lovely people, with MOTHs and residents from the Tims Share part of the resort. One gentleman Sorel, asked me about the conference and asked if he could attend! Always after more attendees I was happy to invite him and he turned up to learn about chatbots. 



Sunday evening Andy and I drove uptown the national park and we did a small trail of about 5km. I was exhausted and he was in flip-flops! I love waterfalls so finding this was a real bonus. 




The first evening had a cocktail party in the exhibition area and then we all had dinner together. The second evening we had a braai or BBQ. For me it started too late and I had perhaps have enjoyed the local wine a little too much.

I tried to capture a sunset using time lapsed photography on the last night but we had a thunderstorm instead, however still happy with the video.




Sean one of the organisers gave me a lift back to the airport on Wednesday and the view if possible was even better on the way back. Sean's wife and Eric De Vos from JDE Mart were also great company. 

The flight home was an A380 and it was wonderful. Quick shower at Heathrow and into work for the day.