Monday, 27 June 2022

'C 'to the power of many - a quick look back at KSCOPE22

My June conference season is over. 3 weeks back to back, and it finished with KSCOPE22. The conference of ODTUG for whom I am a board member. My UKOUG board experience meant I knew what I was letting myself in for, and as expected is was non stop.

ODTUG Board 2021-22

As I made a list of things to include in this blog I realised most began or could begin with 'C', so as KSCOPE is all about empowering those attending, 'C' to the power of many seemed a good title.

Composition - ODTUG serves 4 communities - APEX , Database, EPM & Analytics - 

At first glance, what is in this for me? Well I dabble in solution architecture and need to know a bit more than just the applications I work with. Also extending around the applications, the development of these extensions is my dream for the Modern Apps Development Track within the Database, The OCI tools plus the APEX, EPM and Analytics we use.

At the last KSCOPE we had good content but very few attendees in this area. This year the sessions were  better attended. Not necessarily attending just for this, but crossing streams and that is something I really encourage.

Coming Together - the week started for me with a full day board meeting. Planning for 2023 has already started, and there is more than that to plan and strategise on. Being all together gives us the chance to spend a full day in person.

Carpet - the location was the Gaylord Resort at Grapevine Texas, and there was no forgetting where you were with a bright colour carpet to remind you. in the conference centre. 

Community Service Day - it makes the week long, but many people give up their weekend and start Saturday with giving back. This year we helped at the thrift store process for GRACE, a local organisation supporting those in need. It was very hot and although we only worked for a couple of hours we got a lot done. Michelle Hardwick and I priced more Christmas decorations than I ever want to see again.

Conference Keynote - after the board said their bit , Tim Tow, a great friend but also Chief Geek of AppliedOLAP who where the Titanium sponsor spoke and then introduced the motivational speaker - Miral Kotb - ILuminate wow, she never gives up and almost uses setbacks to refuel her ambition. Simply amazing. She talked about us all 'being artists of code' a term I heard repeated many times during the week, but all those of us who are adopting it. Here is another link if you are interested.

Congratulations - during the keynote Karen Cannell, VP and Conference Chair announced that the Oracle Contributor Award from ODTUG would be renamed to Joel Kallman Oracle Contributor Award in honour of Joel, and that Jennifer Nicholson , who manages the Oracle ACE Program and some of the many user groups would be the first recipient. Jen and not yet arrived so Karen asked everyone to keep the secret. Despite a couple of almost slip ups, the secret held and Jen was presented her award at the ACE reception.

Community within a Community - The ACE program in the early days got together at KSCOPE and it has always been seen as a home for us. This was our first get together since OOW 2019, and it was just amazing to hug everyone and catch up. IT was also good to have some alumni, great ACE Directors who are now at Oracle like Connor, Doug, Scott & Michelle. 

Can't Eat it All - I also attended a Texan BBQ with some of the ACES and Jen, and learnt that whilst portions may be bigger in Texas, my capacity to eat more is not!

Can't Dance - Later in the week we would be Celebrating 25 years of ODTUG, and as this is Texas there would be dancing. They had 2 step lessons on Monday evening and a fair group (mainly us from overseas) took part. It was great fun but not sure I moved from useless along the scale very much.

Contributors - the sponsors and exhibitors are what makes the event possible, it was great to talk to them about their products and services, and for me several conversations about how that might add value in my world of the apps.

Content - Sunday is Symposium Day, each community has an in depth look at what is coming from Oracle or community speakers. 

Then 3 days of full program finishing with Hands On Labs or special Sessions on Thursday. I couldn't attend as many as I wanted as I had board duties but learnt so much from those I did,

The speakers were amazing, I can't highlight them all but I do want to call out Abi who stepped in to run a Thursday deep dive at the last minute and Ruben who agreed to do a Digital Assistant session in the MAD track.

Challenge Coin - I was presented with an APEX challenge coin, this is an amazing honour. I do not know who sponsored me but thank you. Adrian Png who runs the program said it was to do with blogs supporting the community as use of APEX.

Celebrating Diversity - The Women in IT lunch was a great opportunity to talk with other attendees and had a good sprinkling of men. I think there needs to be more but we can work on that. My group talked about how Covid may have changed the dynamics, in many different ways.

My WIT Table ladies

Celebrating our Silver Anniversary - the party, so we dressed in silver and I loved it. The dance lessons didn't help but never mind.

Connor McDonald and I in our best silver

Collaboration - One of the biggest values of ODTUG is how close they are to Oracle Product Managers and the board and community leads had meetings with each group to understand how that can grow even more in the future. The list of those attending from Oracle was unbelievable and all of them presented to their communities. These are the people who build the products, not salesmen or marketing.

Controversial? - The APEX v Visual Builder question was explored again. I talked more to product management and I started (will finish) an Oracle Live Lab on Visual Builder. As my colleague Dermot says, time for another look. I speak on the value of VB for extending SaaS and need to update that presentation. My talk at this conference was on what Inoapps have learnt extend at scale, creating SaaS products to extend Oracle's.

Cary Millsap - Cary gave an in-depth look at performance, based on his book FASTER. I knew there was a story from me in the book, he had my permission and I had read the pdf last year. The book contains > 100 quick stories that explain how to improve system performance. What I didn't know was that the book cover was a simple picture explaining the problem depicted in my story. 

Certifications - Michelle Malcher held exam krams and I am pleased to say I passed the Data Management Associate exam this morning.

I also worked my way through a hands on lab for Fusion Analytics Warehouse, so the training was pretty intense at times.

Catching Up with Friends - I can't list them all but it was so fantastic to meet old friends, catch up and meet new friends. 

Clap, Clap Hard - thanks to everyone who attended, the sponsors, exhibitors, presenters and attendees. Thanks for all the learning and conversation and thanks to YCC the team behind the logistics who pulled off another amazing conference. 

Continues - Next year KSCOPE is in Aurora, Colorado 25th June 2023 - see you there.


Saturday, 18 June 2022

As KSCOPE Kicks Off A quick look back at Blueprint4D & ASCEND 2022

 In an earlier post I talked about my busy conference season. Almost done, but I've kept the best for last - KSCOPE (I am on the board of ODTUG and my interest is the technology we use to extend SaaS, VBCS, APEX, OCI, ODA etc etc.). 

Actually that is an unfair claim, user groups have a specific audience and which one is right for you is your choice, but do be a member of at least one. Just yesterday a friend posted this on twitter - I don't know the context but boy do I agree.

So let's look at the other two I have just attended, Blueprint4D and ASCEND, both in Vegas.

First up was Blueprint4D, the QUEST event at the MGM Grand.

I have always loved QUEST and this event did not disappoint. There were a lot of sessions on Fusion that I attended and learnt from. Learning more direct from Oracle Development on HCM My Experience, which is timely as I was preventing on my take of this exciting new area. I spent many hours discussing our thoughts and plans for ME with HCM strategy.

QUEST represents JDE, PeopleSoft and Fusion plus the technology previously covered by IOUG. The JDE lead, Gary Grieshaber also has responsibility for some industries in Fusion JDE, so it was really interesting to hear his take on JDE & PeopleSoft customers who want to make the move.

For years I have had the pleasure of sharing time and sometimes lodgings with other former female usergroup leaders (and more importantly such friends), and this year was no different, apart from the amount of catch up required. 

Sue Shaw led a workshop on the Stairway to Cloud, well attended and great questions. Sue uses a decision chart (with my permission) on what to consider when deciding your next move and that chart is part of my still most popular presentation, exploring whether to stay on premise, use OCI, move to Fusion or a hybrid approach.

Michelle Malcher is also at all 3 conferences, holding exam cram sessions for various OCI and Database exams. 

At the end of the event the 3 of us had a tiny girly weekend and had the chance to go see Sting, which was excellent.

Then a quick move to the ARIA for ASCEND. OATUG & OHUG event. This covers EBS and Fusion as well as some PeopleSoft and EPM. There is a fair bit of AppsTech which is great as I love this.

A couple of months ago at UKOUG Scotland, I rekindled my EBS knowledge, spending a lot of time with Nadia Bendjedou and I shared that in an earlier post. I was able to follow up with Nadia, meet with her boss Cliff Godwin and spend time with Jeanne Lowell, talking all things EBS and when it does make sense for an org to move to Fusion Cloud. I really wished I could get my session mentioned above included in this conference it was so relevant to the whole audience, but competition was so high and I never got any paper accepted. I did offer to step in for onsite drop outs but it never happened. Perhaps next year.

I kicked off my ASCEND by attending one of Michelle's exam krams and if I ever find time may give Data Management a go, it is a new certification.

ASCEND had a motivational speaker who talked about being your own rockstar. It was high energy and thought provoking the key to a good motivational talk. I love this picture as if you weren't there you have no idea what he is talking about. But Marvellous Mark was great and you can get some of it on his website

On the Fusion side, my awesome friend Floyd Teter (Customer Connect fame) was there, talking more about journeys and I learnt so much more. Floyd included me in his sessions and allowed me to talk about my experience and thoughts. I met again with strategy including Prabu Iyer were we discussed APEX v VBCS. The answer I think will be hybrid as both give value depending on customer preference, skills and use case.

I also stepped up and gave a partner comment on the Rapid4Cloud session. We use this tool in our implementations it saves so much time and opportunity for error. 

All too soon it was time to say goodbye to so many friends and new contacts and time to join the travel chaos and make my way to Dallas for KSCOPE.

Amazing was meeting up with so many friends and making new ones, and meeting on the dance floor an old colleague I had no idea would be there. Awesome.

Lucia Jarrett, what an awesome surprise

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Such Fun and Hopefully Useful - My Afternoons with ACEs slot


Yesterday I took part in 'Afternoons with ACES' - a conversational approach to sharing Oracle expertise.

The topic was 'Extending SaaS with PaaS and how innovation has changed that', but we also talked about User Group events and my plans for the conference season. 

We are in a difficult period. Without technology, zoom, teams, skype, GoToMeeting etc, we would not have survived the pandemic commercially, however people are, to be fair, looking to reduce their screen time as we try to get back to normal, and optional webcasts are becoming less popular. Numbers are dropping a bit and no shows rising, (when you were in lockdown there were less distractions).

For me, and fellow speakers, most of us are excited by in person events, but covid is still here and people are correctly sending away if testing positive even if asymptomatic. Many people are still working for home, or in a hybrid world, and their organisations are not keen to let them go to events. So numbers are not as high as they could be, especially amongst end users. But user groups need to hold their ground, for both virtual and in person, if they give up, there will be nothing to go back to.

As I said in the last post I have 3 in person conferences in June, and am typing this as a break to the packing.

We then moved to the advertised title. #PaaS4SaaS, the development tools for extending SaaS, how to approach it and how the portfolio has gone from strength to strength. Discussed APIs and how SaaS is update proofed which does mean checking your extensions as part of your update cycles.

I also had a shout out for KSCOPE  with ODTUG, the Modern Apps Development track has lots for the #SaaS world, VBCS, Digital Assistant, APIs etc and whilst you are there cram for your OCI exams. Still time to come and join us, it will be amazing.

Thank you for the invite Lee Briggs and Thomas Simkiss and please have me back again.

You can listen to the replay here

Monday, 16 May 2022

Busy Few Weeks - An Exciting Hybrid Conference Season

Conferences are back - still a bit hybrid - some in person - some virtual and some a mixture of both.

A few weeks back I was in Scotland for UKOUG - loved it.

Last week work had an in-person event in London and despite it being football centred I loved that too.

In person events are my preference and give me so much energy. That said I recognise that virtual has moved to a much more professional platform and makes sense occasionally. Hybrid is here to stay.

This week I am presenting remotely for the Australian Usergroup AUSOUG webinar series on Fusion Journeys.

Then next week I am taking part in a new idea of 'Afternoon with ACES' - answering questions on #PaaS4SaaS. Despite being virtual, this is a format I love, no presentation, simply answering questions.

'Journeys' is a presentation I will also give remotely for the Spanish Usergroup
SPOUG. SPOUG 22 is an in person event and I so want to be there, but will present remotely as I will actually be in the US, just prior to 3 back to back in person events.

The first of these is Blueprint 4D, the QUEST event  June in Vegas. Again I am talking about Journeys. This session is based on the one I did for Customer Connect but updated to include the new My Experience messages and my thoughts on that. 

The following week I am attending ASCEND the OATUG event. I am not speaking which disappoints me but gives me an opportunity to catch up with more EBS from Cliff Godwin and Nadia Bendjedou. Nadia was at OUG Scotland and having moved to a company that has EBS as well as Fusion customers, I had a lot to catch up on.

Then I want to spend time with Floyd Teter and Prabu Iyer from HCM Development to help fill in some of my gaps with My Experience and help me further develop ideas for the future.

Then quick flight to Dallas for KSCOPE, the ODTUG conference. This is my busiest week, I am the track lead for Modern Apps Development - The place to be if you use #PaaS4SaaS, I will be speaking on what we have learnt in Inoapps but extending Fusion on an industrial Scale using APEX, but most of all I am part of ODTUG Board this year so will be very very busy.

These events are still open for registrations. User groups feedback to Oracle and many organisations selecting software vendors demand this, but if we don't support them they will loose their relevance.

Take a look at all the websites and see which one suits your needs best. 

So if you see me over the next few weeks, be gentle, it may sound fun, and it is, but I still have my day job to do too.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

What Links Premier League Football to Enterprise Planning?

New technology is exciting, to start with the use cases are part of the marketing process, but as people start to understand the capability, it will become more main stream and the bit I love, useful for organisations.

This week I had the opportunity to talk to people in person about this at an event jointly hosted by my employer Inoapps and Oracle, in London.

The event was entitled 'What can Fully Connected AI-driven Finance, HR and Analytics Do For Your Business'.

Oracle technology especially in Analytics uses Machine Learning and AI to give us far more than just statistics, they allow us to plan for the future, based on patterns from the past. Real insight and foresight.

To get the message out, Oracle partner with sport. This is not simple sponsorship to get their name seen, it is about using their technology to improve the sport.

I think most people have heard about their partnership with Redbull Racing in F1, but they also partner with Premier League Football where they provide real time insights for the viewer. 

This was the hook for the day, Oracle would talk about how the technology I would give customer examples in business, they would show how it is used in Premier League, Inoapps would talk about how we used it to raise our recent funding and then how no technology transforms without change. 

Lee Bonfield works for Oracle but he is also known for his Fantasy Premier League podcast and was an obvious choice to be the Oracle advocate for their partnership with the Premier League.

The venue for the day was the London Stadium, once the heart of the 2012 Olympics but now home of West Ham Football Team, an ideal location for this event.

I'm not a football fan but I loved the location. I was part of the implementation of E Business Suite for the Olympic Development Authority, that was created to host the Olympics in London, so it almost felt full circle. Walking up to the stadium was quite magical.

My session with John Gardner from Oracle was on Planning and Budgeting Cloud used with Fusion Applications. He talked about how much data we have, and how to use it to make a real difference. I got to do what I do best, interrupt John and give customer examples, what it actually meant to organisations and the challenges they overcame.

Then I interviewed ur Chief Finance Office, Ally Rule. He told our story and our recent investment success. Key to this story is our use of Oracle. We have Fusion HR and ERP, some amazing APEX applications to support industry specific needs, Oracle Analytics to bring this data together and Planning and Budgeting to give us that foresight. Ally explained that when we were looking for investment we selected an organisation to help us build the proposal, the analysts assigned to help us were taught Oracle Analytics by our in-house team and then let loose with our data. When Investors did their due diligence ,Inoapps were able to run every scenario they asked for and drill down behind the figure, in real time. 

Inoapps is an Oracle partner that uses Oracle to improve organisations businesses and Inoapps is also our most important customer.

Despite my lack of interest in football I enjoyed Lee's talk and my colleagues finished the content with talking about the important of change when adopting any technology. 

After a quick lunch there was a tour of the stadium and I loved the legacy of the Olympics still found around the stadium.

Great content, great discussions and so great to be away from the screen.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

OUG Scotland - In Glasgow -- In Person - Invaluable

Want proof I was right about the value of in person events? Last week I attended OUG Scotland in Glasgow and it was a great day.

The keynote was Chris Boyland, from Scottish Government. It was a very interesting interview with OUG volunteer (and my colleague) Dermot Murray. Not being a resident of Scotland the initiatives were not personal to me but for the main audience it was. I love keynotes that are wider than just Oracle.

He talked about minecraft being an ideal way to interest children in technology. My question to him was 'who was educating parents that a 'video game' was a good thing for their children to be doing?'

I presented on Building on Oracle excellence - #PaaS4SaaS extensions on an industrial scale, which is about how Inoapps have created a range of SaaS applications to be used in co-existence with Oracle SaaS. Now I have always suggested VBCS and this is still a real option but my colleagues have shown me just what amazing things they can do with APEX. My presentation isn't so much about the code, but the approach to creating industrial SaaS that needs its own roadmap, release document, support and certifying against Oracle SaaS. I had a good audience and also some outside conversations, one of which was I needed to add APEX to the session title as people who knew me assumed it may not be. Lesson Learnt.

Then I attended an EBS Roadmap session with Nadia Bendjedou. In the early days of Fusion being announced Nadia and I worked and spoke together through usergroups worldwide. In my last two roles I have only taken people from EBS to Fusion and not worked with those who have chosen to stay, although my 'Should I go to Cloud' presentation that looks at both options is still the one most asked for! At Inoapps we have a number of EBS customers in our Managed Service portfolio, so it is great to be` working with Nadia again.

Nadia's session was standing room only, as was her second session on hosting EBS on Oracle Cloud. Some of the technology enhancements are yet again simplifying and cost reducing for EBS maintenance. If you are EBS and didn't get to Scotland then register for this event next week. 

I also went to a great session from the City of Edinburgh who talked about their EBS upgrade project that is in flight. I love customers who share openly throughout projects, it is so valuable not only to those that hear the story, but also to those who are part of it. If you don't take time during, and certainly at the end of a project to look back and celebrate what you have achieved, you will only remember the challenges, and those who have worked so hard to get you there may feel unappreciated. City of Edinburgh also celebrated with all their partners, which again is uncommon.

It wasn't my first in person event post pandemic but it was so great to see people, interact and to discuss.

Congratulations to OUG Scotland volunteers, you pulled off a great day.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Have In Person Conferences Had Their Day?


Two years of Covid and most in person events were cancelled, we made do with virtual content but is that now the new-normal, or will in person events regain their popularity?

I have always been involved in user groups and the highlights were always the in person events. You got to meet people, hear more end user stories and have your own content, as a speaker you are challenged and validated. I posted about how I felt as a presenter a few months ago but today I want to talk about the delegate and what might it mean to them.

Being at a conference was often seen as a 'jolly' with delegates having to justify their attendance. To be fair if I sent someone to a conference and they came back with no learnings they could share with their colleagues, it would be their last event. 

But can someone learn as well online? Don't get me wrong, business and individuals would have had so much more an impossible time without technology. Zoom, Teams and a plethora of other platforms has enabled us to learn, sell and stay in contact with people. In my world we have even been able to implement technology remotely thanks to that 'Cloud' thing.

So yes we can learn, but what we learn is what is in the content only. There is rarely conversation, examples shared and lessons learnt spoken about. 

Oracle end user conference season is upon us. The user groups behind them have really struggled, in person events made up most of their annual income. They have done their best to keep their communities going and provided great content through the various platforms. The problem often is people sign up for a virtual session and don't turn up, or get sidetracked and intend to watch later and never get around to it. 

If people don't sign up for this year's conferences the user groups will be even further effected, they have rolled forward hotel and conference centre bookings and this year could be pivotable to them.

I'm speaking at several this year and really want the discussions and my own learning. But I want there to be end user delegates and not just other partners or Oracle themselves. Will they come? Well in most cases it depends on the organisation they work for, even if that is themselves. What is the value?

Travel, Accommodation and the event costs. There has to be a justification and most of the events will help by having justification letters created by their planning community. The payback has to be learning and making connections that can help the organisation in the future.

But I have another angle. Why not reward your staff who have stuck by you during Covid. Worked around the clock and not just joined the great resignation. Say thank you. That cost is much less than finding a replacement. Let them have a few days out, re-energise them, let them learn from others and come back ready to share that with others.

Just a few events I plan to speak at or attend in the next couple of months

OUG Scotland

Blueprint 4D


KSCOPE - this being my number 1 recommendation since I am on their board and it has always been my go to event to understand the Oracle technology

If you aren't sure which is for you - ping me and I'll give you my honest opinion  .

I am still doing virtual events but so looking forward to being with people.