Monday, 13 May 2019

2019 - Accenture Oracle Leadership Council

Six months into Accenture (although the acquisition of Certus happened in April it was October before we moved over) and I got an opportunity to see how the size of the organisation can benefit their customers.

Every year Accenture host an Oracle Leadership Council, a C Level event where Accenture customers who use Oracle, come together to share stories about how innovation has help their businesses.

I expected this to be similar to senior level user events I have attended before but I underestimated the event. The main sessions were all customers sharing their stories, their business challenges and successes. In breakout sessions Accenture shared some of the IT projects that help to support these successes.

The event took place in Dana Point, Orange County, California straight after my speaking at Collaborate. Me, being me, I managed a quick couple of Scuba Dives before it started. Water was colder than I expected but not as cold as home, so I was happy.

I know from my time arranging UKOUG events that things you never considered can impact your plans. This conference is annual and has a been in the planning since last year's event. It starts with a networking event on the Sunday evening but this year there was an issue - it clashed with the first episode of the last series of Game of Thrones. Now I have never watched this, too gory for me, but I do understand the GOT effect. I live in N Ireland and it has had an unbelievable impact on our tourism. So how did Accenture deal with this conflict for its guests? Simple, they added a GOT screening before the networking event, a bar and popcorn in the main conference room, with a giant 22 foot screen.

Monday started the customer stories, which were really powerful and generated lots of conversations. I spent some time with a European customer looking at a big cloud project and they were able to talk to other similar sized organisations as to their approach and strategies.

I had the opportunity to speak in a session led by my fellow ACE Director Julian Dontcheff on the range of Oracle Cloud solutions though to autonomous. I talked about the PaaS components we are using in the solution in Central Government. Cloud is improving all the time, when I first looked at chatbots just 18 months ago, you had to manage the IT stack supporting mobile, but now that is an autonomous offering and that means it is so much easier to use.

On the Monday evening there were industry dinners, smaller groups of like minded customers, and Tuesday evening there was a gala dinner on the lawn enjoying the Californian sunset. It did get a bit chilly but blankets were provided.

Tuesday afternoon there were networking events, wine blending, hiking, golf and whale watching which I joined. The expert on the boat was confident we would see a grey whale and dolphins but it was a bit early to see other whales. I too was confident about the dolphins as I had seen a pod that followed us when diving on the Saturday. 

We were not disappointed we saw a pod of common dolphins in the first 10 minutes. Then we heard there was a grey whale a few miles out so we speed off to see. The gray whale was in the distance and they don't tend to breach, but we clearly saw the blow, several times. Everyone was happy they had seen a whale and a colleague who attended 2 years ago said it was already better than that trip. Then we found a bigger pod of bottleneck dolphins and we were all enthralled when the boat suddenly sped off. Another boat had spotted a blue whale. The biggest animal in the world. Wow this was their first sighting of the season and we spent an hour watching the magnificent creature come to just below the surface, send us clues, change the colour of the water and then breach the surface. We watched this cycle 4 or 5 times until we got what we wanted, the tale flip. I'm not a brilliant photographer but I was happy. All too soon we had to leave.

Wednesday morning started with the Accenture Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Paul Daugherty presenting his Tech Vision for 2019. Then it was followed by Oracle examples of these 5 trends. Each year they launch the main report and then follow it with versions from each of their industry and technology groups. I had the chance to input into an early draft of the Oracle version and it was good to see how that developed. In the Oracle version chatbots / digital assistants get a few mentions underlying the importance of the work I have been involved in.

Then the event came to a conclusion with a few more customer stories, including West Midlands Police. Dean Sweet was interviewed remotely by our own Lucia Jarrett who lead their Oracle project. 

Their story is very high profile in the UK at the moment, they first spoke at the OOW London and everybody loved the benefits of the project. Having it remote was a risk but the technology worked, Lucia was a brilliant host and their story captivated the whole room.

Oracle also had some of their C levels in attendance and David Donatelli talked about their Cloud strategy towards the end of the event. David BowinSenior Director Product Strategy Oracle from SaaS Development was also there and it was an opportunity for him to see many successful Cloud Application companies, long after their implementations.

Throughout, refreshments were in the MyConcerto Lounge. This allowed all the customers to see and experience this innovative platform from Accenture. I want this platform for my presentations, be able to call up digital content on demand and not a collection of boring, slide decks I need to navigate when someone asks a question. 

The event for me was an eye opener. Customers sharing stories has always been the ethos of a user group, so my expectations was a C Level special interest group, but this was far more. At a strategic level the discussions were more business focused and certainly not product focused. Oracle was the enabler not the discussion. I have always believed that any successful event is also an opportunity for all parties to reflect back on the benefits and outcomes rather than any project challenges they experienced, and here there were success stories in spades.

Here's hoping they invite me back next year.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Chatting About Chatbots

Wow, chatbots are everywhere.

In my presentations I talk about this being the fastest Marketing-to-Reality I have seen in technology, and I stand by that.

Based on my presentation at UKOUG in December I was asked to be part of an interview for Oracle Scene. Actually the UKOUG magazine has been renamed Pass The Knowledge which I managed to misspell on twitter, or did I?

The #PTK interview included Grant Ronald, Product Manager in Oracle, and he has already introduced the article on Linkedin. The article can be found here

Looking after #PaaS4SaaS is my role in Accenture, and everyday I talk to more and more  colleagues, both technical and account teams to answer their questions. Then showing customers how it can help them, is what I love best.

Recently I have been working with Oracle SaaS development Centre of Excellence on how the skills being delivered in HCM will be delivered, and how as a partner we can extend that.
Having them early in our system, means we are ready to help our customers get the best from this exciting innovation and of course I will be speaking about them in conferences. Thank you to David Bowin, Ryan Patrick , Ian Wallis and of course Grant Ronald at Oracle, and my colleagues Ian Staff and Hayley Dobson.

There is also internal reviews of all chatbot platforms I have been involved in locally and am really happy at what a compelling solution Oracle is, both for their SaaS and as an enterprise platform.

Another part of the Accenture ecosystem in Accenture recently held a POC for an EMEA organisation and again Oracle proved itself. The project lead on that and I, were interviewed on a recent 'Lets chat' webcast, an internal program for their extended sales team. 

The global lead of Accenture Oracle HCM, Brandon Johnson asked me to write a white paper on our findings and thoughts about the Oracle Digital Assistant and I am very pleased with the final document. Thanks to Brandon for the commission, Chau Troung and Ian for their input. You can find this on Accenture's website

Love to chat more? Get in touch.

Monday, 15 April 2019

My User Group Thoughts

Collaborate has three user groups that come together to create the largest user group events of the year. This was a year of change, not only the venue but also the user groups themselves.

IOUG joined with Quest, which I believe is a great way to safeguard the legacy of IOUG and to grow the reach of Quest. However I spoke to several IOUG people who think of Quest as being the home of TOAD rather than the user group

OAUG changed their name to OATUG to include technology. I heard somewhere during the week 40% of the content is already technology,  it probably is, but the technology they cover is dedicated to that used with E Business Suite, so I’m not sure if I was a technology person I would know whether the content I want is covered by IOUG through Quest, OATUG or ODTUG.

UKOUG New offices 
I believe user groups do need to be refreshed and restate their objectives, and  I was very pleased when at the end of last year UKOUG tweaked their brand by adding the very important independent to the name. I was very proud to have led that part of Project Reach before I left the board and love that they have decorated the new building with the mission statement as well.

UKOUG mission statement

Emerging technology is something that all the user groups have to do with all the time and it’s a guessing game as to how much and when I’ve often talked about the gap between Oracle Marketing and full-scale uptake in the user base. At first it is easy to get presentations from Oracle as they promote the new products and then as early adopters appear they are in great demand for their story but we must quickly provide content for those who have actually moved. 

In my area of SaaS, I think many user groups including UKOUG and those at Collaborate are struggling with this last category. The number of customers who are now using cloud applications is high and yet there is very little content about the things that are important to them, the update cadence and the new functionality delivered that they have yet to switch on. There is plenty of content for those thinking about going to cloud. We also need to ensure we have content for those staying where they are, which Collaborate did well and UKOUG have an event in June.

The same problem is true of PaaS, in ODTUG, middleware lost it stream a few years ago as attendance wasn’t high but hopefully now the new emerging technology stream will address this. I have a session this year on VBCS.

I don't have a quick answer, but perhaps user groups need boards or advisory teams that represent all the communities. There are many of us in the user group communities who are traditional and old school. That may be where the passion is but is it totally representative?

Sunday, 14 April 2019

2019 Collaborate

Collaborate for the first time in ages was not in Las Vegas which really pleases me although it is back there again next year.

This is the biggest user event in the calendar and I had 5 sessions, across the 3 uaergroups.


I was part of an OAUG Cloud Panel facilitated by Alyssa Johnson and it also included Mohan Iyer and Alfonso Pinan from City of Atlanta who had previously shared their story at OOW. This was a good session and showed the interest from users.

Later in the day I facilitated a panel session on Community, which was the idea of Jennifer Nicholson who runs the ACE Program. Also on the panel was Michelle Malcher, Karen Brownfield, Mia Urman and Opal Alapat. Everyone shared stories about how communities, especially the ACE program has helped their careers both privately and professionally.

The ACE Program also launched a new ACE Directory.


I spoke on 'Which Cloud Should I go to', this is my flowchart presentation based on the article in Oracle Scene. I am very passionate about this because I think Oracle have separate conversations with their customers and not a single strategy approach. I spoke to one customer who told me they had both their Apps Account Rep selling SaaS to them and their Tech Account Rep who wanted them to go IaaS, at Collaborate, entertaining them separately!

I also gave my presentation on VBCS, which in Ireland last week I realised is more just an example rather than this actual example. In Collaborate it was the last session of the day and no one turned up. This is the first time this has happened to me and I was very disappointed. I know the session time is part of it (other people had no shows as well), but I also think I need to change the extract to reflect its true objectives.


I also had an early session on Thursday, after the party Wednesday night, so I was worried it was going to be badly attended as well, but I shouldn't have worried it was a really big crowd. This was my Back to Basics session that talks about what is under the covers of Fusion. It may be true that you can't touch this but for those moving from on premise they do have an interest. 

I also got the chance to catch a session from my great friend Floyd Teter who is part of the Oracle HCM CoE.

As like last year the User Group Royalty were together again. Thanks to Quest for sorting the room, Michelle Malcher, Sue Shaw and I were together again. I attended a session Sue gave on living in the cloud and it was excellent. 

Sue, Michelle & I - UGR
Networking was also fantastic, I had dinner with Jennifer, then the ACE Dinner, loved the big party although bowed out early and finished the week with a great night with Sue and Michelle with dinner on the River Walk after a bus tour of the city.

Despite it being Las Vegas I look forward to next year.

2019 - OUG Ireland

This was an in and out conference for me.

It’s a two day event and this year it was the 15th Irish User Event and I have attended everyone. I even remember the board meeting when regional events were first suggested and I offered to champion this, my local event. I led it for many years and am still a volunteer under the leadership of Simon Holt.

Unfortunately I could not stay for both days, I had to rush back to London for the Oracle Partner Awards, where Accenture had been nominated. John Able was the keynote speaker, and as ever excellent, he really understands this community. John and Tony Cassidy also had to rush back to London for the awards.

I was there the night before and had an opportunity to have dinner with Alex Nuijten and to celebrate the recent promotion to ACE Director for Patrick Barel. Leaving early meant I couldn't be ring-girl for the 2nd bout between Alex and Chris Saxon, but Maria Colgan helped out, I'll be back again for the next one at Kscope in June

I had two presentations, Chatbots and Extending SaaS with VBCS. Both had a good audience and lots of questions. The VBCS was the first time I had given this specific example and the conversation was more about the principle in general rather than this use case.

I managed to chat with Maria Colgan and then Tim Hall, and have a look around the very impressive exhibition hall. I hope to be back next year.

And as for the awards, Accenture won Cloud Implementer or the Year. 

Sunday, 31 March 2019

#OUGN10 - Not THAT Norwegian Cruise

Last Saturday I disembarked the Color Magic and the Norwegian Oracle User Group annual conference.

Ever since then people have asked if I was on 'that cruise ship'. It wasn't, they were much further north and it appears much rougher seas. We did have terrible fog and missed under the bridge was poor visibility which is normally my favourite part of the trip, but this time it was watching the sunrise on Saturday morning.

I love this conference and it was my 5th time. I previously attended first in 2010, then 20142015, 2016, and most recently 2017.

As I have a European role at Accenture I popped into the local offices before the event and love that their building is part of the Technopolis Campus built on top of the old Fornebu Airport Terminal.  They even have the original badge reclaim floor in the restaurant. What a wonderful way to recognise the past.

I stayed in a little hotel in Oslo - Guldmeden which Alex Nuijten recommended a few years back. Other speakers staying there were Stew Ashton, Francesco Tisiot and Christian Berg.

I had 3 presentations. Should I move to Cloud, Extending SaaS with PaaS and Chatbots with SaaS. The last two much updated as the technology develops. As this was on board ship, internet is not a given so the demos were recorded, but my skills in that area are improving. I don't record as a video on its own, but simply without sound so I can continue to talk as if part of the presentation itself. 

I always get nervous when Product Managers attend my sessions, especially if we haven't spoken about them first. Geertjan Wielenga, PM of Oracle Jet was in my extend session, this is the technology behind VBCS. Afterwards he told me he liked my positioning of the different options and the use cases I gave. That always makes me feel appreciated.

Being greedy and having 3 sessions meant I had one during the 4 hour stop in Kiel, Germany. I normally try to avoid speaking at this time as I like to have a quick run into town and have the obligatory currywurst and some quick shopping. However the only other slot available was at 6pm and that is when we go under the bridge which I may have mentioned is my favourite bit. This amazing Danish bridge is such an experience, so I decided to forgo the shopping.

As the boat docked I was first off, almost run to the Bahnhof or train station and had my currywurst, I also took a selfie and tweeted as part of a competition for one of the exhibitors NovoShore. Love this idea, near shore resources for Oracle Maintenance and Development. Thanks to all my friends, I won the prize of a Norweigen Airlines travel voucher. I think I might fly North next year and try and find some Northern Lights.

The Apps stream on the boat isn't too big and most users are staying on EBS but looking at how technology can help them, either replatforming on Cloud or developing outside. Turid Harborg, an Accenture colleague and Adrian Melsom, an Accenture Summer Intern (what a fantastic idea) talked about one such development using Oracle Jet. I didn't attend the session as it was in Norweigen but did get them to tell me all about it.

I had a good conversation with one user who is happy with EBS but worried about being pushed to Cloud Applications, I was able to confirm Oracle has no plans to do that anytime soon.

This conference cruise has a lot of networking including two amazing dinners but I chose to miss the Thursday night dinner as I felt a little unwell and had 2 sessions to present on Friday. However I was back in form and enjoyed the Friday Dinner.

The theme for this year was 'Tiki Tours' and I'm not sure what the link between a Caribbean and a Norweigen cruise is, but I loved the effort they and the exhibitors put into it and I loved the cocktails especially.

Then it was off to bed before the after party started as I wanted to get up early to see the sunrise having missed the bridge in the fog!! However I should have attended as I kept getting messages to tell me I have won the prize.

After the uneventful disembarkation, I said my goodbyes and spent a lovely few hours in Oslo before flying home. 

This is an amazing conference, both the content and the experience. thanks to all who made it happen and to those who attended my sessions. Thanks especially to my employer for the time and the ACE program for funding.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

I'm Changing My Profile - I'm NOT Not technical

I'm changing my profile.

'I'm not technical but.............' that's how many of my presentations start.

Occasionally someone would say I was, and I'd just laugh it off.

I'm changing my profile. Let me tell you Why:

A few weeks ago someone I really admire, asked me to if I wanted to be considered for a Women in IT celebration panel. I was really honoured to be asked.

However the response I got when I said yes, was a surprise," but you can't say you're not technical".

She also shared with me a blog post 'If You Can Use A Fork You're Technical' by April Wensel.

Photo from April Wensel Blog

I thought about the post, and I agreed with it. 

April says "Therefore, when we say someone is “technical” or “not technical” or “not very technical,” we’re communicating virtually nothing. Everyone is “technical” by some definition in some domain and is capable of learning other technical skills in other domains. Being more precise in our language will improve our communication."

I used to be technical, I started my IT career as a Cobol programmer (I'm too old to be a developer).

I've shared how I got into IT before, it wasn't exactly planned. And I think that was the start of it, I always had a little bit of feeling a fraud. I've spoken at STEM events and that made it worse, I left school at 16, no IT degree for me.

I was good at programming and then analysis, but it wasn't what I wanted to do, I wanted to work more at the strategic part of the process, helping the customers understand what they needed and how IT could help. 

And even though I didn't think of myself as overly technical I very much agree with the Women in IT initiatives, as long as they are to encourage women, not simply to moan.

I have been blessed I've worked for people who allowed me to find my role and whilst sometimes difficult to articulate, I have always added value and been encouraged.

I have been told, my role doesn't constitute being technical and I guess I just accepted that, but actually, more people have disagreed and believe I am, and laugh (or sigh) when I say I'm not.

I'm changing my profile - I'm a Technical Linguist 

My skill is in understanding the technology, not just What it Does, but How but it does it, and then being able to articulate that to any audience, technical or business user and any level, beginner to C Level.

Alex Gorbahov was the first person to articulate this in Australia 10 years ago. Then I have also been recognised by Oracle not only as an ACE Director but with an award in 2011

I also believe that to be successful in IT you need to be able to work both deep in the technology and the business. In 2014 Thanks to OTN and Bob Rhubart I had the chance to make a two minute tech tip video, and since I don't do technical, I took the opportunity to talk about the importance of IT & Business speaking, something that came up in my AppAdvantage session. (You need to watch it to understand why I am wearing socks on my hands).

I spend a fair amount of my time understanding new technology, what sits under Fusion Applications and the PaaS to extend it. Then I make that real for organisations using Fusion Applications. I guess you could call me a Technical Interpreter but that is a word I struggle to say quickly (I also can't say bureau properly either). 

So I'm going with Technical Linguist.

The journey to changing my profile, started with being sent the blog post, but that week I was at a Storytelling in Business Course and I chose this as my topic. As we went through the course I had to tell it 4 times and my colleagues were all so supportive, not only for the story but for the outcome.

I'm changing my profile - I'm a Technical Linguist 

And I love it!