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.

Monday, 31 January 2022

The Promised Answer to My Sangam Question

 On my last post I mentioned how I had an amazing virtual presentation at Sangam21 where I even got questions.

I was talking about the reasons both technical and commercial why OIC may or may not be used with Oracle Cloud Applications. There was a question asked
"What will be the amalgamation of OIC + Observability?"

Probably because I didn't know what Observability was I was unable to a answer! Luckily I didn't fall into the trap of making up an answer or even worse ignoring or dismissing the question. I did promise to go back to AIOUG and here I am almost 6 weeks later only just doing that.

I reached out via twitter and asked the question, hopefully as I tagged it #Sangam21 the delegates may have already seen the answer.

Alfredo said he would also be interested in the answer which validated the question and then fellow ACE Simo answered with a link to an A Team post

The A Team are a group of serious technical people in Oracle which includes those who work with the SaaS products so a good place to go. 

Then Courtney from Oracle added more links:…………

The power of crowd sourcing the answer. 

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Look Back at Covid Years as a Presenter

I haven't blogged much the last two years - I do write more on Linkedin but I enjoy blogging - normally. I guess my blog has been very tied to my presenting and Covid has put paid to that.

I haven't stopped presenting, just most of it has been remote. 2 dimensional, just me and the screen.

In fact before you read the rest of my blog, which is wordy, watch this video from Connor MacDonald , he says it so much better than me.

When I am asked what an ACE Director is, I explain it is about sharing information, educating. If I think about how I used to decide what to talk about I would attend Oracle Open World, look at what they were launching in my world of Oracle Applications, and think about what interested me. Then I would submit for Collaborate, the biggest Applications event, normally in April in Las Vegas. That way I had about 5 months to investigate, learn more and think about the difference it could be make.

Like chatbots, at first I was sceptical but I did a couple of Proof Of Concepts with Oracle Product Management and then gave several different presentations and followed up with blog posts.

In a similar way the development of VBCS and how we can use that to extend SaaS. This has taken longer than I expected but I see more and more use cases everyday and now you can use it within SaaS to change screens and to extend Journeys. We haven't heard the last of this.

My learning doesn't stop at Oracle Open World, or even the POCs. My first presentation will throw up questions. Most I will know the answer to and it simply means adjusting the presentation, but the best questions are the ones I don't know the answer to that I will investigate and learn more.

As the year goes on, I get the opportunity to give the sessions again, and as time goes by, discus with customers and other end users and they develop further.

Covid has stopped that. I get even more opportunity to present, but virtually. I know that without technology we would not have survived, work has continued in our industry and made such a difference in so many ways. Some of my colleagues love virtual presenting, and it has given more opportunities to new speakers, but I don't enjoy it as much.

I want to present, I want to support the communities that welcomed me in person. They need to feed their membership and I want to be part of that, but it isn't the same. I find that I rarely get questions and little feedback and so my presentation doesn't progress. I don't know if it has any value.

Last year I did formal Solution Architecture training at work (virtually, hated it), and we explored the balance between the ideal solution and what was commercially viable. I had seen this quandary mainly with Oracle Integration Cloud and decided to put together a presentation on that. I gave it internally so did get some feedback but since then with only one exception (more about that later), I have had no questions, no feedback from 5 outings.

A few weeks ago, between Covid restrictions UKOUG had an in person event, UKOUG Together and I was so excited. To be really honest, to be with people rather than any content I would be delivering. A few other conferences had hybrid events but for me they were not viable in person. I live in N Ireland and our restrictions have been more severe than even England.

At the start of Covid, someone said they thought as an extrovert I would struggle with lockdown, Working from Home. I said that actually I wasn't as much of an extrovert as they thought. I will happily stand on a stage and speak in front of hundreds, rather than work a room of people. They said I had the wrong definition, an extrovert gets their energy from people and that absolutely is me. So the thought of an in person event was so exciting to me.

I had a presentation with a colleague on creating PaaS extensions at an industrial scale. This is based on work Inoapps, my new employer has done using APEX and it created a lot of interest. Oracle themselves wanted to see if I was promoting this over VBCS and I'm not, but I am admitting APEX can do amazing things at scale. It was a debate, questions, thinking and answers, follow up learning and I loved it!

I also got to stand in for a colleague for our sponsored slot kicking off the keynote on sustainability. I loved that, I had to learn what we have done and how along with what Oracle does with cloud, how it affects our customers. Again lots of followup conversations and I felt so invigorated.

Lots of my ACE peers were also speakers and it was great seeing them and catching up. Well to be honest, hugging them. UKOUG had a range of COVID measures and whilst I felt some could have been stricter they had a great system whereby you expressed your thoughts on social distancing via a button badge. Red for 'keep your distance', Amber for 'I'm OK but be careful' and Green for happy to shake hands, hug etc. I went for Green and wrote on it 'I NEED HUGS'. 

A few days later I did my last virtual session of the year for AIOUG at their Sangam event. After the high of UKOUG I expected this to be the same as all the other virtual events, but I was wrong. I should have known. Sai, who was at UKOUG in person (he lives in UK), who leads AIOUG really understands how user groups work. To encourage his vast community to get the most out of sessions, they asked speakers to identify the best questions for spot prizes, and once the questions started, they flowed. I got several questions I could answer and one I couldn't - what a result. I was very happy.

Covid hasn't finished, and as I write this I am expecting even more restrictions. I will keep presenting virtually, supporting user groups which I really believe in, but hope that in person will be the norm again soon. I am not silly enough to believe events will go back to how they were, things will have to find a new normal, but I am hopeful. I start 2022 on the board of ODTUG, a new and exciting opportunity and a stream lead for Kscope22, which I pray will be in person and a great success.