Sunday 30 November 2008

Quiet before the Storm

So it is the day before conference opens but for me it starts in about 30 minutes. Ronan and I have to finish our introduction slides and have a quick rehearsal, then there is part 1 of a directors meeting, followed by a SIG volunteers meeting and then part 2. There are drinks for volunteers after that but Ronan and I can't stay long we are taking Dave Callaghan out for dinner.

However I have already had a night in Birmingham as the first flight in on a Sunday from Belfast would not get here in time.

The ICC looks quite different today than it will for the rest of the week, I can't say it is quiet as there appears to be a children's Christmas event happening. The directors have started to arrive and I keep bumping into people arriving and although the trains are pretty bad with the normal weekend engineering but the fog that affected my flight yesterday appears not to be affecting the airport, but we have already had one US speaker with a cancelled flight, although he has found an alternative route.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Farewell to a special Friend

UKOUG relies on volunteers, we do have staff but Directors, SIG leaders, speakers etc are all volunteers. Each of our Special Interest Groups also have an Oracle 'buddy' who is also a volunteer.

Thank you to all our volunteers.

But one of our 'special' volunteers retires from Oracle this month, Ian Smith,Senior Vice President for the Oracle UK Region covering the UK, Ireland and South Africa. Ian has always been a greta supporter of UKOUG and we will miss him.

(Seen here on the right with Paul O'Riordan, MD Oracle Ireland).

I am honoured to have worked with Ian and wish him well in the next stage of his life. I had the opportunity to say farewell last week in Belfast and Ronan presented him with a small momento from UKOUG the previous week

Saturday 1 November 2008

Oracle Award

I have previously said how proud I am to be involved in Users Groups and how my own group UKOUG is the best user group in the World. I am also honoured to be an Oracle ACE Director but this week I have been honoured even further. Oracle Magazine have awarded me User Group Evangelist of the Year.

I want to say thankyou to everyone who has helped me in this role, to UKOUG, IOUC and all the user groups who have given me the opportunity to present. To Oracle for keeping me informed and for Fujitsu who have always supported me in this role. I hope that in return I share the knowledge with everyone.

From Rock to Classical

In my last post I mentioned I met a rock star in Denmark. Oliver Weers is by day a DBA in Denmark but at night he is a rock star. Following his entry in Denmark's X Factor he has just released an Album 'Get Ready' which he sang from at the Miracle Beach Party.

Then when I got back to Belfast I was invited to a event as part of the Queens Festival and listen to Dmitri Alexeev and Nikolai Demidenko phenominal piano players.

So proof that variety is the spice of life.

We Know How To Party!

Every conference is fun, I love presenting and sharing information, I love partying, but last week I found a conference where they say it is 80%/80%, how does that work? Well what gives is the sleeping.

Miracle Oracle Open World in Denmark is a real hard core technical conference where most speakers are members of The Oak Table, so what exactly was I doing there?

Well this year they had a business track and I was able to talk about Fusion which is my area of expertise, and next year I hope to be back to talk to the technical guys about what that means to them.

I met up with old friends and made many more. After the event I was honoured to be invited first to an Oak Table Dinner and then to stay at Mogens house for the weekend. Mogens has been a phenomenal friend (if at times annoyingly frustrating) and one thing I had always wanted to do was to meet his wife, now I have and have added another true friend to the list. Their hospitality knows no bounds, and having sat around THE Oak Table all night I now understand the magic.

So what about these 80% parties? Well I met a Rock Star (see next blog), went to the Beach Party and once left the Party House before 3am - only to get lost finding my house in Lilandia (did I tell you the conference took place in a Centre Parks type holiday camp).

And what about the content? well in the Business track the first they have attempted there was good content, Why should you go to R12? A presentation given by Richard Weaver from Oracle, poor Richard had no idea what Miracle is all about and even though we told him all the things to expect it was still a bit of a shock but he joined in and partied like the rest of us. Well done Richard.

But the best presentation for me was Gert H.N. Laursen who talked about his book ' Business Intelligence', it is not yet available in English but I am having the first copy. It was excellent, he went through his model of BI design, aligning BI to strategy at different levels of the organisation - 'From Strategy to Data Sources'.

The best conference is were I learn something and I so did. This is another book everyone of my team will be reading.

Sunday 19 October 2008

UKOUG Partner of the Year Awards

As the song goes 'What a Night', we have just had our first UKOUG Partner Awards dinner and I like other directors who attended are so proud.

'To Serve the Oracle Community is the mission statement of UKOUG, and we believe that partners are part of that community. Earlier this year we started a Partner Forum as a response to feedback we had received and a discussion we had at last years conference. The partners wanted two things, an ongoing dialogue with Oracle as a community of partners and how they could get more value from their user group membership.

The UKOUG has a unique membership model where with low membership rates we deliver everything to our membership normally at no additional cost (platinum level), and we do this through a combination of membership fees and sponsorship. We rely on the sponsorship from our partners so it is important to listen to what they need to make events successful for them as well as for the attendees who traditionally hate marketing either from partners or Oracle.. One of their first suggestions was a Partner Award scheme that is voted for by the members, and we are proud not only to have delivered this but in a really short timescale.

The Ceremony Dinner took place on 16th October at Claridge’s, London and you can see the winners on our website. The after dinner speaker was David Blunkett MP who was very witty and yet thought provoking. He was amazed to be at an event where what should have been a room full of competitors was actually a room full of people who through UKOUG do 'Serve the Oracle Community' and that is quite a message for our Government

Many of our members voted for these awards and we expect next year's to be bigger, better and just as much fun.

Friday 17 October 2008

HrOUG Conference

Another great user group conference, I only stayed till Thursday morning as we had a UKOUG event that evening (see next blog) but I attended enough to realise that if you are looking for best practice at how to enjoy yourself, you need look no further than to HrOUG! Set in the beautiful Rovinj, the setting as well as the event were superb.

Sessions ran from 10am (if you party all night any earlier is impossible) until about 8pm each day when everybody had dinner together, then the entertainment began for at least as long again!

When I left Thursday the leader of HrOUG Davor (on the right) had been for a healthy swim, except it was simply to wake him up as he had only been in bed for 3 hours! The hospitality was fantastic, and all the delegates were enjoying themselves. I only attended a few sessions as my Croatian is non existant.

I spoke on Fusion and usergroups and again I thought the numbers were on the low side but those who attended learnt a lot and asked even more questions. There was an interesting discussion on the impact Fusion Applications will have on bespoke system devleopment in the future. I quoted our own Ronan Miles who a few years back 'If Fusion Applications are a sucess, and Oracle will ensure they are, then it will change the way everyone writes applications.

I was interested to discoverer that the issues I have had obtaining resources for Hyperion install (not configuration and devleopment) are the same in Croatia.

Thank you to Vlado and Davor for their excellent hospitality.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

I love my job....

I have said before that Fujitsu are very supportive of my role in UKOUG, and I have enough holiday to supplement that time when reqired. I have worked for Fujitsu for so long I get 33 days annual leave (for those of you in the US, the minimum in UK is about 20 but most get about 25 plus public holidays).

So this month as well as the OUG Scotland conference, I am today attending the HrOUG or Croatian User Group Conference and next week I am speaking at Miracle Oracle Open World in their new Business Track which is the first major outing for the newly formed BAUG.

I love to share what I know with users and I always end up learning something myself, however as I speak absolutley no Croatian my knowledge at this event will be limited to how beautiful the place is. Although I did see a commercial being shot for a kitchen and bathroom company Kholer yesterday, something about a beautiful women marrying a really short guy because his bathroom is so beautiful!

Sunday 12 October 2008

Are we bored of Fusion Applications?

As you know I have been involved in Fusion Applications since the first announcement of Project Fusion, and now I have seen some of the first release I am even more excited. But is everyone else or is everyone bored or worse not convinced there is anything to get excited about?

At Oracle Open World a few weeks ago I was very disapointed with the lack of presence Fusion Applications had in the agenda. Only 3 Oracle Sessions had the words 'Fusion Applications' in the title. The first was the joint presentation I did with Nadia Bendjedou based on her excellent paper 'the evolutionary path to fusion', then Fusion Applications Part I and Part II given on the Wednesday.

Nadia and I had a good attendance but Steve Miranda's presentations were I thought poorly attended, did people not realise they were on? It is a big pity because he actually demonstrated a fair bit of the content and for most people it was the first they had seen.

But am I basing my observation just on OOW? No, at OUG Scotland last week, I gave 2 presentations, one on automated delivery of Discoverer Reports and one on an update to Fusion. I know the Fusion was the last slot of the day, and Scotrail were on strike so some people left early but the numbers I felt were low. Those who did attend gave excellent feedback.

So my message to Oracle, get your message right, it may not be ready today for people to use but Fusion is coming and I like it. I want to go to R12 EBS first to take the additionally functionality available now, but I have Fusion Applications in my longer term sights!

OUG Scotland

When I first joined the board of UKOUG there was a need to address content for members who are not within commuting distance of the home counties. Thier SIGs tend to be more generalist and so may not address all their needs, however we did find that the perpensity for these members to attend the annual conference is actually greater than normal.

What we came up with were annual 1 day regional conferences, the first being the Irish Conference in Dublin in March 2003 which was an instant sucess and later that year we introduced the Scottish Conference.

These events are more complicated to put together than a simple SIG, the attendance is much larger adn there are normally 4 streams and this week in the Raddison Glasgow was no exception.
This picture shows the staff that travelled up along with Ronan our Chairman at the airport on our way home.

It was another sucessful day and thanks to all those who spoke and to the committee that put toether the agenda. Steve Gold from Oracle Scotland gave a quick address at the start confirming his support to OUG in Scotland, and based on the day we will be around for a long time.

Sunday 5 October 2008

Having Thought about Fusion

Being a blogger is sometimes a tightrope to walk. Oracle like blogging and encourage it, thank you for the blogger credentials at OOW, the big orange badge was almost' Access all Areas' and a desk with power during keynotes was fantastic, but at the same time I have signed a non disclosure agreement on Fusion, so what can I say and what can't I say?

I had a sneak preview of Fusion Apps in the middle of August and gave feedback in one of the several promotional videos Oracle made about fusion Applications and showed throughout OOW. Then on the Sunday before OOW the Inner Circle met and we saw a lot more and had great insight from Steve Miranda and Thomas Kurian but it was still all under non disclosure.

HOWEVER on the Wednesday there were a couple of sessions given as fusion Applications Part I and part II, were Steve Miranda gave an overview of the concepts and then a number of modules were demonstrated. So there it is we have seen it and can talk about it.

I love them, but it got me thinking, as a business person the user interface is all I have ever wanted. Lets take Financials, from one portal page I can view balances, stored in a 'cube' so I can 'slice and dice' the information however I want, set up accounts I want to monitor, or even monitor situations. I also get to see journals with full drill to sub ledgers, if I want to add a journal I can simply click get my Fusion Desktop Integrator there without logging on elsewhere and enter, and as i do and before I commit the journal I can see on the right of my screen what it will do to the balance. That is just a few of the things I can do from one screen.

Now today I have a lot of that functionality but in different applications, OBIEE, Hyperion, ADI, EBS etc, etc and each of these has people in my organisation supporting them. When Fusion arrives will I expect my EBS support to look after everything? will I realise there is so much more technology behind it? Will I recognise what skills are needed and will I be preparing for them? Lots of questions which we in the Product Development Committee of the IOUC are looking to help you with. We are looking at some education templates, Fusion from a business perspective and Fusion from a technical prospective.

And the beat goes on.............

Just one last blog about the Elevator, if you google 'OOW Elevator' there are enormous numbers of hits about our escapade, I cant believe so many people were interested.

If you google 'Debra Lilley Elevator' there is a hit on Dan Lockton that is nothing to do with me but has some link to a Debra Lilley at Loughborough university (who once emailed me) all about why Elevators fail, and I wonder why would someone research all that?

And my boss Andy from Fujitsu was at OOW and he chose to send a link to all 200+ colleagues back in the UK only to find out they already knew. But the funniest thing that happened to me was we went to the Oracle Japan reception and were introduced to the head of Japan sales ans he spoke little English, whilst we were being introduced he nodded politely, showed recognition and laughed out 'video', Andy laughed so loud thinking it was the youtube video but actually I am hoping he meant the Oracle Fusion Applications Video I had taken part in prior to OOW.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

OOW Day 3

I am surprised I have even managed to atend anything, 43,000 people keep stopping me to ask if I am the Elevator Girl. Yesterday I was interviewed by Oracle about it, Mix is fun and really being used here at OOW and this has made a great story. Put 'elevator oow' and see how many hits you get, I believe there is also a video. Everyone wants their five minutes of fame and boy have I had mine.

As for the real content of the show, I went to Thomas Kurians keynote yesterday and saw a slick story board of part of the product set, still thinking about what I want to day but will be probably about Saturday when I sober up.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

OOW Day 2

So it is the end of day 2 and I am exhausted. I still haven't unpacked and I ahve been here since Saturday!

My famous elevator event is still the talk of twitter mix-to-the-rescue and this morning Judy Sim asked if it was true and not just a 'wind up'.But remember I wasn't on my own I had Mike Riley of ODTUG with me. We have set up a group on Oracle Mix called 'stuck in an elevator @ OOW' and someone has asked to join!

This morning started with a breakfast meeting and then I attended the keynote until I had to go to the Michael Phelps Meet and Greet, and then I did my Open Hours in the OTN lounge. Not many questions but it was good to see a lot of friens from the ACE Director community.

At 2.30 I had my first presentation of the day where I talked with my boss on 'Extended the E Business Suite with Hyperion' and we discussed the challenges and benefits of both Hyperion Financial Management and Hyperion Planning. It was well attended mainly by EBS customers who are seriously considering these products.

Then a quick sprint but to Moscone West to my last presentation of 3 '10 Things you can do to prepare for Fusion Now' with Nadia. At the end I demonstrated the web tool users groups have commissioned and validated to help you our members to start the thought process. I will blog about this in more detail after Open World but I really urge organisations to start the thought process.

Then it was off to the round of receptions and dinners and I so wish I could go to them all but now I am back in my room, fighting the jet lag and thinking about tomorrow.

Monday 22 September 2008

Special Guest at OOW

Charles Phillips opened his keynote with a great overview and then introduced Michael Phelps, Olympic Gold Medals Winner.

This guy had a dream to be the best and achieve something no other person had ever done, and he did it. hats off to him for the dedication and achievement. As a mum who drove her daughter to swimming training until other interests took over I have a small insight into what personal sacrifices he and his family must have made.

I was honoured to be asked to attend a meet and greet brunch with Michael and he was such a nice individual.

During his talk with Charles he said that whilst many millions saw him on TV he had not actually had 4000 in the same room so OOW was his biggest audience to date.

Great motivation speech for us all.

Day 1 OOW

Who would have thought so many people read my blog? I have had so many ask me about the lift experience having seen either Oracle Mix or the blog itself. So now I know I have an audience I will have to actually think about what I write.

Yesterday was User Group Day and OPN so for me very busy. But I was also invited to the Oracle Inner Circle. I have previously said how user groups have contributed to the Fusion Applications process and as leader for that along with other involved groups were given an update and demonstration of what has been acheved.

Unfortunatley it is all under Non Disclosure so I can't give you details, I had hoped more would be said in the main OOW but now I am not so sure. What I do know is I had previously seen bits I had contributed to, and it was the same for all other attendees, but at yesterday's event, Steve Miranda demonstrated for two hours a selection of the entire product suite. That is NOT vapour ware.

Over lunch they played a number of videos with comments from the different participants, (I was in one about input from customers), and everyone was as enthusiastic about it as Floyd and I who have already blogged our excitment.

After Steve got his breath back then Thomas Kurian answered questions. It was an excellent session.

What I came away with was a question? As a user the experience is excellent truely a single view of the enterprise, but as an enterprise it will be much more difficult to clearly appreciate the different technolgies underpinning that experience and i should be asking now, am I prepared?

Luckily Nadia and I are addressing a small part of that this afternoon at 4pm in Moscone West. Come along and at least find out the questions you should be asking.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Serious Stuff Starts Soon

It is 7am in San Francisco, hopefully I have done as much UK work as I need to and now I am about to get ready for my first session.

I am attending extending OBIA an IOUG session at 8 (how keen is that) and then at 9 the EOUC sessions. I give an update at 10 about what we have been doing in EMEA and then it is off to have a chat about Fusion.

This afternoon, quick change and I am Fujitsu at the OPN event. Will tell you what I learnt later

Free at Last

We were rescued after 92 minutes by a very nice guy from OTIS, once he got the door opened they passed down a chair to let us climb out.

The hotel manager could not have been nicer but it was great to be out.

The Oracle MIX moderator even phoned the hotel, so I don't care what anyone says 'Oracle DOES listen'

Off for a well deserved sleep

Party On

Now there is Kathleen, Larrissa, and Jerry from ODTUG, Bambi is on her way and Ronan is there as well. Rick from the hotel is great, he has never left us since we first reported this.

No, No, No they are going, their restaurant awaits, but OTIS have arrived, this could be it, we may get freed.

I have checked out the Oracle Mix page on and said I would like to be rescued, so please vote for this.

I have also set up the 'Stuck in the Elevator @ OOW' Group and only Mike and I can be members.

Battery is dying

This could be my last blog, and the power is dying on the laptop. Rick says 'hang on in there' and we are still smiling but still stuck.

There are lots of things I thought I would do this week but this was not on the list but at least I am having fun.

I think we should call Mary Lou Dopart as this is definatley a job for Global Customer Programs.

When they said make sure you have an elevator pitch for Larry I didn't think I would have this long to rehearse it :)

Bye till I get power (the lead is in my room)

Hotel Staff at the Marriott

Apart from telling us the lift gets stuck 2 or 3 times a month by being overweight (yes I'm Big but not that big and there are only 2 of us), the hotel staff have been great, we have Rick outside on floor 11 and the hotel manager keeps ringing us to check up on us. He promises us a drink in the bar of our choice, once we get out.

We are still in good spirits and it is now fast approaching 50 minutes, people have come along and said hallo, and then got bored and left, so we do need that party.

Apparently no fireman yet, they will try OTIS first.

So why am I in an elevator with Mike?

My really nice hotel room has high speed internet and I have so much work to do, but it wont allow VPN access, so I went down to the lobby to see if it would work and it didnt, so I got into the elevator, not very happy and came upto my floor and Mike got in, we had a quick hug and the doors closed so Mike put his hand out to stop it and the lift moved and now we are between the 10th and 11th floor.

SO if you are in San Francisco patiently waiting for OOW to start the party is here, car#11 somewhere between the 10th and 11th floors. Bring a bottle and a straw and we can join in. This could be the best party all week.

Mike has a camera in his cell phone so we will have photos later

Best Place to be in San Francisco

Where do you think this blog is being sent from?

Moscone Centre, Hilton, Marriott Bar, Union Square or Fishermans Wharf? No I am in a special user group meeting in the Mid Rise Elevator of the Downtown Marriott! Myself from UKOUG and Mike Riley from ODTUG,Security can't help and OTIS will be 45 minutes.

I dont have that much battery left on my PC but we can chat till then.....

Last time I saw Mike was at ODTUG in New Orleans in the summer and I wanted a Big Yellow School Bus and now all I want is a San Francisco Fire Department (Hunk, good looking please).

It is 0138 hours UK but 1738 SFO time, we have a mobile phone and currently are still laughing but Kathleen from ODTUG suggested i sent a blog so here you are, if I'm not ready for my first presentation you know why....

Saturday 20 September 2008

Ready, Steady, GO!

Well I am writing this from the Virgin Lounge at Heathrow, waiting for my flight to San Francisco for this year's Oracle Open World.

My diary is so full I had to pay excess luggage, but I will try and get the most out of the week and then I am staying the weekend to chill and relax.

Sunday is OPN and User Group Day, I want to do both but am privileged to have been invited to the Fusion Inner Circle which is also on tomorrow. Party wise there is the OPN event and an Oracle ACE reception, so again I am spoilt for choice. Busy, busy, busy. My boss from Fujitsu is also here and it will be the first time he has witnessed me at OOW so post nice things about me please.

I am giving an update on EOUC activities in the User Group program and hope to be at the OAUG Fusion Council Panel Discussion and Q&A, Sunday, September 21, 2:15 p.m. - 3:15 p.m., room 2016, Moscone West, if only to find out who is going to try and fill Floyd's shoes.

Monday is my busiest day (except Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). I have 2 presentations I have already blogged, one on Hyperion with EBS (Telegraph Hill, Intercontinental Hotel 2.30 - 3.30), and then really exciting the Fusion Readiness Session with my good friend Nadia (Room 2024 Moscone West 4pm - 5pm). Not only will you learn about getting ready for Fusion but i will be launching a 'how ready are you' tool put together for everybody in collaboration between users groups and Oracle, come along and see it.

Well time for some pampering before my flight, speak again when I arrive.

Monday 15 September 2008

How busy can one person be??

My diary is full, so full I am not sure I will be sleeping in San Francisco.
I thought I would stay the weekend after and enjoy the US, but now I think I will just sleep.

No time to write anything else, but will try and tell you what I am upto before I go

Saturday 6 September 2008

Thinking of Fusion

So after the distractions of last week its time to get ready for Open World. My slides have to be in by Tuesday so I need to concentrate on them.

Like my friend Floyd I too have been privileged to have a ‘sneak’ preview of Fusion Apps. It is all under non disclosure so I can’t give any details but what I saw I liked, I loved!

What blew me away was the vision, all of the technology is here today and I could identify with it all, but it was all together in a single place.

So if the technology is available today, could I build it? Well not me (I’m not technical enough), but yes if I had the resources, the investment and above all the vision I could, but the problem with visionaries is we don’t take them seriously. Remember how we all laughed at the first mobile phones?

So Oracle has the vision and I hope that in no small way part of that came from listening to users. I know I saw what I wanted and what user group members have been telling us since the concept started.

I expect we will hear a lot more at OOW and then we can talk more. And Fusion is a journey, think back to that mobile phone, when we started to use them we always wanted the next model, I want Fusion v1 and I hope that Oracle will continue to listen to users as they think about future releases. A great opportunity for a proper Oracle enhancement process…

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Another Great Dane

Two blogs in one day and both about Great Oracle Danes (GODS?), but please DO NOT think this blog is anything what so ever to do with the earlier one. Perhaps they should get a listing here :)

You may well have heard today, the Oracle rumour mill has been very busy, that Jesper Andersen has resigned from Oracle.

I have been in touch and he tells me he is going to Cisco to head up their Network Management team.

Jesper has been the executive sponsor of the IOUC Product Development Committee from the start of the PDC and his decision to work through a single channel for Fusion was the catalyst for this committee representing all user groups globally to come and work together and achieve all that we have for our respective members. I want to thank Jesper for the encouragement and support he has given our group and ultimately our members.

Personally I want to thank him for his presentation and engagement style. Whether he speaks to a large audience or a single customer, he manages to explain clearly the subject and leave everybody with a better understanding. In my own user group UKOUG he received the highest possible scoring last year and won the praise of our Financials Special Interest Group leader which is an achievement in itself. We will miss him.

There is NO truth in the rumour that him leaving it is related to him being accidentally introduced in Paris recently as a different kind of Scandinavian when he said ‘Make the most of this presentation, I won’t be back’.:)

I will always think fondly of Jesper and think of him as "Mr Fusion" and wish him well in the future.

Weird Oracle Related Videos

Please read this carefully BEFORE you click on the links.

Work should be fun, and the best 'experts' I know are the people who laugh and make me laugh and yet educate me at the same time. All the people I know who are involved in user groups are like that and I have said before how much I am honoured by being part of the ACE program, they are too.

But some people need a special mention, in fact as we would say in the UK, some people are just 'special'. And one person who certainly needs this tag is Mogens Nørgaard of Miracle. This is a man who owns a very successful IT company and openly states all profits go into his brewery.

You may have heard of his youtube video 'The Oracle Nose Job' where he has Oracle installed by a colleague wearing a straight jacket using only his nose and you may think that is the video I am highlighting here, well yes I am but yesterday he went further. A local radio station wanted to interview him today about life in his office, and someone made a joke which in true Mogens style he followed through.

Can I ask that you listen to this video first, listen to the laughter and then and only then watch it? Please remember the radio listeners could not see the video, so to get the full effect you must not watch the video until afterwards. And when you do make sure there are no children, vulnerable adults or pets anywhere near your computer.

If you want to meet Mogens 'in the flesh' he is presenting at OOW (S300479 - The Danish Experiment: Oracle Database 11g Shock Upgrades and Massive Workload Reduction via COBS, Thursday at 9am) , MOOW and UKOUG over the next few months but that will be another story.

Saturday 23 August 2008


I am British and we are not very good at standing up and speaking about ourselves, it isn't about being shy, if you know me the last attribute you would use to describe me is shy, but I am typically British.

So by writing this you will be able to see just how excited and proud I am to say I am now an Oracle ACE Director.

The ACE Program is very sucessful and you may have seen my previous blog were I nominated the program for a Saatchi & Saatchi Lovemark accreditation, 'beyond brand' and it was granted the award.

It is managed by OTN and naturally was for technical evangelists, but technology is there to underpin the Applications so last year at Oracle Open World they extended the program to include Applications, and now 10 months later the first 4 Oracle ACE Directors for Applications and Applications Technology have been appointed.

My great friends Floyd Teter, Steve Romeo and Ron Batar who I dont know yet but hope to soon along with myself have had this honour bestowed on us.

What I love about the program is that we are nominated by our peers in recognition of our knowledge and evangelism around the Applications and this is what motivates me.

I want to thank UKOUG (the best user group in the world) for their sponsoring the work I do globally, for my employer Fujitsu for allowing me to and for the IOUC (where user groups come together) for electing me to lead the Product Development Committee, the single channel between Users Groups and Oracle for Fusion.

Saturday 9 August 2008

Getting excited about Oracle Open World

In about 6 weeks Oracle Open World begins and I am getting excited.

You can see at the top left of this page that there is a link to oracle.mix which is buzzing with OOW chats.

I am attending with a whole suitcase of hats - The master hat is UKOUG (the best user group in the world), but also other hats such as IOUC, as an Oracle ACE and an ACE Blogger, as a speaker and as Fujitsu! So when you are talking to me check which one I am wearing.

My presentations are:

* S301045, IOUC Updates as part of the EMEA User group Stream EOUC
Sunday 21-Sep-08 10:30-11:30 Moscone West Rm 2012

* S299953, Extending Oracle E-Business Suite with the Hyperion Acquisition,
Andy Seferta (Fujitsu) and Debra Lilley (Fujitsu)
Monday 22-Sep-08 14:30-15:30 Intercontinental Hotel Telegraph Hill

* S298374, 10 Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for Oracle Fusion Applications,
Nadia Bendjedou (Oracle) and Debra Lilley (United Kingdom Oracle User Group)
Monday 22-Sep-08 16:00-17:00 Moscone West Rm 2024

You can see that there is only 30 minutes between these last two presentations and they are not in the same building, so if you see me running (highly unlikely) through the streets of San Francisco - get out of the way!

I enjoy the whole experience of Open World but I warn you, spend time BEFORE planning what you will attend otherwise you will get caught up in the crowd and miss out.

The entertainment this year simply makes me feel old. I remember Red Red Wine being #1 from UB40 and it was played at my wedding disco!

I look forward to meeting up with lots of friends and with making new friends. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 6 August 2008

Oracle Excellence Award Nominations - Act Now!

The deadline for Oracle Excellence Award Nominations is approaching, Friday, August 8th. Awards will be presented during a special gathering at Oracle OpenWorld.

Are you an Oracle Applications user who has exploited Oracle Fusion Middleware or BEA Middleware? Oracle is holding their second annual Excellence Awards where innovation in this area will be rewarded.

Sunday 3 August 2008

UKOUG Oracle Scene

Many of you will remember Philippa Clifford-Davies who worked for UKOUG for many years, now she works for Oracle Alliances and a few weeks ago I ran into her at the Oracle city office in London.

What I love about Oracle offices in UK is the way Oracle Scene is always available. This is one of the member benefits I love most in UKOUG, the magazine is glossy, looks good and full of interesting articles about Oracle. It is something tangible that you can touch and refer back to when an article you read is actually more relevant to you.

Anyway back to Philippa, she picked up a copy of the latest magazine, which if you are a member you can read online, and she showed me an article by Satnam Barr about the value of training. What Philippa wanted to point out was that UKOUG had missed a trick, we should have followed the article with a reminder that as a UKOUG member you are entitled to a 10% discount on Oracle Training. So I am putting that right, if you are a UKOUG member you are entitled to a 10% discount on Oracle Training.

And while we are talking about Oracle Scene, we are now looking for articles for the conference edition. Bridget Wells, our communications executive say ‘I'm looking for articles on the following topic areas:

 Server Technology
 E-Business Suite
 Design and Development
 Business and Strategy
 Business Intelligence
 Middleware
 Fusion
 JD Edwards
 PeopleSoft
 Siebel
 Stellent
 Hyperion

and would especially welcome content aimed at a technical audience. However, if you have an article that relates to any of these topics we want to hear from you.’

All articles are required by Monday 8th September latest and guidelines can be found here.

Sunday 20 July 2008

UKOUG Special Events

This week the UKOUG had a special event - Archive and Purge These are meetings that fall outside of the standard Special Interest Groups (SIGS) and I thought it would be interesting to explain how a special event comes to happen.

After each user group meeting members are asked what else they would like to be covered, volunteers are also asked at their meetings and then at each board meeting (there are 6 a year) the directors talk about ideas that have been put forward and determine if they meet the current strategy. If they do a director must sponsor the idea and it goes onto the ideas stack. I was sponsor for Archive and Purge.

The ideas stack is reviewed at each board meeting and one or two are moved into the next stage, here the office do some market research to see that there is a big enough audience and sufficient sponsors to make the day a success both in terms of value to the members and economically.

Then the agenda needs to be drawn up, hopefully there is an obvious volunteer to help, and in this case Anthony Ross from the Projects SIG offered to help. It was decided early on to have two streams, one functional / business focused and the other technical. It was difficult to pull together an agenda and fellow director David Kurtz and myself had to work with Karen Smith in the office to create an agenda we thought would be of value to the audience. Only then does an ‘idea’ go into production. Anthony was also involved in the Process SIG for Acquire to Retire and so we co-located the two events in London.

I wanted the Archive and Purge Day to start with discussions about why people archive, what they have tried and what worked or didn’t? Normally discussions come later in the day but I wanted them up front so that the audience could see who was similar to them so they could speak to them in the breaks. It also gives presenters the opportunity to ensure their presentations cover what people are after. Unfortunately Anthony could not make it on the day, very frustrating but volunteers do have day jobs, and I want to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to Raj Patel Deputy Chair of the Application Server and Middleware SIG who stepped in at the last minute and facilitated the technical stream whilst I looked after the functional side. The discussions were very interesting and backed up the theory that there is no simple answer. There were presentations from sponsors who have tools that deal with the requirement in different ways and from organisations that have actually been through archiving.

We had about 120 delegates and I haven’t seen the official feedback but from what I heard from delegates they all found the day very helpful.

Sunday 13 July 2008

UKOUG Paper Selection Day

UKOUG is a conference I am incredibly proud of, however it doesn’t just happen…

Last week was paper selection day, great fun but a great challenge. Large grids are placed on the walls with the number of streams available and what they are for across each day. Every submission is on a small slip of paper, with a reference number that relates to the extract and the judges comments which are held in binders. These were handed out to the 5 sets of people there for the day, EBS, Business & Strategy, BI, Server tech and Development. PeopleSoft, Siebel and BEA will be done later and our JD Edwards Community has their conference content on

So for the 5 streams we were selecting for submissions had been made from sometime in March and this year we had 694 submissions up 12% on last year. Then 189 Judges (thank you to all who took part in the judging), across all the different streams graded and commented on them. If you submitted a paper and are not successful it is more likely to be because there is simply not enough room on the agenda than because of the quality. Offer to present at the relevant SIG and get your name and ability known with the judges.

Although each submission has been graded, we have to look at getting a balance of papers, not too many from any one source, plenty of end user stories, established presenters who have their own following, new speakers we have seen at SIGs or other conferences and a balance of actual content which we feel covers what the members want to hear about. The people who take part in paper selection day tend to be SIG chairs and directors and as usual we are kept in line by James and the staff. Aimee was in charge this year and she is as scary as Rachael who was also there so we were kept on our toes.

The biggest issue is always the number of available slots, but we cannot add anymore into the ICC. In the UK this is the only real exhibition centre suitable for us and we have simply outgrown it. With every Oracle acquisition we stretch it even further; we are already looking at different options about how we can cater for everyone next year… any ideas?

So back to paper selection, the grids are populated with the little slips (lots of blue tack) and then each group does a sanity check for their streams, checking for clashes, flow of content and value to each group of attendees they represent. Then when all groups have finished we check again for clashes and flow, some really great speakers have submissions in multiple streams and we need to make sure they have not been doubled booked. Last job of the day for the volunteers is to write the introduction to their streams highlighting key presentations.

Then the staff transcribe the grids on the wall into the conference application, and begin the job of informing people they have been accepted or held in reserve. Some presentations have been selected with conditions, i.e. change of stream or title, two presentations combined etc and this too needs to be communicated. You will hear by the end of July if your submissions have been sucessful.

I was on the Business & Strategy group which includes Fusion Applications. Fusion Technology is now ‘business as usual’ so we will be highlighting any technology papers that are Fusion relevant.

It is very tempting to wander over to other groups and find out if your own, or colleagues or friends submissions have been accepted but I managed to hold off until after it was finished, I didn’t want to influence decisions.

So is that it all done now – NO there is a lot more to be done by the office and they will be busy all the way up to the conference. We kick off on the Sunday with meetings for volunteers and board members and by the time it finishes Friday we will all be exhausted. But then we have to start planning for next year immediately afterwards.

No rest for the wicked.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Update on Lovemarks

We made it! The Oracle ACE brand is officially a lovemark.

Give Oracle a chance with BEA

This article from The Register talks about how the BEA acquisition could lead to very unhappy customers.

They refer to the Thomas Kurian and Charles Phillips webcast (which you can download here if you didn’t hear it), saying that under Applications Unlimited people could continue to use whatever they currently have. The article goes onto say that this wanting to please everyone is a risky strategy and they need to talk to the customers frequently.

If the article was about the PeopleSoft acquisition I could understand it, that was the first major acquisition and nobody really knew what Oracle would do, but with each acquisition the process of engaging with customers and partners has improved. Applications Unlimited is pretty well proven with all the acquired products to date continuing in development.

Communication is pretty good as well, user group leaders are briefed within about 48 hours of an acquisition happening and users of the acquired products are either steered towards the relevant user group who have the existing infrastructure and connections to work effectively with Oracle, or where there is a strong independent user group it is encouraged to join the user group community. I previously blogged about how Essbase and Hyperion were covered by ODTUG and UKOUG where both the user groups and Oracle through their ACE program identified the current trusted users in the Essbase community and gave them the opportunity and information to communicate with the wider community who already trust them.

Just hours after the webcast user group leaders were briefed in confidence on how it will affect Fusion applications and as soon as we can we will share this information with our members.

Where the article does not cover well is the communication with existing Oracle users who may be affected by any future strategy influenced by the BEA and other acquisitions, and we in the IOUC have recommended an acquisitions portal for information. We are independent and if we think there is missing communication we will say so, but to help the users - not simply to knock Oracle.
I think saying Oracle needs to communicate more just 3 days after the webcast is a bit rich. Ask JD Edwards customers who communicated more with them PeopleSoft or Oracle?

Sunday 6 July 2008

What Makes Me Proud

In my day job I run the BI Team within Fujitsu Services. Prior to the Oracle acquisitions there were about 8 people who implemented and supported Discoverer and to a lesser extent Business Objects for all our EBS customers. A few customers also had OFA and DBI.

The acquisitions of Siebel and Hyperion changed all that and I put forward a business case to grow the team to include these skills which I could see were going to be very popular. We brought in some graduates and experienced support people to take on the Discoverer work and a few people with existing Hyperion or Siebel skills, and went through a private boot camp with Oracle University to get OBIEE skills. The partner program has also helped with additional training and we are now busy delivering. In the case of Hyperion we have a commercial relationship with an existing Hyperion partner to combine relevant skills.

The team has doubled in size and will aim to grow by the same number again this year. We have achieved Certified Advantage Partner status in BI technology and are working on BI applications although the program is still in development and not quite relevant currently.

I am proud that we are implementing OBIA and Hyperion with EBS where we have many years experience as a systems implementer. But what makes me more proud? - Job satisfaction from my team. One of them who has been working with OFA, FSG and Discoverer on EBS for many years sent me this email last week:

Just to say I am finding OBIA excellent at the core basic EBS functions that every enterprise uses – EG – AR Aging – AP payments performance – Trial Balances etc! To get this functionality up and running in OBIA takes very little time – less than Disco – however to customize is what takes the time.

I therefore am coming out strongly on the side of OBIA with the realistic view that you need to invest time and effort and money in customization while having an excellent foundation of OBIA to build on – the resulting solution is best in market! I think that’s how we should sell!

And if you want to know more about OBIA check out a series of articles from Mark Rittman

Saturday 5 July 2008

Lovemarks and Oracle

Bit worried about the title, and initially i was worried about putting lovemarks into goggle, but it is a proper term.

Lovemarks is a concept created by Saatchi and Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts and the idea behind his books that lovemarks transcend brands, owned by the people.

At this years Institute of Directors annual convention in London I was privileged to hear Kevin speak, he is so passionate about this that Saatchi and Saatchi have patented the lovemarks concept and host a website where people can nominate lovemarks that have the criteria suggested in their lovemarks profile

So am I going to nominate Oracle as a lovemark? No even I am not that sad but I think the Oracle ACE program is an excellent example of a lovemark.

At ODTUG when Oracle ACEs were asked what made them want to be part of it, the answers were all about passion, respect, access to Oracle to learn more and sharing their experiences with others. One suggested attribute I could not attribute to the ACE program was intimacy but then I haven’t met all the ACEs!

So I have nominated the program, lets see if Saatchi and Saatchi think this qualifies.

Sunday 29 June 2008

BPEL as explained by John King

Last blog from ODTUG Kaleidoscope in New Orleans

This is a new direction for me talking about something so technical, but then that is what John King was trying to do. Take the subject down to basics and build it back up to a good understanding of the concepts.

I have known John for a number of years as he is an avid fan of UKOUG and our conference visiting each year with his wife Peggy who is a board member of RMOUG.

So back to BPEL, John explained its importance to SOA and that whilst most told portray it graphically and you don’t actually need to know XML, XML is at the heart of the technology and a basic knowledge would go a long way in helping you debug or extend.

Download his presentaion and in the photo John is the third of the three wise ODTUG monkeys (Mike Riley, John Jeunnette and John King)

He talked a lot about best practices and how the utopia of re-use is of no-use if your registry has no governance. Not just relevant for BPEL, any coding you want to re-use needs to be well structured, stored and maintained.

Tuesday 24 June 2008

BI Publisher and my favourite moan

Oracle ACE Director Eric Marcoux (note the ACE beads around his neck) gave a presentation at ODTUG on BI Publisher as an enterprise solution. It was an excellent presentation that compared the embedded BI Publisher which is free with the applications to the full version. What he noted was his two PeopleSoft instances are at different versions of BI publisher from each other and the stand alone version is higher. This is my favourite moan, please, please Oracle reduce the time between great technology being available, and it being available to your apps users.

But back to Eric’s presentation, I pointed out that the embedded BI Publisher is a restricted use licence and cannot be used on any bespoke. Mike Donahue the product manager corrected me and said that was only true in the case of EBS, not sure that is fair either.

But for reporting this tool is fantastic, it is probably one of the oldest fusion tools and started its life as XML Publisher in EBS. The product manager there Tim Dexter is really passionate about BI Publisher and his blog is well worth a read.

Within Fujitsu we have a lot of historic data around invoices and purchase orders from when we had many different business units all using different stationary, now when we run a report to produce a duplicate document, not only can it say duplicate across it, but the BI Publisher template can determine the logo and style from the org-id and date.

Oh and another moan, who comes up with names in Oracle? XML Publisher, no sorry BI Publisher will be called.........guess...........
Fusion Publisher in the next release

I am an Orcale ACE for my work with Fusion and I'm not knocking the concept or the product just the name

Monday 23 June 2008

Welcome Hyperion Users

What a great week for Hyperion users. At ODTUG in New Orleans there was an entire stream over 5 days on Essbase with close to 150 people attending (a guess really if you know better let me know) and UKOUG hosted a Hyperion event with 299 attending. (If you registered and didn’t turn up, shame on you - 300 sounds much better).

I attended a roadmap presentation from Robin Hazel, Senior Director at Oracle, it was to have been John Kopcke SVP but he was torn between the two events and headed out to London, unfortunately he had 2 flights cancelled on him and was unable to make either event. He is however very much behind user communities and wrote the forward in the Essbase book Look Smarter Than you Are with Essbase System 9 – Edward Roske and Tracy McMullen, given to all attendees at ODTUG.

One of the ‘futures’ Robin talked about that really excited me was the intention to allow drilldown from Essbase into an OLTP database, the technical reasoning is that fact data can still be stored in OLTP and simply dimensions and aggregates in Essbase and is known as XOLAP. I am not really technical but my mind went into overdrive, what if OBIA went onto use Essbase in this way as its data warehouse, with full drill down back into the applications? I do hope this is where it will go eventually.

The Essbase track was jointly led by Edward the author and his blog is an excellent combination of wit and technological insight, he appears to have captured all the content and IS technical so read on. I wish I had seen him with the shopping cart but I think I was drinking with Oracle at the time. Edward was kept in check by Tim Tow

Back at UKOUG the Hyperion event was a great success with thanks to Alison Adams and her committee. The next event with is 17th September followed by their track at our annual conference in December.

The Oracle User Community is a thriving, inclusive and fun place to be. Welcome Hyperion users.

Sunday 22 June 2008

The Big Yellow School Buzz

Having blogged about my BIG yellow school bus and how I was so disappointed about not having my own bus but getting to go on a total unrelated big yellow bus, my friends at ODTUG decided to go one better.

I knew something was up when Mogens Nørgaard asked me if I liked bananas, and I had guessed it was going to be a cocktail s New Orleans does seem to be famous for them. I had a hurricane but gave the hand grenade cocktail as miss.

Anyway at the Fat Tuesday on Wednesday ODTUG party I was presented with my very own Big Yellow Bus Cocktail, a little sweet but it went down easily enough. Mogens then renamed the cocktail The Big yellow Buzz, I think I like that and will keep the name.

Parties are for fun, and the whole conference was fun, I met up with a lot of old friends, made a lot of new friends and still had time to learn.

Thanks to John and the ODTUG board and to Kathleen and all at YCC. A brilliant conference, see you soon

The BIG Yellow School Bus

I've just returned from ODTUG in New Orleans and I will tell you all about it after the weekend, but I have promised to tell all about my personal crusade.

One thing I’ve has always wanted to do is ride in a Big Yellow School Bus. My daughter grew up watching a lot of US television and you always see the buses but we don’t have them. So when ODTUG said there would be a community day before their conference and we would travel on a Big Yellow School Bus I was so excited.

Then I realised my flight would not get into New Orleans in time to get the bus so I emailed Kathleen at ODTUG and she assured me there would be a later pick up. Oh I was ecstatic and told all my friends, but an American friend told me to be careful I wasn’t being sent on a ‘Short Bus’, so back to Kathleen, ‘No it will be a big yellow bus, just as I wanted’

When I arrived in New Orleans I got ready for my big adventure, went down for the bus and…. There was no bus, well a little biddy white bus but I wanted a BIG YELLOW SCHOOL BUS. There had been a mix up with the schools department and as it was a Saturday they were closed and we couldn’t sort out the issue. The main group 60+ had to go on public transport, who at least in New Orleans insist on taking exact change, poor Kathleen she needed 60 dollar bills and 60 quarters!

So in dampened spirits off I went to the school, but all was soon forgotten it was amazing, one of the benefits you get from conferences is making new friends, and that is not difficult when you all share the same blue paint in your hair. If it didn’t move you painted it, including I believe in one room the roaches. I hope the children enjoy what we did to their school as much as we enjoyed doing it.

Back to my yellow bus, on Sunday the ODTUG photographer did a photographic walk of New Orleans and one thing he told us was if you want to photograph someone just ask, so when I was out for breakfast yesterday I saw – in a car park – a Big Yellow School Bus, at first I just took a photo from the other side of the road but I got brave, I am an Englishman abroad so we are expected to be mad, so I went and asked. Not only did they let me on board, but sit in the driver’s seat and pretend to drive it. The children definitely thought I was mad, but all that matters is I got to go on a BIG YELLOW SCHOOL BUS

Meeting Michael Armstrong-Smith

Everyone in my team lives by the oracle Discoverer handbook by Michael & Darlene Armstrong-Smith, so it was a great honour to speak to him at ODTUG in New Orleans.

Remember if you are a UKOUG member you can get 30% off this and many other Oracle books

Michael gave a great presentation on manipulating dates but gave away other tips as well. The one I learnt most from was querying on outer joins, and the best way to explain it is to let Michael explain it himself in his own blog

He also talked about setting up master business areas as a way to keep everything tidy, his presentation can also be downloaded

OBIEE is a fantastic BI tool and a lot is being put into it by Oracle, but Discoverer will continue to be the main tool for users for a long time. One worry I do have is that as users listen to the messaging around OBIEE is that they understand the need for better BI a long time before they understand the need for a Enterprise BI tool. Requests I receive for Discoverer reports are getting more and more complicated and it is very frustrating when you know that they really need to be investing in an enterprise tool.

It is a pity this was the only Discoverer presentation at the conference
as Discoverer still has a long life. I am still growing this part of my team along side the OBIEE Plus skills.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

The Day Job..

If you are reading this blog you are probably interested in Oracle or UKOUG. But contrary to popular belief I have a day job and I thought I would tell you a little bit about that.

I work for Fujitsu Services, and have done since my daughter was 6 months old – she is now finishing her first year at university! I was based in Gloucester my home town but when Fujitsu started their Oracle Practice I moved to Belfast to join that in 1996. I still get lost in the City but now call it home.

I used to attend UKOUG meetings but was disappointed in Fujitsu’s involvement and would moan about it to colleagues, one year when UKOUG were looking for board nominations, one of my colleagues told me to put my name forward and ‘put my money were my mouth is’, the rest as they say is history.

So in December 2001 I found myself a UKOUG director. Fujitsu has a professional body membership policy and have always been supportive. They give me time to attend board meetings and the annual UKOUG, Collaborate and Oracle Open World conferences. One of the benefits of having been there for so long is I have 33 days holiday a year so I can top up my envolvement.

So back to Fujitsu, we have a very large Oracle Practice, 400 in UK on of the largest Applications SI and there are 1000s in our global family. I lead the EMEA Business Intelligence Capability, a challenge in itself with the recently expanded Oracle offerings, but we are up for it.

BI used to be my full time job, but then Oracle introduced Fusion. From the start this has been fascinating for me and the evolving strategy changes everything we do with Oracle. I believe Fusion = Choice and for partners that means understanding Fusion both for ourselves and for our customers. Each Certified Advantage SI Partner was encouraged to appoint a Fusion Champion and I was an obvious choice within Fujitsu. This role is all about education, being educated and then educating Fujitsu and customers. SO now I would say my job is about 50/50 BI & Fusion, problem is both take 100% of my time.

I don’t want this blog entry to be an advertisement for Fujitsu - I hope and believe I am respected in the user group community for my integrity but I do want to publicly thank them for their support and flexibility, and to prove that I do have a day job.

Sunday 15 June 2008

UKOUG Volunteers Day

The purpose of this blog was initially to let UKOUG members know what the UKOUG board get up to between my diary entries in our magazine Oracle Scene. If you are a UKOUG member you can read this online now.

UKOUG like all user groups relies heavily on volunteers. We have over 30 Special Interest Groups meeting 3 times a year, covering product, industry and geographical groups each with their own committee and an army of speakers and volunteers for our 2 regional and flagship annual conferences, 200+. These are backed up by a board of more volunteers and an excellent staff of 20.

Twice a year we get volunteers together to reflect and plan and two weeks ago we meet in Birmingham, home of our legendary conference for this summers meeting.
We try and mix business with pleasure and start the day with lots of short updates about what we are getting up to. UKOUG is unique, we represent ALL Oracle users in the UK and this ever changing landscape is a real challenge. Please Oracle a bit more notice would be nice.

Some SIGs overlap but in general this meeting is also a chance for the volunteers to get to know each other. Rachael one of our longest serving staff had us seated in mixed groups and gave us a quiz about what are the most important things if you are marooned at sea. It was quite a quiz and the answers really puzzling especially as the RHA (Royal Yachting Association) who set the quiz did not give reasons. Anyway the internet is a wonderful thing and I have since found this document that sort of explains it.

Back to work, we split into various groups and had breakout sessions to plan for the next year. Each SIG has at least one Oracle Liaison and they attend the day as important ingredients to our successful SIG recipe. Each year there is feedback which needs to be addressed, some of it is simple and easy to implement but some takes a lot longer and we have to constantly try harder.

There was a lot of debate over our annual conference, not too long ago it was a 3 day event, this year it will be five days. Unlike the US the UK has a very limited number of conference centres and the only one really suitable for us is the ICC in Birmingham. We have simply outgrown it so need 5 days, but the intention is that most attendees will have content for a part of the week and not expected to attend the whole time.

As I have said before this year we are celebrating 25 years of ‘Serving the Oracle Community’ at UKOUG so expect some special touches this year. I am so immensely proud of what we achieve.

Back to volunteer’s day, we finish with a few well deserved drinks, a private dinner to say thank you and then an overnight stay. Most of the volunteers give up their own time to work for UKOUG and had taken holiday to attend, if you are a UKOUG volunteer Thank You.

Oracle User Group Finland Conference

I mentioned the Oracle User Group Finland Conference and Heli their President asked if I would say a bit more…

Put a user group on a boat and they can’t go anywhere, so it is a good way to ensure maximum attendance. When the boat sails between two beautiful archipelago, the thousands of Islands that make up Helsinki Finland and Stockholm Sweden the setting is beautiful, sail in May when the sun shines 20+ hours a day and it is almost heaven, and when the boat is a cruise that stops at an offshore island for just 20 minutes to give it tax free status it IS utopia. The bars did close but although I never partook I understand the Oak Table hosted their own complete with Miracle beer.

The conference (yes there was a serious point to this), was a meeting of minds. The Swedish User Group started their conference on the Tuesday morning in Stockholm, where the boat sailed from early evening arriving in Helsinki the following morning. The Finish User Group then started their conference, the Wednesday being a joint agenda for both groups. We set sail again early evening arriving back in Stockholm Thursday morning to return those originating there. I actually left the conference for a few hours to take in Stockholm and did a bus tour of the city, I would have liked a water tour of the archipelago BUT the tourist boats were on strike! That evening we sailed again for Helsinki. What a way to celebrate 20 years!

The conference agenda had a number of tracks and each session had a flag denoting the language in the printed program. UKOUG had a number of speakers take part on various legs, Jonathan Lewis, Mark Rittman, Peter Robson, Julian Dyke to name but a few. Jonathan and Julian are Oak Table members and they were there in force including Mogens Nørgaard. Speakers such as the great Chris Date and Daniel Fink had travelled from the US. So with such great company I was amazed to get one of the highest scores.

I talked about the evolution of the Fusion Strategy from Oracle. I have given the presentation a number of times but normally to an all apps audience, but on this occasion there were many technology people present, I often say ‘I’m not techie’ so I was really conscious of their presence, but I shouldn’t have worried. We overran and I then had several individual conversations with people about what Oracle’s strategy means to the way they will work in the future.

I made lots of friends and had the best time. Happy Birthday OUGF

Saturday 14 June 2008

EOUC Presidents Meeting

Oracle has over 400 Users Groups, many as a result of the many acquisitions they seem so keen on. Talking to that number is just not possible on a global level, so they have a number of communities that group them together. There is APOUC for Asia Pacific and EOUC here in EMEA, both of which are consolidated globally in the International Community IOUC.

The EOUC is still evolving but includes meetings where Presidents come together to learn from Oracle and each other. So in May Ronan (Miles the Chairman of UKOUG) and I travelled to Munich for an EOUC Presidents Meeting. We have been to Munich before, in fact the meetings seem to alternate between Brussels and Munich, they are easy to travel to but if I am taking holiday to attend I would like a little more variety.

The meeting was held in the airport hotel and thanks to legendary German efficiency we did not need to go outside from touch down to take off. However recognising that UKOUG is the best user group on the planet the hotel had arranged very nice upgrades for both Ronan and I in the hotel (why did I need 2 bathrooms?).

The first day was all updates from Oracle Executives. As well as strategy we also learnt a little about reorganisation within Oracle. This is always useful as user groups need relationships within Oracle to function well. The second day was more about sharing best practice amongst user groups. There used to be an EOUC board but it simply required more effort from already overworked volunteers so now there is a much leaner approach, with 2 spokes people who will change every two years representing EOUC with the IOUC. Currently the spokespeople are the presidents of OUGF (Finland) and OBUG (Benelux).

There will be an EOUC stand in the user group booth at Oracle Open World in September with a number of presidents again giving their own time to man it whilst attending the conference.

UKOUG is a mature and very successful user group and are committed to helping other emerging and smaller groups. One way we do this is to encourage our speaker community to present at their conferences; another way is that we recognise any user group membership for our annual conference.

Monday 2 June 2008

If you can't beat them....

For the last few years I have chaired the Product Development Committee of the International Oracle Usergroup Community IOUC and one of our main focuses has been on Fusion.

To begin with Fusion was just for Applications, and technical Oracle folk were completely turned off. But we could quickly see that it was about the technology it would be written in. Getting this message out was a big challenge and one we undertook by getting the applications community to look at the technology. Initiatives like the Oracle Excellence Awards at last years Open World look to showcase Application Customers who have embraced Fusion technology, and bloggers such as Floyd Teter OAUG go a long way towards this.

But what about the technical community not aligned to Oracle Applications? One of our members George Trujillo from IOUG had raised concerns that the technical community managers don't understand Fusion and what it means and therefore they are not investing in the training required.

My own contribution is to give user group presentations on the evolution of the Fusion message, so that people can see its relevance. The audience has almost always been applications and it has been well received.

My last outing was the OUGF (Finland) http:// 20th anniversary conference last month. This conference was held on a boat sailing between Helsinki and Stockholm, idyllic. The applications stream was very small and I did not expect many to show up but I was pleasantly surprised, a fair number of the technical people turned up to see what it was about, and I got very positive feedback including some from Oracle themselves.

So the moral of the story? Talk to techies, they are not all that bad :)

Here Goes

When I started my diary in UKOUG Oracle Scene I said that as a non techie it was as close to a blog I would get, but now I can see that people in an immediate world, want immediate updates and this does seem to be the way to do it.

I have been thinking about starting a blog for a while and have read an awful lot, my pre-conception was that some are too 'diary' like so the first thing I have done is change the name to Debra's Thoughts, I have had 'Debbie does Oracle' suggested and although I have no idea what that means :) I think Oracle may object.

The best blogs I have read are the ones where the business thoughts are separate from the personal thoughts and if this works that is what I intend to do.