Thursday 27 January 2011

Fusion UX Advocates

The UX team have been so accommodating to the user groups through the PDC around Fusion Applications and helped us to understand for our members. At Oracle Open World we were part of the launch and I got to introduce Steve Miranda SVP of Applications Development, which was such an honour. 

After a more technical presentation I said to the UX team I wanted access to be able to do my own demos. The discussion continued and I realised that development were open to this. I could have just worked with them on my own, but I want the community to benefit and despite popular belief I cannot be everywhere. 

The access has to be controlled and it would require a certain level of base understanding, and then to be of value to Oracle, would need to be presented, so I suggested the ACE  program would be the ideal platform. We are all committed to presenting and learning and have signed NDAs. The program took shape and Steve Miranda backed it. Ideally I wanted it to be like the FMW 4 Apps kits we had a few years back where we got virtual images of the apps and could either follow a script to build SOA integration or do our own thing. The ACE Program is a wide range of expertise across all the technologies, but so is Fusion Apps so the idea of training some of these and them going away, doing their thing and feeding back to development as well as presenting to their followers was very compelling.

But I get ahead of myself, the product is not yet GA so having a copy is not possible and even then takes a while to build a subset of what we would need. But we were keen to get the program off the ground so this week 9 members of the Ace program have been invited to a intensive training day where we will learn the concepts of a few presentations, both functional and technical. We will get material to enable us to present canned demos, perhaps later be able to use a demo system live but be able to start our own unique insights into how these applications will work in our areas.

These 9 are just the tip of the iceberg and definitely a small start to the initiative. The interest has been phenomenal with over 47 of the program expressing an interest, and this will be developed over the next few months with further people being trained over the summer.

Thanks to Viki in the ACE Program for working with the UX team and especially to Misha and Andrew in the UX team who have put this advocates program together.

Monday 3 January 2011

Why Don't People Understand Fusion?

Oracle have taken a lot of stick about how long it has taken Fusion applications to come to market, so at least they could have spent that time making sure we all understood. Well that is what I have thought and have been pretty vocal about it.

To start with Oracle did talk about it a lot and quite near the start I was asked by Oracle Marketing to present to them about how users were taking in that message. My Product Development Committee in the IOUC took the request seriously and interviewed selected users across the globe from many different communities and user groups. We wrote a white paper on how we thought the message was coming across and then we presented it to a group of executives in Redwood. I started by passing round large laminated cards that said Fusion on one side and showed a picture of something called Fusion on the other. They were all face down and then I had the executives turn them over. Only one was Oracle Fusion. My point was, that at that time there was a lot of talk about Fusion but not everybody got the message.

We had two main recommendations and I thought it would be interesting to see if they are still valid today. The first was that the different application families needed different messages, e.g. PeopleSoft, JDE, Siebel etc and the second was that Oracle were not talking to the technical community who seemed to switch off whenever Fusion was mentioned.

Oracle listened and then two important things happened. first they stopped talking about the applications as much, which I say again frustrated me but they did start talking about the technology, and although I don't take the credit they renamed the technology Fusion Middleware (FMW), which did make the technical community at least recognise Fusion.

Then we worked with the newly formed FMW for Apps team to see if we could showcase some uses of FMW. Markus Zirn the VP there had a great grid of functionality against app so he had case studies of each of the application families using say single sign on or BI Publisher or other elements of FMW.

Later Markus launched  the FMW Excellence Awards to showcase more examples and many user groups supported and joined in the initiative. But one of the best ways that Oracle have promoted the technology that Fusion Applications are written in for Applications Unlimited is all down to one person. Nadia Bendjedou and her white paper and presentations Things You Can Do Today to Prepare for Fusion.

Later nadia worked with us to design the Oracle Applications Planning Tool, a download that helps you have the conversation about FMW with your organisation.

 My own presentations have a basis in Nadia's paper and we have often presented together, and since the applications were showcased at OOW 2009 several user groups have put together excellent Fusion tracks. But we did present to the different communities separately, not a different message but relevant examples. again Markus' team stepped in to give some people in the ACE Program apps kits to allow us to give these demos.

In the mean time development kept to their promise to talk to user group leaders about the progress of the applications. they included us in their Inner circle and every 3-4 months we had the opportunity to ask questions of Steve Miranda. In the middle of December we had what will be our last question time, in just a few months the applications will be released. Each time we collect the questions there are a number repeated, that doesn't worry me, it is important for us as user group leaders and for Oracle to see that the answers are still not obvious to everyone. I want to publicly say thank you to Development for keeping that promise.

Does it mean the communication is bad? No I don't think so, the last year Oracle have given a lot of information and this year's OOW there was a smorgasbord of content about Fusion, I just think many users have ignored Fusion until it either resonated with them or they could ignore it no more.

The other evening I was watching a review of the top 20 TV adverts of the year, and I had only seen 3 of them. I commented on this on facebook and had some comments about our viewing habits and my 'being at home' habits and it made me think. a few years ago, TV advertising was very big and probably the main way people advertised their goods and services. I watch much less TV which with the choice of 100s of channels may seem odd, but I am more selective and have the opportunity to record what I want to watch, and when I watch them I ignore all the adverts, so I simply am unaware of them. The same is true for Oracle, we tune out what we think we are not interested in and then are simply unaware of everything else, most people have spent the last year or so trying to avoid big IT projects so why look at what you are not going to do?

As customers we are less interested in TV adverts, what sells things today is social media, the buzz on twitter etc when the iPad was released, stories from actual customers have sold far more than any TV advert. In the same way Oracle know that what will sell Fusion Applications is feedback, customer stories from early adopters and independent commentary from people like myself in the ACE Program and user groups.

So lets not talk about Fusion - Confusion, a term I HATE, we as consumers are selective about what we want to hear about and when the applications are released so will that desire for information and let's hope Oracle have the program in place to answer the questions and work with the user groups to ensure we give the independent assessments the users need.

P.S. I am still very excited.

What Worked and What Didn't at TEBS

What motivates me to be a director of UKOUG? PRIDE, Pride in what we deliver and how we 'Serve the Oracle Community'.

My last few postings have been about our annual TEBS conference looking at it from a number of different angles. I talked about change and how every year we have to balance economic constraints with bringing new life to the event. It is a cliche but we live in a very 'Social' world now and many people in our community have embraced Social Networking and that played a big part in the event. Before the event I also posted about the off piste events and thought I would look back at how they went.

This was the 2nd year we had a twitter stream on displays at TEBS although I think it wasn't as obvious this year, but it is great for immediate feedback and  a phenomenal way to create buzz and include those not able to attend. (#ukoug_tebs)

The OTN and ACE participation I have already said was a great success although we have learnt a lot about room allocation and how to publicise changes.

We moved the keynote to the end of the day and that was a great success although I think there still needs to be a kick off session early Monday, perhaps in the exhibition hall, not sure we will think more about it.

A lot of effort went into new ideas, the speaker lounge being on the balcony was a big hit, although I personally needed signage to the coffee. Two nights of networking in the exhibition hall were a  big hit, and although a lot of people would still have loved a real party, our community has changed and not everyone attends all three days and there certainly isn't more money around to pay for it. By having two networking events till 8pm, people were free to plan their own evenings if they were staying over and I think the balance was good. Networking is the main thing people attend conferences for. They come to learn from the sessions but it is that being able to discuss it with the presenter, other delegates and other users that really brings value.

Roundtables are still a great sucess, I attended the Willow table for the Applications Community were for the second year Cliff Godwin, SVP EBS answered questions along with Nadia Bendjedou and a host of our own experts and the Fusion roundtable with Gartner - BUT WE HAVE TO find a location that works, or get the ICC to close down the lifts (elevators) in that area, there is only so much 'Doors opening' you can take.

I have learnt that in the UK we are too reserved, the OakTable had their OTTTTT and it was a success in that the table was always in use, but the idea of tournament fell apart because we didn't organise it, spontaneity was not there. We invested in the equipment so it will be back but next year we will allow people to sign up and have it run properly (any volunteers?). And while we talk about the OakTable, where was the challenge? There were plenty in attendance and delegates did get to talk to them but there was no specific 'Go To' place and it looks like we have to organise them as well. So I have learnt that it is not enough to concentrate on the new things but make sure we continue the things that work.

The Inspiring Presentation Awards were excellent and they will be back, but next time with more fanfare and photos. OTN have always supported us both directly and through the ACE Program but their participation this year was just brilliant.

Lisa came up with the IPA awards and was also the catalyst behind the Panto, which was one of the big successes. As I say it that posting, How do we follow that?

So 2010 TEBS was a lot of challenges but a lot of fun. I was always being stopped to be told how people enjoyed it and the networking was always awesome. Wednesday night included people who should have already been home but were stranded because of the weather (how do we control that?), but everyone was still enjoying the buzz. There is a lot of feedback still to be sifted through and our washup session to hold, but I am declaring it another success and thank everyone, The Staff, The Volunteers, The Presenters, the Exhibitors but above all the Delegates.

Here's to the next conference series and 2011.

Fusion at TEBS and what next?

Let's start by defining Oracle Fusion. Fusion is the middleware technology and Fusion Apps are Oracle's soon to be released suite of applications written entirely in Fusion Technology.

As  I have waited patiently for the applications to be developed, I have acquired an interest in the technology, and it making it easy to understand from a business perspective.

So following on from the success of my two papers at Oracle Open World I presented them at TEBS: 42 Real Life Examples of Fusion Middleware with Apps and Stay Away if you are technical, Fusion Middleware for Business. These are very important to me I want people to really understand the benefits. I keep on saying this but I think Fusion Applications will at first be a fantastic window on what the technology can do before people actually start to adopt the applications themselves.

Clive Swan
Fellow ACE Director Sten Vesterli is a fusion developer and he has written an excellent blog posting on what he hopes will the pricing policy. We need to remember that the functionality portion of the costs can be transferred from a customers existing portfolio, it is the technology costs we don't know yet. I hope Oracle do get it right because the product is excellent.

Our Fusion Apps stream was excellent and led again for us by Clive Swan, GVP fusion HCM who won our Oracle Applications IPA from last year and he was joined again by Jeremy Ashley, VP User Experience and wrote about his thoughts in his blog.

We had an excellent session from Gartner where Nigel Montgomery gave us a strategy for looking at our own businesses whilst assessing what Fusion applications might give us. Later that day he hosted a round table and it is still apparent that a lot of people are still confused. A thought I will come back to in a later posting. It isn't just about the message it is about our listening habits.

Anthony Lye
Another speaker was Anthony Lye, SVP CRM. Anthony is a friend of UKOUG and regularly travels over from redwood to address our Siebel community, but he is also very integral to Fusion. some of the first stand alone Fusion Modules were CRM and he asked us to include his presentation on how they fitted in and the new things being added. All Oracle executives have punishing schedules and Anthony arrived, sat in the corridor for last minute preparations and then flew off to Belfast where he was making his first visit to ATG a recent acquisition which he now runs. Thank you to all our Fusion Speakers for being with us.

There were two days of Fusion content at TEBS and I finished up with my session on 'What Next?'. We first did this in the last Financials SIG, looking at all the options for going forward ad how to approach them. I wanted people to think about R12, and move away from the 'shall I wait?' option. So we looked at all the ways to go to R12 and some of the feedback we have had from users who have made the move. Back in the summer I did a joint presentation at Insync in Australia with Mogens Nørgaard on Business accelerators, and the options this approach to a new install can give you. We didn't have time to do the whole presentation but we did manage to include a little bit ad I was honored that Mogens was able to join me again. He talked about using the money saved over a traditional implementation to ensure you embrace the FMW technology for your integrations, and we developed a new acronym PINT, Perfect Integrations New Technology and if you know Mogens you will know just how apt that is.

I think we achieved a good balance of information without too much hype. The applications will be with us soon enough and we want people to be interested but not expect a missive uptake from day one. So back to my first point, Fusion Applications will be with us soon, stick with UKOUG to show you the best way to navigate all the information and expect a lot more about the technology.

Sunday 2 January 2011

Oh No You Didn't

Oh Yes We did.........

Lisa Dobson
Having admitted that Lisa Dobson and I are mad, this is the story about how we bought that madness to UKOUG TEBS.

Doug Burns a great volunteer for UKOUG mentioned on twitter that he was growing a moustache for Movember, and that it would come off at the conference. to Lisa and I that just seemed too good a chance to pass up. At first it was just a giggle and we just kept upping the suggestions. Lisa with a cut throat razor, on the main stage, during the keynote, and very soon it had taken on a life of its own. Doug seemed a little nervous but did like the idea it might make a bit more money.

Twitter is a great way to put thoughts out, and others started to join in, when Doug said he thought a cut throat was a bit too much, Marco Gralike offered his services with a chainsaw, now that may sound a bit random but Marco has a history with this weapon of mass destruction and it seemed a great idea. so how do you bring it all together? Well it soon dawned on us that a pantomime would be a fantastic way to do it.

Lisa and I had a call with the UKOUG staff and looked to see how we could fit it in. The main keynote was to be Monday evening immediately before a networking event in the exhibition hall, it seemed the ideal time. However timing would be an issue, but all we had to do was persuade Ronan it was a good idea and ask Oracle to give a shorter keynote! We weren't sure how Ronan would be but he was fantastic, really supportive and even talked us into letting him be the panto dame!

So the cast was coming together - we had our main character - Doug, the panto dame, I would be the principle boy (?), and Marco would be our villain. Lisa was to be the narrator. We did cast one other, to be the nemesis of our villain - Mogens Nørgaard, but a combination of the weather and a misunderstanding as to when it was meant to be led to him missing his time on stage although he still got a mention.

So the panto was set, Lisa got busy with the script, of course we had to find a part for the Stanley the Original ACE Director. Did I mention this was less than a week before the event? Well after a morning finding suppliers for the coustumes who could deliver in time and a 10 minute rehersal lunchtime on the day we were ready.............. and the finished article? well here you are:

Doug tried hard to avoid the actual event, some boring excuse to do with snow, but here in his own words is his version of events.

It was a great success and over £300 was raised for the Movember Charity. Only one problem......... how do we follow that next year?

The ACE up our Sleeve

I often talk about how proud I am of being an ACE Director and the support I personally receive from OTN who run the program. there is a lot of talent in the UK and we have a very good representation of both ACEs and ACE directors in UKOUG and for the past few years OTN has hosted an ACE Dinner during the TEBS conference, with about 35-40 attending each time.

Vikki Lira from OTN
The ACE program is brilliant for acknowledging the experts within the Oracle Community and there is no shortage of them, but how do we plan for tomorrow? My generation didn't even study IT at school, it hardly existed, and yet my daughter uses a computer for everything. Today's graduates look for their knowledge in completely different ways. So when my fellow director Lisa Dobson suggested awards for presentations, I loved the idea, someway of recognising the best and encouraging people to speak for the first time. Lisa has always been an advocate for the 'Newbie' and it is just like her to think of something like this.

Lisa and I are a bit mad, and we often chat online in the evening and have silly little times and you only have to read my next posting about the pantomime to see what we get upto, but on this occasion the result was the GITS, Greatest Inspiring Technologists. a few weeks later at our volunteers event we launched the idea, and people loved it, however they didn't like the name. Lisa went back to the drawing board and they were renamed the Inspiring Presentation Awards. It was quite a challenge to do something this ambitious with only 4 months to go, but luckily we have the successful Partner Awards to base it on, all we needed was a sponsor. I asked OTN if they would sponsor the awards and they quickly agreed, the ACE program needs to attract new blood for the future.

Me and Lisa presenting the awards
As time was short we looked to other user groups for inspiration and I approached ODTUG as I know they have an awards scheme. Theirs is based on scoring from the last conference and judging of papers for the current event. They were happy to help out but suggested we might want to look at some kind of weighting formula, to make the scoring fairer depending on the number of people voting. Lisa and I thought about it and then decided to bring in an expert, so we asked Cary Millsap for help. He gave us a formula we could understand and from now on it will be called the Millsap Weighting.

Grant Ronald
It was very exciting seeing who won the awards and very difficult for us to keep it a surprise. On twitter James Morle was saying he wasn't sure about his presentation and yet we knew he had won the best submission judging; imagine if he had pulled out! There were a good number of ACEs in the list which is to be expected, as this sharing of knowledge is one of the criteria for being an ACE. OTN were magnificent, not only did they sponsor the awards but they also sponsored the networking event in the exhibition hall on the Tuesday night when the awards were given out. Vikki Lira came over to represent OTN and it was great to have her there.

There is no need for me to list the winners, Lisa has already done that in her blog, and read the posting from Grant Ronald who won the Oracle Technology Award

Alex Nuijten
Immediately after the awards we had our ACE dinner and there were 35 people who attended and we had a great time in a local Indian restaurant. The ACE program also supports some ACE Directors to present at conferences and there were a few who were at UKOUG for the first time, like Alex Nuijten and Kai Yu. although we are a regional user group we know that the Oracle community is global and it is fantatstic to attract the best speakers wherever they come from.

There was also an ACE Panel question time on the Wednesday, unfortunately there was a mix up over advertising the venue so the audience was not as big as we have hoped but it was a good session and great for people to have the opportunity to ask a question about anything to a panel of experts.

OTN also had a lounge area in the Exhibition Hall and there was to be lots of give aways and goodies, however because of the weather they did not turn up till after the conference. But don't worry, we will give them out at relevant SIGs over the next few months.

Thank you OTN for all your support, both for me personally and for UKOUG.

Want to be a Director?

Carl and Anne, two of the current Directors
Gosh perhaps I shouldn't have said earlier about how much more work there is to do now at UKOUG, as now I want to try and encourage you to think about being a director. We have 12 directors and each serve a two year term but can then stand for election again. We try and make it that 6 are up for election each year.

So if you are interested in being part of UKOUG and think you have skills that will help, and just understanding the community is a big part of that, give it some thought.

Or if you think there are things we should be doing differently and have experience in running projects or a small business think about it.

It does take up a fair bit of time, most of which is thinking about and commenting on proposals, coming up with new ideas and making sure we learn from experience. It is great we have a mature board but we always need fresh faces to ensure we don't become complacent.

If you are interested I am more\than happy to have a call with anyone but start here.

UKOUG Technology and E Business Suite Conference Series Event

Straight after VisIT it was time for my favourite conference, our own. Since UKOUG created the conference series to ensure each community had the conference experience they want, the traditional, pre-acquisition event has affectionately become known as TEBS.

UKOUG has a unique funding model where members pay up front, and in general the membership base funds everything we do through the year, except the actual conferences which bring in additional funds through exhibition. That is a very over simplified statement and I can assure you the budget cycle for every event is much more stringent but it is useful to understand the basic premise. When money was less tight, this worked very well and we could concentrate on the content, the last few years have been a real challenge and a lot more effort than you think goes into delivering something that needs to improve on the last event and yet cost much less. Added to that the needs of our community as well as the community itself is changing; it really is the only constant.

There were a number of little things that became big things behind the scenes at conference and I tend to see it all and then worry about them, but most of the feedback I get is very positive, and when you read the blogs about it it was successful. But we always need to improve so if you have any ideas let me know.

We tried a few new things this year, the Panto and the Inspiring Presentation Awards which I will talk about in the next posting but I think our biggest challenge was something we never planned for - the weather. We lost about 200 delegates and some speakers to the weather and there are great stories of people making the event regardless. One lady travelled overnight from Edinburgh by coach and many had to leave early or not leave when their travel plans were interrupted. on the Wednesday many people came back from the airport because their flights were cancelled whilst many more had long, long delays. Then the UKOUG community came into its own, Jury's was a very popular hotel and each room has two beds, and I think everyone who had planned to stay Wednesday night and had a room, gave their spare bed to those who had not planned on it, and we had a great night.

And yes looking back it was a great success, so well done to everyone involved and I hope you have next year's date in your diary already. Dec 5th - 7th

Saturday 1 January 2011

Fujitsu VisIT 2010

 Jessika from the Fujitsu Alliances Team
It has taken me a long time to catch up with this blog, and I apologise. It is also all about Fujitsu for which I do not, they are after all my employer.

Since Fujitsu Siemens ended and the hardware business was fully integrated into the Fujitsu Family I have worked for a hardware company. Normally it would not have much impact on a day to day basis for me, that was until Oracle bought Sun. Now the Fujitsu Global Alliance with Oracle has a lot to do with hardware as I have explained before.
Oracle statement - Fujitsu branding

There used to be an annual hardware conference each year in Germany, VisIT, but since last year it has included services, and I got to speak. This year I was what the called an 'expert', this is where delegates can arrange a meeting with an 'Expert' in advance, it is great to talk direct to customers, and the part of my job I love the most. The closest we get to this in Oracle User conferences is perhaps the OakTable or ACE Director Panels.

Just a few weeks previously I had been on the Oracle stand at the SOA Symposium and it was great this time for there to be an Oracle Stand at a Fujitsu conference. Funny to see their content in our branding, and it was great to have Juergen Kress who runs the SOA Partner Community within EMEA.

VisIT is a very different kind of conference for me but I really enjoy it.