Sunday 20 February 2011

The Most Frequent Question About Fusion Apps

I know I am privileged, I have had unrivalled access to Oracle during the entire Fusion Apps development, and when I have a question I have always been given the answer. I wrote recently about why I thought people weren’t all listening to the Oracle apps message, but now I am even more worried.

I am not sure of all the support timings but most of the Apps Unlimited products have their -1 version either in or about what to go into extended support, and a very frequent question is ‘Do I upgrade or do I wait for Fusion apps?’

This is such an open question, and unfortunately the answer is very dependant on your organization, there is no simple yes or no. Again I have said it before but this is where partners and user groups will add value to the debate, by helping people to understand.

I know Oracle have a campaign this year that will again explain their Applications Strategy, both for existing products and for Fusion, and how it isn’t just the either / or question. In the US there was the Oracle Applications Customer Value Summit on 3rd February which had a lot of answers to individual product roadmaps, co-existence and Fusion apps themselves. I know this content will be presented or made available in other regions over the next few months. This approach of telling the stories together is very important.

But I want to share with you, and Oracle part of an email trail I had last week, which shows just how frustrated some customers are. I have edited a little bit just to make it remain anonymous. 
I've read a few articles about Fusion Apps written by you on the web. 

Wasn't sure about how Fusion Financials differ from R12.1 Financials - do you have an 'insiders' guide? Or are they effectively the same? Can you point me to some papers/presentations? There's a lot of conFUSION about FUSION!

Fusion Apps are a completely different project, however they are not launched yet a few more months to go so little information out there. I attach a white paper I wrote a while ago that might help.

Where you based and what is your current use of Oracle Apps? I can then point you to the right user group who can help

Many thanks for your prompt reply - I am based in the UK and we are on Financials.

Reason I sent email to you is because you have been working with Oracle and know what's in Fusion. I know what's in FMW but am not sure if R12 Financials is the same as Fusion Financials - I expect they are but nobody says yes or no! Makes me wonder if it's Oracle Marketing's gimmick i.e. apps are the same but with FMW embedded in the techStack.

Someone I know in Oracle told me earlier today that even they do not know - demo's are only to invited oracle staff which I find strange!

Your comments will be appreciated.

Because the product is not yet generally available (GA) and Oracle have very strict revenue recognition rules, they cannot make too much information available yet.

In a nut shell, R12 is the original EBS product, enhanced and is starting to use newer technology. Fusion incl Fusion Financials is a completely different product built entirely in FMW.

Fusion apps are awesome but it is not a simple upgrade, there are lots of technology changes as well. Over the next year or so Oracle will roll out the product giving more information and then you will learn more.

UKOUG (.org) is the UK user group and we had lots of demos of Fusion Apps in our Birmingham conference in December.

This is hot off the press, but the main UK event will be 31st March so look out for details.

Is your organisation a member of UKOUG?

Many thanks Debra - no we are not members. Looks like Oracle have once again announced a product years before it's ready. Even people working for Oracle don't know what's in it, not sure how customers who have a decision to make on whether to upgrade to R12 or wait for a product which may be released later this year and which initially won't ( I suspect ) be very stable.

You are talking to the wrong people in Oracle. The product is ready but not GA for a few months while they work with early adopters to ensure there are no bugs.

If you are not on R12 already then it is very unlikely your organization has the appetite to be an early adopter and so there is no real choice for you, the answer is to go R12. Fusion is a completely new architecture and way of working, it is not a straight forward either or choice.

People in Oracle should not be telling you they know nothing about it, they should be referring you to someone who does.
Oracle consulting are part of the ramp up program so your contact should be able to find you someone.  I represent UKOUG and to ensure I have the right answer we have invested time in being part of the process. My employer sees this as a benefit so that we have the right information too, and therefore gives me the time.

Oracle did not rewrite all the products. They announced back in 2005 that they would write a new generation of apps based on new technology which is what Fusion Applications are. It is not a replacement. They did originally intend that but feedback from users and groups like UKOUG was that this was not what customers wanted, so they announced in 2006 Applications Unlimited where they would continue to develop each of the product lines. In fact after Fusion Apps v1 is released there will be R12.3 so this stands by what they said.

Fusion is ready and the amount of testing has been unprecedented, but IT is complex and there are as many deployment options as there are customers. There is also the opportunity to co-exist, e.g run Fusion Talent Management alongside R12 EBS, so Oracle are working with early adopters to have as many as possible case studies.

I find it a bit unbelievable that Oracle would re-write the whole of R12 Financials/PeopleSoft/Siebel etc for Fusion. I would expect certain changes like BPEL for Workflow, etc but not a complete rewrite of R12 so soon after R12 was released but I guess you know more because you have the inside story.

Ok that clears things up a little bit but I'll wait and see.

I can honestly say that I have spoken to many people who work with Oracle (Oracle and non-Oracle people) and no-one understands what Fusion is about - this is fact which just shows that all Oracle have managed to do is cause confusion!

Many thanks for your time in replying to my emails - you are obviously very dedicated to the Fusion cause.

This is a typical conversation and I think that if you feel the same you need to start engaging, and start by being active with your user group and be part of the debate.

Thursday 17 February 2011

I did it - I did the Fusion UX Demo

Yesterday I talked about doing the first Fusion UX advocates demo, today at RMOUG in Denver.

My presentation was talking about Fusion Applications being a window on the technology. I have talked many, many times about the Oracle Apps Strategy, understanding what the technology is behind it, and what people should be thinking about. Last year I submitted a paper for OOW entitled 42 Real Life Examples of Fusion Middleware with Apps (which you can download here). I asked my ACE Director colleagues for their examples, and was not entirely surprised but found that most organizations are using FMW to do old things with new technology. This is not bad, and in every case there was a win for the organization, but it made me start to think that Fusion Applications may actually be this Window on the Technology.

So I was taking parts of each of these presentations, and by being able to add the Fusion UX Advocates demo, and some of what Patanjali taught me about how FMW Built the UX, I hoped I would give people their first glance through my window of thought.

Putting together my presentation was fine, I had most of the content from previous demos, there were some Oracle slides that Steve Miranda and the UX team allowed me to share, so I also needed permission to share my pdf, but I have that so hopefully they will be available in the next few days.

The hardest part was the demo, as Fusion Applications are pre GA, I had a viewlet, around 13 minutes. Yesterday I repeatedly went through the script, noting the times the cursor would get to each part. I had the script printed out and thought I would be nervous enough without having to leaf through all this paper, and then I had a brainwave. Let my PC run the demo, and have the script as a pdf on my iPad. So much easier to handle.

I was all ready and went to bed at 10.30 but awoke about 2:30am and couldn't sleep. As it was now morning in Europe I tried talking to a friend but it only helped for a while. Then I tried working on something else, but no joy. So I practiced again, and again.

When the time came for the presentation I didn't feel as nervous as I expected, but I did have that good worry. It started badly, I got to slide two and realised I had loaded an old version. Note to self, always delete or rename old versions. But it was only the intro, so I apologised, carried on as I loaded the correct one. Then using my iPhone as a timer, I went through the first 40 minutes of my 90 minute presentation. I was 4 minutes ahead when I started the demo, but that I think went really well. The practise paid off, and the IPad worked a treat; I felt so good. I had worried about the screen resolution, but on the big screen the demo looked fine, and people were really interested.

It wasn't a massive crowd, RMOUG is traditionally more a database community but it was a good turnout and I was very pleased with it. Obviously I await the official feedback, but people I spoke to said it conveyed exactly what the title said.

Thank you oracle UX for making this possible, Fujitsu for letting me be here, The ACE Program for supporting me and UKOUG, it may not have been in the UK, but a UKOUG Director gave that first Fusion UX demo outside of Oracle; our strategy of being involved from the front, paid off.

Monday 14 February 2011

First Outing

So having had the Fusion UX Advocates training, I am itching to get out and use it. My next presentation is at RMOUG on wednesday and I am pleased to say that I have been given permission to do this. Yes it is a viewlet but it is my words and my demo, the first non Oracle demo of Fusion Applications and will be a small part of my Fusion Applications – The Window on Oracle Technology presentation.

I can't wait and hope I don't let the team down

Fusion User Experience Advocates Program

In an earlier post I said I was part of a small group from the Oracle Ace Program taking part in the inaugural training for the Fusion User Experience Advocates Program

This took place on Thursday 27 Jan at Oracle HQ in Redwood. We were collected from our hotel by limo. I am easily pleased as a Brit as this is a rare occurrence, please don't burst my bubble by pointing out a limo is cheaper than the number of taxis required for us all!

But I am ahead of myself, normally any event starts with the first hour getting to know each other, so as most of us were in town for the IOUC summit, we had the opportunity to go to dinner with the Fusion UX team the night before. We had a private dining room at the Mistral which is a great restaurant, just round the lake from oracle. It was a great chance to meet more of the UX team, I already knew most of them and the ACE program participants, but not everyone else had meet and it was a great night out.

The mix of ACEs was great, mainly functional or traditional oracle technology but we also had Ed RowskeEd Roske who is Hyperion which is leveraged a lot in the Fusion Solution. Taking part was Sten Vesterli, from Denmark, Sten and I had had previously done a deep dive on the Fusion Apps UX journey with Elke Phleps. Ron Batra , Michael Rulf who heads the Fusion Council for OAUG and Karen Brownfield an expert in the traditional EBS workflow and very experienced EBS consultant. Bex Huff is the person I knew least but he was greet to work with and has a wide range of knowledge that he brought to the group.

Missing on the day but someone who can't be left out and was able to catch up on a webcast as he had covered most of the content before was the wonderful Floyd Teter.

So what did we do? Having gone through the overview to understand how and why UX, we were introduced to the demo. It covers most of the navigation and types of features for Fusion Apps and we will be able to use it as we need to. Then we got to present to each other in groups of two, and then split into groups of 4 and presented back to the UX team. It was amassing how quickly people brought their own experience and knowledge into the demo to enrich it. The ACE program is described as evangelists and this truly was a test of that.

Later we saw his presentation on how FMW built Fusion Apps UX from Patanjali Venkatacharya, he then answered questions we all had.

Prior to GA - General Availability there are lots of restrictions and we can only use a canned viewlet with specific permission, but that is a small price to pay for this great heads up.

Thanks to everyone of the UX team for making this happen and to my ACE colleagues who did me proud.

And then this week at RMOUG I get to include the demo for the first time.

Monday 7 February 2011

Invitation to Join Constellation Research

When someone calls me a thought leader I am very proud, but never as much as I do now.

Many years back I came across Ray Wang a leader in the ERP Analysts world. Ray is not only a brilliant analyst but a very approachable person. He always finds time to talk to people and give advice, and not just the paid for kind. He is very generous to user groups charging just expenses to deliver his knowledge to their members.

A few years back he spoke at an event in London and my boss at the time came along. We had a booked session with Ray to ask questions specific to the day's agenda, but Ray went further and gave us advice very specific to our line of work. Ever since when he's been in London we have tried to meet up.

Once at Oracle Open World the three of us met for coffee and then Ray persuaded us to try a local delicacy of Beard Papas Doughnuts.  See his expertise extends to food as well as The ERP industry.

Last year before open world he invited me and my great friend Floyd Teter to be part of a panel representing users in his analyst briefing event. I was so proud, unbelievably proud that he rated me like that.

Not long after Ray started Constellation Research , and is pulling together an advisory board of commentators and thought leaders and invited me to join. The credit for this goes to UKOUG who gave me the strategic remit to become involved in the Fusion Journey that led me to chairing the Product Development Committee of the IOUC, which thanks to Jesper Andersen was the first channel into Oracle Development, to Steve Miranda who has given us the user group leaders such a great access to the development process, to The Fusion Middleware product managers who have taught me about the technology, the friendships I have made with people like Nadia Bendjedou, Stephen Chan and Elke Phelps who have taught me more, which in turn led me to being nominated for an achieving ACE Director status, and for the User Experience labs for bringing the applications alive, all this has contributed to me being accepted as a thought leader and Ray asking me to join his team.

However this journey was only possible because as my role in the community expanded my employer Fujitsu gave me the freedom to develop my unique role. My own management believed in me and the value to our customers. reputation has always been important to Fujitsu and my role helped to build that. More recently we have a new CTO, David Smith who is championing Trusted Spokespersons, through blogs and other social media. I am proud to be part of that program and have received a lot of support from a colleague who I have never actually met, Mark Wilson, who is a Microsoft VP a bit like the Oracle ACE Director program. Mark was also the 2010 winner of the UK Computer Weekly Blog IT Professional (Male) category. .

So no one thing has led to the role I have, just belief that people have had in me to do the right thing, my way. If you have been part of that thank you.

Friday 4 February 2011

One Man Went to MOW ..................... well this woman will

If you know me, you know I have a lot of friends who are members of the OakTable, and I count Mogens as one of my best friends. Funny thing is, Mogens and I rarely work in the same area.

A few years back , just after I found out technical people could be interesting, I was introduced to Robyn Sands from Cisco by email by Dan Fink, when I was looking for an engineering approach to Fusion Apps. We corresponded by email for a while and then I tried to arrange a meeting. Robyn said she would be at MOW or Miracle Open World, the most technical conference on the planet, arranged by Mogen's company.

I even ended up speaking there as that year they had a business stream, but I wouldn't even have attended a technical session then. I actually felt weird, I wanted to play and boy, do they play at this conference, with the techies, the business people were too serious. The business stream became BAUG and they now meet with the DOUG and I have been back several times to present to them, one of my favourite user groups.

But I want to be at MOW 2011, even just as a groupie, a delegate, whatever, these are my friends, many are also ACE Directors. Last year when the date was announced  quite late (WeDoNotUseAdvancedPlanning) , I was already committed to the Norwegian UserGroup and commitment is my top priority, but I did get to go to the extended after party.

This Ĺ·ear is the same, I want to be there, but the dates overlap with Collaborate , but my great friend Alex Gorbachev said we could do both, it means a quick exit and rush across the world but we can do it. 

So I thought about just asking to help out, then thought I might even submit a paper. At this point many of my friends who speak here are choking on their beer as they read this. What could I possibly bring to this conference? But I talked with Alex and then Mogens and an idea developed. I have had great conversations with these people about how Fusion Apps are designed and given presentations at RMOUG to very technical audiences so it is not completely from scratch.

The intention is to give a demo talking about where the data is going, and how it gets there, the integrity and the technology. Just a short presentation, these people will get the concepts quickly, then have a discussion on what they want to know. Thanks to 5 years of working with development I may even know some answers, and I have had a few sessions with people in the know at Oracle this week to understand more for myself. Then as my knowledge dries up I will have someone on hand to 'ring a friend' and am also thinking of following up with a later webcast to mop up any areas we don't get to the bottom off in that session.

I spoke at length to the paper selection boss at Miracle and they loved it, and Mogens' business partner Lasse, who we know loves the apps will love this.   

But the real reason I have been given a session is last August I got Mogens to talk about apps (and again in December at UKOUG ) and famously said "I  got Mogens to talk about Applications but he will never get me to talk about databases"

Now I come think about it perhaps he has manoeuvred me into this just to win the bet.