Saturday 9 April 2011

My First Public Outing - Well Almost

Now I am Chairman of UKOUG, it all seems much more personal. Not that I ever took the role of deputy lightly, but this is a big responsibility.

My first outing or duty as Chairman was to speak at the Oracle Customer Awards and it felt great, but the first outing with the members was the OUG Ireland Conference. Very apt, because if you don't know I live in Ireland, in the North, above Belfast. We have a strategy in UKOUG to try and cater for regions that are physically far from the South where most events happen. We have worked hard to do this with our Irish and Scottish Conferences and put SIGs into other locations were practical. It doesn't always work, Ireland has had lost its way a bit the last few years.

Jonathan Lewis and Mogens Norgaard
As a User Group, we have to be in tune with our members, and we do that through many surveys but mainly through our volunteers, the community committees who tell us what they want. Ireland have some good communities but not as vibrant or as many as we needed, so this year we started planning earlier and worked with a committee made up from the communities and Ireland. Everyone wanted it to be successful and we planned an agenda grid with what we thought would be of interest to the audience, then we set about finding the right speakers, a mixture of local talent, Global Experts (via the ACE Program) and solid Oracle.

We opted to go to the Aviva Stadium, the old Landsdown Road. That was a great choice, and the number of delegates was really up over last year. We need more exhibitors to make it work better financially, but I am sure next year will be easier now we have had such a successful event.

As ever we have things to learn, when Aimee the project manager from UKOUG and I went to visit the stadium many months ago, we used a different entrance than on the day, we have learnt more about the importance of signage, and one break out area was via another which was bad, we need to work with the Aviva on that, but these teething issues are common for new venues.

Paul O'Riordan, head of Oracle in Ireland, gave a great keynote and made it very relevant, a good trick that as normally it is just a standard corporate presentation. He talked about one of the recent acquisition ATG and how there big development centre is in Belfast. 

People loved the event, For Apps we had Oracle Strategy, Fusion Apps, Upgrade Presentations,  Oracle's fantastic Nadia Bendjedou answering all the questions, Jonathan Lewis had an extended session on the database and upgrades and for BI we had a fantastic stream with people like Mark Rittman and Anthony Heljula. Local customers like Irish Life and Ingersol Rand spoke. Mark Simpson  was one of the Middleware speakers, and we had local stars, like Hillary Farrell for APEX, Barry McGillan for SQL Devleoper, and we had Grant Ronald and Doug Burns over (both Celtic even if from Scotland).

We ran out of speaking slots but had our popular round tables for people to ask questions, Paul Logan from Pthyian Belfast was part of the exadata table, we also had Oracle Licencing, Support, IBM and Ultan O'Broin (another local) from User Experience.

And then by special request we had 'The mad Danish guy who talks about the database' - well we got Mogens Nørgaard but apparently he talked about Chickens!

Everyone had a great day, but we need volunteers from those of you who went to build our Irish Communities and make us successful, not only next year but all year round.

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