Saturday 12 May 2012

The Danger of Assumption

It is important that as a speaker I have my own ideas and thoughts, but that is about my style and predictions, it is not right to make things up or mis-represent, we have obligations to be honest.

The most important measure of a speaker in our world is that if they don't know the answer they say so, and hopefully then go off and find out.

This seams really obvious but I have observed two things that question this.

Firstly I have heard from several people including recently, who don't understand the ACE Program that perhaps in exchange for the recognition you give up on your individualism, you follow the Oracle script. ABSOLUTLEY NOT, at ACE Director level a product manager confirms you 'know your stuff' but they certainly dont cramp your style.

I have written before about Cary and Mogens have completely different styles, and in the comments I suggested, well admitted, that I can be cynical, I certainly don't have a script.

Secondly and more importantly is the need to share only what is correct.

At Collaborate I had the honour of holding a Fusion Review session with Daniel Strassberg from Quest. We asked all the audience one by one what they had learnt about Fusion Applications during the week and if they had any outstanding questions. One person who is actually part of an implementation in his organisation, said he had heard too much mis-information especially from partners. I had personally heard a few assumptions I didn't agree with, but this man articulated the problem really well. it wasn't just a wrong assumption, taken at face value it is a lie, or at best deliberatly misleading. (thank you to Yury for asking me to elaborate here).

If what you are sharing is an assumption, research it and find out, or say so. Back to Cary he gives fantastic examples of this, especially one about a light bulb (at 8:00) in his phenomenal personal presentation, he talked about his son teaching him that an assumption can teach you and more importantly others, the wrong thing.

So some mis-information is a wrong assumption, and the same member of the audience then fell into the trap himself. Someone asked me if there was an upgrade from 11.5.10 to Fusion Apps. I explained that Oracle were only intending to provide data migration scripts from R12 to Fusion Apps. He interrupted and stated that his organisation had been given scripts from 11.5.10. I questioned him about it, and asked if they had been specially written for them and he said no, Oracle just gave it to them, standard scripts. After more questioning, it turned out they were a HCM Fusion Apps project and the tables between 11.5.10 and R12 haven't changed significantly, and they were able to use the R12 scripts. It would have been so easy to assume that Oracle had changed their mind about producing scripts for 11.5.10 and users to go home with mis-information.

Collaborate 2012 - What I Learnt

I love the immediacy of twitter so here are my 'what I learnt' tweets from #C12LV

What did I learn at #C12LV #8
   Not just me but all ACEs outside the US now know what 'No Host Dinner' means

What did I learn at #C12LV #7
   #Fujitsu was a great sponsor (and my employer), everyone loved the flashing glasses at the party #ilovemyjob

What did I learn at #C12LV #6
   usergroups will always have a place, asking questions and learning from those who went before #ukoug

What did I learn at #C12LV #5
   cant tell you (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas) - truth is I simply missed out #5

What did I learn at #C12LV #4 -
    you can wear anything in Vegas and no-one even bats an eyelid #didireallywearthatoutfitfortheparty? #fb

What did I learn at #C12LV #3 -
   new question - Apps users don't always care about the tech but do techies care about the apps? mixed results

What did I learn at #C12LV #2 -
   how do you police content at user groups? lots of misinformation around esp in Fusion Apps and new technology

What did I learn at #C12LV #1 - debate is good loved #IOUG debate on engineered systems

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Collaborate2012 - The Travelogue

I’m useless at getting my blogs done in a timely manner and as my friend Floyd says  There are plenty of travelogues of "I did this and I attended that and we ate here" regarding Collab” and not to be left out here is mine.

The Speaking, UKOUG, ACE Director and Fujitsu roles are covered in the next few blogs.
I travelled to Las Vegas on British Airways which is new for me, I was a Star Alliance person but with the sale of BMI I am now BA. On its own the flight was fine but I knew 4 people travelling that day and both men on different flights got upgrades and the two girls didn’t. I have a theory that women travelling on their own never get adhoc upgrades but that’s a debate for another time.

I like the travel time, I get so much done on flights, my inbox gets emptied and sometimes I even get caught up on my blogs, but what I do hate is queues. Queues for immigration were in the news all week, and especially for Heathrow, but on my return it was pretty good, mine was almost instant but on entering the USA in Las Vegas the non USA queue was very long. However time passed quite quickly once we discovered the celebrity in queue, Prof Brian Cox was in town and he was no better off than us. I tweeted this but didn’t realise he wasn’t that famous outside of the UK. I don’t understand why - he is gorgeous. I never realised he also worked for CERN, they are one of the casestudies in my 42 Real Life Examples presentation. Anyway he was directly behind me in the queue and being very British I commented on the length of it and how hot it was. He didn’t say much; perhaps he was too busy thinking intelligent things?

The first evening I wandered around the venue. I hate Vegas you cannot go anywhere without walking through casinos, and I finally find the short cuts on the last day.

Sunday evening was the welcome parties and the first issue I have with Collaborate in action. Collaborate is three user groups in one conference, IOUG, QUEST and OAUG; but apart from the opening keynote and the main party, everything is separate. You can attend most sessions regardless of who you registered with, but that is where it ends. For instance if you remember I was originally turned down by OAUG and was speaking for QUEST so my registration was with them. Then I was asked to speak at an OAUG session with the UX team, and I lifted myself above my first thoughts and agreed, so I was an OAUG speaker. I attended the IOUG welcome party, a very modest affair but more about that in a moment, then I walked past the OAUG welcome party that was held in the Aquarium and I tried to explain to the girl on the door but she wouldn’t listen to me and quite rudely said ‘You are registered with QUEST, your party is outside’, I was with a friend and was horrified and embarrassed; I was so sure I would be welcome. I was not the only cross-event speaker, because that is what it is, three events. All it needed was for a ribbon saying OAUG speaker I could have added to my registration badge. There are ribbons for everything else.

The reason I went to the IOUG welcome event was because they were giving their annual Ken Jacobs award to Mark Townsend, who was their Oracle Board member. However Mark had died suddenly the previous week and the party became a tribute to Mark. His friends reminisced and we raised a drink or two to him. I had the privilege of knowing Mark and spending time with him in his native New Zealand last November on the APAC OTN tour. He had just visited his mum, and my thoughts over his sudden death are for her and his family; no one at any age is meant to bury their own child.
The opening keynote was Captain Mark Kelly, Commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s Final Mission and husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. He talked passionately about how his life changed after her shooting, and the battle for all their family for her recovery. I wonder how much his thoughts on himself have changed, before the shotting, she was 'His Wife', now he is 'Her Husband'. One story he told was how his wife had had perseverede to converse with Stephen Hawkins, and told Mark he needed to learn patience, now he feels that was her telling him in their past about how to handle her struggle to communicate as she recovers. He also talked about his ambition and his drive to be an astronaut; he was not a natural genius or leader he had to work at it. American sessions start really early and I am really pleased I made the effort to get to this, it was inspiring.
The Party night was a 80s night and I went to town. I really dressed up for the occasion. The early 80s were my single days and I loved the idea, but I think the fact I was handing out the free drink tickets went to my head, or perhaps it was just the drink. However although I needed friends to help me back to the elevators I was almost recovered enough to start the next day early at 6am for a call with the UK. This again is another problem with being in the US, you still have to do the day job and although I don’t mind, it is a small price to pay for being allowed the time to attend, 5 mornings of 6am calls and 2 hours of email does eventually catch up.
After the conference finished I had the chance to go to dinner with Alex Nuijten and his family who had travelled over from Holland. That was the highlight of my week, the children are so well behaved and love trying out their English. It was also one of the funniest events as well. We were waiting at the train stop that goes between the Mandalay Bay and the Luxor, when my friend George Trujillo from IOUG arrived with a few others. He gave me a hug and said it was so bad we hadn’t had the chance to catch up properly. ‘I can’t chat I am late already’ he said as he rushed by. Alex’s wife started to laugh and pointed out he was waiting for the same train as us; where was he rushing to?
I had the Friday free (after the UK catch up), had breakfast with great friends from Quest and then went to see the Bodies exhibition in the Luxor Hotel. I have wanted to see this for a while; I was fascinated with the process of how they preserved the bodies. It didn’t freak me out at all, and it was incredibly interesting. However I can’t help wondering if the people who gave their bodies to medical research knew they would become circus exhibits with people paying for the privilege?

I was lucky on the flight home and had a row of three seats to myself, so blogging was forgotten and I took the opportunity to catch up on the sleep. As I said the re-entry into Heathrow was ok, but I still had a 4 hour layover till my Belfast flight and finally getting home at 9pm Saturday.

Monday 7 May 2012

Collaborate 2012 - Speaking &Fujitsu

I really do enjoy speaking, I love to share knowledge. I am really proud to work for a company that sees the value in that.

My first presentation apart from the IOUC meetings was a small off piste audience where I talked about the choice between upgrading and moving to Fusion Applications. I was scheduled to have 90 minutes but they were running late and I was last of the day. I started a shorter presentation to try and finish on time but they really engaged with me and kept asking questions, in the end it was almost 2 hours.

I also presented with Jeremy Ashley, VP for UX at the Nevada SIG for OAUG and I demonstrated Fusion Financials. This is special for me because I famously said I thought they had made GL sexy, so Jeremy loves the idea of me showing what I meant. I stand by that, everything we do today to make the GL work, we do in Fusion, the difference is you do it all from one place, to hand, embedded, timely and without effort.

Fujitsu had a stand in the exhibition, which is another issue with Collaborate. Although there is one exhibition hall, you have to be aligned with one user group and Fujitsu have value for all 3 memberships. However the position was good and I loved seeing our corporate branding and couldn't resist posing next to the Brilliance Bar.

Fujitsu also sponsored both the Quest welcome party and the 80s party. I loved being able to give out drinks tickets at the event, I felt so important.

 My best session was the Fusion Applications Reflection Session which as I promised before I will blog on soon.

Collaborate 2012 - The ACE program

I often say how proud I am to be part of the ACE Program, and again they made it possible for me to attend Collaborate.

Also and more importantly to me the ACE Program enabled the Fusion Apps UX Advocate program to happen and that is my real passion, learning and sharing the knowledge.

On the Sunday at Collaborate we had a few more hours of Fusion UX training. I like to work with Internet access I am a real cyber junkie but on this occasion I decided I could do without it. We were not in the main Collaborate area which had wifi hotspots, not ideal you had to leave the sessions to access it. Here in the other area public wifi was available HOWEVER it was a little bit more than the daily mandatory resort tax I was already paying for wifi but only available in my room.

We looked at the first mobile applications for Fusion, look out for announcements here. We also looked at design patterns for the iPad. Fusion Applications really are bringing the way we use It in our lives into our enterprises.

There were more video shots for the Face of Fusion campaign and I took part in two more UX testing sessions; Matrix Management and Organisation Modelling.

There was an ACE Dinner and it was great to relax with friends.

Collaborate 2012 - Las Vegas

As UKOUG President I was representing us at the recent Collaborate. Although not an official meeting place of IOUC like Oracle Open World (OOW) and the Presidents’ Summits, there are always meetings arranged and the committees have public meetings to show users what they are up to.

Sunday like at OOW is traditionally SIG day, with the main conference kicking off on the Monday; the IOUC Product Development Committee (PDC) had their open meeting in the afternoon, and although I am no longer chairman I am still very passionate about what they do. There was a reasonable audience and a lot of interest in what we are doing; it is all about educating users who want to know more than just what the products do; and sharing their needs back with development.

I also had a meeting with the Higher Education User Group (HEUG) , this organisation is a global industry group with a good membership in Europe and they want to have an EMEA event in the UK in September. They concentrate on how Higher Education uses the Campus Solutions, and work very closely with the development team at Oracle. One of the benefits of the IOUC is that usergroups work together and avoid conflicts and misunderstanding; by engaging with UKOUG now, the HEUG can ensure they don’t clash with any of our events and that we can jointly promote. We don’t have education specific content, but do have the technical content that their member organisations can benefit from; equally some of our members from Higher Education have colleagues who have interest in Campus Solutions. I am looking forward to meeting Jane Broad their UKOUG Director at the EOUC Presidents’ Summit in a few weeks.

I met with Steven Chan, the Tom Kyte of Oracle Applications. Every user who looks after EBS follows Steven’s blog, and every year when in the US I ask him to come to the UK for our event; however Steven has a big team and doesn’t have the ability to travel as much. We have Nadia Bendjedou who covers EBS technology and is a very popular presenter but to bring Steven to UKOUG with Nadia would be fantastic. I am really pleased to announce that Steven will be with us in December. We talked about how we might make best use of his time and at the meeting we were joined by Elke Phelps who now works for Steven; you may remember Elke she won best overseas applications speaker at our Inspiring Presenter Awards UKOUG2010. 

I also met with David Peake Product Manager for APEX, this is a growing community in UKOUG and he is always keen to help us bring the right content to our events.

The IOUC also had people who had been part of Fusion Nation at OOW2011 take part in video’s for the Oracle Fusion People they are hosting. I do lots of videos and find them quite enjoyable but I did have Floyd Teter from OAUG dancing around in the background, I kept my composure but other delegates and convention staff all stopped to watch his antics. When the video is ready I’ll let you know.

I had a session to publicise the ‘Your Path to UnderstandingFusion Applications’ website we created in the PDC, again I had Richard Bingham from Oracle Support to showcase his book, one of the learning points on the tool. We had really good feedback and more ideas to consider.

Profit Magazine had a relaunch and user group leaders were invited to the party. You had the opportunity to have a front page mock up, a bit of fun. It was another opportunity to influence Oracle and make the US teams aware that there are usergroups outside the US.

ODTUG don’t take part in Collaborate, they have their conference KScope in June. A lot of speakers who have in the past taken part in KScope can’t this year because of a change in ACE Director funding. I was due to take part and UKOUG was prepared to support as a show of support. I hope it won’t affect UKOUG too much but we care about the other groups. Unfortunately because of work commitments I cannot now attend KScope but our Vice President Lisa Dobson will attend on our behalf. ODTUG took those who support them and were at Collaborate to dinner and I was able to talk to their President Mike Riley about the measures they were taking to minimise the impact on their event, which has now recovered from the wobbles and on track again to be a very successful event.

There were no new announcements at Collaborate which disappoints me a little, Charles Phillips always attended and had announcements to make, both lifetime support and apps unlimited for Collab announcements. As far as I know Mark Hurd has yet to attend a user group event. 

There were two sessions at Collaborate I really enjoyed and would like to consider for UKOUG. The first I was involved in, Quest asked me to be on a Fusion Applications panel session, but this was different, it was actually a Reflection session, what had people learnt, and what questions did they still have? It was very interesting and included organisations looking and one who had actually started their implementation. There was agreement that there was actually a lot of misinformation which is something I am thinking seriously about and will blog on soon.

The second session that I want to talk about was the very last session from IOUG; they had a debate facilitated by Todd Sheetz on ‘the rise of the examachines!’ It was excellent, they had 3 people on each side that had prepared arguments and then had a fantastic debate on the pros and cons. It was educational, entertaining and a great way to wrap up the event. The audience was really engaged and the turnout for the very last session of Collaborate was brilliant.

As ever there were lots of conversations with user group leaders, vendors and Oracle. I am so proud to represent UKOUG, we are the best user group in the world, and I want us to stay that way.