Tuesday 23 December 2014

2014 UKOUG - ACES and a tale of just how Technical I AM NOT

UKOUG Tech and Apps 14 events were co-located in Liverpool earlier this month. In the run up to the events I blogged about the amazing ACE talent that would be on hand.

I was organising the ACE dinner, something I have done for a few years now, but it was thanks to an idea from Mark Rittman that this happens in the UK. Normally we get about 40 people to the dinner, actually the exact number for the last 3 years has been 42, no kidding it always is the answer. However this year, with the ACE program being extended to include ACE Associates and the sheer popularity of UKOUG with overseas speakers, we thought we had 61 ACEs on the agenda.

Luckily the requirements of the ACE program do not include reading instructions, as many ACEs appeared out of the woodwork in the run up to the events. Some to be fair were new additions to the program, some were attending but not speaking but several had simply not ticked the box that said 'are you an ACE?'. 

The day before everything kicked off, I thought I had 54 confirmed attendees, which was mainly (probably 42) ACEs, Jennifer from OTN, and a few selected Oracle Product Managers whose support for the program is so important.

This takes some organising, and a beautiful spreadsheet. I normally collect names from Agenda Planning, Select the extras and send out a MS mail merge invite. Updating the spreadsheet with responses, chase a few times and eventually ring the last few (you know who you always are).

That Saturday really early I thought I would send out a last minute reminder prompting any last minute cancellations to let me know. I did have a few invitees going to the Peter Gabrielle concert and I knew another ACE was going with then but he had said yes to dinner, I caught that one but you never know if there are others. 

Oh dear - bad idea:
  • First mail merge, my bad, two conditions and it is AND not OR so everyone got the email! It said last minute instructions, Ok for those going, caused a flurry or emails from those who had already said no.
  • Next no idea, still looks right to me, and it sent email to everyone, not just those who accidentally got first, saying 'Yes I know you said No, I'm sorry' - that caused a bigger flurry from all those who had said yes!!
  • Final attempt, was deliberately sent to everyone. it said, If you said "Y" then ......... followed by If you said "N". Seems simple enough? No - I am new to MAC and MS Office on MAC is an art form I have yet to master. Apparently the first line is some sort of syntax for whatever their tech is and it came out as ŒY² then ŠŠŠ - WTF!!! 
  • I give up email - "you all know what you said" - problem here was I was by now so stressed that I put '+1" not '+44' in front of my mobile.
Apart from lots of emails from confused ACEs (not that difficult apparently), I had many emails and tweets from amused ACEs. But I doubt anyone will ever challenge me about 'not being technical' again.

What it did achieve though was a few last minute, 'yes I can come' answers. So I popped into the restaurant when I arrived in Liverpool and said we might be as high as 55, someone always drops out.

Alex Nuijten and I took Jennifer on the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour on Sunday morning, it was great fun and onboard was another ACE who didn't appear in any of my lists, so he got added, then another at hotel check in. By the time it came to the dinner, I was lost.

UKOUG had their volunteer thank you reception, so I popped along to that and then left early for dinner. I arrived at the restaurant, the Spice Lounge about 15 early and a few eager ACEs were already in residence, and then more arrived, and more, and more.

It was very obvious the tables laid for me were not going to be enough so I spoke to AJ the boss and said it looked like I was going to expand. There was a little wobble of stress but calm soon returned and they got on with re-arranging the restaurant. This is not a quiet restaurant and they would have been full from walk ins regardless, in fact when i left at 11.30 there were still people waiting for tables. They were brilliant and within 20 minutes had managed to find tables for the 63 people who sat down for dinner, we did at the peak have 67 but a few left and returned to the volunteers dinner. That saddened me as we would have found the room, they deserved to be there.

We had to wait a while for the food to come out, but drinks were served and the whole idea of a sit down dinner was to ensure people had the chance to talk to each other, and that was certainly achieved. Jennifer went round all the tables introducing herself and speaking to everyone.

I was very proud, so many ACEs together, most of the UK contingent plus all those from overseas who chose to come to UKOUG, several from India, Australia, many from the US and across Europe, Argentina, the list goes on.

photo from Ajith Pathiyil

The food was excellent and based on the hugs, emails and tweets I received everyone had a great time. Thank you again OTN for supporting UKOUG and this now traditional event.

Ever Felt Simply Overwhelmed By How Big Oracle Is?

When I started working with Oracle technology in 1996 (don't even like typing that), they were a database company with some new apps. I had worked in IT for about 10 years and for the last few years on an ERP system based on Ingres. But I still felt lost.

I attended an Oracle Overview Course, and it was OK but didn't really set the scene for me which is what I needed. I was lucky I then had a whole month's training, what a luxury it doesn't happen nowadays, so when I really got going I had learnt a lot about the organisation, its culture and strategy.

My boss asked me if the intro was any good as there were lots of other people joining the organisation who knew little or nothing about Oracle, and I asked if I could put together an 'All You Need To Know About Oracle Course'. So for over 15 years I had been giving these internally, the content always changing as things change, but the objective remained the same, introduce someone to All Things Oracle and join up the dots of what they do know.

I did something similar when I was working for myself and now I work for Certus Solutions and we have customers who are new to Oracle so I have been putting together something we could use for them and thought why not make this available as an open public course as well.  

As part of the Certus offering they sell training and are recognised as the best in Europe for Cloud ERP Training, delivering not only direct to customers, but also Oracle University Courses and Partner Courses on behalf of Oracle.

So the course is entitled 'Your Journey with Oracle' and you can see the detail here. The content really is aimed at people who want to know more about the company, it won't teach you how to code, or use the apps, but how to understand and work with Oracle. Cloud is opening up Oracle to people who has never been interested before so there are so many people who could do with just a little bit of knowledge. 

I'm planning classroom training at the end of January but will deliver on site to a group of people if needed. It will have many short knowledge bits with lots of opportunity for questions, that way I get to learn too.

If you want to understand the level at which it is pitched, we have a free 30 minute webinar where I will look at the Oracle Business Analytics offering. I delivered it last week and will do so again on 12th January. You can register here.

Monday 22 December 2014

2014 - UKOUG Conference and Exhibitions - Made me think

Liverpool seems a long time ago but actually just a few weeks. Moving the date just one week later is playing havoc with my Christmas preparations, traditionally I do my Christmas Cards the morning before conference starts and then once it is over, I have a week to catch up and then I can start Christmas itself. Failed on that plan.

It is too late to simply write a series of posts about what happened but I am going to slowly write a series of posts about the thoughts they prompted:

The only one to make it out of the blocks in 2014 was about the Oracle ACE Program input

Next and most controversial is WIT is it a self fulfilling prophecy?

Last but Not Least - speaking in the last session

What I hate about UKOUG or rather holding UKOUG in UK

Wednesday 12 November 2014

UKOUG2014 - Amazing ACE Talent

I go on all the time about how honoured I am to be an ACE Director.

It is an honour and not just a 'boys club' where we all do exactly what Oracle tells us. I am always saddened when people say that, and the recent blog from Tim Hall and his follow up couldn't put it any better.

If you have ever been in any of my sessions you will know I certainly don't follow an Oracle script, but I am honest and I do know my stuff, and more importantly I share with the community. In a nutshell that is what the ACE Program is about.

OTN Fund the ACE program and that includes sponsoring things in the community to help spread the knowledge. They sponsor initiatives like RAC Attack which I am so pleased is with us again in Liverpool. You often hear about people travelling as an ACE Director and that being funded. Yes OTN do have a program where you can apply for travel and accommodation costs to present at a user group event or on an OTN tour. That funding is subject to many factors not least being the budget is finite and needs to help those groups who need to bring in speakers most. A few years back the decision was made that Collaborate, Kscope and UKOUG did not need that assistance, we are the biggest and best conferences worldwide and the best talent will chose to come here without any OTN assistance.

Do we miss out? I am sure there are a few people who would be able to attend who can't because of this ruling but I am hosting on behalf of OTN a dinner for those in the ACE Program speaking at UKOUG2014, mainly Tech14 but a few in Apps14, and there are 61 in total. 61 of the best Oracle brains and knowledge sharers outside of their own staff, who have chosen to submit, been selected and are speaking at UKOUG.

But 61 speakers is not all we have, we have so much amazing talent and Oracle Product Managers plus most importantly end users speaking at our event. I am really pleased to see the OakTable back, I love these guys and if they cant answer your database questions nobody can.

OTN are supporting our event, not just the dinner to say thank you to those ACEs speaking, but encouraging all speakers with their ongoing sponsorship of the Speaker Awards. I am also really pleased that Jennifer from OTN will be at UKOUG and I am sure she would love to answer any of your questions on the program.

UKOUG2014 - Test Yourself

I once left IT. Not because it was difficult or because I wasn't happy but because I moved with my husband's job to a small town where it wasn't really possible. We made the decision together and decided that it was only two years and perhaps that was the right time to start a family. So 2 years later with a young child I moved back to England and looked for a job. I actually discounted IT because in my mind it changed so quickly, 2 years was too long to be out.

Don't laugh at that idea, remember this was 25 years ago and we didn't have access to learning or IT at home. Working from home was unheard of in the industry and I seriously believed IT would have moved on too fast.

Anyway my local council - Gloucester - had an initiative to bring more Women into IT as they had a real shortage and that encouraged me to try. What I learnt there was the IT hard skills may change quickly but the soft skills you need stay the same. You can learn a new version of Cobol, move to UNIX, get to grips with FoxPro if you have the right analytical skills and ability to constantly take in new information.

Roll forward till today, and I am as part of what I do a teacher. Most of my presentations are about helping my audience to understand, but I also love to teach product as well. My first presentation at a user group was a Discoverer Hints and Tips session. In my new role I am going to be teaching Cloud Applications, eventually both ERP and HCM, but first I need to learn it, not just the theory but the practical side as well.

How will I know when I am ready to teach, well I need to test myself. And what I aim for is to be certified as well, if I teach something I want the class to be sure they are getting the right content and my real satisfaction is to see students go on to be experts.

So what does this have to do with UKOUG in Liverpool next month? Well I might not be ready but if there is a certification you want to take, or have one that needs updating then UKOUG are holding a TestFest with Oracle where we are offering 50% discount on exams taking during the conferences. The TestFest is open to both Tech and Apps communities.

We have chosen a career in IT which requires continuous development, and UKOUG has always strived to help you with the learning, this initiative will help with the next part of your journey, the measurement of that knowledge.

So you have 4 weeks, get studying!

Tuesday 11 November 2014

UKOUG2014 - Want to Tinker with Fusion? See for yourself the User Experience

Hopefully if you follow me you are well aware it is the User Experience of Fusion that I love.

The UX team have been a firm fixture at UKOUG for several years, with Jeremy Ashley their VP our Fusion Community keynote again.

The UX mobile labs will again be with us in Liverpool where people who have pre-registered can test out what is coming down the line. If you listen to Julie Stringfellow from Reading Borough Council she will tell you these labs many years ago were her first exposure to Fusion Apps and now they are live with Cloud ERP having replaced their EBS Financials. 

This year the labs have some development testing as well so we have even got something for the Tech audience.

Noel Portugal from the AppsLab is easily recognised he is the man with the google glass. This year he is back with some more 'shinny things' and has a session on Monday all are invited to. Then in the evening at the Apps Community networking he will be joined by others from UX showing off their toys.

The content above is straight out of the UX HQ which just opened their new state of the art labs. We have to say thank you to Misha and Michael who have organised all this.

But that isn't enough, we have more......

A few years back we first met Richard Bingham who works in Oracle Support. In those days he supported Oracle developers and he wrote the first Fusion Book Managing Oracle Fusion Applications, now a days he is supporting customers, not just those running on premise but also those extending Fusion.

He is behind the popular Oracle blog Fusion Applications Developer Relations and he is bringing a kind of specialised demo centre to UKOUG. All day Monday he and colleagues will have an open room people from both Apps14 and Tech14 can pop into, look at the technology behind the Apps and have a play. They will also be joined by Angelo Santagata who is a solutions architect if you want to discuss how you might do something.

If you want to try learning in more detail there is obviously lots of FMW content in Tech14 but we have some special applications focused sessions in Apps14 on mobile from Susan Duncan (assisted by yours truly). Susan will also host a round table on mobile Wednesday morning. 

On wednesday and open to everyone is a workshop on ADF and building your own UX from Sten Vesterli.

So awesome content on what UX is and how it is built but......

None of that is worthwhile without hearing about it from customers, and Monday we have a glut of end users talking about their use of Fusion Apps. Make sure you attend at least one.

Most Fusion customers have adopted it as SaaS or Cloud, and Monday finishes with a roundtable hosted by Julie Stringfellow from Reading Borough Council. The roundtable will focus on the Cloud Experience rather than the functionality.

Even if Fusion Apps are not your main reason for coming to UKOUG, make sure you at least take a look, you will be surprised at how far it has come.

Monday 10 November 2014

My Nightmare is over - but what a lesson in CX or rather Frustration v Service

Two weeks ago today I left my backpack on a train. A nightmare, it contained my digital life, PC, iPad and Kindle, plus a month's expense receipts.

Two weeks later I have obtained duplicates of most receipts and submitted my expenses to my 3 masters, replaced the PC with a MAC and all but recreated everything.

Yesterday I spent 6 hours completing the insurance claim, scanning receipts etc and today.........

............ well today I got a phone call exactly 15 minutes after I posted the insurance claim recorded delivery, to say my bag had been found.

My bag was pretty much intact, the iPad and some accessories are missing, a purse containing Danish Krone and a DSB travel ticket also gone, but everything else was there.

So financially I am worse off but I have now moved to the MAC and upgraded my kindle so not all bad. And what have I learnt?

  • Be more careful 
  • Backups need to be automated (done)
  • Record of all serial numbers in one place helps (done)
  • Password Keeper needs to be software that is portable, I happily used PassPal which is no longer available and only for PC, so I had encrypted passwords and no access (moved)
  • MS 365 does not allow you to sync TripIt or store offline emails (sucking it up for now)
In the process I have been through many organisations for help and thought I would rank them for CX or Customer Service - best to last 

My friend Dennis Howlett blogged about poor service the actual day I lost my bag and encouraged me to do the same.

10/10    Apple - top marks, needed help twice (connecting to broadband and re authorising iTunes)
10/10    TalkTalk - didn't expect this to rank as high, but I needed to discount my broadband as issue, very helpful 
10/10    Tesco service line for PC warranty - rang and got full prorate refund
10/10    HHonors - passed my requests to individual hotels immediately and copied me
10/10     Easyjet - you can get replacement invoice immediately online
10/10     Small hotels, all replied within 24 hours with duplicate invoices
10/10     SAS Radisson Hotel - replied within 24 hours with duplicate invoice
 9/10     Tax Man - couldn't log into my account - really helpful but had to get replacement by post
 9/10      HSBC Bank - security key fob lost - helpful but needed replacement posted
 9/10      Insurance Company - helpful but needed paper claim, arrived 2 days later
 9/10      Police Report - this is done online - but no-one looks for it and you pay £3.95
 7/10      Hilton Hotels - took longer to produce duplicates and one needed 2 reminders
Other services scored lower

 6/10       First Great Western trains - very unstructured lost property process but they did ring at 7 and 14 days to say no luck, listened to so many recorded messages before getting right department.

 6/10       South Western Trains, similar process, listened to so many recorded messages before getting right department and when I finally got through they discounted any chance they would get it, closed file

 5/10       Southern Trains, finally found bag, it was logged as black and red bag, no list of contents and form says found 26/10 - whilst i didn't lose it until 27/10. Because it only said bag they only charged me £5 when their rules say £20 for laptop. SO bag was found 27/10 almost immediately but took 13 days to be processed. They too had a really frustrating system for recorded messages.

 5/10       Currys, PC World, Dixons - KnowHow - I had to ring them twice, once for MS mis-sell and then to cancel iPad warranty. Getting through to Dixons originally was a nightmare and I had to resort to calling them out on twitter, but once I got through to them they were great. Cancelling my warranty I was given 3 different versions of the process and again when I finally got through to the right person they were very efficient. 

5/10         British Airways do not offer an online duplicate receipt service, in fact you have to ring to be given an alternative URL and then you submit your request and it takes unto 28 days! When I queried this on twitter I was told it was so customers got a personalised service.

5/10        Microsoft Store - frustrating, put through to so many people and given completely wrong advice about refunds (apparently law in US says you can, in UK it is up to individual discretion so down to the third party). When I had queries about how 365 works, I had better luck on google, agent did have tenacity and tried for an hour but didn't know the answer.

3/10        Worst experience by far was Guildford Train Station, I was really upset and stressed when I lost my bag and their approach was almost nil. At customer assistance desk I was given a leaflet for the wrong train company, with a number that had been replaced and no help or empathy whatsoever.

What I learnt was if an organisation is small enough to still be manual, you probably will get good service (with one big exception). If the organisation uses technology, it depends on the systems themselves and how the workforce is trained to use them. Manual processes do not work in large enterprises.

I also learnt that twitter is my friend and when the world is looking they will respond quickly, but it shouldn't be needed. I should get that service through the proper channels. 

CX and Social is big business. Steve Miranda in his recent Oracle Profit article talks about the use of social in CX. If you haven't already seen it, watch his OOW video (last 20 minutes) were he interviewed Cloud Customers, especially Michelle LaPierre from Marriott Rewards at OOW and she talked about how important information is to customers who expect a digital and immediate CX.

So if I was an Oracle SaaS salesman I would be starting at the bottom of my list and working upwards. 

Sunday 9 November 2014

Another Conference But Really Different

If you follow me on twitter (debralilley) you won't have failed to notice I was at a conference last week.

I have attended over 100 conferences but they have either been IT Usergroup or Vendor conferences, last week I attended my first non IT conference.

Neil young Oracle Sales 
In my new role at Certus Solutions I was joining the team for their stand at the Chartered Institute for Professional Development CIPD event in Manchester. CIPD is all about Human resources, so an obvious place to talk about HCM Cloud. Purchasing of IT has defiantly moved to the Line of Business.

As well as Certus people we had some Oracle sales people to support us.

I didn't have a chance to attend sessions which is a pity as there were some great tweets being sent about them #CIPD2014

It was a really busy conference and footfall in the exhibition was quiet on day 1 except at the breaks when it was packed. We tried to encourage people to spend their limited exhibition time with us, by arranging demos. We also offered drinks, but many didn't drink so it proves they did actually want to hear what was being said.

The small groups of people who sat down to see HCM Cloud were blown away by how easy it is to use, the Simplified UI.

It appears one really big want is to be able to take the too formal interview for an appraisal away and yet record what is being discussed in real time on a tablet. This is not just about the technology being mobile it is about disrupting the way we do things; for the better.

Louise Wills - Oracle Sales

Talent review - powerful IT and yet relaxed over coffee on iPad - the way you work not just what you click #FusionApps #CIPD14 @usableapps

There were lots of questions and everyone was able to answer them - as an employee, an HR manager, HCM implementation consultant, technical questions - which I got.

CIPD made a Video show casing end of event and Certus were central in their show shots. I had been interviewed for a montage video which we haven't seen yet, but my colleague Maria captured it on her iPhone. I have to say I hate it but like what I had to say.

On the second day there were a number of students attending and one came to see HCM Cloud as she was being asked about Oracle at interviews.

Pulse of the market: Student came to @CertusCloud stand 465 #CIPD14 - said employers are asking what they know about #oracle #FusionApps

Why should people still attend conferences today when it is so easy to get answers online? well if you don't know the question the only way to explore a topic is to talk, face to face. The conference is changing but it isn't dead.

Saturday 1 November 2014

UKOUG2014 - The Excitement Builds

In just 5 weeks we will be in Liverpool ready for the kick off for Apps2014 and Tech2014.

I am leading Apps and Fiona is leading Tech. I make no apologies that my blog is not as balanced as you may like but I want to pick out some things relevant to everyone.

So this week I am starting a series of blogs on what I am looking forward to and as normal for my blogs, this is work in progress so keep coming back.

The agenda for Apps14  and Tech14 is amazing but there are a number of things I want to highlight:

The Fusion User Experience

Women in IT

Get Certified

Amazing Talent

UKOUG2014 - Women in IT

As we all read the apps2014 agenda nobody will want to sneak off early on Wednesday; there is still a great range of topics right till the end.My last session and I hope you will join us, is the Women in IT discussion group. This session is shared with Tech2104 and we welcome everybody, not just women.

At a WIT session I attended in the summer an ODTUG volunteer Danny Bryant tweeted what I thought summed up one of the objectives of the initiative.

I’m attending Women in Technology Panel at #Kscope14. I’ve got a little girl. Making sure she has these opportunities.

The lineup of hosts is confirmed.

  • Ana Perez from Oracle who leads the Technical Consulting Team in UK
  • Julie Stringfellow from Reading Borough Council
  • Maria Colgan, Product Manager for In Memory Databases
  • Debra Lilley, UKOUG & Certus
The intention is the hosts will introduce themselves and say a little about their IT journey and encourage a lively debate that focuses on what UKOUG can do for the Women in IT today and how we encourage the numbers to grow.

The line-up in both conferences contains a great selection of women speakers and I have written about this is two recent articles. First in the summer edition of the OTech online magazine (page 43) and more recently in our own Oracle Scene (page 26).

Come along and be part of the conversation, and help us shape our WIT initiatives.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Thank You - Certus Wins Gold - Twice

Eight weeks ago I joined Certus, my choice because I love what they do, totally committed to Cloud Applications. Strategy, Education, Implementation and Extensions. 

UKOUG President David Warburton-Broadhurst, Richard Atkins, Fiona Martin 

I blogged then I wanted people to vote for Certus for the UKOUG Partner Awards but actually I am sure they would have won regardless, they are the best, that's why I joined them.

Maria Mistretta, Richard Atkins, Me

So thank you to everyone who voted, we won Gold in both categories, Education and Fusion Applications.

As a UKOUG Director it was a fantastic event but as a winning partner even better.

OTN Nordic Tour

Probably last to blog about this :(

Last week I took part in the OTN Nordic Tour with Heli Helskyaho, Jonathan Lewis, Simon Haslam and Joze Senegacnik.

The OTN tours are arranged by local user groups and sponsored by the Oracle Technology Network by funding ACE Directors to travel to the event. The user groups involved here were Orcan (Sweden), OUGN (Norway), DOUG (Denmark) and OUGF (Finland).

Differently in this tour the organisers select the speakers each year and try to have different people, so a real honour to be included.

We started with Sweden and I met with Simon at Heathrow, great to have someone to travel with at each leg, makes it much easier, and thanks to both Heli and Jonathan who warned us it was an hour in a taxi.

We arrived at the Japanese Spa, and Heli and I started with a fish feeding frenzy and has a pedicure. I have had these before but Heli was a first timer. The spa served wine but we couldn't find food anywhere and couldn't get into the restaurant till 9pm. I was starving, but eventually we found a fruit room with herbal tea. Both Heli and Simon have mentioned the kimonos we were given to wear and when searching for a Swedish User Group Logo I saw this is not new and even found a photo of Tim Hall wearing a kimono, wish he had warned me.

The actual conference was small but very interesting and I love being able to interact with all the audience, and presenting in a kimono to an audience of kimonos was fun.

At lunchtime it was fish, which I don't eat. I asked for an alternative and was offered tofu, not my idea of fun but they explained it was 'No Meat Monday' - so whilst I loved the spa and the kimonos we got to take home I am not a fan of the food.

I'd like to say quick taxi to airport but it was long, but still we managed to get a 6 seater so all travelled together and then flew to Oslo.

OUGN Oracle ACE Director Tour 2014

The Norwegian User Group board met us at the hotel and we had a wonderful dinner, Simon tells us it was his first taste of Reindeer I have had it before and love it.

The conference was brilliant with big audiences and again I had the chance to talk to the audience and learn how they are using Oracle. I had two presentations, one on Apps Advantage, the value of Fusion Middleware with Apps, a presentation I did jointly with Oracle at OOW and then an EBS update based on what was said at OOW. This second presentation was more of a challenge as I never attended any EBS at OOW and had to revise and read up to create my slides. I also gave both presentations from my iPad, no PC.

Just as the delegates finished up and started their 'Mingling' session we were back in a taxi and off to Denmark.

I love Denmark and have spoken here many times they have an applications community in its own right. Many of the audience were from partner organisations and are looking at what Fusion means to them so we had more of a conversation and again I loved it. Craig Kall talked in the afternoon on Fusion and we tagged a lot. really makes the product come alive when you mix demo with experience. 

Our flight to Helsinki the last leg of the tour was not till 8pm and we could have stayed and had a beer or two at the conference but Mogens Nørgaard generously arranged for us to have a quick steak dinner in a local restaurant, a small relaxing event with friends. Much appreciated.

Also received the most beautiful speaker gift in Denmark, just georgeous.

We arrived in Finland at 11pm and although the hotel was walking distance and within the airport it was still a fair old hike. I was lucky enough to get an upgrade and my room included its own sauna, but at 11:30pm and no instructions I gave it a miss.

The conference was in a beautiful building on the side of a salmon river. fantastic and although it was freeing and a light dusting of snow it was an awesome setting.

The apps audience was even smaller but I did attract those who didn't want some of the tech sessions as there was only two streams, and whilst that was a challenge again we had a great time and adapted the conversation to suit them. This is me at my best telling my story how the audience wants it. 

It was a great tour, I really enjoyed it and felt I added value. Thank you for including me.

Wednesday 29 October 2014

Living The Nightmare

Last week was excellent, The OTN Nordic Tour (still need to blog), rushing back for UKOUG Partner Awards where Certus won gold for Training & Fusion, a weekend with friends at the Dive Show and finally a quick visit to see my sister, her family and my daughter.

Monday I was travelling from Gloucester to Guildford and the trains were manic, first trains off peak on the Monday of half term, what was I thinking? When the train arrived at Guildford I grabbed my two suitcases (I had been away 9 days and shopped a lot at the dive show), and got off the train. 


  • I tried to get the person on the platform to stop the train but they can't, Health & Safety.
  • I went to customer assistance and they gave me a leaflet, and simply watched me cry
  • I rang the number on the leaflet to be told it was no longer in use
  • Tried new number listened to various recorded messages and options and finally got through to lost luggage at First Great Western to be told the train was going to Gatwick so it was Southern Railways
  • Tried to tweet Southern whilst persuading customer assistance to help me
  • Got another telephone number from a slightly more helpful person
  • Listened to many many more recorded messages and finally managed to speak to Southern Trains and recorded it as lost there
  • Southern also responded to tweet and said should log with First Great Western as it depends on who finds it, guard on train, First Great Western, Cleaner at Gatwick, Southern.
  • Log it as lost with First Great Western.
  • Googled Gatwick airport station number on my phone, rang but they don't have a lost luggage department
  • Southern train tweets also suggested another service that tries to link up different systems, registered on that.
Apparently the process is, if it is found, whichever train company is involved sends it to their main lost centre, First Great Western - Bristol, Southern - Victoria, but this process can take unto 7 days!

The contents of my rucksack:

  • My laptop (last backup 7 weeks ago)
  • My iPad min
  • My Kindle
  • Various adapters / leads etc
  • A few danish krone (from Nordic trip)
  • A box of business cards
  • House & car keys
  • Notebook
  • Large plastic wallet containing receipts to be expensed for all October!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Holiday brochure for dive trips

All electrical items insured, biggest loss is the receipts. 

Work have been fantastic, and friends on Facebook brilliant, it seems this is everyone's nightmare. Work offered me a laptop but I declined as use mine for work and private and just wanted to get something quick.

When I left my last job last November I bought a cheap laptop not knowing what my long term plans were so on the way back to Belfast that night I bought myself a Mac. Should be simple I thought.

No the Nightmare continues:

It wouldn't connect to the Internet. Several hours wasted Monday evening.
Tuesday more time wasted and thank goodness I still had my iPhone, so I was getting emails, still had my calendar (well some of it), and Internet access.

Oh and by the way, I do have iCloud and find my iPad tells me it is offline :(

Eventually I went to a coffee shop to see if it was my house (and after long call with ISP). Still didn't work so it was my Mac.

I know I am stressed, my coffee in the coffee shop was too strong and I just burst into tears. 

Have to say Apple Care were brilliant, but details in online (on my phone) they gave me case number, I rang and they helped me through issue, which by the way was a known issue with iOS 10.9.4, and quick update via some back door and it works perfectly on 10.9.5

Next issue start to build Mac. As Certus uses traditional software I needed office and the guy at the airport did a good job selling me a bundle of apple care, office and cloud storage. Pity I was too upset to check what he sold me!!

When I activated the Office account, it didn't include outlook!!!!!!!! Back on the phone to Microsoft who tell me if you make a mistake through their store they will honour and help you out and give refund. But if you buy through 3rd party no such luck.

DIXONS do not answer phone at Heathrow despite receipt saying happy to help just ring.........

Ended up with Office 365, and mainly back on line. Just lost a day so far and still so much to recover.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Are Cloud Applications Ready?

When new trends hit the IT world it takes a while for them to become a reality and even longer to become mainstream. I remember when Business Intelligence became a popular term, the first few years were ‘what is Business Intelligence?’ and 'why do you need Business Intelligence? rather than how to? The when SOA was first talked about, each presentation would start off with and ‘what is SOA?’. More recently the question had been what is Big Data and I still remember the ‘what to meant by 'cloud' presentations?’ of the not too distant past.

When you attend an event like Oracle Open World it’s all about their strategy and future direction and whilst the future might start today there will always be a lag before most organisations have the desire or opportunity to take up these technologies.
In 2012 it was all about Cloud coming to Oracle, if you look at commentaries and analysts after 2013 many said that their announcements about cloud were mainly still in the future, and in 2014 there were announcements about additional new cloud components and some of those are still a way off; but Cloud Applications are here and Cloud Applications are selling and are being used by a significant community.

Yes there are challenges, there are challenges with any new technology but most of these challenges are for Oracle themselves, the cloud vendor. For customers who have Cloud Applications there are new challenges they may not have expected, not being able to run SQL against the database or touch anything below the application level, having to wait for a set patching window; all of these are things they need to get used to.

As customers experience these new challenges and talk to each other a new community of users, or rather customers of Oracle Cloud Services is emerging.

But is Oracle Cloud ready for these Applications? Absolutely, these challenges are not something to make you stay away, those who have adopted cloud have benefited from fast implementation cycles, and quick return on their investment on a scale I have never seen before and every day Oracle is adding more integrations, more features and more benefits to those customers who have taken the step. It is also opening up the Oracle Applications market to more organisations, smaller mid-market who would never have considered Oracle before.
I want to add a note that UKOUG during this year’s apps conference have a stream dedicated to these customer Cloud Applications stories and are setting up a focus group looking at the customer experience to be chaired by Julie Stringfellow of Reading Borough Council (Cloud ERP) and then UKOUG will feedback their comments to Oracle Cloud Services. UKOUG hope that this will be an ongoing channel where they can educate advise and learn on behalf of our members.

Sunday 19 October 2014

The Applications Previously Known as Fusion

When Oracle first mentioned Fusion I thought it was just going to be a project name, called something different on release. Oracle announced that they were going to take the best of the functionality from each of the applications they owned, their own original E business suite, PeopleSoft, J.D. Edwards, and Siebel and the 'fusion', built using modern technology and open standards, the next generation suite of applications.
The name stuck, the marketing started but a term appeared was coined - 'Fusion, Confusion', which  really annoyed me because the Fusion applications story I thought was quite straightforward.

What did confuse people at this stage was the technology I was always being asked if it was going to have Oracle forms and reports I thought they were quite clear that this would be a new technology stack on their award-winning database. In my role leading the Product Development Committee I presented to the Apps marketing team at Oracle in 2006 about how users worldwide understood the Fusion project. On e of the points we made was more than half of those surveyed were:
Unaware of middleware’s importance to applications

Not long after that (and we don't take all the credit) Oracle introduced Fusion into the Middleware stack name, calling it Oracle Fusion Middleware. I guess this made it clear there was a link between Fusion Applications and the Middleware but I’m not sure it clarified it very well.
When Fusion Applications were released late 2010 and people started looking at what was needed they were all too well aware of the technology stack. It is a very complicated with lots of components and requiring an enormous amount of hardware, it was almost a step too far for most organisations. The availability of Fusion in the Cloud has changed this, and most are happy that when deployed in the cloud they don’t have to concern themselves with the middleware.
Cloud deployment is definitely the way forward and last year Oracle decided that all applications that could be deployed in the cloud be given the name of Cloud Applications. Those applications I would have called traditional are now known as On-Premise Applications. Cloud applications includes not only Fusion but also some cloud acquisitions such as Taleo. Over a year ago I sat through a partner webcast that went through this, Start by deployment option, Product Family, Product Name, and was truly confused. This year Oracle marketing wanted us to stop using Fusion in our UKOUG marketing and when we held our Apps Transformation event most of the post event feedback from people who didn't attend was 'I didn't realise this was about Fusion'. At Collaborate the organisers stuck to Fusion as a theme for this reason.
So for a while the term has been interchangeable but not now at Oracle Open World I didn’t hear one Oracle person say Fusion in relation to applications. * a comment to this blog show some sessions did have Fusion in the title, which I guess agrees with my point until people understand the name change we have to keep saying Fusion so they know what we mean.

Interestingly if you google Fusion Applications today (19 Oct 2014, as this will change) you can find pages on Fusion Applications but if you navigate you find Cloud Applications   

Technically I believe it is still Fusion on the price list but that will change too. So whilst I will try to use the right name I am sure we will all know what I mean if I forget and say Fusion!