Tuesday 15 April 2014

Fusion Applications at Collaborate 2014

Many of you will be aware that R8 Fusion Applications went GA just before Collaborate 2014, this product is out there and being used.
I’m often asked about the adoption of Fusion Applications and Oracle will give you numbers about how many people have now purchased it, but I’m sharing my thoughts and how Collaborate left me feeling very excited about the adoption curve.

The early adopters of Fusion Applications have spoken about their experience and yes they had one-to-one help, direct links into development and project success managers as part of the programme so the more cynical can believe that they had to talk about Fusion Apps positively. But that programme is long over, the next wave of adopters were those buying either on premise or on demand and because of the complex technology these projects were quite long unless the customer already had that technology stack in place. Then in the last year there has been the availability of Fusion Applications in the cloud. This has opened the market up to those who don’t want or who are frightened by the technology, those who want just a small slice of Fusion Applications which didn’t warrant a large project and those simply adopting a cloud strategy.
There were lots of organisations talking about all these scenarios at Collaborate2014. I was really encouraged and excited by the sheer numbers live, in implementation or planning their Fusion Applications adoption, I even talked to customers who have upgraded their releases. Yes some had had challenges but they are challenges that affect most IT projects not just Fusion Applications and there was a lot of best practice appearing. Yes some are looking for enhancements and some struggled coming to terms with the new technology but all agree Fusion Applications themselves have delivered what was promised and a superior user experience.

But rather than merely explain in detail here watch my interview with Dennis Howlett from  Diginomica where he not only captures my words but also my excitement. Thank you Den for the opportunity and the excellent blog that he wrote about the interview.
I look forward to all open world and hearing from more customers

N.B in the video and quoted as saying release eight was imminent in fact release eight come out before collaborate 2014 but for some cloud customers the upgrade was still imminent which was the context in which I said it. Apologies for any confusion 

Gamification at Collaborate2014

Collaborate 2014 had a mobile app, not uncommon nowadays in fact almost a necessity but this one was worthy of note.

I loved the mobile app it really did help to plan my agenda, and to be able make selections on the move, rate presentations, comment on the experience and interact with other delegates was fantastic. But I do have some feedback:

Syncing calendar:
This is a really good option, the ability to be able to copy into Outlook and therefore merge with private meetings with excellent, however if you later selected another session and selected copy it duplicated those that had already gone over and over the course of the week this happened to me three or four times. A nice thing unlike the Oracle Open World agenda planner was that you could select more than one session in a timeslot so that if you went to one and it turned out to be no good you could quickly pop your next choice; however combined with the calendar syncing that meant that some time periods I had seven or eight entries in my outlook and responding reminders.

Social Media Syncing:
There was also a great feature that allows you to sync with Twitter or Facebook, I try to keep work out of Facebook because believe what I do have non - Oracle friends but I love Twitter and for a conference it’s a great way for people not attending to have some of the experience. However ,and I think it is a simple enhancement, the Collaborate2014 hashtag #CLV14 should be added automatically and not have to be entered each time. 
Not being forced to sync with Twitter was also good because it measure could be selective and not flood Twitter with all the comments happening in Collaborate. It also meant that delegates who do not normally use twitter could take part within an audience limited to those using the app.

To encourage participation the app gave points for comments, likes, check in to sessions and feedback. I wish Ultan O 'Broin from the UX team have been there to give his wisdom on this example of gamification. It did encourage people to take part and there was a leaderboard that showed the top 20 participants but it also drove very annoying behaviour. Yes I love twitter and I’ve always got plenty to say and at the point the conference finished on Friday I was in seventh place but I added comments; many of those higher in the leaderboard gained their points by simply liking every comment, assessing every session, speaker and exhibitors in fact I’m not sure how some of them had time to attend sessions. It will only need to tweak of the scoring but it did become very annoying. This isn’t sour grapes I never wanted to be first and actually walked away the moment the conference finished, but it was fun and I met with the other leaderboarders  at the Collaborate Party.

This was the best conference app I’ve seen and with a few tweaks could be better.

Collaborate2014 - A Rainbow of Emotions

Last week was Collaborate 2014 which is the biggest user event for applications customers, so I need to attend.
I have to start this post by admitting that it isn’t my favourite conference, and in fact last year when having to select which conferences I could attend I missed collaborate for the first time in 12 years, a decision I later regretted. The problem is I simply don’t like Vegas, before this year I had been four times and I find the whole concept of gambling very uncomfortable plus I hate he adult theme park concept of the strip.

Another problem is that for the last three events I have not had a paper selected by OAUG. I am not saying I should, each user group has its own selection process and priorities for their members but I also know that I am asked by OAUG Japan, AUSOUG and DOAG who are both affiliated to OAUG to speak regularly at their events. Anyway I have written about that before band this year only submitted to them jointly with Oracle again unsuccessfully. However I had also submitted papers to Quest who kindly gave me a session on AppAdvantage. As you know I am a guest blogger for the AppAdvantage blog and my report of how that went will appear in their blog. (I will add link when it is published later this month).
So I arrived in Vegas not really expecting to get a lot out of the conference but how wrong I was.

Firstly this year the conference was held at The Venetian which I really liked as a hotel yes they have a theme but it was very well done and walking through the St Mark’s Square was a very present way to get from A to B. The conference centre itself appeared to be more compact than the Mandalay Bay; not smaller just close to the hotel and over several floors rather than what appeared to be several miles.
Collaborate2014 like many conferences now has a mobile app and it was really good, there were a few things that annoyed me about it but there will come in another post. What the app did allow was for me to be able to quickly scan the agenda for my selections and information about the conference all in one place.
OTN & ACE Program's Lillian
One of the things I love about conferences is meeting up with old friends and making new ones. The week kicked off with a dinner hosted by Lillian from OTN and as ever I count myself honoured to be recognised as an ACE director.
You would think in the 21st-century that Wi-Fi access would be a must at any hotel or conference event and in most cases it is available but when you fill the place with IT geeks the bandwidth simply can’t cope; this was not the case in The Venetian, Wi-Fi coverage was excellent.

I don’t know what the delegate count was and although there was an awful lot of people attending the conference I’m not sure that there weren’t too many sessions? This is not a criticism in fact it is something that even within UKOUG we are looking at; is the number of options more important than the number of delegates who attend any single session? I attended many sessions where the delegate numbers were very disappointing.   (If you are a purely technical reader this is less relevant to your sessions).

The organisers had had to slip the dates of the conference so that it ran Monday to Friday instead of the normal Sunday to Thursday and although this was done many months ago some overly keen delegates and speakers had already admitted to travel plans unable to change so numbers on the Friday and the Thursday evening party were in my opinion down; unfortunate as it was a great conference.
However whilst the conference was great there one thing that made really angry was misinformation; presenters especially those who are selling a service, myself included, need to ensure that they are giving factually correct information to their audience. That doesn’t mean that they need to know everything, saying “I don’t know”, is not a crime but giving misinformation is. I attended one session where I personally had to bite my tongue until others in the room who had attended other sessions with me asked my opinion on something that had been said. I saw this two years ago at Collaborate2012 and posted then that it was the danger of assumptions but I wasn’t sure if it was deliberate in some cases to protect a business model or simply ignorance which was tied to the maturity cycle of the products in this case Fusion Applications. But two years on that is no excuse. If you are a partner and your teams don’t understand the concepts behind Fusion Applications, talk to your partner manager in Oracle about their training programme or hire me J

Most exciting of all for me was the delegates themselves, most of them from organisations who are doing something, an upgrade, many much overdue, extending their applications with either Fusion Middleware, analytics and BR or Fusion Applications. I’ll write another posting about what I found on Fusion Applications next. Delegates are no longer just tyre kicking, it appears that there is investment in IT and that after a few lean years there are lots exciting projects either in progress or being planned.
So I take it all back I loved Collaborate this year well, done to Quest, IOUG and OAUG for a wonderful event.


Monday 14 April 2014

Going on Record about Fusion Apps & Cloud

I had the opportunity to speak to Dennis Howlett at Collaborate last week in Vegas.

I have known Den for many years and love his style. He may be out spoken but I trust him and his integrety so when he asked if I would sit for his video series I was more than happy to.

We found a quiet corner at Collaborate 14 in Vegas and I talked so much he had to edit it into 3 parts.

I am very happy with the finished videos but, and this is my fault, I say Release 8 of Fusion Applications is immenent which may be confuising to some, Release 8 in fact it went GA (General release) in March, but has not yet been upgraded for all exisiting cloud customers which I was referring to.

Den also wrote a blog posting to go with the videos. He says the nicest things.

OUGN April 2014

The Norwegian user group OUGN have a cruise, the boat sails overnight to Kiel in N Germany and then back again to Oslo the next night. I have done this conference before, four years ago but it didn't end well as it was when the ash cloud went off and it took a while to get to my next venue in Vegas.

Frank Vikingstad and √ėyvind Isene invited me and explained that they would have a dedicated apps track, so with ACE Director funding I was very pleased to attend.

These smaller countries have a very tight community, most of Scandinavia and Baltic states have really committed members and whilst not enormous their attendance is solid. This conference had 350 which is growing year on year.

The evening before the cruise starts there is a speaker event, which is a great way to meet up with old friends and make more. It is a very popular conference.

Photo thanks to Markus Eisele bit.ly/RhBYAV
On the first day I spoke about Understanding Fusion and the room was full. I had lots of really specific questions which is what I want, the big test would be if they came back the next day for part two.

 Life on board is great and the meals are sit down hosted affairs with some people dressing up for the event, however to get the restaurant exclusively, dinner is not served until 9pm and did not finish until midnight, which for me is quite late although some then made their way to the night club.

Their keynote was Andy Sutherland who is always thought provoking and very funny. This was followed by Tim Gorman and Kellyn Pot'vin who compared the dangers of assumptions in a new project to that of a new relationship.

As you are on the boat for two days, the exhibitors become very much part of the community and have a more inclusive approach to marketing. One stand had a few competitions and I did achieve the highest tower of bricks but as it was combined with a curling! competition and a SQL quiz, I didn't even bother submitting an entry.

Day two started early as I was on the WIT panel, and I was impressed that Kellyn had researched local organisations and given links to them but it did I think spend too much time on child care which in Scandinavia is not such a big deal.

I went ashore at Kiel late morning, you only have a few hours but it was enough to get a shopping fix at C&A (they closed in the UK many years ago), a bratwurst and a drink with Bjoern Rost who provided a dockside picnic. Amazing, the extended OTN network. 

At lunchtime I was on a BI & Apps Roundtable with Brendon Tiernany which was very good but we missed other presenters who should have been there but were unable to take part. the moderator Aaron was really good and got the audience to participate. This was a new concept for OUGN who have a comedian at lunchtime but were trialing this and a DBA panel session; both I believe were well received.

My second session was about extending Fusion Applications, and they all came back, so I was a very happy presenter. 

My favourite bit about the ship is going under the Great Belt bridge, but not as nice an evening as last time, this time it was a bit wet and blowy but I did persuade Cary Millsap to join me on deck. We had to stand behind screens to stay out of the wind.

The event finishes with another dinner and you arrive back in Oslo late morning. This unfortunately was too late for me to get a connection to Vegas for Collaborate that day, so along with a number of other speakers we had a day looking around Oslo and then having a great Indian meal that evening.

Oslo is a compact city which is great for just walking around. We did do a bit of culture and checked out the Munch Scream painting, which that Jeff Smith taught me how to pose next to.

A brilliant conference, thank you to all the organisers.