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.