Sunday 20 December 2015

PaaS4SaaS have we got past the marketing?

At the end of 2014 at OOW one of the big announcements was PaaS4SaaS. I spent a couple of months working out what that really meant and how we at Certus could use it to add value to our Cloud customers.

Like with all new ideas, much of the first phase is about the marketing and explaining the context which is what I wrote about in my post in the run up to OOW.

So I have spent most of 2015 talking about what this really means to SaaS customers in the ERP and HCM world, and the message must be getting through.

The Certus team including me have several opportunities at the moment and we are working through the solutions with our partners eProseed and Oracle, to see what we can deliver. These are big opportunities which will take a while to agree, build and deploy and are part of much bigger solutions, but this is really exciting.

Remember our strategy is to extend with the same UX as in SaaS, not a quick extension that looks like a bolt on.

And just to prove we have the right strategy, Profit Magazine have just announced their most read articles for 2015, and I have two articles on PaaS4SaaS at 3 and 4 in the list.

Looking forward to what that means in 2016, and already got a few presentations lined up, and you can always read my white paper.

My UKOUG 2015

UKOUG as ever seems to have gone in a whirl, and for me even more so.

your elected board members 
Normally I have a little ritual, I arrive on the saturday, do my christmas cards on the sunday morning and then stay an extra night to come down from the adrenalin rush before facing the last minute set of objectives before Christmas. But this year it was all different, I was on the APAC tour and arrived in Birmingham just an hour before Super Sunday started, and then I had to leave an hour early to get to London for my company Christmas Event, so it really did run past quickly.

Every year the number of sessions submitted and delivered are amazing and this year we not only held Tech and Apps at the same time but also included JDE. Just look at the statistics, they are fantastic. We had a great exhibitions as well.

To me what makes it even more special is what I call the off piste events, the added member value that make the events so popular.

As I mentioned we kick off with Super Sunday, conference content at the weekend. This is when delegates are eating into their weekend to learn, amazing content normally in more depth than the main conference. 

Sunday evening is now also the traditional ACE Dinner, as the program grows so do the numbers attending UKOUG. This year we were honoured to have Logan Rosenstein who is new in OTN and responsible for the Systems communities attend. 60 ACE members and a sprinkling of product managers had a wonderful meal in our favourite Thai Edge. This restaurant looks after us well, serves great food and makes it a wonderful occasion, I wouldn't be surprised if we are back again there next year.

Monday morning is the start of the main Tech and Apps conferences and the Tech conference key note was brilliant with some amazing tweets. I felt that what Neil Sholay had exactly the right message and that it would have been equally suitable for Apps. In fact on Tuesday when Jeremy Ashley did the Apps keynote it was a follow on and that Tech people would have loved it too. It was fantastic to see such full auditoriums.
Jeremy heads up the UX team in Oracle development and they as usual were present in great numbers. The UX labs in were place giving us the opportunity to try out things they are looking at. The Appslab were at UKOUG with their 'UKOUG conference explorer'' where they used gamification to  encourage us to take part in a number of tasks. 

UX tell the story of their UKOUG on storifty

In the same vein we had a report jam to enable Cloud customers to challenge Oracle to write reports fro them. Remember when using SaaS everyone has the same code and therefore can share their reports. These reports can be shared on customer connect.

Linda Barker
Monday evening I had the pleasure of joining our President Linda Barker as she hosted Cliff Godwin and Nadia Bendjedo from EBS and Jeremy Ashley for dinner. And Wednesday morning I had breakfast with John Schiff from JDE, all old friends of UKOUG.

JDE had their first located conference with us and showed us all how to party, although I am sure the Hawaiian shirts had something to do with it. 

Tuesday kicked off with our Women in IT breakfast. I was really proud of this, a great turn out split over the conferences and with a good showing on men. The session was sponsored by Evolution who presented their findings on WIT survey which was completed by a lot of UKOUG members. I also spoke about how we want to combine WIT and next Generation and concentrate on encouraging young people to look at IT as a serious career choice and that includes women. You can read the Evolutions findings in their white paper

The socials on Tuesday evening saw us all have a good time, quiet and not so quiet areas, and many people continued to 'network' in Broad Street once the ICC had said goodnight.

I also took part in the testfest but for a beta exam so it will be a while before I know if I was any good.

Wednesday was another great day with some of the best sessions left to the very end, and when I left the place was still buzzing. UKOUG will look at all the feedback, work out what worked and what we need to change and by the end of January we will have started the planning all over again for an even bigger and better UKOUG 2016.

(most of the photos and many more can be found on the UKOUG Facebook page)

Monday 14 December 2015

APAC OTN Tour 2015 - Christmas Down Under

Nothing specific about Oracle here at all just the random enjoyment of celebrating the Christmas Holiday spirit in a warm climate whilst on the OTN APAC tour recently. It seemed very alien to hear Christmas Music in shops when wearing flip-flops and sunglasses, but that doesn't mean they don't celebrate they certainly do.

Singapore Airport

Darling Harbour, Sydney

Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

Sydney Town Hall

Sheraton on the Park (our hotel) Sydney

Pan Pacific (our hotel), Perth

London Court, Perth

Penny's House Perth
Sydney Airport

Wellington Airport

 All Blacks - Wellington


Auckland Hotel

Qantas Club Hong Kong

Hong Kong Airport

APAC OTN Tour 2015

This is a tour I really enjoy, but as OOW was so late this year and more importantly UKOUG  just days after, I was worried I would have to pull out of this tour.

The tour visited 5 places but I was only signed up for the last 3, Sydney, Perth and Wellington.

This was a crazy itinerary and was 28,733 miles and included 61 hours of air travel time, plus lay overs. That is more than my 7 year old car has done.

I found the being down under in December as Christmas ramps up quite weird, the same Christmas songs and decorations, but people wandering around in flip flops and shorts. 

My tour notes - Monday - Sydney, Wednesday - Perth, Friday - Wellington NZ

Travel wasn't too bad, except airports are freezing specially when you are cold. I did all the internal travel with Richard Foote and he was great company, although one security officer did suggest we looked liked we had been married for 30 years! 

The journey over was pretty uneventful, travelling via singapore, I arrived in Sydney just as a heatwave broke, it has been really hot the day before (40'C ) and quite cool when I got there (eventually reaching 25'C), but never mind I still took advantage and had a quick couple of dives in Manly Bay.

At each of the three events I gave two talks, and the matching white papers can be downloaded - PaaS4SaaS and Digital Disruption in the Oracle World

Coming back, I had a night in Auckland after the NZ event, and an old friend drove up to have dinner with me which was wonderful, and then I had an early flight to Hong Kong. Thank you Cathay Pacific for the upgrade, and then a 7 hour lay over until my BA flight to London landing in Heathrow at 5am. Then just 6 hours later it was kickoff for UKOUG - perfect timing!

Thank you to the user groups, Francisco, OTN and the ACE Program for making this happen.

APAC OTN Tour 2015 - Wellington, New Zealand

Apart from having to fly back to Sydney overnight, to catch a flight to Wellington, this was quite an uneventful trip.

Again Richard had planned our travel so we arrived early afternoon, and the first thing we did was take a walk.

Now we know why Wellington is called 'Windy', even their name badge incorporates this and a recent article in the guardian suggests it is the windiest city in the world. The phenomena that really impressed Richard and I was how the wind blows across the surface of the sea, bringing waves of blown water, which are mesmerising. We sat in a coffee shop watching it for ages and then braved the wind as we walked around the beautiful harbour. Definitely somewhere I want to return to.

That evening the NZOUG committee took us to dinner in the hotel which is also where the event was being held the next day. I want to say a big thank you here, when you have been travelling for so long  you really appreciate whatever sleep you can get, but you have to eat, so being treated to an early dinner, close by is ideal. Mix that with the most amazing food ever, and I',m not a foodie but this was outstanding, and with a view over the harbour, I was in heaven.

The conference was really well attended with more people turning up on the day. I again opened with my digital disruption session and we had a great discussion about what people felt locally. This is good learning for me, as I have just had a session accepted for Collaborate that looks at cloud adoption around the world, asking if it is all the same?

Later I gave my PaaS4SaaS session which was followed by Shay Smeltzer one of the product managers, unfortunately I couldn't sit through his session as I had a conference call with the UK.

After a wonderful lunch in the same restaurant that was an amazing indian buffet, Richard and I took a short walk in the now sunshine and then left for early flights out. Wellington airport was amazing with its Gollum artwork, I am not a Lord of the Rings fan but it is very impressive.

The NZOUG were wonderful hosts and I hope I will be invited back soon. It was a great end to a very short and packed tour but I am so glad I went. The world we work in is changing and being part of the discussion and understanding is very important. Usergroups enable that discussion and OTN enables people like me to share our knowledge.

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Sunday 13 December 2015

APAC OTN Tour 2015 - Perth

We arrived in Perth mid afternoon and Richard and I went for a short walk to find coffee before being picked up by local user group legend Penny Cookson. Penny lives out of Perth along the coast and she took us out to her home to meet up with her husband Spence and our fellow speaker John King who was staying with them.

Later we went out and had dinner on the sea front watching the sunset. Beautiful.

The venue for the Perth event was a local technical college and it had wonderful facilities. I had two really good sessions but this time kicked off the event with my Digital Disruption session which got people talking all day. I had thought as in Sydney that it would be a good occlusion to a day but actually it worked even better at the start.

Lots of people turned up on the day and the organisers had to run around getting in extra catering which to me is fantastic great to see so many people come along.

Perth is home town to Connor McDonald and Chris Muir and they are always a great draw, but us visitors were made so very welcome. I had been worried that what I had to stay about where our industry is going might not be relevant yet in Australia as the adoption has been much higher in the US and now EMEA, but everyone was interested.

The day finished with networking and people stayed on to ask lots f questions. Perth is almost an isolated location but that is good as most of the Oracle community know each other, and that lends to great discussions. 

Thank you Perth and especially Penny.

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Saturday 5 December 2015

APAC OTN Tour 2015 - Sydney

Pythian hosted this meetup in Sydney and we had a great day, two tracks covering a range of topics. 

My sessions were late in the day but I got the opportunity to listen to some of the others.

Richard Foote had a really interactive session on indexes and then he talked about Database Performance Diagnostics. This isn't my area (too technical) but I love to listen to sessions outside my comfort zone, that's a great way to learn.

I then spent some time with new colleagues who came over to say hallo. Certus has just bought a cloud partner in Australia because we firmly believe it is a market that is growing and in the same way in the UK we have shown how a small but niche partner can succeed we are confident we can do it there too.
Connor McDonald

There is some amazing speakers within Australia, and whilst some of them now work for Oracle that does not stop them being community based. 

Speakers (photo courtesy of Kai)

There was a good crowd all day and most people stayed to the very end where they were able to attend the networking session and then the best thing of the day someone asked me how they could start presenting.

Thank you Sydney

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Monday 30 November 2015

DOAG 2015 - My Thoughts

My last posting was what I was jealous of at DOAG, but what I really want to talk about is my experience at their conference.

I had two presentations, PaaS4SaaS and a new presentation 'What Does Digital Distruption Mean to the Oracle Ecosystem'.

The PaaS4SaaS presentation I have been doing for a while but it needed updating post Oracle Open World, lots of things to add. I have also updated my whitepaper on this.

I first wrote about Digital Disruption and what it means for us in Oracle as a blog post and then as an article for O Tech Magazine and then after I attended the Connected Enterprise event I decided to put this into a presentation and this was its first outing.

I didn't stay for the whole event at DOAG leaving at lunchtime on the second day as I needed to be back in London for a customer, but I had a great time and really enjoyed it. 

Before the event started there was a user group leader meeting and then an ACE dinner on the first evening. 

Thank you to DOAG for the invite and the ACE Program OTN for making it happen.

DOAG 2015 - My Frustration

My mind is split on the DOAG, I love the conference, I love so much about the event itself but I am so jealous of their facilities.

People attend the DOAG and then they say to me 'why doesn't UKOUG do this? do that? DOAG does'

The UK has lots of conference venues, but very, very few that match the requirements of UKOUG. We need a large plenary auditorium, many, many breakout rooms, space for vendor exhibition and space for all the off piste things going on. There are probably < a dozen buildings in the UK that meet that criteria but the bigger venues refuse or make it cost prohibitive to take a subset of their facilities which leaves us with even fewer to use.

This lack of venues also makes those that are available expensive, and although we drive a hard bargain they are not subsidised the way many in other parts of the work are, which again makes me very jealous.

The DOAG hold their event at the Nuernburg Convention Centre which is a little way out of the city, but very accessible and the train fare is free for convention delegates, and they even have a DOAG shuttle from the train station to the front door. The hotels are all in the centre of town with so much going on.

The building itself it a spiral around a main atrium and the exhibitors are spread out around the walls, so delegates are walking past them all the time.

But probably the thing that I am most jealous of is the catering, not only can people sit down (a big compromise we have to make), but they sit in restaurants that open over a period of time, so DOAG don't actually take lunch breaks, delegates chose when to eat.

Having said everything that makes me jealous about the DOAG, it is a great conference experience.

UKOUG is an amazing conference despite all the venue constraints, the content is amazing and the volunteers are so passionate. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Connected Enterprise 2015

I have known Ray Wang since Oracle started working on Fusion (now Cloud Applications), as an analyst,  Ray has always been interested not only in what software does for the enterprise but also what it means to the end user.

When Ray started Constellation Research I was very honoured to be asked to be a member of their board of advisors. And then a judge for their Supernova Awards which I have now been for every year.

The Constellation Connected Enterprise event is now in its fifth year and each year Ray gives me an invite but it is normally about 6 weeks after Oracle Open World and I can’t justify coming a second time to San Francisco so have always had to turn it down in the past, but this year OOW was late so there were only 6 days between the two. Thanks to an amazing pair of bosses at CertusTim Warner and Mark Sweeny, I was encouraged to stay on and attend, and in fact then had a short holiday in Hawaii in-between the two events.

Digital Disruption affects all vendors, Oracle deal with it well but I relished the opportunity of a holistic view.

As ever more than one post, the event and more importantly the content, or rather what I learnt.

I can’t thank Ray enough for the invitation and I got to meet his family including his parents who were so interesting to talk to. I defiantly want to attend again, perhaps next year I could speak about what all this digital disruption and cloud adoption means to the end user, the culture changes and the challenges.

Finally thanks to all the Constellation team, it was great to meet the people behind the names, your event and hospitality were amazing.

Connected Enterprise 2015 - What did I learn?

This was a very different conference for me, I was a delegate there to learn, and I certainly did.

Every session was thought provoking and full of rich content. I particularly liked the panel sessions where a group of thought leaders shared their ideas on topics, and I loved some of the questions. I think Holger Mueller has set the standard for the future with his question to a panel of Cloud Vendors ‘What would you steal from your competitors’ products?’

I think the most personal session was from Ben Casanocha On the Friday talking about the employer / employee relationship. He talked about it being an Alliance, a Tour of Duty. Where both sides invest in each other and the employee sees the ‘tour’ as a career accelerator, not a parking lot. A tour should be between 3-5 years, and an employee could have several tours in the same organisation doing different things, and at the end of a tour if it was right for the employee to go elsewhere, or the employer doesn’t have the right tour for them, that is not failure. An employer should have an alumni of employees, a network to talk to and as a source of future employment.

The event kicked off with Ray Wang talking about where technology is today. When the Fortune 500 started the average age of those in it was 50 years, today it is 15 and predicted to be just 12 by 2020. There is a need to connect technology with user experience and story tellers to humanise digital.

The general messages were about the fact we can’t stop digitisation, but not at all costs. The ECJ Safeharbor ruling about it being invalid this a hurdle we have to overcome. Organisations need to stop being caught out, and rulings like The Right to be Forgotten is counter intuitive to technology.

Holger talked about 20% of staff in the US will retire in the next 10 years, in 20 years there will only be 2 workers to each retiree. This is a big change and the impact is something we as business need to understand.

The first keynote was from Ram Charan, it was based on his book The Attacker's Advantage which we were all given a signed copy off. He talked about us being the distruptees, and we need to be standing up and telling our organisations what is needed. I tweeted in jest about this to my boss, but actually my own CEO, Mark Sweeny wrote about the people adopting Cloud with us having made that bold, brave stand in their organisation in his recent cloud blog, the Elephant in the Room.

Ram talked about how we as the value makers need to reach the value multipliers. He talked about this being a skill that can be taught, he urged against using jargon and just using plain common sense when talking to the CEO, getting the CFO on side by properly articulating both the cost and the benefits, especially in a spend to save scenario. He talked about big organisations with multiple layers being the hardest to penetrate but don’t be afraid to try.

Dr Natalie Petouhoff is a CX analyst and although that isn't normally my area we had a great discussion on the customer experience of being a cloud customer.

Day two started with Don Tapscott looking back at the Digital Economy over 20 years, another author who shared their work with us. I love looking back at how far we have come, those who were brave to go first and those who are still holding back. It also made me think of this video Oracle released at OOW on where we have come from.

Really interesting for me was the panel session ,Visionaries: The Robots Are Here!, The Future of HR Tech, The panelists were from Ceridian, SuccessFactors and Oracle (Chris Leone). One of the things that attracted me to the event was to hear how all the different cloud vendors were approaching digital disruption. 

There was a sports panel and what digital means to them, Daniel Brusilovsky, the Digital Initiatives Lead of the Golden Gate Warriors talked about how it isn't always the answer. He would love totally digital tickets, but fans want physical ones, souvenirs of each game.

There was so much more discussed and these were just my highlights. I came away with so many new ideas, a wider perspective and even more sure that I am doing the right things, with the right company at the right time.

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Connected Enterprise 2015 - The Event

Ray Wang
Connected Enterprise is a C level extravaganza, set in the beautiful Ritz Carlton Hotel, Half Moon Bay. I didn’t stay there, but as a guest of a friend who lives nearby but I arrived for breakfast each morning and leaving as the die hards retired to the fire pits outside for their very late nightcaps each night.

I loved the format of the event, they limited the event to 250, which means they can have critical mass and yet retain the possibility for everyone to speak to each other. This also meant they could have a single stream in a ballroom setting, this to me is really important as it means people stay in the room all day, there are no delays between sessions and you attend sessions that you might not have selected for yourself and that means you broaden your horizons.

The format of the sessions were some fireside chats, panel sessions on various topics and some short presentations. The speakers were vendors who had sponsored and gave thought leadership not sales pitches, Supernova Award finalists, Constellation Analysts and other industry thought leaders.

The event started with a networking reception on the Tuesday evening, Sessions all day Wednesday with an early finish followed by a Half Moon Bay Brewery tour and meal in the La Costanera Peruvian Restaurant. Wednesday like each morning started with the choice of Yoga, Walk or Run in the amazing hotel grounds, followed by a networking breakfast. There were more sessions of Wednesday, followed by a Gala Dinner and the Supernova Awards.

The Supernova Award winners included Dan Wallis of Kaiser Permanente, whose Next Generation Customer Experience award was enabled by their Oracle Service Cloud implementation

At the Gala dinner Amy Cuddy was the motivational speaker, Amy is a social psychologist who talks about the importance of body posture in being successful and here talk was so inspiring, check out her TED video.

Friday there were sessions till lunchtime, a fantastic boxed lunch from the hotel with the choice of golf or spa in the afternoon. I chose the spa, and had reflexology followed by manicure & pedicure.

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Thursday 5 November 2015

OOW 2015 Roundup

As ever I am slow to get the blog posts out, but in my defence you are more likely to read these with all the others already out. My excuse this time is pretty cool, the moment OOW finished I took a short break with Maria Colgan, an equally busy few days, but defiantly sun, sea and sangria margaritas!

Every year I tell you how busy I am going to be and if you have never done OOW you will find that really difficult to imagine. OOW has 50,000 people attend over 6 days, anyone who is anyone is in town and the agenda schedule is just a fraction of what is going on.

So I like to break down my posts into simple chunks, one for each hat I wear, either just read through them all or link from here, if I have set it up correctly you.

OOW15 - ACE Program and OTN

OTN is the home of the ACE Program and my sponsor for OOW. I can’t thank them enough for the 10 days we spend in San Francisco, what I achieve which each of my hats on is priceless and all down to their generosity.

The ACE Director briefings are the Thursday and Friday before the main Oracle Open World and I never tire or the sight of the Oracle Campus, and as it was almost Fall (or Autumn) it was even more beautiful.

The briefings are to tell the ACE Directors the messages for Oracle Open World and beyond at a more technical level. We are all under Non Disclosure Agreements so they can be very specific. The highlight for me is always when Thomas Kurian comes to speak. I was worried that when he was promoted to the board this year we would loose this opportunity, but he is the biggest sponsor of the ACE program and he didn't let us down.

Being an ACE Director is a transiant position, if you don't kept up the level of commitment you will be asked to step down, and this is only right, it allows for new people to be included and I loved seeing new blood in our ranks this year.

Oracle are also generous with gifts and many of my fellow ACEs are dressed exclusively by 'Oracle Apparel' but this they went beyond that and bought us all really appropriate gifts for self confessed nerds (although I had to get Mara's husband to help me with mine)  sphere app enabled, robotic balls.

Once the briefings are over we move into San Francisco and then there is an OTN area at the conference. This year I made a new 2 minute top tip video about PaaS4SaaS although my original one from July was still in the top 10 during OOW.

OTN also had a cloud hour at OOW and I spoke about the PaaS4SaaS proof of concept Certus had done with eProseed then Lonneke talked about how they had used those skills to extend into IoT.

Big thank you to everyone in OTN especially Vikki and Jennifer for all you do for us.

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