Wednesday 28 January 2015

Social Media Rant : Influence, Reach and Gamification

A few facts first:

This is a rant:

  • I love Social Media
  • I love getting a mention on social media
  • The rant is about the gamification of social media, and why the term 'Top Influencers' is wrong
Two points of my view (is that the correct plural of My POV?)
  1. Influence is difficult to measure, reach is not.
  2. Social Media is an incredibly important platform for people who influence, especially those non traditional influencers. If you are a subject matter expert and talk about what you think, people will listen and what you say may influence them. 
I put myself in this last category, I think I am influential in the areas I talk about, and social media gives me a platform to share my views and be listened to.

This post is not aimed at any individual it is about how I feel about the terms used. If I don't like what people have to say I simply can unfollow.

Gamification is an excellent way to drive behaviour.

I recently read this blog from diginomica on a practical example of gamification to drive adoption of a new product internally in an organisation.

But you must ensure that the competition element mirrors what you are trying to drive, and that the competition doesn't become more important than the intended behaviour.

A very clever analyst Frank Bytendijk once told me that when people measure things we change our behaviour to influence these metrics.

His example for driving behaviour was that he used the technology in his running shoe to log how much he ran. This is not a bad thing, in fact it was a very good thing and had a very positive outcome that he lost weight and got fit. This is the positive side of gamification. However one day he started his run but came home after just 5 minutes, his wife asked why and he said the battery had died and there was no point running if it wasn't being tracked!

That is a funny example about gamification for an individual, but I see many examples for group behaviour where the game becomes the most important thing.

Dan Pink , who writes about gamification, has a great interview with another expert Kevin Werbach where Kevin says - 

"any time you create a game, someone will try to exploit the system" 

My own example for that is at a conference last year, the mobile app gave points for 'tweets'. It was intended to drive the traffic about the event and to create the buzz, excellent. It also gave points for assessing speakers, to drive the feedback, again an excellent idea but then some of those who were battling for a place on the leader board worked out you could assess sessions you hadn't attended and still score points. This completely invalidated the intent. 

Kevin went onto say - 

"That’s not necessarily a danger, though, if you anticipate it. Those are your most engaged players, and you can often redirect their energy in a positive way, such as giving rewards for finding bugs in the game."

In my example case of the mobile app, there is a very simple fix, limit the available points to the number of sessions that could be attended. I blogged about this at the time.

I can't remember who, (but if I work it out I will amend blog), but I heard a danish BI Analyst talk about the importance of measuring the right things, for the right reason.

Telecomms companies use data to determine what they need to change to drive more sales. They have lots of data and he once worked with one such company who had determined that females renew contracts 70% of the time whilst men only 40%. He asked them what value did that metric give them? They didn't know, and he asked what they would do about it, as a telecoms company you can't change men into women. Later on they realised that actually it did tell them something, money spent on advertising to the female population was better spent, as the probability to renew was higher.
So my point I am trying to make here is that data used has to show something very specific to be of value, or to be at so high a level it doesn't matter.

I like Klout, it is very generic, it doesn't care what I talk about and just says how active I am in social media. But at a more granular level 'the top ten influencers' in a specific field is factually incorrect. The data is pulled from an algorithm based on followers and reach. It does not determine how much of what is said is taken in and influences.

I follow Ray Wang, and he is going to be right up there at the top of any of these leaderboards every time, (actually I think there are clones of Ray if anyone like me wonders how he is so prolific). I know Ray is an influencer because I see his research quoted over and over in decision making processes.

Equally Larry Ellison is the top influencer at Oracle. He probably is, when he speaks, everyone listens, but in social media he has sent 1 tweet. Yes just one, but he has 50K followers and each of those have many 
followers and whatever the algorithm is it determines that his reach is the highest.

Even more annoying to me are the 'Thanks @debralilley for being the top influencer in my community this week' - or even worse 'the top contributor' when all I have done is responded to or re-tweeted twice - I know these are auto generated but honestly they drive me mad.

So again I reiterate:
  • I love Social Media
  • I love getting a mention on social media

Oddly I am not suggestion we stop the gamification, or even the league tables, apparently (and I apologise I don't have a reference), the bigger the pool the more indicative the data will be. 

But please, you can measure social media reach, which may be indicative of influence providing the gamification is not driving the wrong behaviour.

Rant over....

Saturday 17 January 2015

UKOUG 2014 - What I like least about the UKOUG

I said in the summary blog, the problem with being passionate is you get defensive when challenged, well here is another of my rants:

Venues - yes we simply don't have the ones we need in the UK. Every venue we select for our annual conference is a carefully walked tightrope of compromise and never, ever perfect.

This week we had the review of 2014 and looked at feedback. Please never stop giving feedback it is the lifeblood of a user group how do we know what we get wrong if you don't tell us? But I also wish you would tell us what we do well more often, I would quite like to be motivated.

I travel to conferences all over the world and in most cases here myself thinking 'I'd love this venue in the UK'. I never thought I would write about hating UKOUG but I do wish it wasn't in the UK.

We need a plenary hall for keynotes, we need so many breakout rooms from small to almost keynote in size, and we need an exhibition hall. We would like seating and networking areas but getting the first three are hard enough. Devoxx who hold events for Java audiences use cinema complexes and venues with large but less rooms, that keeps the costs down but doesn't have the other things our audience want.

I read an article on google the other day about selecting conference venues and their advice resonated so much. Read the article to see what they said but let me get defensive on the points myself:

1. Accessibility: The UK does not have a great transport system but this is one area we need to get right. London to Liverpool was fine, as was Manchester but if you had to go cross country like I did from Gloucester it was not fun, and no body realised there was a peak train fare time from Liverpool which caused some people to leave early.

2. Lodging Accommodations: Liverpool rocked for this, so many hotels so close by, but some venues in the UK don't, they are great for day trips but not for people staying overnight. London can be difficult it has the hotels but not enough low cost for people paying their own way.

3. Availability: This sounds easy but with the UK having so few suitable venues they are booked up over a year in advance, it is so difficult to look and select one in the time slot we want.

4. Suitability: I'm not fussy, if it meets my criteria it is considered, oh to be able to worry about other things.

5. Costs: Again keeping costs down is paramount, but when there is little choice they don't need to negotiate. Moving from Birmingham as a permanent home means better rates from there are now available.

6. Staffing: Not a problem we normally have our own staff are very good at working with on site teams.

7. Facilities: For many years delegates and speakers have asked for sessions that are not staggered, so this year we didn't and we got great feedback, apart that is from the lack of toilet facilities at peak times.

8. Branding: I think UKOUG do really well at branding and this year's pennants were really great even if you couldn't see them in the wind.

9. Technical: Perennial problem, when you go to do a site visit the wifi always looks brilliant, when you stick 2,000 technical people in the building and encourage twitter not so. This year we even had a technical test for each room, no problem but the AV kit provided in the rooms off the exhibition were assumed to be the same as upstairs. they were not, I think they were borrowed from the Museum.

10. Food and Beverage: The problem we have in the UK is seating, no venue allows us to sit delegates teherfore it has to be buffet food. I would love to be an ODTUG where we can have 'birds of a feather' community tables, or use restaurants staggered when the delegate wants like at the DOAG. We simply don't have the venues available to us.

So again welcome to ideas but ones that would work, The Convention Centre in Dublin would work, but could we hold UKOUG there? I'd love to have the event in Belfast but it isn't really very accessible.

We can and will get better on the little details but unless there is someone reading this that wants to build the perfect venue we will always be limited in choice and have to make compromises.

WIT - A Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

Wikapedia says A Self fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behaviour.

First my own self fulfilling prophecy - this post will be controversial, but when I first started blogging that was the advice I got from my employer, if your blog is to make people think and you want people to keep coming back to your blog then it needs to be controversial.

Women in IT has been a popular topic at conferences for the past few years, I attend a lot and there are not many that don't have Women in Technology or Women in IT (as we call it at UKOUG) on the agenda. We had a brilliant session at the end of UKOUG. 

Our WIT Panel, Maria Colgan, Julie Stringfellow and Ana Perez 

I read and hear so much about what shouldn't happen, sessions that are full of people complaining that I believe this is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you just encourage people to talk about negatives then they will and it won't motivate change. That doesn't mean sweeping things under the carpet either. If there is a problem then state it, followed by a positive step for change, and that isn't 'just don't do it'.

At our session in Liverpool there was one comment about the social event not being aimed at a mixed audience, I am not sure I agree, I went to both and enjoyed them but if it discouraged some women then it needs addressing. We decided a positive way to address to to get more women to step up to volunteering to be part of organising committee. Left to the 'lads' what do you expect?

I've openly said that the people I admire are the role models as WIT and that is why I want more to come forward and share their stories. I wrote in Oracle Scene in the run up to UKOUG about how our speaker base was actually representative of the position in industry. That is what needs to change the number being encouraged and stepping up.

Kellyn Pot'Vin-Gorman who I really admire for putting WIT on the agenda in the Oracle World wrote a great piece recently about what the industry should stop doing, but even here several of the points are self fulfilling prophecies, I have never been asked about day care, or domestic arrangements except in WIT sessions! Someone said to me on reading it 'I feel left out, people only ask me about my job', and that is how it should be. 

There are things that need to change but no 1 is encouraging the right people be they male or female to step forward and join our industry, not put them off by underlining  issues. 

I am not saying there are not issues and they do need addressing but I have not been held back and most women I know in IT feel the same way. I have written about this before.

We can't change the representation today, but we can change some things and that is by getting everyone not just women to be aware of simple things, so next year UKOUG will look at putting the WIT on before sessions and open it up to everyone.

At UKOUG we want to talk about the positive things we can do to encourage women.

UKOUG 2014 - Last but Not Least - Who goes last?

The problem with being passionate about something is when things are then criticised you get very dis-heartened and in turn very defensive, so this set of posts are an honest, heart-on-sleeve rant of why things happen, not always perfectly but defiantly for the best of reasons.

Somewhere there is a scientific law that says if a conference finishes at xx o'clock people will leave early. It does not matter if it is a one day or 5 day event this holds true. For organisers that means you have to be especially careful to ensure you have your best sessions on at that time to try and mitigate.

All user groups talk about the difficulty of selecting papers from such a rich pool of content. The need to balance well known always popular with local talent, end users and first timers. I have written several posts on this but a great one I saw recently was this one from Oyvind Isene of the  Norwegian user group.

So should we put end users who are really nervous on at the end? Most I mentor want to get it out the way early so they can enjoy the event.

Do we put first timers on at the end? No again for the same reason.

One thing I often hear from those involved in the agenda planning is why don't we put sponsors on at the end? Absolutely not, all user groups work with partners for mutual benefit and rely on sponsorship to help fund events and keep costs down for delegates. Putting them on at the end makes the value diminish and most of them are at that time breaking down their stands as well.

So that leaves the community of well known, established speakers, the big hitters, the ones who will get an audience on the merit of their content. I myself am in this group and am often last thing, although I prefer Thursday afternoon i.e. last slot at Oracle Open World to first thing Thursday when the hangovers are visibly absent after the party.

We need to take being given the last slot as an honour, and ensure we bring fresh content to them so that those who look at the agenda don't think 'It's the same presentation as last year, or that was given at the last event which may not have been attended but will probably have been down loaded. A see that 'what I learnt from open World' is more popular than a related session given at Open World in a lot of cases, especially for that last slot.

And is being given the last slot worse than not getting a slot? Ask anyone that doesn't get selected, including me. I saw a lot more tweets about people not being selected than people moaning about the last slot. Agenda planning for a popular event is very very difficult, get involved, help, volunteer but please don't criticise for the things that can't be changed but we welcome ideas.

My dad used to say to me at dinner time when i was trying to avoid the vegetables, 'leave the best to last' so you had that to look forward to. It isn't the worst strategy.


Jeff Smith commented on this on Facebook and shared his recent post on this from the position of a speaker - it's brilliant and well worth a read

Cloud v On Premise – Understanding it all

Ok you know me I talk via analogies, so today I am going to talk about my recent move from PC to Mac and how that relates to Cloud v On Premise for your applications.

The problem with analogies are they are never an exact fit so let’s get cost off the table straight away. If you move to Cloud, user for user, process for process you should save money on a cloud implementation over existing on-premise implementation. I know, I have never heard that about MAC v PC.

For many years people have told me a MAC is better, I worked for a company that made PCs so it was a little irrelevant but my daughter wanted, (and got) a MAC, they were also quite trendy. When I left that company a little over a year ago she said to me ‘why don’t you buy a MAC? ‘ My immediate response was I wasn’t sure what I was going to do so I would buy a relatively cheap PC and consider it later.

I thought about all the things I need to do, I have to still have MS Office as that is what is used in my new company, but you can have office on a MAC. Obviously I need Internet but no one I know complains about Safari and some things I use work better on Firefox and installing that is no different. Everyone I know who uses a MAC loves it and in my peer group in the ACE Program it appears to be the device of choice (where corporate policy allows).

Picture courtesy of Graham Smith Oracle ACE Briefings 2013

I thought I had done my homework, so when I lost my laptop I decided to replace it with a MAC so at least after the experience I would be better off.

Yes MS Office is available on the MAC, but it isn’t identical. I use TripIt for consolidating my travel plans and it works brilliantly with outlook on office as I can subscribe to the TripIt calendar. You can’t do that on a MAC version. There is a way around it, I can use the MAC calendar to subscribe and the iCloud combines them both together on my iPhone, annoying but I am getting used to it.

Cloud Applications do have exactly the same code as on-premise version, but there are also some restrictions. There are also differences when migrating from traditional products like E Business Suite to Oracle Cloud Applications. I can’t directly go and query tables as I would have use to, but I can (with the right permissions) see all tables through the BI Publisher.

The MS Add Ons I need for Cloud Applications like Smart View don’t work on IoS so I had to install Windows on my MAC, and I know I am in danger of mixing my metaphors here, but it was the same experience, take what I knew from using either a PC or On Premise, break down each component and see how it works on MAC or in Cloud. Where they differ it is frustrating and I feel the need to set up a short cut in Google ‘How do I do x on a MAC?’ but once you have mastered it then you just get on and do it. A little way down the line you forget how it was.

Yes I am MAC converted, yes I am defiantly Cloud converted, but I recommend you are part of a support group for either. I make my long time MAC friends laugh when I tweet or email a question, but they love to help. Last week I attended an Oracle Alliances training course on ERP Cloud and between us we identified most differences in the way you work. User Groups are brilliant for sharing and gaining knowledge.

Friday 9 January 2015

Response to Campaign for Clear Licensing Open Letter to Oracle

I, on behalf of UKOUG have read the Open Letter to Oracle from The Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) and actually applaud the 7 steps as best practice, although do not necessarily see them as direct indictments against Oracle.

When CCL published their survey quoted in the open letter, UKOUG responded through the press pointing out that Martin Thompson of CCL had attended, and in fact addressed the audience at our Licensing event last year, and based on that and our wider experience the picture was not as black as he painted. The open letter does pick up on lots of more positive things from Oracle and I feel is better balanced.

UKOUG know that licensing is an important consideration to our members and something we are committed to constantly monitoring, so lets look at those 7 points more closely:

1. Strategic FocusCustomer satisfaction, relationship strength and strategic value should replace audit revenue as a key performance indicator.

Users are very passionate when they feel wronged and immediately after an audit there can be a lot of shouting, and we hear of audits that happen in the last quarter and are then seen as revenue generating. The discussions need to be outside actual audits, with less emotion.

Oracle License Management Services (LMS) are trying to engage more with customers. Mark Hurd recently talked about employing 10x more staff whose only role was to improve relationships with customers, this is something user groups have asked for repeatedly; so let's give them the chance to demonstrate the payback to customers.

2. Audit Clarity Oracle needs to be crystal clear with audit activity and adopt the Campaign for Clear Licensing code of conduct

I smiled at this, the CCL want Oracle, and all software vendors to sign up to their Campaign for Clear Licensing code of conduct, of course they do, its not a bad thing but it isn’t a indictment of Oracle specifically either.

3. One voice pleaseOrganisations want clarity over Oracle license management from one voice. They don’t want to be passed around between departments who don’t communicate with each other.

Yes as I said above, it is a very common request from our members to have a single account manager at Oracle, but not just for licensing, and let's see if Mark Hurd’s investment addresses this.

4. KnowledgebaseOracle needs to invest in a well-organized knowledgebase to educate its customers

LMS are reaching out to customers to help educate them and most of what they are saying is available online, but this is a longterm exercise and UKOUG will continue to work at speeding this up for our members.

5. Re-engineer riskAs more organisations mature in their governance processes, more will shy away from Oracle as an unnecessary burden to manage. Oracle needs to engineer its products and license programs to reduce unnecessary risk. The focus of control needs to be placed in the hands of the business not developers.

I agree licence asset management is a business not a developer role, but a mature customer is less likely to leave Oracle, they will determine their vendor on the overall value to their business.

6. Software Asset Management EvangelismOracle needs to help educate its customers to assign appropriate resource for managing software and proactively assist with licensing training and management practices around Oracle software.

This is where UKOUG can continue our work with Oracle to ensure that their customers understand more about the audit process. Oracle have the right to audit a customer to ensure they are licensed correctly but the metrics are often returned wrong because of bad housekeeping by a customer, e.g. Not ending certain records correctly so count is higher than reality or the customer does not understand the actual metric, such as records they feel shouldn’t be counted but are legitimate. Education is needed to ensure asset management and audits are understood and a good representation of what is being used / paid for by customers.

We can encourage this education not just from Oracle but also by our members being open and sharing their experiences. In the past year we have had presentations from members and another blogged through their audit process; these stories help to dilute the myths.

7. CommunicateOracle is not being invited to participate in key business conversations because of mistrust. Oracle needs to step up conversations and provide clarity to regain trust.

There is cautiousness rather than exclusion but again this is about account management and not specifically licensing. UKOUG facilitate sessions with our members and Oracle on all sorts of topics, which help in this area.

Licensing has risen over the last few years as a concern throughout the industry, and the existence of CCL is a direct result of that. In 2012 our members had questions, and by 2013 they asked at a roundtable discussion at our main conference for a specific initiative. This in turn led to the dedicated event last year, which we plan to follow up with a C level event this year.

We also know that customers who are user group members are happier customers, because they learn how to get more from their investment by sharing experiences with others. At UKOUG we are committed to this education and will continue to work really closely with LMS.

I have also read other commentaries today on the Open letter, CloudTech talk about Oracle being first in the firing line of OCL, and the other big boys needing to brace themselves, but they also talk about Oracle's positives mentioned in the letter.

The move to Cloud is great opportunity to ensure the clarity CCL promote and UKOUG have recently launched an independent forum, but with the full support of Oracle, for members adopting Cloud, to ensure their whole experience is understood. This includes forging links with Oracle Cloud Services.

Could Oracle do better? Yes, but they have made a great start. The need for clarity is not unique to Oracle, it is an industry concern but one Oracle has recognised. Oracle, as CCL tell us, were the first software vendor to meet with CCL, locally they introduced CCL to UKOUG; they did not hide.

UKOUG will continue to facilitate dialogue between Oracle and our members and continue to share our learnings with the wider Oracle User group Community until it is no longer a concern.

If you want to join in the discussion, work with UKOUG or your local user groupyour voice.