Sunday 31 March 2019

#OUGN10 - Not THAT Norwegian Cruise

Last Saturday I disembarked the Color Magic and the Norwegian Oracle User Group annual conference.

Ever since then people have asked if I was on 'that cruise ship'. It wasn't, they were much further north and it appears much rougher seas. We did have terrible fog and missed under the bridge was poor visibility which is normally my favourite part of the trip, but this time it was watching the sunrise on Saturday morning.

I love this conference and it was my 5th time. I previously attended first in 2010, then 20142015, 2016, and most recently 2017.

As I have a European role at Accenture I popped into the local offices before the event and love that their building is part of the Technopolis Campus built on top of the old Fornebu Airport Terminal.  They even have the original badge reclaim floor in the restaurant. What a wonderful way to recognise the past.

I stayed in a little hotel in Oslo - Guldmeden which Alex Nuijten recommended a few years back. Other speakers staying there were Stew Ashton, Francesco Tisiot and Christian Berg.

I had 3 presentations. Should I move to Cloud, Extending SaaS with PaaS and Chatbots with SaaS. The last two much updated as the technology develops. As this was on board ship, internet is not a given so the demos were recorded, but my skills in that area are improving. I don't record as a video on its own, but simply without sound so I can continue to talk as if part of the presentation itself. 

I always get nervous when Product Managers attend my sessions, especially if we haven't spoken about them first. Geertjan Wielenga, PM of Oracle Jet was in my extend session, this is the technology behind VBCS. Afterwards he told me he liked my positioning of the different options and the use cases I gave. That always makes me feel appreciated.

Being greedy and having 3 sessions meant I had one during the 4 hour stop in Kiel, Germany. I normally try to avoid speaking at this time as I like to have a quick run into town and have the obligatory currywurst and some quick shopping. However the only other slot available was at 6pm and that is when we go under the bridge which I may have mentioned is my favourite bit. This amazing Danish bridge is such an experience, so I decided to forgo the shopping.

As the boat docked I was first off, almost run to the Bahnhof or train station and had my currywurst, I also took a selfie and tweeted as part of a competition for one of the exhibitors NovoShore. Love this idea, near shore resources for Oracle Maintenance and Development. Thanks to all my friends, I won the prize of a Norweigen Airlines travel voucher. I think I might fly North next year and try and find some Northern Lights.

The Apps stream on the boat isn't too big and most users are staying on EBS but looking at how technology can help them, either replatforming on Cloud or developing outside. Turid Harborg, an Accenture colleague and Adrian Melsom, an Accenture Summer Intern (what a fantastic idea) talked about one such development using Oracle Jet. I didn't attend the session as it was in Norweigen but did get them to tell me all about it.

I had a good conversation with one user who is happy with EBS but worried about being pushed to Cloud Applications, I was able to confirm Oracle has no plans to do that anytime soon.

This conference cruise has a lot of networking including two amazing dinners but I chose to miss the Thursday night dinner as I felt a little unwell and had 2 sessions to present on Friday. However I was back in form and enjoyed the Friday Dinner.

The theme for this year was 'Tiki Tours' and I'm not sure what the link between a Caribbean and a Norweigen cruise is, but I loved the effort they and the exhibitors put into it and I loved the cocktails especially.

Then it was off to bed before the after party started as I wanted to get up early to see the sunrise having missed the bridge in the fog!! However I should have attended as I kept getting messages to tell me I have won the prize.

After the uneventful disembarkation, I said my goodbyes and spent a lovely few hours in Oslo before flying home. 

This is an amazing conference, both the content and the experience. thanks to all who made it happen and to those who attended my sessions. Thanks especially to my employer for the time and the ACE program for funding.

Sunday 3 March 2019

I'm Changing My Profile - I'm NOT Not technical

I'm changing my profile.

'I'm not technical but.............' that's how many of my presentations start.

Occasionally someone would say I was, and I'd just laugh it off.

I'm changing my profile. Let me tell you Why:

A few weeks ago someone I really admire, asked me to if I wanted to be considered for a Women in IT celebration panel. I was really honoured to be asked.

However the response I got when I said yes, was a surprise," but you can't say you're not technical".

She also shared with me a blog post 'If You Can Use A Fork You're Technical' by April Wensel.

Photo from April Wensel Blog

I thought about the post, and I agreed with it. 

April says "Therefore, when we say someone is “technical” or “not technical” or “not very technical,” we’re communicating virtually nothing. Everyone is “technical” by some definition in some domain and is capable of learning other technical skills in other domains. Being more precise in our language will improve our communication."

I used to be technical, I started my IT career as a Cobol programmer (I'm too old to be a developer).

I've shared how I got into IT before, it wasn't exactly planned. And I think that was the start of it, I always had a little bit of feeling a fraud. I've spoken at STEM events and that made it worse, I left school at 16, no IT degree for me.

I was good at programming and then analysis, but it wasn't what I wanted to do, I wanted to work more at the strategic part of the process, helping the customers understand what they needed and how IT could help. 

And even though I didn't think of myself as overly technical I very much agree with the Women in IT initiatives, as long as they are to encourage women, not simply to moan.

I have been blessed I've worked for people who allowed me to find my role and whilst sometimes difficult to articulate, I have always added value and been encouraged.

I have been told, my role doesn't constitute being technical and I guess I just accepted that, but actually, more people have disagreed and believe I am, and laugh (or sigh) when I say I'm not.

I'm changing my profile - I'm a Technical Linguist 

My skill is in understanding the technology, not just What it Does, but How but it does it, and then being able to articulate that to any audience, technical or business user and any level, beginner to C Level.

Alex Gorbahov was the first person to articulate this in Australia 10 years ago. Then I have also been recognised by Oracle not only as an ACE Director but with an award in 2011

I also believe that to be successful in IT you need to be able to work both deep in the technology and the business. In 2014 Thanks to OTN and Bob Rhubart I had the chance to make a two minute tech tip video, and since I don't do technical, I took the opportunity to talk about the importance of IT & Business speaking, something that came up in my AppAdvantage session. (You need to watch it to understand why I am wearing socks on my hands).

I spend a fair amount of my time understanding new technology, what sits under Fusion Applications and the PaaS to extend it. Then I make that real for organisations using Fusion Applications. I guess you could call me a Technical Interpreter but that is a word I struggle to say quickly (I also can't say bureau properly either). 

So I'm going with Technical Linguist.

The journey to changing my profile, started with being sent the blog post, but that week I was at a Storytelling in Business Course and I chose this as my topic. As we went through the course I had to tell it 4 times and my colleagues were all so supportive, not only for the story but for the outcome.

I'm changing my profile - I'm a Technical Linguist 

And I love it!