Six months into Accenture (although the acquisition of Certus happened in April it was October before we moved over) and I got an opportunity to see how the size of the organisation can benefit their customers.
Every year Accenture host an Oracle Leadership Council, a C Level event where Accenture customers who use Oracle, come together to share stories about how innovation has help their businesses.
I expected this to be similar to senior level user events I have attended before but I underestimated the event. The main sessions were all customers sharing their stories, their business challenges and successes. In breakout sessions Accenture shared some of the IT projects that help to support these successes.
The event took place in Dana Point, Orange County, California straight after my speaking at Collaborate. Me, being me, I managed a quick couple of Scuba Dives before it started. Water was colder than I expected but not as cold as home, so I was happy.
I know from my time arranging UKOUG events that things you never considered can impact your plans. This conference is annual and has a been in the planning since last year's event. It starts with a networking event on the Sunday evening but this year there was an issue - it clashed with the first episode of the last series of Game of Thrones. Now I have never watched this, too gory for me, but I do understand the GOT effect. I live in N Ireland and it has had an unbelievable impact on our tourism. So how did Accenture deal with this conflict for its guests? Simple, they added a GOT screening before the networking event, a bar and popcorn in the main conference room, with a giant 22 foot screen.
Monday started the customer stories, which were really powerful and generated lots of conversations. I spent some time with a European customer looking at a big cloud project and they were able to talk to other similar sized organisations as to their approach and strategies.
I had the opportunity to speak in a session led by my fellow ACE Director Julian Dontcheff on the range of Oracle Cloud solutions though to autonomous. I talked about the PaaS components we are using in the engage.gov solution in Central Government. Cloud is improving all the time, when I first looked at chatbots just 18 months ago, you had to manage the IT stack supporting mobile, but now that is an autonomous offering and that means it is so much easier to use.
On the Monday evening there were industry dinners, smaller groups of like minded customers, and Tuesday evening there was a gala dinner on the lawn enjoying the Californian sunset. It did get a bit chilly but blankets were provided.
Tuesday afternoon there were networking events, wine blending, hiking, golf and whale watching which I joined. The expert on the boat was confident we would see a grey whale and dolphins but it was a bit early to see other whales. I too was confident about the dolphins as I had seen a pod that followed us when diving on the Saturday.
We were not disappointed we saw a pod of common dolphins in the first 10 minutes. Then we heard there was a grey whale a few miles out so we speed off to see. The gray whale was in the distance and they don't tend to breach, but we clearly saw the blow, several times. Everyone was happy they had seen a whale and a colleague who attended 2 years ago said it was already better than that trip. Then we found a bigger pod of bottleneck dolphins and we were all enthralled when the boat suddenly sped off. Another boat had spotted a blue whale. The biggest animal in the world. Wow this was their first sighting of the season and we spent an hour watching the magnificent creature come to just below the surface, send us clues, change the colour of the water and then breach the surface. We watched this cycle 4 or 5 times until we got what we wanted, the tale flip. I'm not a brilliant photographer but I was happy. All too soon we had to leave.
Their story is very high profile in the UK at the moment, they first spoke at the OOW London and everybody loved the benefits of the project. Having it remote was a risk but the technology worked, Lucia was a brilliant host and their story captivated the whole room.
Throughout, refreshments were in the MyConcerto Lounge. This allowed all the customers to see and experience this innovative platform from Accenture. I want this platform for my presentations, be able to call up digital content on demand and not a collection of boring, slide decks I need to navigate when someone asks a question.
The event for me was an eye opener. Customers sharing stories has always been the ethos of a user group, so my expectations was a C Level special interest group, but this was far more. At a strategic level the discussions were more business focused and certainly not product focused. Oracle was the enabler not the discussion. I have always believed that any successful event is also an opportunity for all parties to reflect back on the benefits and outcomes rather than any project challenges they experienced, and here there were success stories in spades.
Here's hoping they invite me back next year.