Sunday 30 October 2022

22 OCW Main or rather BOLD Messages

Amazing to be back in person and everyone was full of energy. Both Safra and Larry talked about being BOLD and it was a very BOLD conference.

Larry had two main messages in his keynote:

  •  Multi Clouds 
  •  Industry albeit all about Healthcare.

Customers, now referred to as 'partners' use multiple cloud applications, so just by doing that have multiple infrastructure cloud. Oracle are making a multi cloud estate easy. They started a few years ago with Azure but this is widening all the time. His vision is the Internet of Clouds.

Industries are changing and Oracle fuels that change. During the pandemic they partners with many organisations to accelerate the change needed to respond. The acquisition of Cerner gives then a foundation in Healthcare to build out the capability and more importantly scale across the world. 

Safra also talked about change and had many of these 'partners' on stage including of course Red Bull and how Oracle fuels their success.

In the technology world:

  •  Multi Cloud as Larry said
  • Oracle Alloy which allows partners to provide Oracle Cloud independent of Oracle hosting,
  • Even more consolidation and new features in OCI 
  • Intent to make more technologies available in OCI such as postgress and snowflake 
  • The release of 23c database, opening up beta testing to all, which is possible simply because it is cloud.

In the Applications World Steve Miranda had 3 messages:

  • The industry focus,again starting with Healthcare
  • B2B between Oracle 'partners' starting with JPMChase Finance and Fedex
  • Extending Oracle Cloud Applications (my post on this)
This only scratches the surface, and Oracle have free access to many of the sessions for a month. Take the time to watch a few.

Remember OCW is about a vendor sharing their vision and more details will appear over time as to when and how some of these features and functions will be available.

22 OCW Extending Oracle Cloud Applications

Oracle reached out to me in the summer and told me one of the highlights for OCW would be extending Cloud Applications or Fusion. They wanted me to get the news out that there would be something to hear.

I had a briefing with Jeff Price and Jenny Lam, SVP UX Design Leadership, Oracle on the two areas they were going to talk about, Redwood Design and Applications Platform. Not completely new but not talked about enough. Then I had a further technical drill down with Jeff.

So I wrote a few posts on linkedin and twitter and suggested people join their sessions and although not the actual session you can see a shortened version on line.

Jenny spoke with Hillel Cooperman, SVP UX Design,  and the man behind Redwood shared his thoughts on Designing Applications. I first met Hillel when he was new to Oracle. As a UX advocate and used to the UX team engaging fully with the ACE program, I was excited about what he may of been planning. Hillel met with me at HQ but told me there was a lot of work to do, it went beyond just the  application and to be patient, when they had something to show us, he would. Well we got Redwood as a theme, and now there really is something to talk about.

Hillel talked about his user experience ethos and how it starts with Design. They shared the site for design patterns.

If you develop applications, in Oracle or anything else I recommend you watch Hillel's part for the session, available online for a few more weeks.

Jeff Little VP, Product Development then talked about Building your UX - this session (also available) is about Visual Builder. The tool has been around for a while and we know Oracle Cloud Applications are mainly VB and their tool of choice. 

Things that really resonated with me in this session is the inbuilt capability, Enterprise Search, Machine Learning.

Not just new functionality in VB but also being part of THE platform and how Oracle is continuously making it easier for people to extend their applications. I know there is more to come and if you haven't looked at Visual Builder recently, then you must.

For the past few years I have led a track at KSCOPE the ODTUG conference looking at Modern Application Development, but for me it is about Extending Oracle Cloud Applications and I am so pleased to announce that is the new title of this track. Call for papers is now open so if this is your area please submit.

And what about APEX? Many people, including my own organisation have been using APEX to extend their applications. If an on premise customer asked me today what to use, I would shout APEX. If a net new customer to Oracle Cloud Applications asked me, and they had no Oracle skills I would say Visual Builder. 

I think Visual Builder has proved it isn't 'flash in the pan' and the commitment Oracle have to it proves it has a long life with much more to come. But APEX isn't going anywhere either. In Larry Ellison's keynote it was mentioned probably 100 times and has been the backbone to their commitment to Health, both during the pandemic and going forward with Cerner.

I asked Steve Miranda, before OCW the question and he was clear no need to replace APEX extensions or even stop using it. He mentioned APEX himself in his keynote. 

So APEX and Visual Builder can live together, co-exisit. 

The world of extending Oracle Cloud Applications, both within and outside the application is a very exciting place to be, come join me.

Saturday 29 October 2022

22 OCW Inoapps Oracle ME Award

My highlight of OCW22 was presenting our award winning My Contractor, a showcase of Oracle ME (My Experience).

Earlier this year Oracle launched Oracle MEpart of Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM, helps employers create supportive, tailored employee experiences that meet workers where they are and take them where they want to be.

Chris Leone Launches Oracle ME
Chris Leone launching Oracle ME

The platform has won several industry awards and Oracle are rightly proud of it and the difference it can make. If you missed the original launch you can see it here.

I'm not going to go into all the components, simply follow the Oracle link above, but I will comment on what I think it means for organisations using Oracle HCM.

Cloud Applications cannot be customised, and originally we felt that meant beyond configuration and personalisation you had to leave it alone.

#PaaS4Saas introduced the ability to extend the applications, build alongside the application and co-exist. More about this in the next post.

Oracle ME allows extensions for the application IN the application. It doesn't change the  security, but the way in which the end user interacts. A part of Oracle ME is Journeys that had been introduced a year before. Oracle asked me if I wanted to do a session for partners and I jumped at the idea. This was followed by a session for Customer Connect and several usergroup sessions.

So when the full platform was announced back in April and our own HRD said she wanted now! (Inoapps use Oracle SaaS) I issued a note of caution and gave a presentation internally about the maturity of the components and my excitement to use it. I love what I call 'mind the  Gap' , identifying where innovation is behind the marketing and how quickly are customers adopting. In on-premise days this could be years but with Cloud things happen much more quickly. Digital Assistants (another component of Oracle ME) being one of the  fastest I have seen.

So I started a proof of concept on Oracle ME and worked with our HCM practice especially Jen Mitchell who leads in the US on what we could do. We looked a few use cases and I presented at Breakthrough 4D and using the access to Product Development I have through the Oracle ACE program sat down and dug deep into the platform.

Then Oracle launched a partner competition, where the best partner showcases of Oracle ME would be promoted and presented at Oracle Cloud World. I have worked with oracle for 27 years and never seen a competition like this and I was in.

Inoapps saw the value, we wanted to use the capability and no doubt our customers would too. Digital Assistant, Journeys and HR Helpdesk are often included in projects so bringing them together with new functionality to give us this platform for extending the experience is a great opportunity. We brain stormed for our submission and decided on the Contractor Experience. Could the platform enable us to address some of the challenges we see with many customers who have a high reliance on Contractors?

The competition was based on the Dragons Den or Shark Tank model. We had to pitch initial idea to HCM Development and then to HCM Strategy. I knew we were on the right track when my 45 minute appointment during Breakthrough 4D with Nancy and Yvonne in Oracle Strategy latest almost 3 hours, discussing the use case and approach. The connection with product development continued as we worked on some of the  newer capabilities and slowly our solution came to life.

Now there was more to show we pitched to Oracle Field Sales group and then just six weeks before Cloud World we had a final pitch to a room full (or zoom screen full) of Oracle Execs across many disciplines. 

Then a few weeks later we were told we were a winner but to keep it quiet. I was so excited, whilst I led the project, Jen and her team of experts did the work and our marketing team worked on the assets. this was a real team effort. Now all we had to do was get ready for the big event.

I needed a short video for our booth, plus a walked through demo, and a 15 minute presentation. That doesn't sound a long time but it is actually more difficult to condense your message into a short presentation and even shorter video. But who doesn't like a deadline? I was in my element.

Oracle decided on 3 winners and we were acknowledged in Chris Leone's HCM keynote and received a lovely glass award. I got to present with Nancy in her session with almost 200 in the  room and streamed to an overflow room.

Our use case was to showcase our solution MyContractor but also the possibilities of the Oracle ME platform.

Then after presenting I worked with the Oracle UX team giving feedback on my use of the platform and my thoughts on adoption. This was followed up with a longer session with them when I got home.

Next we will give a full presentation for Customer Connect and produce content for the  Resource Centre.

Congratulations to the other winners.

22 OCW Inoapps on Tour

This was my first big event with Inoapps. They were Gold Sponsors of OCW and had a good stand near the  keynote room and amongst the big guys, so we stood out. 

On our stand we had a shoeshine, perhaps a nod to the past of professional services, how many people wear leather shoes today? But it was popular and many people said if they had known they would have worn them, they are bored of trainers and like how dressing properly makes them feel. Me I packed two pairs of boots and they look amazing.

At the  other end of the scale we sponsors the DJ booth by registration. People walked past several times a day and had the chance to request music and many times we saw people dancing. Inoapps, caters for all.

As well as the stand we had a speaking session where our CEO and founder Andy Bird, along with board member Lyle Ekdahl and an amazing customer Tobie Engels from Equitrans Midstream. They talked about the reality of moving to the Cloud, and their Q&A session was moderated by Bob Evans of Cloud Wars (if you don't follow Cloud Wars you should).

The session was full, although I felt the rooms for the conference were quite small. 100 people is not a lot for this size of conference. That said, the questions flowed. Surprisingly the number one question was all about the update cadence. We see this all the time with customer before or just starting their journey, but half of our room said they had been on Cloud for a while.

Oracle had lots of customer stories and this is what people want to hear and I think this session was even more popular as it was unscripted and total driven by questions. I know it was appreciated by those who attended, Oracle scheduled the session after they opened the bar in the exhibition and being the last session there was no rush to leave the room and people asked questions way beyond the end time.

There is no better endorsement than a happy customer who will share their story. Thank you Tobie.

We had another presentation for our Oracle ME Award but that's in another post.

Like many partners we had a customer event on the Tuesday and held this at a cocktail bar in the hotel. We recently adopted Transform - Optimize - Innovate as a strap line and had 3 signature cocktails to celebrate. Lots of existing and hopefully new customers as well as Oracle people joined us for a fun evening.

22 OCW Even The Travel

I have often written a travelogue alongside a blog post for an event, and after almost 3 years here is a new one.

Travel has NOT returned to normal, shortage of staff at all airports is causing my difficulties and in my main hub, Heathrow, it resulted in passenger number caps. In order to comply airlines have removed many flights from their schedules and for me living in N Ireland the cap means only 3 flights a day instead of the normal 7. That is bad enough but demand for those flights has seen prices rocket, and with flights almost twice the cost of last year it isn't the airlines that are suffering. For me this has meant either long lay overs in Heathrow or being forced to travel from Dublin with a 2 and half hour drive or taxi each way. I am getting used to it but it has taken much of the fun out of travel.

For OCW, I started on an early flight to Heathrow and settled into the British Airways lounge for my almost 7 hour wait. I was not travelling business class but since i have the status I did have lounge access. Luckily for me Abi Giles-Haigh was on the same flight to Vegas and when she arrived from her first leg, she joined me for the wait. 

It would have been rude not to make the most of it.

The flight to Vegas was non eventful, the plane was crowded and not particularly comfortable, I didn't get any sleep but I did watch the Top Gun sequel to while away some of the time. On arrival I was so pleased to have Global Entry and fly through immigration only to have to wait almost an hour for my bags.

For some reason Oracle housing said you had to check into the venetian at the Palazzo Tower which meant dragging two large suitcases (one full of company swag), across carpets and 2 casinos, only to be told when checking in that my room was in Venezia Tower, back where I started! And then I kid you not my room was as far away as possible from the  convention centre. No problem getting my steps in at this event.

That all said I had nice room and got myself settled for the  next week.

Fast forward a week and it was time to go home. I was flying out Saturday and had Sai Penumuru as my guest in the  lounge at Vegas. It sounds like I am proud of being a benefactor in this way, but actually I just love having someone to hang out with and get my moneys worth from the airlines.

The flight back to London was pretty good, and I slept for almost 2 thirds of it, so I was happy. We landed about 3pm on Sunday and I said goodbye to Sai as he ran through immigration and security to get his flight home, but I, true to form had a long layover till 7.30pm. So back to the lounge.

I didn't really notice the thunderstorm, I was so tired but another friend messaged me to say was i getting home? Of course I said, all on time, and it was at that point. The storms were followed by a beautiful sunset and then just as I was expecting the gate number to come up, they cancelled all short haul flights. As it was due to weather their only need was to give me a new flight, which I had to do online.

On leaving the lounge the queue to exit the terminal was horrendous, everyone having to be checked out by security. If you know Heathrow Terminal 5 the queue snaked around the entire area. I did however get a hint from a member of staff who told me to get a shuttle train out to the far gates and back again which would take me to main exit and bypass the queue. It was worth the  20 minute detour as I later heard people saying it took over 2 hours to get out.

Luckily I stay at Heathrow a lot and was able to book a hotel without much problem and got into my room 3 hours after the  flight was cancelled.

Luckily my status gave me priority and I got the first flight home in the morning, but that was delayed and as expected my luggage wasn't as lucky.  So I got home 36 hours after I left my Vegas Hotel and my luggage another 10. I wonder how long it will take for my claim?

Oh how I have missed travel.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

The Importance of Face to Face #JoelKallmanDay

I love this day - renamed to remember one of the best exponents of community ever - Joel Kallman.

In the Oracle world, user groups are the heart of community and they have had a hard time - not just during the pandemic, but even before, numbers were falling.

There is no one reason why but a big part in my opinion is generational. I'm old, I learnt from people, face to face, at school, my first programming language, consultancy skills, even when I finally tried post school education, I did that face to face.

My superstar graduate needed to learn something 15 years ago, I went off to look for a training course and he came back to me and said 'I've done it, I found something online'. That is great, but the theory he learnt was bolstered by working side by side with people in the office and with customers.

So as people looked more and more to the web for education, face to face events were less the obvious choice. User groups added online content but it is so difficult to provide content that has to be funded by membership fees when organisations simply push it out themselves for free.

Don't get me wrong, online is really important, and how would we have survived the pandemic without zoom, teams, etc - user groups had to switch to all virtual content, and with many relying on their annual events for funding, it has been hard.

I wrote about in-person events last year, but I have been thinking about it even more.

Events are back, some are still all virtual, some in person and many hybrid. Even Oracle's Cloud World is hybrid. 

But people are fighting back. We are social creatures and we want to see people, but being with people for the sake of it, or as in my case for the sake of a hug, is not enough of a reason. Many organizations are not back to being in an office full time and may never be, so at first glance along with a very difficult economy - sending people to in-person events may still be off the cards.

But go back to my graduate. He learnt on-line but needed the osmosis effect of working with people to solidify those skills. Many of us have changed jobs in the last few years, being onboarded remotely and doing so more from home. It works but we are missing that osmosis and actually spending time with peers and learning from what others are doing may be the 'top up' we all need. 

So talk to your boss, explain why you think being part of a community is so important, and make a special effort to be part of a user group community and if you can, attend in person, I promise you won't regret it.

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Please Vote for ME - Give me a chance to make a difference


Last year I was elected to the board of ODTUG. I tried the year before but in such a popular and thriving community the choice of people to vote for is high.

Anyway, you voted for me, thank-you.

A few year's ago ODTUG changed their governance model so that board members had a term of 3 years, however it took a couple of years for that to filter in and so my initial term was only 12 months. That isn't a lot to make a difference, but I believe my fellow board members would say I bring board / user group experience and Oracle organization knowledge to the table.

This year KSCOPE happened, against the backdrop of coming out of Covid and the increasing costs at every turn. Did we get it right? Yes we did, everyone who attended got something out of KSCOPE.  

Every news bulletin talks about the cost of living and how people have to make tough choices, and we did, and it left us in the situation that we delivered KSCOPE and can continue to rebuild it. 

Could we have done better? Yes, we learnt tea and coffee were paramount and I promise whoever you vote for that is already sorted for next year. The conference committee and board are very clear on that. Members gave feedback and we have listened.

So I am asking for you to vote for me again. I want to continue to fulfil the pledges I gave last year and make a difference to ODTUG.

Again there are 6 good candidates, please look at them and decide who your valuable votes will go to. What is important to the the good running of the organisation; all the communities.