Monday 20 November 2023

Apps Unlimited and UKOUG

 Last week I was at TVP (Thames Valley Park), Oracle's biggest campus in the UK, for the first time in 3 years.

The road from the city feeds into a roundabout,  a motorway spur also ends. Always busy but an easy route, except when the city entrance to the roundabout is closed for roadworks and the detour is a good 20 mins, around the roundabout, up onto the motorway in the wrong direction, off at next junction, all the way around 2 more roundabouts and back onto the motorway to join the original roundabout several miles down the road! Apparently it was due to be finished before the biggest event held there since covid, but in true, sod you tradition, the workmen were delayed. Not fun, but all added to the joy of commuting, many of us have forgotten.

The Tuesday was Apps Unlimited, an event I was originally going to miss, as I had a postponed from before C holiday in Jordan planned. However my airline have decided it is not a good destination currently so hopefully 3rd time lucky.

My company do a lot in Apps Unlimited especially EBS and Hyperion, so we had a presence. For me it was important to listen to Cliff Godwin and Nadia on what's new in EBS, and then to hear a couple of customers tell us what they are unto. Richard Semple from UKSBS talked about their mid term plans and I was really interested as I was part of the original implementation at Research Council. (Now that is based in Swindon and they have a magic roundabout that makes the detour move look simple)! This is the  kind of work I am doing more and more off, planning for cloud but continuing to use and improve EBS in the  short term.

That evening was a ACE dinner. The ACEs had had an adventure that day in Oxford which I was unable to attend, but it was great to catch up with everyone at dinner.

I also did a guest blog for the ACEs so not a lot more to say.

UKOUG was hosted by Oracle in the campus. It was limited in number by the building and was technically sold out, but it was great to see so many people, old and new. UKOUG were celebrating 40 years of serving the community, and I had previously shared some of my stories.

Whilst I couldn't fly to Jordon, my fellow ACE Director Mia Urman couldn't travel from Israel so I delivered her presentation on RPA in EBS - I enjoyed the session, there was a good discussion around how we could improve EBS.

Then later I presented my 'All You Need To Know About Oracle' session. This is a dynamic session that joins the dots for people new to Oracle.

That evening there was a party to celebrate the 40 years and luckily I was staying at the party hotel so I did quite well with sleep.

My final session on the Thursday was on Extending Fusion SaaS inside and out - looking at My Experience and Visual Builder. Again a great crowd and good discussion.

I loved being at UKOUG and Weldon to Richard, the  board and the staff for a successful few days.

Friday 17 November 2023

Four of a Kind - New ACE Associates


Two years ago, the ACE Program was in doubt, COVID and successive changes within Oracle meant that the program had struggled for a while but thanks to Database Product Management recognising the value to Oracle, the ACE Program was not only saved, but revitalised. 

At its relaunch those in the program were asked to help grow the numbers especially in areas under-represented. I wrote LinkedIn posts to amplify these messages and asked especially those in the applications world to reach out if they were interested.

Many people did and sadly I told more people than I nominated, that currently they didn’t have the experience to make the program. The ACE Program is not simply about being an expert in your field. It is about sharing that knowledge with the community, as you and not just as your company. I hope those conversations lead to them doing that, writing articles, speaking at events, sharing tips in Oracle Customer Connect etc.

I did help 4 people with their nomination, listening to what they have done and helping them with their nominations. This week the 4th has been awarded ACE Associate. It was such a privilege to be part of their journey. 

Three of the Four are like me – Fusion Applications and I'm also really impressed that all four are exciting women in IT, although I'm also happy to mentor male advocates.

Karen Settembrino – a payroll expert and long time volunteer with OHUG. What impressed me with Karen was her advocacy and knowledge sharing with her professional body, the American Payroll Association as much as within our Oracle world.

Jennifer Mitchell, is a colleague and had worked with me and Oracle Development on a PoC for Oracle HCM My Experience. This giving feedback to Oracle is a key part of the ACE Program. She also assisted Oracle in Journeys sessions at Blueprint 4D.

Lydia Maksoud is an EPM expert. I met her through ODTUG where I am a board director and have seen her develop from a nervous co speaker in previous years to a confident sharer of knowledge. I also had the privileged of sitting with Lydia at her first ACE dinner during UKOUG this week.

Tobie Engel, is actually a customer of my company, and shares the many experiences of moving her organization from JDE to Oracle Cloud and all the different areas this touches. She is always learning and exploring what comes next and then being part of the conversation with Oracle and the community.
Although these ladies have all now achieved their ACE, it wasn't simple. Two had to rework their applications and do more to be successful. I like the way the program came back to me as the nominator and worked through their contribution and where necessary gave ideas to reach the standard rather than simply rejecting. 

Remember if it is easy it has no value.

Congratulations Girls – but don’t be complacent, obtaining inclusion in the Program is easier than maintaining it. Keep up the great work and enjoy your journey and the opportunities this will bring you.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

So just how busy was I at OCW 23?

Just before Oracle Cloud World, OCW, I blogged about how full my dance card was, and several people commented that they'd actually tried looking at the fan to see what that meant so it's only right that this post tells you more about my trip. 

I had three presentations at OCW, one on road mapping for apps unlimited customers and two on visual builder. As an ACE Director this meant I had program funding for the event generously topped up by my employer. The two visual builder sessions were unexpectedly full, the capacity of the room was over 200 and both sessions had very few spare seats. This is such a turnaround from last year when visual builder sessions were poorly attended, let's hope this is a corner turned on organizations understanding what visual builder brings to them for their fusion apps. Having said that the first question in both sessions was what about APEX? 

The first session was a panel where several organizations shared their experience in using visual builder with fusion. Basheer Khan was immediately before me on the panel, and I knew he had a really big example to share where his company had rewritten a module they had previously written in ADF. This is a great example and demonstrates many of the features that are now open to all organizations. Basheer and his colleague Gustavo along with myself make up the only three ACE Directors specializing in Fusion apps and technology. I talked about a few more modest extensions we had written for customers and to extend My Contractor demo (I have another presentation that talks about extending inside and out which covers both Oracle My Experience and the embedded visual builder). 

The second session was with Jeff Price the VP for visual builder for Fusion. Originally Jeff was going to talk about how visual builder is available, the different ways of using it and then I was going to follow with more end user examples, but on the two occasions Jeff and I talked about this in preparation it became more of a discussion and so we decided to just let the session flow. This is a great example of where two speakers have absolute trust in each other, understand the message they're trying to get across and instinctively know how to manage the time. It worked, Jeff would explain something, and I would give a practical example and we were able to convey everything that Jeff wanted to get over in this introduction to visual builder in Fusion presentation. We were the last session of the day and in fact free drinks in the exhibition started before our session finished and we were amazed that the room was full when we started and even more amazed that everybody stayed and in fact because there was no one on after us, our questions overran by about 20 minutes. People really are interested in what they can do of course we had a little bit of a discussion APEX versus visual builder, and as I say every time I'm asked, there is room for both because Oracle are invested in both of these technologies for different parts of their business, but both equally work with the Fusion environment. 


Having been sponsored by the ACE program I also had ACE duties mainly this is around manning the ACE lounge where people come for a little bit of a sit down a discussion around the program to understand if they are a candidate and what to do and a swag booth where if people simply signed up to follow the ACE program we gave away gifts. I volunteered for the first session Tuesday and last two hours of the show on Thursday and I have to say the first one was like holding back lemmings from a cliff, so many people just wanted the swag . That isn’t a bad thing because now their social feed is going to include information about the ACE program and over time hopefully, they will see the value to themselves of being part of this great community. The last session included the now traditional ACE chocolate tasting where ACEs from around the world bring their local chocolates in and people get to try chocolates from everywhere; there was a lot of sugar consumed! 

I also supported Jen Nicholson in her partner session about the ACE program, this was to explain to partners the value to their employees and themselves from the ACE program and it was great to just be able to constantly give different examples of the value that this brings to an organization. I am incredibly blessed that my company Inoapps sees the value, supports me at every turn, and we have recently added to our ACE portfolio with recognition of Jen Mitchell as an ACE associate. 

I wasn't at OCW as a stand person for Inoapps however on the odd occasion that I had some free time I did go along and support them mainly because I used the stand as a meeting place for either customers or people who had reached out and wanted to talk to me or had been to one of my sessions and wanted to follow up questions. Inoapps had also sponsored the DJ booth which everybody walked through every time they came into the show floor it was a fantastic area. So many people commented on the DJ booth. 


On the actual stand we had a headshot photographer, and the queue was always busy but whilst in the queue our team were able to talk to individuals and took fun photos. Several people who came to see me and I wasn't there had these photos taken and posted them to say how they'd miss me I told you my dance card is just too full. 

I arrived late Friday, and on Saturday morning a colleague and I started the day with a Denny’s breakfast. Anywhere other than the hotel which was simply too expensive! The new Las Vegas was experiencing cybercrime with big problems in some of the hotels and casinos but luckily not the Venetian where OCW was held. After breakfast we walked around the strip and stopped for a drink at the Bellagio only to discover their slot machines were down and they couldn't take credit card payments. I absolutely hate gambling and therefore do not enjoy Vegas as a destination but the impact to these organizations was simply horrendous. 

My great friend Sue Shaw who was once president of the Quest user group was also in town and on Saturday evening, we went to see Menopause the Musical. I'm not sure what I was expecting perhaps something more cynical but actually it was excellent the songs were all songs we know with the words to, simply changed and it was a very humorous look at a very serious issue, after all if we can't laugh at ourselves, we're doomed. I was also impressed at how many men were in the audience also enjoying the show. We also had our annual In-n-Out burger. This is Sue's husband's favorite fast-food restaurant we don't have them in Europe so once a year isn't a bad thing even if it did follow Denny's for breakfast. 

I work for a partner Inoapps and Monday before the conference begins his partner day and on the Sunday evening there was a partner welcome reception where we were honored to receive an award for UK and Ireland, business impact. This is around our managed services offering and continuously bringing the innovation that Oracle delivers to our joint customers and this marks the big change in Oracle. Whilst they recognize managed services is a big revenue stream for partners normally it's not something they recognize with awards. This took place this took on a rooftop bar in the old Fremont Street which is the only time I got to experience the old Las Vegas

The partner event on Monday was about getting heads up on some of the messages that would be made at the conference. I also had meetings along with colleagues with some of the product managers for SaaS. This is one of the best advantages of being in the ACE program is the relationships that you have with product management. Chris Leone has added SCM to his HCM portfolio and I look forward to seeing more development in this area using the visual builder framework and the generative AI that was the star in the center of the whole show. 

One of the customers that I am exec sponsor for is a global construction company with one part going live in February. They had quite a big contingent and so we took them to dinner on the Monday night it, was lovely to be able to talk to them all face to face and virtual working is so much better when it's on a foundation of knowing the people. We were able to talk about challenges and plans for the future. The restaurant had a signature dessert which obviously we had to try. 

Tuesday started really early whilst OCW is very busy, the world goes on back at the ranch and my organization was involved in a demo to a customer in Europe which meant I was online at 5:00 AM Vegas time. I don't mind too much, this is my job but I don't suffer from jet lag so this was a case of me setting the alarm and not simply being up anyway.

Tuesday was also my two visual builder events presentations and I also met with a couple of other partners in niche areas that we are considering working together with. Tuesday evening was our Inoapps drinks reception. Last year I had a problem with my hip and left early as I simply couldn’t stand any longer, but this year we had a slightly different area of the same bar, and there were seats and my hip pain has gone thanks to acupuncture (ask me about this). 

For me, most of Wednesday was attending keynotes meeting Oracle product managers and listening to colleagues speak. Even though the event it's in just one location there is still an awful lot of walking, and my step count was really high, moving between meetings which inevitably are never close together and requires a lot of logistical planning. My favorite meeting of the day was with Nadia Bendjedou and Cliff Godwin talking about e-Business suite. 

I also had my theatre slot on Wednesday, just 20 minutes to look at the options for apps unlimited customers which is based on my road mapping flow chart. I had a really good turnout of people; all the seats were taken, and people were stood at the back. It's quite a weird experience for the speaker, it sounds like you're talking into a tin can but apparently the audience can hear. I kept checking that they were OK and I would get nods and I could see that people were engaged with me and then all of a sudden everyone looked up I didn't know what the problem was but afterwards I discovered that it was the sound of rain on the ceiling. It didn't affect me, but it did affect my audience. Later Juan Loaiza told us that it happened in his keynote that would have been far more off putting than it was for me. But the session was really successful, and I had loads of people come and ask me questions afterwards which to me is always the best feedback.  

Wednesday evening is traditionally party night or customer appreciation event last year I went and didn't really enjoy it and this year I decided not to go which is a pity because it turns out it was really good and far more my era of music than last year. However the evening started fantastically with the ACE program dinner where I got to celebrate OCW with all my peers and the ACE program and this was fantastically supported by Juan, Jenny Tsai and Andy Mendelsohn from the database whose sponsor the ACE program.

No speaking for me Thursday which meant I didn't have to lug my laptop around the show. I've already said that I did my last ACE duty for the ACE lounge and the chocolate tasting session but it was also about catching up with all those people I've been trying to talk to all week, I had lots of messages saying meet me here at this time and on the whole I did manage to catch up with people who'd come to the stand asking for me and of course I just wasn't there. 

Thursday evening, I had the pleasure of dinner with Jen Nicholson and Connor McDonald and a few other ACEs, it was very quiet and relaxed and away from the conference and it felt good however we all left early as we had our ACE adventure on Friday. 

I broke my shoulder six months ago and it's only just usable in fact I'm writing this blog from Lanzarote where today after a medical I hope to do my first scuba diving since February so when the ACE program announced that the ACE adventure for OCW would be kayaking, I was a bit nervous. I thought I had a great excuse my flight meant that I wouldn't be able to get back from the kayaking quick enough and then Jen said what if we started an hour earlier at that point I realized I wasn't going to be able to get out of this easily I didn't think I could kayak so then the next thing to do was to find someone who would kayak a double canoe on their own. Karen Cannell stood up to do this although several other people also volunteered. 

So just before 7:00 AM on the Friday morning we all met together and were driven to Lake Mead where we were shown our kayaks and what we were doing. Lake Mead is behind the Hoover Dam and therefore there are no rapids, it's very calm and the easiest kayaking you probably will do. It was such fun, absolutely hysterical, they gave us water squirters and there was plenty of fun fights between people. We looked at caves, we played games shouting at cliffs to get echoes - it was brilliant and for me and I was probably able to do about 40% of the kayaking ,which is way more than I ever expected. I was also lucky enough to wear a GoPro and record the day. Alex Nujiten also used his physio therapist skills to get an old lady up out of a kayak. 

I can't thank the ACE program enough for what was just such a fantastic morning away from Vegas. Lake Mead has made me enjoy my week in Vegas. So as I said before my dance card was very full, but as ever it was a great week with lots of things achieved with those different hats that I had on and thank you to everyone who made it possible for me.

Friday 15 September 2023

Oracle Cloud World Dance Card and my Best Practice for OCW


I attended my first Oracle Open World many years ago, and attended every one since, and every year I blog about how busy I will be and every year it gets busier. This is my 18th consecutive event.

At this point in the run up to the event, I am trying to sift through sessions, meetings, off piste activities and colour code them with priorities. I love mobile apps but I want one that will update my calendar so that the two are in sync, if you have worked it out please tell me! Not that it matters much, if I manage to attend the sessions I am delivering I will have done well.

I have 3 sessions. Very Exciting. Two on the use of Visual Builder and a theatre session on the showfloor for Apps Unlimited 

Extending Oracle Fusion Cloud Apps—What We Learned [PAN1434] Tuesday 2:00 PM - 2:45 PM a panel session of experts helped out by me

An Introduction to Extending Oracle Fusion Cloud Apps [LRN3050] Tuesday 5:00 PM - 5:45 PM assisting Jeff Price

Applications Unlimited Customers—Put an End to Cloud Confusion [THR1383] wednesday 3:20 PM - 3:40 PM

I will be doing my bit as an Oracle ACE Director and be at their lounge Tuesday & Thursday over lunch time, come by if you are interested in the program.

With my company I have customers to meet up with, Oracle executives to meet and share information, and colleagues sessions to support. We also have a stand (#25). 

Las Vegas is a city that never stop and that is what my dance card thinks - I have breakfast meetings and pre breakfast meetings and there are receptions every day

So my tips for managing your time:

  • Colour code your calendar with MUST, WANT, CATCH UP ON DEMAND, INTERESTED 
  • Don't delete any of the above as your time will be dynamic, if that MUST meeting is cancelled or moved what is your next priority.
  • If you are non US, don't forget adapters and small bills for tips 
  • For presenters - there is a whole Know Before You Go document but my #1 is make sure you have a backup
  • If there is a session you want to attend and it is free, perhaps hover, many people book a session they want to go to and don't make it for just as many reasons, so there may be a space

And most important:
  • If you see me and say hallo and I look lost, tell me your name and make an old lady very happy

Friday 7 July 2023

Reflecting on KScope 23


So Kscope23 was the last of the three global user groups in the summer season in the US and as I said in my last blog my favorite, although I may be biased as I am on the board of directors.


Kscope is the ODTUG flagship event, ODTUG stands for Oracle Development and Technology User Group, and this is the event where people come to learn from the best.

This year Kscope was held near Denver in the Gaylord Rockies. This resort hotel had plenty to do outside but I only managed once before the conference and once after; it was a very busy week.


As a board member we had meetings before the event, so I threw flew out on the Thursday for those. 


At ODTUG we pride ourselves on how close we work with Oracle development bringing new technology and functionality to users direct from the people responsible. The user group has four main communities APEX, EPM, Analytics and Database and we are constantly revising to ensure that we meet the requirements of the user group and that the members are served.


This year the APEX community held an APEX boot camp where those with little or no experience in APEX came to learn the basics from the very best. I joined the start of this boot camp and was really impressed at both the students’ enthusiasm and the Oracle syllabus put together for the event and by the end of the week this group were whizzing through hands on labs and excited to go back to their organizations to use their newfound skills. This is something we will be repeating.

Another new venture was my own stream for extending Oracle SaaS Applications, for a long time these applications were locked with no way to extend apart from complex coexistence, this is all changed and there is a lot for SaaS practitioners to learn and ODTUG makes a great home for these people ,so we had sessions around when you should extend, how you should extend, how to actually use Oracle Visual Builder and how does this compare to APEX which has been more traditionally used for extending. We had two customers Elizabeth Ferrell from Kroger and the State of North Carolina who shared what they were doing to extend their Oracle SaaS investments. Luc  Bors, Bashir Khan, Gustavo Gonzalez and Peter Koletzke shared their experiences and had just how far Oracle have come in this discipline. We will be following up this event with web casts starting with Lynn Mussenger on the Redwood platform later this fall. Numbers were small, but this is a new community and to be honest drew people curious from other streams but we hope to build on this community so that next year we can be even more successful.


In this stream I spoke on what technology does for Oracle Applications to set the scene for the week and then finished with the discussion on Oracle Visual Builder and APEX, this last session was very well attended and a very interesting discussion around skills and use cases.The panel was Blaine Carter from Oracle Visual Builder product development, Karen Cannell and Gustavo Gonzalez. I'm currently contributing to an Ace Program book where my chapter is on this very very topic.

Me, Blaine, Karen & Gustavo - APEX - VB Panel


As a member of the Ace Program, I also had the opportunity to take part in some of their Content. There was a database panel session facilitated by Cary Millsap were I was able to contribute far more than I expected. I love it when I can talk about the value technology brings to the applications. 

I also managed to do several videotapes sessions with Lauren Cohn who will create amazing videos I just don't know what for yet. I spent time with her at Oracle cloud world just answering general questions and she made two great videos one on my perspective of the ace program and one on the benefits it has given my career thank you


I was also videoed by Connor McDonald for his 60 seconds with series which was very weird as on the first take I couldn't think of any answers this second take there's not much better from my perspective but as ever a great video from Connor check out the other aces he managed to talk to at the conference on his YouTube channel.


As with any conference there needs to be more than just educational content at the general session we said good bye to Tim German and Karen Cannell who are stepping down from the board this year having completed their term limits, there were videos to say goodbye to them which were very emotional but highlighted all they had done for the community over the years.


The keynote speaker was a deviation from external speakers and actually talked about sports analytics from Carrie Nielsen and Dr Abby Giles-Haigh, their presentation was entertaining and educational. Abby as well as being a data scientist and ace director is also a soccer coach and uses the is analytics not just for customers but also for her team. Carrie talked about how Oracle analytics are making such a difference in many sports most notably Formula One and brought along an F1 simulator for the Oracle stand which proved very popular. Having recently had the opportunity to visit Oracle Red Bull at their MK7 headquarters in Milton Keynes I really appreciate how the analytics are being used.


Kscope always kicks off with community service on the Saturday before the main event starts this year we helped at a community centre for the temporarily homeless teams did deep cleaning and weeding although with my broken shoulder I was a bit limited and just fed people pizza this is a great tradition where ODTUGers give back to the city that's welcoming us for our event


The ace dinner was a great place to catch up with Jen Nicholson who runs the program and all the old and new members of the  program.

photo again from Lauren

The special event was at Denver aquarium, and the dress up theme (I love a dress up) was rockabilly.


2023 ODTUG Board
Back in February when we were onsite planning KScope I had the  opportunity to actually go in the tank with the sharks. As a keen scuba diver I loved it, but I didn't know then it would be my last dive for a while, breaking my shoulder just a few weeks later (I am hoping to be back in the water October. 

Thursday finished with Hands on Labs and Blaine did an Oracle Visual Builder with Redwood - it was great to see people from other steams come and have a go. SO I was pleased with my stream, the overall conference and we are already thinking about 2024 in Nashville.

See you there


Sunday 25 June 2023

User Group Conferences

I think of April, May, and June as the US Oracle conference season. We have Blueprint 4D, Ascend and KSCOPE, and I'm lucky enough to speak at all three.


KSCOPE starts this weekend and as I am on the board of the ODTUG usergroup, I'm obviously biased that this is the best. And what makes KSCOPE so special is the in-depth learning and amazing feelings of belonging.


But before that starts let's have a quick look back at Blueprint 4D and Ascend. These are my personal thoughts based on how I see it as an outsider, and I am sure there are things that I am not aware of.


I presented at both events, learnt more myself and loved the user interaction, but whilst it may be a little controversial have the following observations.


Prior to COVID there was Collaborate, this was a conference that had been running for over a decade and comprised of three separate user groups:


·      QUEST who services JD Edwards and PeopleSoft

·     OAUG (now OATUG) who serviced traditionally E-Business Suite, some PeopleSoft. 

·      IOUG whose serviced technology especially the database communities


Collaborate events were successful but there was little overlap between the communities to start with but with the introduction of cloud applications this started to change. At the same time IOUG found a home within the QUEST organization itself and then the decision was made that these two organizations would return to separate events.


COVID was a bit of a false start and whilst modest events happened in 2021 it would be unfair to judge the new way on that year. 2022 saw both events back-to-back in Vegas the biggest advantage and or disadvantage of this was for vendors who found themselves at 2 trade shows and no opportunity to follow up on leads from the first one before the second one started. Although most vendors preferred only having Collaborate.


This year they were a few weeks apart Blueprint 4D being in Dallas in May and Ascend being in Florida just last week. This was much better for exhibitors and for speakers who may be attending both, but conferences are not just about exhibitors and speakers it's all about the delegate experience.


If you were a JDE, EBS or any other Apps Unlimited organization happy where you are, looking to be platformed on Oracle cloud or even moving to cloud applications, these events are perfect, you can find other organizations who have been there and sharing their story, their tips and tricks, but I can't help wondering that if you're already a cloud applications customer, would you not benefit from more organizations who are there the combined populations of these two events. The benefit may have been diluted.


Let me explain that further, after the Collaborate separation, OAUG now called OATUG, joined forces with OHUG for the new Ascend conference series. OHUG services all Oracle HCM users whether they be on premise or in the cloud. This is the direct overlap of OATUG who have Oracle e-business suite and some PeopleSoft HCM and cloud HCM, so by joining forces they are enlarging the populations of each of those constituents rather than diluting.


In the same way KSCOPE covers technology and database and is the now much smaller IOUG also suffering from the same dilution of communities.


In person events have been dwindling for many years, not a COVID specific phenomenon and should user groups be working tog to find a new model