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.