Saturday, 10 March 2018

Can Ireland Continue to Win?

I've just watched Ireland win the 6 Nations, next week is Cheltenham, St Patricks Day, England v Ireland at Twickenham for the Grand Slam; can anything top that?

Well they will all rush back for the 
annual OUG Ireland Event held  22-23 March at The Gresham Hotel, Dublin.

As ever there is a great agenda, and I'm kicking off the Apps stream with a look at selecting the right cloud solution for your applications. It's weird really, I've spoken at hundreds of events, but never as community kickoff. I'm very excited because the rest of the stream will be drilling into more detail as the event progresses.

For the technical audiences there are again many old faces, local heroes and new speakers. If you use Oracle and can get to Dublin .....

Make sure you will be there.

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Legacy of A Great Friend

John Schiff died at the weekend. It was expected, he had found out he had leukaemia last October and he spent his last weeks at home with his family and hospice care. 

John was head of JD Edwards World product and a great friend to both UKOUG and me personally.

From the time Oracle purchased PeopleSoft and therefore JD Edwards, John worked with UKOUG to ensure his customers had a user group to support them in the UK. He supported them becoming members and even at a difficult meeting a few years back supported JD Edwards being part of the wider applications community.

He brokered the relationship between UKOUG and QUEST which has always been for the benefit of our members.

He cared so passionately for the customers who used the product he had invested so much of his career to.

But John was also my friend. I travelled for several years to Denver for the RMOUG conference each spring and John invited me and my daughter to his home. His family were so welcoming. He and his wife Eileen took me to their local restaurants and we shared many glasses of good wine and stories of our families and faith.

I raise a glass to you John. 

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Excitement (and challenge) of Continuous Innovation

Part of my role at Certus, is to understand what is happening in the Oracle World and make sure if we need to be part of it we are ready to be so at the right time. Another part is understanding the strategy of our customers and how these things can brought together.

I recently attended a chatbot training course, and like all the others on the course followed a script and now have a working example on facebook.

Great, but how do I make that relevant in our world of Cloud users? Well that challenge isn't new, it is something we need work at all the time, and part of that is identifying the gap between marketing and customer adoption.

Oracle have helped, the move to universal credits for #PaaS4SaaS means that customers can trial ideas, in a more agile way, using all of the available development tools, without committing to one specific product. You can try things out, fail fast and move on to the next idea until you have a valuable solution for your organisation.

We have a major customer who has a cloud first strategy and looked at Integration Cloud, for you guessed it, integration. However working with our partners eProseed the answer for their specific need was SOA Cloud. This may change and it may be a combination but being able to work through the options without commercial implications is a new and powerful offering.

Another customer who is implementing HCM Cloud self service alongside their global E Business Suite systems, had specific needs around security. Having quickly demonstrated that we had the right approach to challenges, we worked together on a small proof of concept, and then they were able to purchase the required licences confident of their investment.

Part of this confidence and desire to do more than a simple implementation comes from our strategy of not only being aware but of investing cautiously in actually trying things out. If you have followed our #PaaS4SaaS story, we did our first proof of concept with eProseed when it was simply Java Cloud Service on offer. We took a small scenario from a case management tool and replicated the process within PaaS and integrated it as a seamless addition to Cloud HCM. We have demonstrated this around the world and used it as a way to articulate how everything actually works together. Everyone can understand the use case; the need to follow a company policy for absences.

As #PaaS4SaaS has evolved there are no so many more technical options, and again we have explored them, like the low code options within ABCS (now VBCS) and shared those findings.

Which brings me back to chatbots. Tim Warner and I have committed to taking about chatbots with HCM Cloud at Collaborate in April, so the race to bring all the components together is on. The actual technology development is simple enough, the harder part is identifying use cases that the current APIs support. #PaaS4SaaS has encouraged the Cloud applications development team to provide more and more APIs and I am promised there are more to come.

Sometimes the solution does not need to be that complex and in fact as the saying goes, the best ideas as the simplest ones. An integrated solution could simply be the user experience being joined up, so we don't have to wait.

Oracle has a team in the UK around digital innovation and Certus was asked to be involved. There approach was to have innovation workshops with customers to see the art of the possible around mobile. The outcome was combining both Oracle Cloud Apps and other applications used by the organisation into a simple app that combined in a single user experience ways to overcome today's challenges. We held a workshop with a number of government clients and came up with two great prototypes.

This approach means when the customers are ready, we are ready and has made Certus stand out. It also makes my job very exciting. I love my job!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

UKOUG 2017 Certus Content

In UKOUG_apps17 Certus had a few sessions.

Tim Warner kicked off the conference with 'What comes first, ERP or HCM?' in the first session on Monday morning. The room was full and very interested in what he had to say. 

The session is based on our experience and some work we have done with the HCM Centre of Excellence who have written this paper on the best practices, two of the case studies are from Certus. I was at the back of the room but Tim got me to explain exactly what we had done. 

I think it is great that Cloud apps sessions have gone beyond just, we moved from A to B, to giving some actually, specific learnings.

Then I did my extending HCM presentation. 3 demos live. Since I had had so much success soon these on the APAC tour I was feeling quite confident, until Angelo Santagata  entered the room as my Session Chair. Angelo is very technical and I was worried it might vocalise anything i was doing wrong but actually he gave me good feedback.

Tuesday, Ramya Govindarajan and I shared the 'Delivering Excellence, DHL Case Study. They went live in Spain and Singapore in the past few weeks and Ramya explained how new functionality in R12, allowed them to simplify their users. 

We did intend to have a whole session on Jobs and Positions and Areas of Responsibility, but have deferred that to a later SIG or webcast when we can also include R13 content.

Caryn enjoying the party
On Wednesday Caryn Berlingieri who looks after Change Management in Certus, hosted a round table along with Sandy Boyd from Oracle and Hayley Taylor from DHL.

It was great to have such a range of Certus content, based on the many implementations we have done.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

UKOUG 2017

As part of the UKOUG team that delivered the conferences in Birmingham I couldn't feel prouder. The volunteers put a lot of work into all the decisions that need making in the months before and the team work their socks off upto and through the event.

Thank you everyone.

For me, the Sunday was a surreal start to the event. I landed at 04:42 from the APAC Tour  and caught a coach up to Birmingham. I finally got checked into my hotel, had a shower and headed over for registration for the Super Sunday content that kicks off UKOUG_tech17.

Then we had a board / management team meeting, a quick run through of all the conferences, ensuring we all know what is happening.

Sunday was also the Volunteers' Drinks and then this year we were joined by the EOUC Presidents who were visiting UKOUG and our speakers. I left about 9:30, I don't really get jet lag but needed to make sure I got a good night's sleep.

Monday morning was a quick run through of the Keynote, which John Abel stepped up and gave. We had arranged for Steve Daheb to give the keynote, but thanks to his flight being cancelled, and nothing available that would get him here in time, he had to cancel. Having said that John did and excellent keynote and began by telling us his first presentation was at UKOUG. How inspiring is that?

Paul Sutton our President introduced John and he really enjoyed his first conference in this role. 

Cliff Godwin, also had a cancelled flight, but a rebooked flight via Frankfurt and a nervous rush to Birmingham, he made it with about an hour to spare. Cliff has been at UKOUG every year since he took up the lead for EBS and we love him being there.

The EOUC Presidents had their meeting all day and enjoyed their visit to UKOUG. 

Monday finishes with the community drinks, a chance for everyone to catch up and meet others with a similar challenge. The evening is the only evening available for off piste entertainment, so the 3 elected board members each hosted an event.

Paul alongside John Abel hosted the Oracle Executives. Brendan hosted the EOUC Presidents and I on behalf of the Oracle Developers' Community hosted the ACE dinner.

The Developers' Community again sponsored the speaker awards at UKOUG 

Tuesday Morning kicked off with the Welcome in IT breakfast. I wrote a post after OOW talking about this idea, and it was a great success. I started by explaining why this was being called Welcome and what we were doing at UKOUG.

Then Jennifer from the Oracle Developers Community talked about the ACE program and encouraged everyone especially women to step up if they met the criteria for the programm.

Then  Caroline Apsey the Oracle Bloodhound Evangelist told the Bloodhound story

The only issue with the breakfast was that people had to be turned away.

Tuesday was also a specially for JDE, they were celebrating their 40th birthday. I had a good meeting with Lyle Ekdahl as part of our continuous engagement for our mutual communities.

 Tuesday's sessions finished with our motivational speaker, Kriss Akabusi, who was not only as funny as expected but also very insightful and inspiring. 

Paul went our on stage to introduce him and I was 'the voice of God' something that Kress later mentioned on twitter.

Then it was back to the conference exhibition for the party. The theme was retro and there were games to play and people had a great time. 

For me, it was fun and the band had everyone tapping their toes, but the best thing was seeing how much the office team were enjoying themselves. The amount of work needed to make these events work is unbelievable and they deserved to let their hair down.

Wednesday was another busy day. I was with Oracle Academy who we were trialing a next generation initiative. Brendan and Tim Hall who are old hands at inspiring students had the chance to talk to them about careers within the Oracle community and then they had the chance to attend some sessions.

Then it was almost over, for another year. I'll write another post about my sessions and most speakers have blogged about theirs. 

There is lots of data to analyse and determine what worked and what didn't, and how we can make 2018 even better, but I'll leave you with a few statistics.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Bloodhound; One Small Step

The Bloodhound Project, is a truly inspirational initiative to inspire a generation in STEM.

Oracle are the Cloud partners for Bloodhound and I have been privileged to watch this this partnership develop and see how inspiring it is.

I have heard Sir Richard Noble, Andy Green (the driver) and Mark Chapman, Bloodhound SSC Chief Engineer all speak at various events and been inspired to get involved.

I truly believe the lack of women in STEM including IT is down to a lack of this encouragement from early in school. My own daughter decided on an office career in the Military and was told by her school it wasn't a job for a girl. That was only 10 years ago.

At the Oracle Cloud day in November, Mark Chapman spoke and told a story about the questions they get asked in schools. He said adults only ever ask questions they think they know the answer to but that children just ask away. He told of a child who when he had spoken about how far the car could go, asked what would happen if you put the car on it's end? He answered but it isn't supposed to do that, and again the child questioned, him 'but what if you did?'. He and their teacher then did the maths and although he did give an answer in his talk, I can only remember that it was 'past the moon'.

The Bloodhound charity, have little car kits they give away, where you build a Bloodhound model car and use a ballon to create the 'thrust'. I went to New Zealand and Australia that evening for the Oracle Development Community APAC Tour and had one of the kits in my suitcase. At the end of the tour I stayed with a friend in Perth, and her 5 and 7 year old grandsons came to visit.

I told them about the car, and what it was trying to achieve. The 7 year old amazed me that he knew the concept of thrust, (although the 5 yer old told me he did too). We built the model, which I actually found a little hard (but then I am not technical), and we successfully got it to move across the floor.

The instructions said to think about how you could make it go faster? The boys thought about surface and we tried again and a marble work surface and several other places.

When I was explaining the concept to the boys, I told them about the 'how far will it go upwards?' question. I told them it would go further than the moon, and the 7 year old said 'Would it reach Mars?" followed immediately by 'It's about time someone worked out how to do that'.

I shared my little story with the UKOUG Welcome in IT breakfast, after Caroline Apsey the Oracle Bloodhound Evangelist told the Bloodhound story. I think a few more advocates were recruited there.

UKOUG also work with Oracle Academy who deliver content and training for academia and they have committed to inspire 3.5 MILLION students worldwide through this initiative, including Java training based on the Bloodhound data Oracle are making available to all.

Then just yesterday I received a message from my friend in Australia to tell me her grandson had taken the model we made to school and shared with his class.

I only arrived home just this weekend with a second kit in my suitcase and intend to share it with a little boy at my church. His mum wants me to share it with his class. I'll get all the information and presentation from Caroline and would love to do this.

Well done Bloodhound. To me you have already succeeded.

Friday, 1 December 2017

2017 ODC APAC Tour - Fun in the Sun

I'm sat in the sunshine in Perth, as I contemplate the long journey home after the Oracle Development Community APAC Tour. Actually the tour isn't over, China and India are still to come, but I have to say goodbye because UKOUG 2017 starts on Sunday and that is where my priorities lie.

Connor McDonald has been on some of the dates, he leaves today for UKOUG and does Sangam (India) on the way home. 

I did 5 legs where I gave two of my three papers.

              Wellington, NZ : November 20th -

I loved the audience here, people came to hear my two sessions on Back2Basics and VBCS, not because they are SaaS users specifically but because they were interested in something outside their normal topics. I love this approach and am always suggesting people pick one or two sessions to broaden their oracle horizons.

Richard Olrichs was also talking #PaaS4SaaS, and it was great to see how more interest in the middleware offerings.

               Auckland, NZ : November 22th

This time I managed to attend Richard's session myself. I gave the same 2 sessions as in 

               Sydney, Australia: November 24th  –

This event was held in the Australian Masonic Museum which was amazing. I didn't realise there was so much history to be shared.

Again I was really pleased with the turnout for my sessions, and I also took the opportunity to hear a few more, again learning myself. 

               Melbourne, Australia: November 27th

Great turnout and a brilliant apps / dev track with lots of interested delegates. Here I switched the Back2Basics for the Government EBS to Cloud story, which is very relevant. Lots and lots of questions from delegates.

There was also a panel session where delegates could ask whatever they liked. Interesting to hear seeds of interest in PaaS offerings from Oracle.

               Perth, Australia: November 29th

Perhaps it is wrong to have a favourite, but this is mine. The community in Perth all know each other and learn together through their user group. Again lots of questions around SaaS and great discussions with the local Oracle team. SaaS has arrived in Australia.

I am especially proud of my #PaaS4SaaS VBCS presentation, which I did in all 5 cities. Each with 3 live cloud demos. Occasionally wifi was a little challenging, but all worked and in each city I finished with a working mobile app. You certainly don't need to be technical to use VBCS. 

As ever I took the opportunity to have fun on tour. I started by having a weekend with an old friend in Auckland, then in New Zealand, Richard and I made best use of time, with oceanside walks, the cablecar and a bus tour in Wellington, and a visit up the SkyTower in Auckland. 

In Sydney we walked to the Opera House and had dinner in the sun, being joined by my twin Pete Sharman. I took the opportunity to dive in Manly whilst Richard did a quick bus tour before leaving for home. You can read Richard's tour blog here.

I also had the pleasure of catching up with Bambi II and her husband Tony, and Daniel Strassberg for dinner.

Melbourne I met up with Bambi I and her husband Fred for another lovely dinner.

In Perth we finished with a dinner with Connor McDonald, and then I stayed on with Penny Cookson and her husband Spence. Dived with sea lions and caught up on all the work from back home, whilst enjoying their summer, and preparing for UKOUG.

These as well as all the old and new friends at the events, is why I love travelling. Friends around the world, more than just colleagues in the Oracle eco-system.

Thank you to Francisco for the tour organisation, NZOUG, IAOUG and AUSOUG usergroups especially Joseph and Millina and not least Oracle Development Community for making it possible.