Monday, 25 September 2017

This is not an easy Job

According to Leading Clever People by Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones 

"If clever people have one defining characteristic, it is that they do not want to be led"

Well that is how I feel about my role in the EOUC Short Talks at Oracle Open World.

This year we have:

     EOUC Database ACES Share Their Favorite Database Things
     Sunday, Oct 01, 10:45 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
     Marriott Marquis (Golden Gate Level) - Golden Gate C1/C2

Then we will have the Dev Champion speakers who have 6 minutes each to tell us what it is they do:

     EOUC Developer Champions Show the Cool Tech They Use

     Sunday, Oct 01, 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 
     Marriott Marquis (Golden Gate Level) - Golden Gate C1/C2

It may seem that it is an easy job, get a few people to talk about something they know inside out, create a few slides and then the fun of keeping them to time on the day.

It isn't. I send a survey out and ask if they want to speak and to confirm this slot doesn't give them a ticket to OOW, they have to be attending anyway and that they will provide the slides on time.

This is when the definition of an EMEA speaker gets tested, I have had "I'm an honour member of such and such user group" from American ACEs. I guess it shows how much people want to be part of this, but I have to weed them out.

Then I start on scheduling and accepting, and at this point you can guarantee someone appears from the woodwork and says they didn't see the survey or some other excuse. I want to be all inclusive so I try hard. 

Once I tell them they are in I give a deadline to get the presentations in and this year everyone made it on time, the first year ever I have not had to publicly name and same. Dr Frank Munz was last but even he had 61 minutes to spare! Julien Dontcheff was first.

In previous years I have suggested no more than 10 slides, they only have 5-6 minutes, but that caused me no end of problems so I just ask them to remember that. Lonneke Dikmans won this challenge she only had 4 slides but Oren Nakdimon has 26!

Then the size of the files, some love pictures, there are a couple of Gifs and a video. Again not surprisingly Lonneke has the smallest file but Frank has a whopping 31.4 MB, and 3 are over 10 MB.

I did send them a sample slide for their first one, to introduce themselves. Funny how many didn't manage that, including Heli Helskyaho who has been doing this for years. No excuses Heli.

Then there are those who insist on their own layout, which means I have to copy their master into my consolidated deck. Yes I have to consolidate them or we wouldn't get through the presentation on time. It has to be slick.

One set of slides that were excellent however used a non standard font so didn't work on my PC. Why did that very clever presenter not think of that? 

So now I have 2 slide decks and hopefully on the day it will work. I have another projector for the countdown clock and with Ralf at my side as the most experienced timekeeper let's hope it all goes well.

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

OOW Planning

I think this is something like my 14th consecutive Oracle Open World coming up and yes, it will be busy but also very different.

Change is good, but there is a lot of change this year and I'm a little nervous and yet also excited.

The ACE program has changed over the last 12 months, but they are still sponsoring those speaking at OOW. Thank you OTN or should I say Developer Community for your continued support.

I fly out to HQ on the Tuesday and even the hotel has changed it name! The Sofitel has been renamed the Pullman. Same chain just a reclassification.

Wednesday is the User Experience Strategy Day, one I always look forward to, learning what they are up to next.

The ACE program has had 2 days of briefings, traditionally the Thursday and Friday but this year it is split into the Dev Champions on Thursday and ACE on Friday. That means I have Thursday free but lots of people to catch up with in development for my day job.

We all move into the city Friday night and the main event kicks off.

I haven't got plans for Saturday yet, I love to cycle the bridge but not sure if i will this year, but there is still time.

Saturday evening there is the Partner Network (OPN) first reception and there is a new partner program this year that rewards implementations rather than sales, which is much more what we do at Certus, so an important program for us.

Sunday is traditionally User Group Day, (after a quick run over the bridge) and we are still there although Oracle have brought in competition in the form of journey to cloud sessions.The EOUC, or EMEA usergroups have a great program  and this includes my traditional short talks from the EMEA ACEs and the new EMEA Dev Champions.

Then I have to run over to the OPN keynote, some partner hospitality and then off to the ACE Dinner.

Monday kicks off with the bay swim. The OAUX Exchange is the highlight for UX at OOW and a User Group Lunch and then the Oracle Womens' Leadership event which I am very privileged to be invited to. This VIP event is very thought provoking. I also hope to make it across to Oak table World but that may need to be Tuesday.

Monday evening is either the world's biggest pub crawl or simply the night when everybody has a reception. I have many invites and will make a decision closer to the time. I tend to accept most invites to receptions and not worry if I don't attend, unless it specifically said limited numbers. For a dinner I am more careful and will let the hosts know if things change. That is only good manners.

Tuesday is a quieter but still very busy day. It kicks off very early with an Analyst dinner then a number of meetings. At the moment I have nothing planned for the evening but know that will change!

Wednesday I have a UX Lunch and a usergroup focus group on how partners work for customers and then the Certus Presentation with DHL. Delivering People Excellence for DHL Moscone South 206 at 17:30 the last session of the day, just before the appreciation party. Normally Thursday morning would be the hardest session at OOW but this year there are mainly learning sessions Thursday, no case studies so I think this is the worst session time! Please come along and support us, it is a great story. I am so proud that every year we have a customer come with us to share their implementation project.

Quick visit to the bloggers meetup, and it's off to the party.

Thursday I hope to catch up with a few meetings and then its time to wind down. I would have planned to fly home Thursday if I had known it was to be such a quiet conference day, another change to the traditional but hopefully all these changes will make it even more exciting.

Oh, and I have selected a few sessions in the catalogue, well actually more than just a few but whether I have time to actually attend any is another thing. I do have a tip here though. The session catalogue will populate your diary with those you registered for, but it won't let you schedule overlaps. It does however let you mark others as favourites. When you have done that print out the session numbers and use this clever little apex app from Connor McDonald and using those numbers populate your calendar with your backup sessions. Then if the session is cancelled or not what you expected your next choice is to hand. But if you are foreign like me, set your PC / Mac to PST time first.

Lots of friends to catch up with, customers to host, meetings to attend. Sessions to deliver and if I'm lucky to attend. Just writing this blog has me exhausted but I know it will be fun.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Tradition and Innovation: EOUC Short Talks at OOW17

Three years ago Ralf Koelling from the DOAG suggested that the EOUC use one or two of their small allocation of usergroup sessions at OOW17 to showcase more of the wonderful talent we have in EMEA.

At the time people were talking about the upcoming 12c Database and since lots of DBAs were at OOW anyway with the ACE Director Program we reached out and said would they like to do a short talk and yes they did. I said at the time where else would you get so many experts in one session? 12 on 12c spoke that year.

It was such fun, the time counts down with a clock projected onto the wall, and it is obvious how much effort speakers have made to get their point across in such a short time.

2015 and we did it again, this time with no break between the sessions we moved up to 16 speakers. More than 12 on 12c. 

Then last year it was fully a tradition and we asked the speakers to pick their favourite feature of the database and they didn't disappoint, 22 stepped up to the plate.

Since last year Oracle, the ACE program and OOW has moved some of its priorities and as well as the very visible priority of Cloud, Code is also been given a lot more exposure. 

OTN who manage the ACE Program have recently launched another program of Dev Champions, so this year we are splitting the EOUC talks into ACE and Dev.

The ACE Quick Fire Talks has 8 speakers with 5 minutes each.

EOUC Database ACES Share Their Favorite Database Things
Sunday, Oct 01, 10:45 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. | Marriott Marquis (Golden Gate Level) - Golden Gate C1/C2

Frank Pachot dbms_xplan.display_cursor
Robin Moffatt Apache Kafka
Heli Helskyaho Data Guide
Christian Antognini Partial Indexes
Julian Dontcheff Oracle RAC on Third-Party Clouds
Oren Nakdimon Collections in SQL
M.Fevzi Korkutata WebLogic Multitenancy
Mahir M. Quluzade Data Guard 12.2

Then we will have the Dev Champion speakers who have 6 minutes each to tell us what it is they do:

EOUC Developer Champions Show the Cool Tech They Use

Sunday, Oct 01, 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Marriott Marquis (Golden Gate Level) - Golden Gate C1/C2

Johan VosJava from Mobile to Cloud
Tim Hall Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS)
Lonneke Dikmans JavaScript, machine learning, blockchain, Java, iOT, devops
Frank Munz From a custom built Raspberry Pi based Docker Swarm cluster to Oracle Container Cloud Service (OCCS)
Lucas Jellema Learning More Everyday 
Bjoern Rost Poor-man's CDC for kafka streaming

Make sure you sign up to these sessions in your schedule, it will be such good fun.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Blockchain - this year's big thing in Apps?

My last post 'Mind the Gap' talked about that marketing to adoption process. And this year I think for me it will be Blockchain.

Remember when every presentation on Cloud, or Big Data or Digital started with a definition? Well expect that, and in the run up to OOW I have been reading lots of articles so I at least arrive semi educated.

Wikipedia says 'A blockchain facilitates secure online transactions.A blockchain is a decentralized and distributed digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network'

It is all conjecture at the moment what oracle are going to do, but the signs are there and I know people in development who have been 'busy on new initiatives' and now the schedule is published it is pretty clear something is coming. TechTarget commented on this last week.

In fact there are 20 sessions in the season catalogue if you search for Blockchain, so it is obviously important and the launch of Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service, OBCS will be an important new innovation for enterprise.

Mind The Gap - Marketing to Adoption - It's Fun

I'm getting ready for Oracle Open World, what do I need to do? What do I need to Learn? Where do I need to be? Who do I need to see?

Every day, every hour my mailbox has another invite or marketing email, and the diary is getting busier and busier. 

I love OOW, it is about Oracle showing their roadmap, and marketing their current portfolio. As a partner I want to be part of that current portfolio message, and am pleased that this year I will be part of the DHL story; but just as important is understanding the roadmap.

My role as Alliance Director means I need to understand all new initiatives in Oracle and determine if they will have a use in what we do at Certus. Then I need to keep an eye on them from the first marketing, until the time they are adopted by customers and make sure we partner, learn and invest at the right time. The problem is, we never know how long that gap will be.

As a user group leader it is even more difficult, we can't deliver content in everything Oracle are talking about but we do need to keep people informed, and then understand the adoption pattern as it emerges.

Think about existing, mature products, like the database or E Business Suite. Development talk about the innovation they will bring to the next release for about a year before the release notes start to appear, and then after release, we see early adopters and many theoretical sessions before adoption starts to become mainstream. It can take several years between release and half the customer base adopting.

For my world, the SaaS, the Fusion applications took almost 7 years from Idea to Release, and several years before there was more than just a handful of users, but roll forward 5 years and we have many, many customers and a significant number who have renewed their 3 year subscriptions. The Gap from marketing to adoption was wide, but it has been a great journey and I personally have loved it. AM loving it, the favourite part of my job is talking to customers, understanding where they are now and then helping them create their strategy to move to where they need to be. Then I love to share that collective insight with user group members.

A more recent example of this is #PaaS4SaaS. I have been talking about this since Oracle first started their journey about 4 years ago. At Certus we stated early on how important this would be for SaaS customers. We got educated, we selected our partner eProseed, we worked with development and UX and OPN. Adoption has been slow, for new products, rather than just the next release of technology, part of this 'gap' is recognising use cases., but they are here now and we have several projects in progress. I am particularly enjoying the Low Code part of #PaaS4SaaS.

So what will be the new messages at this OOW, and which gap will I be minding next? ...............

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

I Need You - Well if you are an ACE or Dev Champion from EMEA going to OOW

User Group Sunday is a much loved kick off to the magic that is Oracle Open World.

Usergroups are given sessions to fill and for the whole of Europe, Middle East and Africa we only get 16 sessions, which doesn't really do justice to all the amazing speakers we have in the region. So 4 years ago a idea was hatched to try and showcase as many as possible by having a couple of quick fire short talk sessions, a bit like TED Talks on the database.

This has been a really successful tradition, 201420152016 and so what do we have planned for 2017?

The ACE program is still thriving and many of us will be in Redwood Shores at the briefings on the Friday before but there is also a new kid in town the Developer Champions. So our intention is to have a session for ACEs and another for the Developer Champions to share with us why they have been given this title and how it makes their work shine.

So please if you are an ACE attending OOW from EMEA, or a new Developer Champion from EMEA then please submit using the survey linked. If you are lucky enough to be both, submit in both.

But hurry I need to make the cut in the first few days of September.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Please Vote for Certus - I wish I could

Asking for your vote again, for the 2017 UKOUG Partner of the Year Awards.

Certus have been very successful in these awards, but not only do I think they deserve them, I think it tells their story. 

When Certus was born in 2012, the intent was to be a Cloud Applications partner. A new product, a new company, a new partnership and above all a new community of customers.

Their first year with UKOUG PYA gave them silver for Cloud and it was a great start but even better they got Gold for training. In 2013 there were hardly any Cloud customers and a lot of the work they did was training for and on behalf of Oracle. In fact when I joined in 2014 the first thing I did was deliver partner UX training for the partner enablement group.

The following year they won gold in both categories as their reputation grew and customers started to share their Certus stories. I remember hearing Lavendon talk at a UKOUG event before I joined.

The PYA portfolio grew and in 2015 there were a couple of new categories, we entered the emerging technology category to showcase what we had done with #PaaS4SaaS and won silver, again Certus stepped up early and deserved this. By then we were doing less training and our silver award reflected this. Another new category was SME PYA, most Oracle Cloud customers had been SME, and the shared stories from JT Group at UKOUG, Oracle UK and Open World events helped us to win this.

Last year it was almost an embarrassment of riches, England Rugby, ONS and Save the Children all talking about how Certus had delivered for them. It was great to win our third straight Cloud PYA award. #PaaS4SaaS gave us another Gold, and a third in the new category of digital transformation, helped by the very public ONS advocacy.

So now as we ask for your votes in 2017 is it just the same stories? No, this year we have delivered projects in HM Treasury, MHRA, Home office as well as starting a second phase at ONS. We are not simply public sector we have also delivered the Financials phase of England Rugby this year and one of our current other customers DHL will be sharing their story at Open World

Quite a surprise this year was to be given an Oracle UK Partner Award for HCM Cloud. A surprise because in the past Oracle awards were often linked to sales and Certus haven't traditionally been a reseller. But as Oracle have realised Cloud is about successful implementations and happy customers, we were really proud to be recognised this way.

It has been an incredibly busy but fun year in Certus, numbers are up again and there are so many people having fun with so many different clients and projects. They work hard, and it would be amazing if again, you would vote for Certus and the team that deserve these awards so much.

The awards this year are slightly different. Cloud is divided into the pillars and we have been shortlisted for both HCM & ERP. In the last 12 months we have had 3 of our own customers go live with combined HCM & ERP, ONS, HMT & England Rugby. We have assisted with several other projects and delivered more HCM implementations. These are the two awards that mean the most to us. We work with Oracle through development and testing, this year R12 beta testing was big investment for us, and then we deliver the results of that investment to our customers.

Training is a funny one, we don't deliver direct training outside of projects today, but we do deliver training to customer support teams, in many cases so they can continue the rollout of their phased implementations themselves. This knowledge sharing approach was key to ONS as they shared in this Oracle Scene article and what DHL will be talking about at Oracle Open World. The transformation from on premise to Cloud is something support teams worry will lose them their jobs. We believe it gives them more opportunities. 

The transformation is not just the system but the organisation something Save the Children were rewarded for in the Oracle Rubie awards this year. Our founder and CEO Mark Sweeny also wrote about this transformation in Government 

And the #PaaS4SaaS machine marches on, as we start to adopt the low code Application Builder Cloud Service I helped to launch at OOW last year, and through initiatives like the Digital Mission we ran jointly with Oracle for central government last month which again I hope to share more details with at OOW and UKOUG.

Working for Certus is fun, I love it, and the people here deserve your vote.

Someone asked me if Certus do so well in the UKOUG Partner Awards because I am on the board. I have to say the reverse is probably true. I have nothing to do with selecting the nominations, in fact as a partner I am allowed nothing to do with the process at all. My boss asks me if we are being shortlisted and I'm not convinced he believes me when I say I don't know. Voting is then overseen scrupulously again by no partner volunteers. 

Only customers can vote, but if you are one of our own customers, or have been impressed with the case stories we and our customers have shared, then please vote.