Monday, 20 April 2015

Collaborate 2015 - Certus Presentations


I had 5 sessions accepted at Collaborate, the first was about User Groups and Communities and the other 4 were Certus presentations.

I did a presentation on AppAdvantage, an updated repeat of Oracle Open World presentation I did with Rick Beers, this time just on my own. It was a small audience so I was able to speak directly about their companies.

I did a presentation on 'DO Cloud Applications Stack Up?' which as always creates good questions. This is getting more and more popular as companies are seriously starting to consider, even if not for the immediate future.

My favourite sessions were the two on PaaS4SaaS which was the story of our journey so far. This was a joint presentation with my colleague Ian Carline and we were joined by Julian Orr from the Oracle UX team, who was part of our workshop back in January. There is a white paper for this presentation which I will get loaded and linked to.

The proof of concept that we carried out, has given us so much exposure, it is amazing how many people haven't done their own thinking around this, and we are happy to share our learnings. We did find a few examples of people using PaaS in simple use cases and it is great to see these small steps towards adoption in the Oracle SaaS world.

I also took part in some more UX usability sessions looking at future ideas for expenses which in my role would make life much easier. Certus, not only myself have a long tradition in taking part in these sessions, the ability to see ideas being worked on and to be a real part of the input considered.

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Collaborate 2015 - Networking


All conferences are about networking and it is always what scores highest on delegate feedback forms. Some of it is formal sessions like the welcome parties and others are amongst friends.

On Sunday I attended the overseas delegates lunch, and then both the OAUG and Quest receptions in the evening. At the Quest session it was great to catch up with John Schiff who is such a great supporter of UKOUG.

Monday I attended the WIT lunch and met a great number of interested ladies in IT. I also attended a session on using twitter, and won myself a gift card, thank you IOUG.

At the main exhibition drinks it was great to just wander around and meet people, and help Kerry out with the UKOUG stand.

Later it was the ACE reception and thank you Vikki for all you do for us. I didn't stay too late as I was speaking early the next day.

Tuesday was the IOUC dinner, and more exhibition time where Quest cut their birthday cake.

Wednesday I took part in a meerkat streaming session with Faun DeHenry, this is new to me but fun.

With Daniel from Quest

The Collaborate appreciation event was a Groovy 60s night and I got to dress up in a long wig, it was amazing how many people didn't recognise me. Including my colleague Ian but then I didn't recognise him either.

As is now traditional, I went with the Cenovus crowd and we were last to leave after the party.











On Thursday as the day progresses it gets quieter, I even went to a session on planning with IOUG and one of the things they talked about was the importance of knowing exactly what is meant by a time. I suggested Redwood time, as every Oracle user knows where they are relative to PST.

I went to a fantastic restaurant Hugh's Cellar under the 4 Queens Casino in Fremont with friends and it was a dining experience. I was so full after the salad which was made personally at the table, i couldn't eat my duck, let along the chocolate dipped fruit. so i took it back, however Mandalay Bay doesn't have cutlery in the rooms (or you could get the spoon out of the coffee cup for $4), so I ate cold duck in a fabulous orange sauce using ice tongs for my breakfast Friday.

Then Friday before I left I was able to tick off something from my bucket list, I got to go to In-n_out burgers for the first time. We walked which was an adventure, it was amazing how many people arrived fro their $6 meal in taxis.

One off the List, my first trip to In-n-out
I liked it, I also liked that they pay good wages, and I liked that the company's christian principles are included but not pushed. It si very clever just to put a bible reference on the packaging, everyone wants to know what it is. I have 'an app for that', so was able to help out.

So another great conference, lots of old and new friends.



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Collaborate 2015 - Motivational Speaker and is WIT like Art?


Eric Wahl is according to his website, a graffiti artist. He said he didn’t use his skills until well into his 30s when he was made redundant from a corporate job during the dot.com bust. 

He told his story whilst painting, painting a phenominal picture of Bono. He talked about us all being artists, although afraid to do anything about it. He asked the audience how many were artists, with only 1 or 2 hands going up, yet he said if he asked a class of 11 year olds it would be perhaps 20% and if he asked a class of 5 year olds it would be everyone. Why do children stop believing they can paint? What do we do to turn off that creativity?

He also said we have to take a chance in life, be brave to achieve, which he demonstrated by having someone in the audience, who caught a ball he threw out, think he was going to be challenged to do something scary (based on a US TV program called Fear Factor). Actually what he did was give him an envelope with the challenge inside which said he would own the painting.

He did 2 more paintings, Steve Jobs and Einstein, both of which were raffled later in the week.

The question of when do we stop believing in ourselves, and what makes that happen, really stayed with me. Is it something we teach 'out' of children, 'condition' them for corporate life?

Is this what stops girls looking for a career in technology? When you see a room full of 5 year olds there is nothing to differentiate the exploring minds that will make them iPad experts (if they aren't already). 

Do we teach 'out' technology in girls?

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Collaborate 2015 - Happy Birthday to Quest & OAUG


OAUG are celebrating 25 years and Quest 20 years, both took time to party at Collaborate.


OAUG held their members reception in the Light nightclub, which has a cirque du soleil theme


















Quest had a phenomenal cake and champagne toast in the exhibition.

















        HAPPY BIRTHDAYS to them both

Well done to both, who continue, like IOUG and ourselves at UKOUG, along with all user groups to serve their members.

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Collaborate 2015 - Final Thoughts



Last year after Collaborate 2014, I titled my blog, A Rainbow of Emotions, and that could easily have been the same this year.

The other blogs in this series talk about the great things at Collaborate, here I am having a little moan about the things that could be better. I have included all in my feedback because if you don't give feedback your user group can't improve.

This year I had 5 papers selected over OAUG and Quest, which in itself causes problems, you should only need 1 registration, but if as a speaker you get invited to a reception, you can only attend if you are registered with that user group. If you register with more than one you have to pay $200 because each hotel booking is linked to a specific user group and there is a levy if you don’t have a preferred hotel booking, or linked to the right group. It is good that you can attend sessions across all 3-user groups but there are still too many divisions.


The mobile app still had issues, I couldn't get it to sync my comments with my twitter account, I did report it to the App Desk, but it was an API issue unlikely to be resolved during the life of the event. I still wish we could have had private meetings that we were able to enter online in the mobile app, and finally I couldn't even have my own session in my agenda it had an error. But persevere Collaborate, mobile apps are wanted and appreciated.





This year Collaborate was back at the Mandalay Bay which is a the furthest end of Las Vegas but I did go down all the way to Fremont doing the tourist bit, but nothing I saw has changed my mind about Vegas. I don’t feel comfortable there. At the high end there are people who enjoy the shows and gamble responsibly, but there is also desperation, exploitation and misery.



Cloud or Fusion Apps are still a concern, it was fantastic to speak to so many users but there is still a lot of education needed. Remember not everyone has the luxury of hearing the message everyday. I spent time with the OAUG Japan contingent and they had lots of questions, but checked with the local Oracle office who have more information planned and there is an IOUC Asia meeting in Taipei soon.

The exhibition was very busy with lots of companies old and new represented. Some traditional companies were missing, it seems Collaborate has the same challenges as UKOUG.

These are the little things I mention, but the big things about Collaborate is the networking, the education, and the chance to meet old friends and make new ones. You can't fail to enjoy Collaborate, there is so much going on, and a final word, I think my feet have still to recover although my doctor would be proud of my daily step count!


Collaborate 2015 - User Group Thoughts


There is not normally many IOUC official meetings at Collaborate as the 3 user groups hosting, IOUG, QUEST and OAUG are too busy to take part but they all try to include Usergroup leaders in invitations to their receptions.

This year however there was an international delegates lunch on the Sunday with a 100 or so guests and EOUC had a good representation, interestingly the biggest contingents came from Iceland.

This was followed by my first session that was on understanding communities and how user groups fit in. I had also written an article for OTech magazine that was published in the lead up to collaborate.

Mary Lou Dopart who runs the IOUC on behalf of Global Customer Programs, did have a user group leaders dinner on the Tuesday evening that I was invited to. There were not too many in attendance about 20, but it was good to catch up. Mary Lou had invited Mark Sunday who had been the first Oracle keynote speaker and who had also spoken at the Quest Executive Forum and I was privileged to sit with him for a while. He was happy to answer questions all evening and truly understands the value of user groups.

As Mark Hurd was scheduled to be the main keynote speaker on Wednesday, Mary Lou had arranged an audience for user group leaders, and we had met a few times over the phone and in person in preparation for the meeting.

On Wednesday John Fowler head of Engineering met with Usergroup leaders and I had a question for him from our infrastructure SIG,, as we discussed this John said ‘something like a wizard?’, which I agreed would be ideal. He said he couldn’t promise that but we talked towards him sharing some of the education they give sales, through adapted webinars for Usergroup leaders and some sharing or rather highlighting of solution guides.

Unfortunatly Mark Hurd did not make Collaborate so we took the opportunity to meet with Jeb DeSteel instead, Jeb heads up GCP.

Most user groups have the same core challenges, how to attract and maintain members in a world that is constantly changing and presenting new challenges and threats them. Mark Hurd has said that he wants Usergroup membership to grow, as there is evidence that user group members are happier customers.

The number one ask from all user groups is always to help reach customers that are unknown to them. Data privacy means Oracle cannot simply share the data, and it seems that the simple answer would be to just reach out to all new customers and tell them, but the problem is, the independence of user groups means that there are overlapping product, industry and geographical groups all wanting the same. Oracle can do more to point customers at users groups generically but in turn we must create content for a site that explains and guides customers in their choices. It has been agreed that the IOUC will create a task force to do this, and in turn Oracle will look at ways to do more when we are ready.

Another big request from users groups to be keep informed of Oracle events which normally being free to attend and funded by Oracle, can be competition especially when landed at short notice. The answer is always good communication between the local players and this is something UKOUG and Oracle UK constantly strive to achieve.

I also started a conversation about the new type of users that Cloud Applications are introducing. Midsize companies are disrupting Oracle both as consumers of apps and as a sales challenge. JDEdwards traditionally has a lot of midsize customers, and I think we, both UKOUG and Oracle can learn from this community.

GCP took notes throughout the event, at all these formal and not so formal meetings and UKOUG will play a big part in the follow up.

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Collaborate 2015 - Very Varied Vegas


Collaborate 2015 was held last week, and as it is frequently, it was held in Vegas.

So much to say, so as is my norm I have broken it down to a series of shorter posts:

I was attending Collaborate with Certus-Solutions, my employer, but as always represent UKOUG, who did have a stand in the exhibition hall, manned by Kerry Stuart.



It was a great event and I will see you all again in 2016.