Monday, 27 February 2012


No point being polite, I want your vote.

UKOUG annual elections are now open  and I am up for election. I want so much to be returned to our new Council, and in turn to return as President.

Last year, I was very honoured to be asked by your board to be Chairman, but it wasn't a badge of honour. UKOUG had to change, and to change quickly. The new board proposed a radical change and I bought it to you the members and thank you for voting for that change. As a result I was the shortest lived Chairman ever in UKOUG but in the new structure was asked to be President.

How did I do? Well that is for you to judge; bringing in the change has been very hard, but also very fruitful and things are looking much better for the future. Change takes time but I believe we have turned the corner and are better prepared than ever to move with the times and continue to Serve The Oracle Community.

I believe I can represent all communities as one, in my day job I work with Oracle, through the hardware (some Sun Hardware is Fujitsu / Oracle partnership), technology and applications. I have run our support and BI teams, been an EBS implementation Consultant and EBS user, have worked mainly in the Public Sector and my main role is understanding what Oracle does and ensuring Fujitsu understands and helps their customers make the most of their investments. They give me unbelievable support to work with UKOUG.

I love presenting, because my biggest motivation is sharing knowledge. I am very proud to be an ACE Director, to have received awards for bridging the technology / applications divide and for User Group Work.

I believe that the privilege I have being close to what Oracle is doing should be shared with everybody. So if you have a UKOUG vote please vote for me, and if your company does but not you, please ask the main contact to vote for me.

Each membership has 5 votes. I want one of them but please use the other 4 wisely. 

As well as Peter Robson and I who are up for re-election, 20 other people have nominated themselves.  I would like to specifically mention Alan Bell, Fiona Martin, Kate Forbes, Jon Mead, Terry Potter and Colin Terry; all who have stepped up as volunteers co-opted to the Council in the last year. Many others have been volunteers in their respective Communities already. Read through ALL the nominations an select people who you think will represent you on the Council, look at their record of participation in UKOUG and what they stand for.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Conferences and the OTN ACE Program

The airwaves have been busy with people talking about the changes in the ACE Director funding program. To be fair no one has criticised the program just the timing and the need by many to pull out of ODTUG's KSCOPE 2012 as this is the first event to be subject to the changes.

I am a great believer in the program and have blogged many times, to me it is the recognition by my peers of my abilty and most of all the joy I get from sharing through presenting. The funding from OTN has made it easier for me to do this, and just a week ago I talked about that in my latest posting.

Just days after that posting, OTN asked to speak to me as President of UKOUG. They have to spread their reduced budget around more ACE Directors and more events, and had had to review their rules. The premise is to bring the speakers to as many people as possible who would not otherwise benefit. They therefore decided to stop funding the most established and successful user group conferences from the start of their next financial year. These conferences, UKOUG, Collaborate, RMOUG and KSCOPE were successful and well attended before the ACE program started and I am confident will continue to attract the best around.

As President of UKOUG, I want to send my support to KSCOPE, I understand how hard this is for you with this timing, but you are a fantastic conference and you will continue to grow in strength. The changes had to start with the Oracle financial year and being first hit will hurt. Everyone who can will still attend and those who have to pull out will help you to find alternative speakers either with new content or allowing those who can attend to give theirs.

Yes of course as President of UKOUG I am sad that a few of our speakers will not be able to make it as often as they have recently, but I am also grateful that OTN helped to bring them to us to appreciate. By being on this list OTN are recognising us publically as being amongst the best, and they are not walking away from UKOUG, they are still sponsoring our Inspiring Presenter Awards, encouraging all speakers and especially the new ones; we will still have instalfests and  I want to publically say thank them for what OTN has and continues to do for users.

Additionally OTN have revised rules about what can be applied for and the criteria to be applied. This clarity is I think very important, the generosity in the past meant very few requests were turned down and people had become very confident of funding.

As an ACE Director who has benefited from the funding, I am a little sad it is being reduced, but I have been fortunate enough to have an incredibly supportive employer as well, to have given me the time to speak. It is very important that OTN are keeping funding for emerging conferences where the community have restricted to access to non Oracle speakers, and for the pre OOW briefings where we have open conversations with the executives responsible for what Oracle are producing.

As an ACE Director I am still incredibly proud to be part of this program and actually see that this may take away from some of the unfounded negativity I have heard where some people think it is about being an Oracle puppet in exchange for funding. It is not easy to gain ACE status, it is a privilege and recognition of recipients knowledge and sharing back to the Oracle Community.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A Very Special RMOUG

I love RMOUG, it is a very similar user group to UKOUG although a lot smaller. It is a regional group covering all Oracle products and it is loved by both the speakers and the delegates.

Carolyne Fryc (RMOUG VP) and me

Something else I love about RMOUG is that every year some of the speakers go upto the mountains afterwards to enjoy a few days and recharge batteries. This year was even more special as it was my 50th birthday, which I shared with Tim Gorman (RMOUG President) and Peter Sharman.

The event runs, Tuesday through Thursday and Tuesday (the big day) includes a speakers event in the Winkoop Brewery, not a bad way to celebrate, but earlier that day I also did a Stranahan's Whiskey Tour thanks to Alex Gorbachev (I have great friends).

My presentation was on the Wednesday and I had a great audience, I gave my 'What Do Fusion Applications tell you about your own organisation?' talk and love the discipline of needing a white paper at RMOUG. I didn't attend many presentations, but I did watch Chris Ostrowski who like me works for Fujitsu, and made an effort to catch up with Tim Dexter who I haven't see for a few years. I also met up with another colleague based in Denver.

RMOUG is a fantastic conference and I hope to be there again next year. Alongside UKOUG and a few other really well established conferences there will be no travel funded for RMOUG by the ACE Program so airmiles and frequent sleeper miles will be required, but well worth it.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Having Fun in Utah

I love speaking and love being asked to do so, often creating impossible itineraries to do so, but this was an opportunity I couldn't say no to.

February means RMOUG and that will be my next posting, but one of my speaker friends Mike Swing, emailed me and asked if I could speak at his user group UTOUG in Salt Lake City on the day before. I loved the idea but asked why did they want me to talk on Fusion when Floyd Teter who now has his hands dirty from real Fusion Apps implementations, lives in Salt Lake City, having moved from the sunny climates of California just a few months ago? I think they didn't know Floyd was there and so the exciting opportunity of us both presenting came about.

Floyd's Blog Posting

The plan was simple, I would arrive in Denver (for RMOUG) as planned Saturday evening, but instead of spending the weekend in the city I would fly out to Salt Lake City Sunday morning and back again after the event Monday. Simples - except United decided to keep my luggage in Chicago, and although it made it to Denver Sunday evening I did not want it chasing me around America, so Sunday consisted of a quick shopping session, before Floyd and I could plan our talk (well prepared).

On the day it was brilliant, it is not often you get 2 1/2 hours to talk about your favourite topic with one of your favourite people. We decided what we wanted to talk about, created a large slide pack and then planned to keep interrupting each other. It was such fun, and the banter was great, although a third person got in on the act; the event was held in a teaching hospital and whenever a baby was born a tune was played on the tannoy, good day for babies 13th February.

We got great questions and a lot of questions, so I think it went well, now we are considering repeating it at Collaborate.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

User Groups and Oracle

The Third week of January is a very important week in the User Group Calendar, it is the IOUC Summit. User Group leaders from around the world come together to learn from each other and from Oracle.

This year's was no exception and this quote is from Oracle post the event:

Your enthusiastic support of the Summit made it the largest Leaders’ Summit ever! Despite weather related airport delays in San Francisco, the leaders persevered and arrived in time for the event to begin. We hosted over 150 leaders who interacted with more than 100 Oracle team members during the Summit. Attendees participated in Regional Leaders’ Meetings, Usability Lab tours, “unconference” sessions and 75 sessions focused on Oracle products and services.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to travel to San Francisco and spend time with your fellow leaders and with Oracle! We listened to your feedback, engaged with you as leaders and we know that you returned to your members full of knowledge and information about upcoming Oracle campaigns!

I came back to my own user group to tell them what I had learnt and ideas I had brought back, but found that not everyone understands the IOUC and how it and Oracle relate. So I put together a short paper and thought I would share some of it with you:

     • All Oracle User Groups are INDEPENDENT of Oracle.
     • Consequently there is no single user group model.
     • They are broadly scoped by product, geography or industry; or a combination

With their acquisition strategy the number of user groups is ever growing, as of Jan 2012 it is approximately 400 Java User groups, and 450 traditional user groups.

Interaction with Oracle
Oracle cannot interact successfully with this number of user groups, so they have set up an umbrella hierarchy for this to happen. It is run by Global Customer Programs (GCP). An advantage of this structure is the coming together of user group leaders who can then share best practice, and is effectively a user group for user group leaders.

Global Customer Programs (GCP)
GCP is responsible for all customer interaction initiatives, Advisory Boards, CIO groups, Reference Programs, Surveys, User Groups etc.

International Oracle UserGroup Community - IOUC
There is an IOUC summit each January in Oracle HQ and then additionally each regional group, for us EOUC has their own leaders’ summit at least once a year. At the summits especially the Global Summit, Oracle executives share their plans and thoughts for the next year with the leaders. These sessions are invaluable in understanding behind the marketing.

These summits are funded by the individual user groups.

They also have a Usergroup pavilion at Oracle Open World where attendees can find out about Usergroups. Oracle provides free passes for Usergroup leaders.

The IOUC splits the Usergroup community into Java / MySQL User Groups which tend to have a mainly online presence and the more traditional groups which they split into:

This is the level at which Oracle talks about Usergroups, so if you register for Global events such as Open World, sign up for Oracle or Profit Magazine, register for an Oracle University Course, or simply complete your online profile this is the options you will be presented with.

UKOUG is a big Usergroup, bigger than some of those recognised in the hierarchy above and we have argued we should have direct representation; however where would it stop? We are a regional Usergroup and are represented her by the EOUC. AT IOUC Summits any usergroup can attend and influence directly, which UKOUG does.

The IOUC has a number of Committees where Usergroups work together to achieve things with Oracle they can influence better as a global force. Currently there are committees.

      • Support
      • Product Development Committee
      • Localizations
      • Contracts

The IOUC has appointed 2 spokespeople who represent the IOUC with Oracle Executives; these are currently Stan Jakubik (HEUG) and Carolyn Hayden-Garner (OHUG)

EMEA Oracle UserGroup Community - EOUC
Within EMEA this community is really about encouraging each other and working with Oracle in the region where appropriate. The interaction with Oracle tends to concentrate on campaigns Oracle are running.

There are two spokespersons for EOUC and currently these are:
Heli Helskyaho OUGF (Finland) and Janny Ekelson OBUG (Benelux)

Oracle do not fund travel to OOW or the IOUC summit, so Usergroups within EOUC pay a contribution to the costs for these two spokespersons.

The Oracle ACE Program and Usergroups
The Oracle ACE Program is run by OTN (Oracle Technology Network) and not GCP. It is a program to recognise expertise and contribution within the Oracle Community. It is not limited to Usergroup members however there is an obvious overlap.

The program has two levels, those designated ACE are being recognised. The higher level of ACE Director is not only for extreme contribution but also requires a commitment to keep learning through briefings and attendance at certain events, and continued sharing through presenting. In return ACE Directors can apply for funding for travel and accommodation only for events where they present. This enables Usergroups to have access to some of the best presenters around.

To keep costs in check, there are budgets, a requirement that a speaker requesting funding has at least two presentations and where appropriate request Usergroups run their in-country events in an arranged timeframe so that speakers can take part in several in one OPNTour (e.g. Latin America, EMEA Harmony, Asia).

Oracle are supportive of user groups but this varies by user group. UKOUG works hard with Oracle at all levels to ensure we maximise the value to you are members but whilst upholding that most precious value of remaining independent.