Sunday, 25 November 2012


How does anyone decide what to see at a conference? Sometimes I learn more from very small events, especially overseas where there is a single stream. I see sessions I normally wouldn't select and learn so much.

So when selecting your sessions at UKOUG where you have a choice of many, I recommend you select just one outside of your comfort zone.

How about something from the Business and Strategy stream - I recommend

Strategy. So What?! The Long and the Short of It - Dr Elaine Hickmott (Mon 1245),
Or have a look at what Fusion Applications are all about and my recommendation here is
 Crafting the World-Class Oracle Applications User Experience - Jeremy Ashley (Tue 1535) although I have to admit I am doing a mobile demo in this session. If you can't make this session go see what the User Experience team are upto.

UKOUG are looking at what we should be doing for those thinking about or already using Fusion Applications or Engineered Systems, so we will be asking people for feedback and holding sessions to get your thoughts. Should we have SIGs or special events.

If you are responsible for EBS, along with keynote from Cliff Godwin and the always great content from Nadia Benjedou we are so so privileged to have Steven Chan over. These three will then join others to answer your questions at the Willow Table session Tuesday 1310.

The Willow Table is fashioned on the world famous OakTable who will be at UKOUG taking your questions about all things database. Their excellent OakTalks started last year are back again each lunchtime.

Are you an IT employer? Then I would recommend the Oracle Academy round table Tuesday at 1405 the opportunity to talk to IT educators about what is being taught to IT students.

There are also hands on sessions like RAC attack and a mobile ADF workshop and the opportunity to take Oracle Exams.There are also the ever popular masterclasses.

There are also feedback sessions to talk about how conference should look next year, listen to Lisa Dobson at the opening session to find out about these. And then there will be a UKOUG and a Councillors & Executive stands in the exhibition where we encourage you to come ask questions and give feedback.

The Monday evening speaker this year is Martin Corry, ex Engalnd Rugby Team Captain who now works for Oracle. So what skills do you acquire playing rugby that make you successful in IT? Come along and find out before the Exhibition Drinks.

Then Monday continues with focus pubs, the chance to enjoy a few drinks with like minded people and see who are the winners for this year's Inspiring Presenters Awards.

Tuesday evening we have a Vegas Night.

Wednesday is not simply the last day of conference, it has some great sessions and along side those in the agenda we have Unconference. Do you have something to share with other delegates? then sign up for a 15 or 35 minute session to share your ideas and experiences.

Go on do something DIFFERENT this year at UKOUG2012.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fujitsu Does Great CX

A popular thing to talk about at the moment is Customer Experience, and I posted recently about a CX event at Oracle and now I have a recent example to share with you.

Every year Fujitsu has their own conference, Fujitsu Forum held in Munich each November.
150 people including 85 customers travelled from London to Munich aboard the Fujitsu Flyer, or rather a chartered plane from Harrods Aviation. This was the only problem I encountered the whole trip, if you drove to Stanstead it was fine and they even had free parking but if you travelled by Train the Harrods terminal is nowhere near the main airport and the only taxis available were airport taxis who charge the earth. But from then on it was excellent.

Harrods have a brand reputation and that meant quality and service. I goggled the Harrods’ brand and discovered the best CX ever, delivered when they gave customers brandy to calm their nerves when they travelled on the very first shop escalator - but I digress……

John Walker our Oracle Alliance Director
No queues, personal service and time to relax. Fujitsu staff had luggage labels ready and check in was as simple as having your passport checked and ticking you off on a list. Security was normal but again only us so no stress. I was hoping for a plane marked Harrods but actually it was a Monarch Airways plane, but once onboard it was back to the Fujitsu Flyer which the headrests adorned with the Fujitsu logo, and each seat back contained the conference program, a welcome letter from our CEO and a copy of the award winning Fujitsu CIO magazine. From a company perspective it was cost effective to charter a flight and whilst on that flight the customers are a captive audience literally, but how the experience was delivered was what mattered and it was excellent.

I fly a lot and the lunch served was one of the best but I guess Harrods have better food than some of the better known airlines. And all washed down with some nice wine served on Fujitsu drinks coasters.

On landing just 2 hours later, buses waited to whisk us away to our own arrivals lounge complete with passport control. After collecting our bags off to more coaches to take us to the hotel. The coach I was on was for the local football team Bayern Munich but they had not even taken arrival of it yet. 

On arrival at the hotel Fujitsu had their own desk and everyone had an envelope with their hotel key and conference badge, two more queues avoided. Excellent. It was also an excellent hotel right in the centre of the beautiful city.

Then after an hour to freshen up it was off to the Augustiners Brewery for dinner. 

The next day after breakfast buses went as shuttles to the conference. In previous years I thought the conference was too hardware focused but this event did come out of  the Fujitsu Siemens partnership; however this year Services had a good showing this year, with Cloud and  Managed Services having large areas.

I was there in two capacities, the Oracle stand and as an ExpertTalk.

Oracle are a big sponsor and there was a great turnout for their entire stack. Our Global Alliance Manager was over from the US and our UK Alliance Director John travelled over with us on the Fujitsu Flyer. We had the Athena server with us out from Japan that we had on show at Oracle Open World. Great to show this partnership from both sides.

The ExpertTalks are something not necessarily unique to Fujitsu Forum but not something I have seen anywhere else. There were 30 rooms available throughout the conference where customers could select an expert who had declared the topics they would talk about. I offered Consolidation of Your Oracle Estate or Oracle Applications Strategy and I did 7 ExpertTalks on the first day. It is a great idea and something I think User Groups who have the space should consider.

Anyway after the first day it was back to the hotel for a quick change and off to the HofBrauHaus for another fantastic traditional Bavarian evening, this time with staff and customers from Fujitsu Nordics as well. 500 people all celebrating Fujitsu.
I sat with two customers who wanted to walk back to the hotel, so ever the good hostess I went with them but we got a little lost. I suspect my roaming charges will be great but in the theme of great CX, I the Fujitsu representative deferred to the iPhone Maps (I have not upgraded to iOS 6 yet); it was a lovely walk and a nice end to a great evening.

The next day was again spent at the conference and then return via the Fujitsu Flyer, however I had to make my way to Edinburgh for my next appointment so missed out.

Well done to Fujitsu Marketing, you did us proud and the CX was great. I know all the customers I spoke to had a great time and all seem to agree it was well worth the trip to find out what else Fujitsu does.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Quick Trip to Japan

On the journey out to OOW I received an email from colleagues in Japan asking if I would speak at the Oracle Days in Japan. As ever I felt really honoured to be asked, I love speaking and any opportunity gratefully received.

When I looked into what was needed I was a bit concerned about travelling all that way (13 hour flight from LHR) to give a quick presentation but I shouldn’t have worried, they had plenty more for me to do.

I arrived at my hotel opposite the Fujitsu HQ in Shiodome at about 12 midday, having left my house 20 hours earlier. It is a 13 hour flight from London (after my flight from Belfast) and then an hour by train into Tokyo. Luckily I don’t do jetlag as my first meeting was at 2pm. To be fair my hosts Keita-san, Kojima-san and Fujiwara-san only kept me a couple of hours to ensure I was happy with the schedule and content.

 Then it was back to the hotel for a short nap and then Gwen Shapira who is currently working in Tokyo joined me for dinner. The Oracle Community is a family and there is rarely anywhere I go I do not meet up with someone else, what I call the Oracle Community Hug. I am blessed. Now Gwen is an oaktable member so I was a little worried about how technical the conversation would be but it was fun and we talked about user groups and their value rather than code (phew). Thanks Gwen for a lovely evening.

Next day started with coffee, and even if Starbucks is not your favourite it is the SAME all over the world so I was happy, I knew what it was going to be. Fuelled up I joined the queues to get into Fujistu. I love this experience, people greet you, open the elevators for you, greet you on arrival to your floor, at every opportunity. This is great customer experience.

The day was a number of meetings for information exchange. The first was with the Oracle Japan EPM team. We talked about Fujitsu use of Hyperion and about its wider adoption in both EMEA and Japan. We also talked about its use in Fusion. The second session was with the Oracle Japan Fusion team and they told me about their customers. The first Fusion Customer in Japan went live in the summer and they have 3 more in the implementation phase.

The final meeting of the day was UX homework, which I cover in a separate posting . Thank you Keita-san for arranging this especially as it wasn’t in HQ and we had to travel to the World Trade Centre where Fujitsu has a customer centre.

OAUG Japan are a great example of a user group that reaches outside its own resources to ensure content for their members and Fujitsu are of course members locally. I have met with them at US conferences and the IOUC summit many times and last year I was in Japan before the OTN Asia Pacific tour speaking at the InSight Conference and the OAUG Japan Board hosted a dinner in my honour.

I mentioned on facebook I was going to Japan and Ryutaro-san who is a facebook friend told them I was coming over, and they did it again. I am so humbled by this group and their hospitality. We went to the sae restaurant as last year, on the 42nd floor overlooking the fantastic Tokyo skyline. On one side you have the Tokyo Tower and the other the new taller SkyGate tower. They wanted to know more about Fusion and I ended use demoing Fusion Mobile at the table (never one to miss an opportunity, and it was my 2nd of the day as I also showed it in the meeting earlier with Oracle and Fujitsu). Thank you Abe-san for the invitation and to your board for a wonderful evening and the lovely presents.

Wednesday again started with coffee and Kojima-san escorted me through the subway network to the hotel where the Oracle Days took place. I cover the actual session here but do want to mention the Oracle Community Hug again. At dinner I sat next to an OAUG Japan board member who is a PeopleSoft customer. He apologised that he could not attend my actual session as it clashed with a PeopleSoft roadmap session being given by Oracle VP John Webb. Now John Webb and I share (almost) a birthday and both (funny that) reached a significant milestone this year. I had no idea he was in Tokyo (although I had an agenda only product names were in English), so without this information I would not have known to go find John and say hallo.

Straight after my session it was back to Fujitsu HQ for more meetings, this time with the wider Oracle Applications practice and Alliances team. First I gave them a presentation on what I thought about OOW and its value to Fujitsu as sponsor and what I learnt (see here for my postings). I had already given this presentation to many stakeholder groups within Fujitsu UK and it is great to be able to share not only the messages but also help people in different parts of the organisation appreciate what the others do.

Then I gave the applications team a 2 hour session on Fusion Apps, from design concepts through to user adoption stories, addressed the ‘should I upgrade or go straight to fusion’ question (2nd time as OAUG Japan asked as well). I showed them GL and again got out my Fujitsu tablet to demo Fusion FUSE. (how many times can I thank the UX team for the advocates program, but thank you Misha).

Then at the end of another long day we went up again to the 42nd Floor (obviously) to another restaurant this time traditional Japanese. Once we had explained to the staff how difficult I would be (I don’t eat fish), we had a wonderful banquet, great company and again excellent views over the city.

Then up early for the long trip home,, where I had plenty of opportunity to catch up on blogs.

Fujitsu RakuRaku - My UX Homework

In Japan this week I had some homework to do from the Oracle UX team.

I never stop talking about this group and how the science of Usability is being used to create the excellent UX of Fusion Apps. Well this doesn't just happen, led by Jeremy Ashley VP they have many members in the team who spend time with users collecting data, sharing their findings and refining the products based on this.

Ultan presenting at OUG Ireland earlier this year

It isn’t just about Fusion Apps and one thing I am very pleased with is they have shared their findings as design patterns for the wider FMW community.

Fujitsu are members of the Oracle Usability Advisory Board and we participate not just to learn but to give our experience. At the advisory board to be held in the UK in December Fujitsu will be talking about BYOD and how it affects us and our customers.
Anyway I digress. One of my favourite UX characters is Ultan, based in Dublin, whose special interest is cultural, language and geographical differences. A few weeks back he posted this on twitter:

    @debralilley Fujitsu in the silver surfer market? Oct 22, 2012

Ultan knows I teach IT in an old peoples home and lovingly refer to them as my silversufers. So when he saw Fujitsu Japan had launched a smartphone for the elderly he was really interested. When I told him I was off to Japan he set me the task of asking questions about how Fujitsu approached the usability study. My hosts at Fujitsu Japan arranged for me to meet with the mobile team, and came with me (which was much appreciated as the gentleman didn’t speak English), and armed with my questions from Ultan I set out to get the answers.

The phone is called Raku Raku らくらくホン. らくらく which means easy or comfortable, and I found another video explaining the features.

In Japan my silversurfers would be known as Digital Seniors デジタルシニア, I think they would like that.

My next question was how did they know what their audience wanted? The answer was that traditional research was not of any value, this generation have not all even been PC users so wouldn’t be able to tell you what they needed. Like Henry Ford said "if I asked them what kind of car they wanted they would have said faster horses". So they built a prototype and held some sessions with the relevant NPO (Japanese equivalent of Age UK). They showed them how to use the Smartphones and observed and listened to them.

This was really interesting to me. The program I got involved in with my silversurfers was started by Age Concern (now Age NI) 4 years ago and then we only had PCs. As I have introduced laptops, tablets and smartphones to the group they have embraced the concepts.

This Smartphone is based on android and have the UX built in at two levels. The first is the actual handset. You have to give very definite pressure to activate buttons, and they are illuminated in bright colours to show you have activated them. You cannot accidentally press anything. for instance digital seniors tend to grip them hard with their thumbs touching the screen.(watch the videos). But the apps which are pre loaded also need the android OS to be adapted. This meant working with google and means you can't download additional apps from the playstore, but the selection is very good.

Very popular are weather and a pedometer app, but there are also shopping apps and health apps. They also have TV and radio apps. The icons are large and easy to use, but the premise is not to remove functionality just make it simpler to use. Not having playstore is not a problem because many digital seniors can be very nervous about the security of downloading apps.

Other features are really important, digital seniors are prone to hearing difficulties and within age bands there are scientific sound ranges that work best. So when you setup the phone you enter the age and it sets these ranges. This has been so popular Fujitsu have added the functionality to other handsets. digital seniors also tend to speak with pauses in the sentences, the raku raku takes this speech and slows it down so that when it reaches the recipient it has no pauses but it much clearer. Double microphones to pick up voice better are also a feature as well as they wider used features included notice cancelling and voice recognition.

Interestingly the handset is not bigger than most Smartphones, but the physical buttons on the actual phone are larger and very easy to use; this feature was revised after the prototype which had a ring around the buttons for aesthetics, they wanted the functionality more.

Fujitsu are aiming this at the over 60s, they have made the move to mobile phones but Smartphones open up a lot more to them and the phone provider has a very special rate about 25% cheaper than the average smartphone contract which obviously helps with adoption, as does the advertising campaign headed up by a very glamorous digital senior who is a well known Japanese actress of a certain age.
The internet access and camera are near the top of the ranking features of the smartphone. Fujitsu have created their own social network, which they monitor, a concept I was initially nervous about but they explained the community wanted it, they feel happier that if they accidentally post something inappropriate and the example they gave me was innocent photos of the grandchildren in the bath, Fujitsu will take down the post and help them understand why. This network is not limited to raku raku users, so is growing but unlikely to go beyond Japan as it is only available in Japanese. No names are used in this network just nicknames.
There are many examples of feedback about the smartphone on the community, including many that talk about how the raku raku gives them access to the wider world and they don’t feel as isolated, especially for housebound users. This digital exclusion is what prompted Age Concern to put PCs into residential homes in NI. One disabled user talked about having a better life by being connected. Their posting talked about how much brighter and colourful the world is and now hear others point of view because of the community.

Raku Raku is also waterproof, many digital seniors live in rural communities that fish and farm so more likely to water damage. There has recently been an email to Fujitsu about a user who lost their phone in the sea at the beach and had someone phone it and they were able to find it.

It was a great session, completely different from what I normally do, and thanks to Ultan for the assignment. Keita-san and Kunihiko-san for taking me there and Fujitsu Mobile for talking to me about the raku-raku. I only wish they had them in the UK for my silversurfers, but they are talking to other providers so perhaps one day.