Tuesday, 9 February 2016

It's That Time Again, Please Vote For Me


It's voting time at UKOUG, and I am asking for your vote. All member organisations have a vote, if you are not the main contact on your membership please lobby on my behalf.

WHY should you vote for me - look here for official manifesto and the job specification

Two years ago I stood again for the board at UKOUG. I wanted to stand for just one year but the rules say two and I felt there was a lot to be done.

Thanks to the members I was elected and back on the board I had served on for many years previously.

I said then that UKOUG had had a tough few years and the governance structure had been changed to address that. The simplest ways to measure success in the user group is Membership and Financial Position. I am really pleased to say that by empowering the staff more and a very strict budget process, 2014 made a surplus and although the accounts are not yet complete we have also made a surplus in 2015.

Membership has been slowly dropping for a number of years but the rate has been reduced and retention is up. We are working on a number of initiatives to help here. Membership is not an easy metric, we have corporate memberships, many organisations have merged, several long time independents have moved to organisations already members, and many others have moved to Oracle  as our eco system is adjusting to the 'digital disruption' affecting us all. Oracle has many new customers but we don't always know who they are and again we are working on initiatives with Oracle to help here.

The board is made up of 6 Directors, 3 appointed executive directors:

We currently have a vacancy for CEO. Last year James Haslam left this role after many years and we had an interim in place with Pauline Drummond.

David Rowntree our Financial Director retired at the end of the Year and Peter Weir his replacement is in place.

Bryan Foss our Non Exec Director is in his second year on the board.

The other three Directors are voted by you the members.

Linda Barker is our President. Fiona Martin is our Member Advocate Chair and is in place until March of next of next year.

The final place on the board is Member Advocate, the position I currently hold and that I am asking you to vote for me to stay.

With a new CEO to recruit and a new Finance Director we have a young board and quite frankly I know I can support them and help them navigate Oracle and understand the community we serve.

There is however several candidates this year and if you want someone new then vote for them. What I do want to do if I get re-elected is to work with those candidates as volunteers in key roles this coming year so that next year when Fiona's term is up and our rules say only two terms, we have engaged volunteers to stand, and if I am re-elected with your help, I too cannot stand again in 2018.

I work hard for UKOUG, both at a local and international level. I lead the initiatives for WIT, Next generation, Applications Innovation and the committees for Ireland and Apps at Conference.

Please vote for me, I won't let you down

Sunday, 20 December 2015

PaaS4SaaS have we got past the marketing?


At the end of 2014 at OOW one of the big announcements was PaaS4SaaS. I spent a couple of months working out what that really meant and how we at Certus could use it to add value to our Cloud customers.

Like with all new ideas, much of the first phase is about the marketing and explaining the context which is what I wrote about in my post in the run up to OOW.

So I have spent most of 2015 talking about what this really means to SaaS customers in the ERP and HCM world, and the message must be getting through.

The Certus team including me have several opportunities at the moment and we are working through the solutions with our partners eProseed and Oracle, to see what we can deliver. These are big opportunities which will take a while to agree, build and deploy and are part of much bigger solutions, but this is really exciting.

Remember our strategy is to extend with the same UX as in SaaS, not a quick extension that looks like a bolt on.

And just to prove we have the right strategy, Profit Magazine have just announced their most read articles for 2015, and I have two articles on PaaS4SaaS at 3 and 4 in the list.

Looking forward to what that means in 2016, and already got a few presentations lined up, and you can always read my white paper.






My UKOUG 2015


UKOUG as ever seems to have gone in a whirl, and for me even more so.

your elected board members 
Normally I have a little ritual, I arrive on the saturday, do my christmas cards on the sunday morning and then stay an extra night to come down from the adrenalin rush before facing the last minute set of objectives before Christmas. But this year it was all different, I was on the APAC tour and arrived in Birmingham just an hour before Super Sunday started, and then I had to leave an hour early to get to London for my company Christmas Event, so it really did run past quickly.


Every year the number of sessions submitted and delivered are amazing and this year we not only held Tech and Apps at the same time but also included JDE. Just look at the statistics, they are fantastic. We had a great exhibitions as well.




To me what makes it even more special is what I call the off piste events, the added member value that make the events so popular.

As I mentioned we kick off with Super Sunday, conference content at the weekend. This is when delegates are eating into their weekend to learn, amazing content normally in more depth than the main conference. 

Sunday evening is now also the traditional ACE Dinner, as the program grows so do the numbers attending UKOUG. This year we were honoured to have Logan Rosenstein who is new in OTN and responsible for the Systems communities attend. 60 ACE members and a sprinkling of product managers had a wonderful meal in our favourite Thai Edge. This restaurant looks after us well, serves great food and makes it a wonderful occasion, I wouldn't be surprised if we are back again there next year.

Monday morning is the start of the main Tech and Apps conferences and the Tech conference key note was brilliant with some amazing tweets. I felt that what Neil Sholay had exactly the right message and that it would have been equally suitable for Apps. In fact on Tuesday when Jeremy Ashley did the Apps keynote it was a follow on and that Tech people would have loved it too. It was fantastic to see such full auditoriums.
Jeremy heads up the UX team in Oracle development and they as usual were present in great numbers. The UX labs in were place giving us the opportunity to try out things they are looking at. The Appslab were at UKOUG with their 'UKOUG conference explorer'' where they used gamification to  encourage us to take part in a number of tasks. 

UX tell the story of their UKOUG on storifty

In the same vein we had a report jam to enable Cloud customers to challenge Oracle to write reports fro them. Remember when using SaaS everyone has the same code and therefore can share their reports. These reports can be shared on customer connect.

Linda Barker
Monday evening I had the pleasure of joining our President Linda Barker as she hosted Cliff Godwin and Nadia Bendjedo from EBS and Jeremy Ashley for dinner. And Wednesday morning I had breakfast with John Schiff from JDE, all old friends of UKOUG.

JDE had their first located conference with us and showed us all how to party, although I am sure the Hawaiian shirts had something to do with it. 

Tuesday kicked off with our Women in IT breakfast. I was really proud of this, a great turn out split over the conferences and with a good showing on men. The session was sponsored by Evolution who presented their findings on WIT survey which was completed by a lot of UKOUG members. I also spoke about how we want to combine WIT and next Generation and concentrate on encouraging young people to look at IT as a serious career choice and that includes women. You can read the Evolutions findings in their white paper


The socials on Tuesday evening saw us all have a good time, quiet and not so quiet areas, and many people continued to 'network' in Broad Street once the ICC had said goodnight.

I also took part in the testfest but for a beta exam so it will be a while before I know if I was any good.

Wednesday was another great day with some of the best sessions left to the very end, and when I left the place was still buzzing. UKOUG will look at all the feedback, work out what worked and what we need to change and by the end of January we will have started the planning all over again for an even bigger and better UKOUG 2016.

(most of the photos and many more can be found on the UKOUG Facebook page)













Monday, 14 December 2015

APAC OTN Tour 2015 - Christmas Down Under



Nothing specific about Oracle here at all just the random enjoyment of celebrating the Christmas Holiday spirit in a warm climate whilst on the OTN APAC tour recently. It seemed very alien to hear Christmas Music in shops when wearing flip-flops and sunglasses, but that doesn't mean they don't celebrate they certainly do.

Singapore Airport


Darling Harbour, Sydney


Queen Victoria Building, Sydney


Sydney Town Hall


Sheraton on the Park (our hotel) Sydney


Pan Pacific (our hotel), Perth


London Court, Perth


Penny's House Perth
Sydney Airport

Wellington Airport

 All Blacks - Wellington


Wellington

Auckland Hotel

Qantas Club Hong Kong

Hong Kong Airport

APAC OTN Tour 2015


This is a tour I really enjoy, but as OOW was so late this year and more importantly UKOUG  just days after, I was worried I would have to pull out of this tour.

The tour visited 5 places but I was only signed up for the last 3, Sydney, Perth and Wellington.



This was a crazy itinerary and was 28,733 miles and included 61 hours of air travel time, plus lay overs. That is more than my 7 year old car has done.





I found the being down under in December as Christmas ramps up quite weird, the same Christmas songs and decorations, but people wandering around in flip flops and shorts. 

My tour notes - Monday - Sydney, Wednesday - Perth, Friday - Wellington NZ

Travel wasn't too bad, except airports are freezing specially when you are cold. I did all the internal travel with Richard Foote and he was great company, although one security officer did suggest we looked liked we had been married for 30 years! 

The journey over was pretty uneventful, travelling via singapore, I arrived in Sydney just as a heatwave broke, it has been really hot the day before (40'C ) and quite cool when I got there (eventually reaching 25'C), but never mind I still took advantage and had a quick couple of dives in Manly Bay.

At each of the three events I gave two talks, and the matching white papers can be downloaded - PaaS4SaaS and Digital Disruption in the Oracle World

Coming back, I had a night in Auckland after the NZ event, and an old friend drove up to have dinner with me which was wonderful, and then I had an early flight to Hong Kong. Thank you Cathay Pacific for the upgrade, and then a 7 hour lay over until my BA flight to London landing in Heathrow at 5am. Then just 6 hours later it was kickoff for UKOUG - perfect timing!

Thank you to the user groups, Francisco, OTN and the ACE Program for making this happen.







APAC OTN Tour 2015 - Wellington, New Zealand


Apart from having to fly back to Sydney overnight, to catch a flight to Wellington, this was quite an uneventful trip.

Again Richard had planned our travel so we arrived early afternoon, and the first thing we did was take a walk.

Now we know why Wellington is called 'Windy', even their name badge incorporates this and a recent article in the guardian suggests it is the windiest city in the world. The phenomena that really impressed Richard and I was how the wind blows across the surface of the sea, bringing waves of blown water, which are mesmerising. We sat in a coffee shop watching it for ages and then braved the wind as we walked around the beautiful harbour. Definitely somewhere I want to return to.

That evening the NZOUG committee took us to dinner in the hotel which is also where the event was being held the next day. I want to say a big thank you here, when you have been travelling for so long  you really appreciate whatever sleep you can get, but you have to eat, so being treated to an early dinner, close by is ideal. Mix that with the most amazing food ever, and I',m not a foodie but this was outstanding, and with a view over the harbour, I was in heaven.


The conference was really well attended with more people turning up on the day. I again opened with my digital disruption session and we had a great discussion about what people felt locally. This is good learning for me, as I have just had a session accepted for Collaborate that looks at cloud adoption around the world, asking if it is all the same?

Later I gave my PaaS4SaaS session which was followed by Shay Smeltzer one of the product managers, unfortunately I couldn't sit through his session as I had a conference call with the UK.



After a wonderful lunch in the same restaurant that was an amazing indian buffet, Richard and I took a short walk in the now sunshine and then left for early flights out. Wellington airport was amazing with its Gollum artwork, I am not a Lord of the Rings fan but it is very impressive.



The NZOUG were wonderful hosts and I hope I will be invited back soon. It was a great end to a very short and packed tour but I am so glad I went. The world we work in is changing and being part of the discussion and understanding is very important. Usergroups enable that discussion and OTN enables people like me to share our knowledge.

Return to APAC post


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Sunday, 13 December 2015

APAC OTN Tour 2015 - Perth


We arrived in Perth mid afternoon and Richard and I went for a short walk to find coffee before being picked up by local user group legend Penny Cookson. Penny lives out of Perth along the coast and she took us out to her home to meet up with her husband Spence and our fellow speaker John King who was staying with them.

Later we went out and had dinner on the sea front watching the sunset. Beautiful.




The venue for the Perth event was a local technical college and it had wonderful facilities. I had two really good sessions but this time kicked off the event with my Digital Disruption session which got people talking all day. I had thought as in Sydney that it would be a good occlusion to a day but actually it worked even better at the start.

Lots of people turned up on the day and the organisers had to run around getting in extra catering which to me is fantastic great to see so many people come along.

Perth is home town to Connor McDonald and Chris Muir and they are always a great draw, but us visitors were made so very welcome. I had been worried that what I had to stay about where our industry is going might not be relevant yet in Australia as the adoption has been much higher in the US and now EMEA, but everyone was interested.

The day finished with networking and people stayed on to ask lots f questions. Perth is almost an isolated location but that is good as most of the Oracle community know each other, and that lends to great discussions. 

Thank you Perth and especially Penny.

Return to APAC post