Friday Jul 25, 2014

Community Powers Oracle

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

Once you have decided on your initiative to drive value from Oracle Applications using Oracle Fusion middleware you need to think about the skills you need. Are you going to use a Systems Integrator, in house capability, or increasingly some form of cloud offering? Whichever you decide on you will still have a learning curve which is where I believe community is the answer. Not all learning has to be formal classroom led, look at the skills needed and select the formal training for the base skills, but for the areas you need an understanding of, and these won’t even be all be technical and then to learn more about the formal skills, I recommend community learning.

The Oracle Community is an enormous wealth of groups all offering their members a different angle on learning, through education, through sharing and through asking questions.

This blog, has the strapline, ‘Inside Oracle’s Middleware Community’ and is the sharing of knowledge from a wide range of contributors.

Oracle itself has Oracle Technology Network (OTN) which is a phenomenal resource. It is ‘the world's largest community of developers, admins, and architects using industry-standard technologies in combination with Oracle its articles, blogs and forums cover most of the technology’. Check out this infographic to appreciate the impact OTN has on the community.

OTN is also responsible for the ACE Program which I am so proud to be a part of, they recognise individuals who have demonstrated both technical proficiency and strong credentials as community enthusiasts and advocates. Most people in the ACE program present on their topics at User Groups and these are in my opinion the best place to learn, from people who have the knowledge, the passion and the experience.

I started my Oracle community life in my local usergroup UKOUG and love the opportunity to share my knowledge with others, and to learn. Just look at the agenda of usergroup events to see just how much opportunity there is to learn; for UKOUG we have just launched both our Technical and Applications agendas, take a look and see the wealth of content.

This year I attended both Collaborate and Kscope in the US. One of the downsides of being involved in the running of a usergroup is you don’t get the chance to attend any sessions (other than the ones you give), so I use these two conferences to do my learning. Collaborate covers the deeply technical mainly database side with IOUG, and then for this audience the Applications through Quest and OAUG. Kscope is run by ODTUG who cover development and middleware and the home of the technology this blog covers. Most countries have a usergroup and OTN through the ACE program helps great international speakers attend so be a part of the user group. In fact, usergroups have a community themselves, the IOUC, where they share and learn from each other. There is also User Group Sunday at Oracle Open World and along with both Oracle and non-Oracle speakers the whole event has almost 2,000 sessions.

And if you haven’t made that decision yet, user groups are a great place to see and hear what others have done with their Oracle investment.

Most of the great educators, ACEs, Speakers, Oracle Product Managers also blog, a quick Google search on your topic will show up the best, or check out the ACE register and subscribe to the ones that interest you.

And ever wondered where your partner learns? Well they too have communities, the Oracle Partner Network, OPN have them for different areas and the blueprint for the best of them is the SOA & BPM Community with over 5,000 members run by Jürgen Kress.

My final thought is about Cloud. It sounds like utopia, no need to worry about anything, and yes you may not need to worry about the technology, but it introduces new challenges - managing the cloud provider, new constraints and how to get the best from it? All questions that require a new community, for cloud users and in UKOUG, we will be launching this soon.

Community - no better place to start your Oracle AppAdvantage learning. 

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, Fusion Champion, UKOUG Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Lilley has 18 years experience with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business Intelligence Team Lead and Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts 

Friday Mar 28, 2014

ACE Director Discusses Apps Transformation, COLLABORATE 14 and more

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

In a much earlier posting on this blog I talked about giving Oracle AppAdvantage its first outing in the UK at the UKOUG. Applications conference in October. At this event we launched the concept of apps transformation, looking at the projects of tomorrow or rather the options for tomorrow that an organisation has.

This week we held a special event dedicated to Apps Transformation and we had five streams one for each of the module families and one on Oracle AppAdvantage. This stream looked at some of the challenges that applications customers have that can be addressed by technology which I kicked off with a presentation introducing Oracle AppAdvantage, and I will also give at COLLABORATE 14 on 8th April 8th at 10:15 (Session ID 109510). Later I personally talked about Oracle’s mobile strategy, a presentation I had given the week earlier with one of Oracle Fusion Middleware product managers Grant Ronald. When you look at the Oracle AppAdvantage picture I think of the entry points as discussion points and mobile is definitely one of the most prevalent discussion points for applications customers.

The other four streams concentrated on options available for Financials, Procurement, Customer Experience and Human Capital Management customers. In the same way when you navigate to a city your GPS navigator can offer you places of interest this AppNav concept developed by Oracle with the help of UKOUG, looks at some of the benefits along these four routes. Some of the things that are highlighted are mobile, social, analytics (big data) and cloud and we had several presentations along these lines.

The AppNav concept is not a mobile app but a webpage again showcasing the options available to customers. This webpage was launched on the day of the conference and its value is much wider than just our audience of the UKOUG and I am delighted to share it with you here. It is not so much new content on the landing page, but helps you consume some of the multitude of information available from Oracle from a menu designed from an applications point of view. AppNav is not limited to technology and in fact it talks a lot about Fusion and cloud applications and like Oracle AppAdvantage it’s a really good place to start.

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, Fusion Champion, UKOUG Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Lilley has 18 years experience with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business Intelligence Team Lead and Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts

Tuesday Dec 24, 2013

ACE Director Discusses Oracle AppAdvantage Use Case for Improved User Experience

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

Oracle AppAdvantage is about understanding the gains an Oracle applications customer can derive by using some or all of the Fusion Middleware stack. One of the areas where we are seeing a lot of adoption is being driven by mobile, not only to access your applications on the go but in a more simplified and easier to use experience for perhaps the casual user.

There is no better example of how this adoption can work than in Oracle’s own applications. If you attended Open World you would have seen the simplified UI that is the main enhancements of Fusion Applications Release 7. The Oracle user experience team have done phenomenal work understanding how users can benefit from a springboard entry into their applications. All of the simplified UI is written using ADF mobile.

However it is not only Fusion Applications that can benefit from these enhancements and the example I want to talk about is PeopleSoft Campus Solutions. I was once a PeopleSoft user (emphasis on the once) and I experienced first-hand where simplified UI would be great the casual user. In 2008 my daughter was at her first year of university and had gone to Australia for a placement year where she did an internship with the Australian Outward Bound. Her first trip into the Bush coincided with the day that the first-year exams results were available online, however she did not have Internet access. She rang me and talked me through the access process to her University system (no comments about security please). When I logged onto the system it said welcome to Oracle, and then the next click took me into the PeopleSoft homepage, and even at this point I thought the harmonisation post acquisition not being complete was a missed point, simple but something that good user experience will avoid. Anyway, back to the story. I eventually navigated through the system and finally found her results and am glad to say she passed. This process took quite a while because the navigation meant I had to go through her account and drill down into her modules and then drill down into the exam results.

But things move on and last year I had the honour of being a keynote speaker at the higher education user group international conference in London and I listened to the Oracle executive explain plans for the next release that would include a simplified UI or kiosk type entry point into campus solutions. I was able to explain more about how this would work by demoing the release’s even simplified UI for Fusion Applications on my tablet. And as was expected the audience liked what they saw. This springboard entry point is now available in production and there is lots more information available for campus solution users.

In this AppAdvantage example, Oracle have added or enhanced an existing application using the Fusion Middleware stack, in this case ADF mobile. Is there a process that your organisation would benefit from being simplified, available from a kiosk, or on a mobile device? Not only can you use ADF mobile with your application but the UX team have shared their design patterns that they developed with all developers including yours through OTN. This will ensure that you can quickly develop applications that not only can be deployed across multiple devices using the ADF framework but have the same look and feel as the Oracle applications thanks to their considerable investment in what works best for users.

Has your organisation created any simplified UI with your applications? If so share your story with other readers of this blog. And participate in my survey on this topic.

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, Fusion Champion, UKOUG Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Lilley has 18 years experience with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business Intelligence Team Lead and Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts.

Thursday Nov 21, 2013

ACE Director Challenges the Definition of "Enterprise"

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

Indulge me today, I want to talk about one of my pet hates, the misuse of the word ‘enterprise’.

One of the things that motivates me as a user group leader is helping people get the most out of their investment in Oracle. Let’s face it, Oracle isn’t cheap, but their customers select Oracle based on business cases that says it is value for money, what I want us to do is help them realize that investment. All too often you hear about organizations who did not and they blame the technology. I however often believe it is how it is used, or even more often how it is not used.

The value of Fusion Middleware to me is that it provides a platform for your whole enterprise not just a point solution. So yes, the business case initially may be about one area but you must plan and implement with your whole enterprise in mind, and then you can expand your use and bring additional benefits that one their own did not initially warrant the investment.

A simple example of this is the adoption of SOA. Many organizations have adopted different applications to deliver their business but they are not integrated or only in a crude fashion, and this lack of flow causes duplication, error and poor customer service. The introduction of a single process orchestration platform will allow for automated processing across applications invisible to the business user ultimately improving the service, removing errors and saving money. Then you can continue to increase the return on your investment by using SOA across your enterprise for other process flows that on their own did not justify the spend.

Coming off my soapbox for a minute, let’s look at what I think we should be doing:

1. Understand your organization and its business

2. Understand the main weakness or what change would make the most positive difference to your organization

3. Understand the entire enterprise IT you have to support your organization

4. Understand what advances in IT can help what you have at #3 address #2 to ensure success at #1

5. Identify other areas that could benefit from the investment made at #4

This sounds really simple but I have spent most of my 30 years in IT trying to identify the stakeholders for these points and bringing them together. It always amazes me how many IT experts in an organization cannot articulate their business. Should business leaders be expected to understand the IT strategy? I think IT should be an enabler for business people and not their profession, it is down to us, the IT people to understand what it is we are to enable, and the most important role is that of enterprise architect.

So why am I writing about this under the AppAdvantage banner and not just simply a rant on my own blogpost? Education. Enterprise architects need to learn and people learn by example and showcasing what others have done is a great way to learn what business challenges can be addressed by the FMW stack. The IT Leaders program under AppAdvantage will showcase some of the projects undertaken by Oracle customers and help us relate them to our own organizations. The interviews with Rick Beers will start by explaining the business or the organization, what they needed to do and how Oracle helped them achieve it. I also ask that Rick adds a question, about what next? How else will the company benefit from the initial investment?

Does your organization have something to share? I know the program is still looking for stories and my survey is still running. Here is the link to my survey so do put your examples in.

In my last post I talked about how we introduced AppAdvantage to the UKOUG Applications Community, and in a few days we have our Technology Community Conference, where our members will be drilling down into how the technology delivers. At that event we also have customer case studies which, like the AppAdvantage program, will teach by example because as I was once told by a very technical guru (that would be you, Alex Gorbachev) that being able to ‘do tech’ does not sell tech, it only delivers what you sell, and you can only sell tech if you can articulate the business benefit.

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, Fusion Champion, UKOUG Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Lilley has 18 years experience with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business Intelligence Team Lead and Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts

Editor’s Note: Debra has kindly agreed to share her musings and experience in a monthly column on the Fusion Middleware blog so look for her next post in Dec…

Friday Oct 25, 2013

Global Perspective: Oracle AppAdvantage Does its Stage Debut in the UK

Global Perspective is a monthly series that brings experiences, business needs and real-world use cases from regions across the globe. This month’s feature is a follow-up from last month’s Global Perspective note from a well known ACE Director based in EMEA.

Author: Debra Lilley, ACE Director

My first contribution to this blog was before Oracle Open World and I was quite excited about where this initiative would take me in my understanding of the value of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Rimi Bewtra from the Oracle AppAdvantage team came as promised to the Oracle ACE Director briefings and explained what this initiative was all about and I then asked the directors to take part in the new survey. The story was really well received and then at the SOA advisory board that many of these ACE Directors already take part in there was a further discussion on how this initiative will help customers understand the benefits of adoption.

A few days later Rick Beers launched the program at a lunch of invited customer executives which included one from Pella who talked about their projects (a quick recap on that here). I wasn’t able to stay for the whole event but what really interested me was that these executives who understood the technology but where looking for how they could use them to drive their businesses.

Lots of ideas were bubbling up in my head about how we can use this in user groups to help our members, and the timing was fantastic as just three weeks later we had UKOUG_Apps13, our flagship Applications conference in the UK. We had independently working with Oracle marketing in the UK on an initiative called Apps Transformation to help our members look beyond just the application they use today. We have had a Fusion community page but felt the options open are now much wider than Fusion Applications, there are acquired applications, social, mobility and of course the underlying technology, Oracle Fusion Middleware. I was really pleased to be allowed to give the Oracle AppAdvantage story as a session in our conference and we are planning a special Apps Transformation event in March where I hope the Oracle AppAdvantage team will take part and we will have the results of the survey to discuss.

But, life also came full circle for me. In my first post, I talked about Andrew Sutherland and his original theory that Oracle Fusion Middleware adoption had technical drivers. Well, Andrew was a speaker at our event and he gave a potted, tech-talk free update on Oracle Open World. Andrew talked about the Prevailing Technology Winds, and what is driving this today and he talked about that in the past it was the move from simply automating processes (ERP etc), through the altering of those processes (SOA) and onto consolidation. The next drivers are around the need to predict, both faster and more accurately; how to better exploit the information that we have available. He went on to talk about The Nexus of Forces: Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information – harnessing these forces of change with Oracle technology. Gartner really likes this concept and if you want to know more you can get their paper here.

All this has made me think, and I hope it will make you too. Technology can help us drive our businesses better and understanding your needs can be the first step on your journey, which was the theme of our event in the UK. I spoke to a number of the delegates and I hope to share some of their stories in later posts.

If you have a story to share, the survey is at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/P335DD3

About the Author:

Debra Lilley, Fujitsu Fusion Champion, UKOUG Board Member, Fusion User Experience Advocate and ACE Director.

Debra has 18 years experience with Oracle Applications, with E Business Suite since 9.4.1, moving to Business Intelligence Team Leader and then Oracle Alliance Director. She has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide and posts at debrasoraclethoughts

Editor’s Note: Debra has kindly agreed to share her musings and experience in a monthly column on the Fusion Middleware blog so do stay tuned…

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