Collaborate 2011 - What makes a good user conference anyway??

Quest's Collaborate 2011, the annual independent Oracle users group community group conference came to a close Friday, April 15th.  My personal observation leads me to claim that it was a successful event.  But those of us that typically attend this and similar conferences are apt to make that assessment... (Else we risk not getting approval to go again!).  But on a more serious note, I am going home with some thoughts and ideas about how we as a community potentially improve the conference experience.  

In the last couple of months I have transitioned from leading JD Edwards product managers  to a focus on communicating JD Edwards content and news to our sales groups, partners, employees, prospects and customers.  In the past when I reviewed whether or not conferences were successful, considerations tended to include whether or not the sessions I presented had drawn a good crowd, what type of response did the audience have to my content, was I able to answer the majority of customers question at the booth regarding a concern or issue they might raise, etc.  This year my evaluation criterion is somewhat different than they have been in the past.

In my new role, I spent most of my time in sessions, trying to gain a better perspective on the customer's conference experience, and what might make it even better.  What strikes me is that I didn't really learn anything new about what makes for a really good conference.

The bottom-line is that attendees will have the best possible conference experience when a large number of the educational sessions offered are customer prepared and delivered.  The real world experience and insight only available from those that have actually selected a solution, designed the implementation approach, defined a project plan, executed the work, dealt with the surprises, experienced the risk, overcome obstacles, won over the masses, and experienced the thrill of go-live (or recovery from a failed effort), is what we all want to hear about - all in the spirit of learning from other's real world experiences.
 
So why is it always so hard to recruit customers to present at these conferences?  While I understand that fear of public speaking is a reality for some, it likely that the list of reasons for not presenting include things such as:

  • I don't have time to prepare
  • Our story is not very interesting
  • Other people are better speakers
  • My company would want to share our mistakes
  • Yada Yada Yada

But, if you found yourself nodding your head in agreement that often the most valuable sessions are those lead by customers, then I challenge you as a customer to consider speaking at a future conference.  It embodies the principle of "give and take", and promises to enrich the conference experience for all of us that look forward to successful events each year.  The call for customer submitted session topics for Oracle Open World 2011 has closed already, but the Oracle JD Edwards product strategy teams will be recruiting customers to co-present with them in sessions they will submit in the next couple of weeks.  We can help you craft and deliver your presentation.  The entire community will thank you for your valuable contribution!

If you are interested in presenting at Oracle OpenWorld in October, please respond to me or email kem.butler@oracle.com and I will match you with an Oracle presentation. 

 

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Welcome to the JD Edwards Blog. Post are contributed by the JD Edwards strategy and development teams, covering a broad range of topics. The goal of the blog is to create opportunities for information and idea sharing, to engage JD Edwards customers/users, partners, and Oracle employees in conversation, the spirit of improving the experience and effectiveness of all that participate in the community. Both EnterpriseOne & World products are fair game for blog topics. Topics will cover functional, technical, business topics,but it is not the intent of this blog to provide "support" activities and those discussions will be best served via My Oracle Support or Oracle Mix. We invite your comments and feedback, and look forward to lively conversation.

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