Tuesday Feb 25, 2014

How Is the Software Selection Process Like the Denver '76 Winter Olympics?

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

Spoiler Alert—the answer to the question posed in the title is, "Sometimes well meaning people make really, really bad decisions."

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Are History. For a year now, ever since the media started hyping this Olympic iteration, I've had a tough time not thinking about the Olympics that might have been but wasn't: The Denver '76 Winter Olympics.

In 1970, The Denver Olympic Organizing Committee (DOOC) successfully persuaded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to award the 1976 Olympics to Colorado.  Two years later, sensible Colorado voters rejected the bid and became the only entity to ever turn down the Olympics—Winter or Summer—after having been awarded them.

When it comes to software selection, we all know stories about bad decisions. In the case of Denver '76, the red flags were:

  • User Adoption: Colorado residents were concerned about the environmental impact and the impending flood of tourists

  • Cost: (budget estimates soared 300% within two years)

Sound familiar?

I’ve actually dug through two boxes of DOOC meeting notes, letters, and memorabilia in the archives of the Denver Public Library (I wanted to learn exactly where the events would have been held. I still don’t understand how the IOC awarded the Games to Denver. It was a disaster waiting to happen.

Mercifully, the '76 Games were moved to Innsbruck. Franz Klammer turned in perhaps the greatest Olympic downhill run of all time in front of 66,000 home town fans. Bill Koch became the first (and still only) American to win an Olympic cross country medal with his revolutionary skating style.

Growing companies intent on modernizing IT systems don’t have the option to pass the buck. And disaster is not an acceptable outcome.

As I research this series, it becomes clear that software selection disasters can be averted by following a thorough process. I believe that the RFP—as painful as the process is—is not going away. But perhaps the most important steps are those taken before the RFP is released-to help good people make good decisions. Soon I’ll be publishing what I’ve learned.

Meanwhile…here’s a great article, “9 Tips for Writing a Great RFP”, about RFPs in general, not specific to IT, that echoes much of what the experts are telling me.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle

Friday Feb 21, 2014

Are You "Millennial Ready"?

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

Oracle President Mark Hurd's latest post on LinkedIn, "The CEO’s Perfect Storm: Demographics, Data, and Devices Change Everything" identifies the impending Demographics Revolution (along with the Data and Devices Revolutions) as a game changer for CEOs.

I'm not surprised. The challenge of hiring and retaining the right talent comes up in EVERY conversation I have with customers and partners. Hurd notes, "at least 25% and possibly up to 40% of the workforce will retire in the next 5-10 years." As droves of boomers buy their motor homes and condos in Florida and Scottsdale, their jobs will be filled by millennials. And, as we all know, millennials and boomers are different.

I'm a baby boomer mentally stuck in my twenties.  I just scored a 69 out of 100 on this Pew Research Center, "How Millennial Are You ". I would have scored higher but for those questions about tattoos and piercings. 

My parental experiences provide me with insight into the behavior of millennials. Mine never answer their phones (or the archaic home land line). Email is something they only use to communicate with baby boomers. Trouble-shooting their electronic devices and apps is as second nature to them as were roadside bike repairs to me, en route to the lake on a sweltering Minnesota summer afternoon.

As growing midsize companies endeavor to attract and retain a modern workforce, they compete for talent with larger enterprises that may be able to offer more attractive compensation and benefit plans. For them, modern HCM and Talent Sourcing solutions have become gotta haves. And, millennials expect more out of modern ERP than the Y2K versions their fathers deployed.

I don't plan on retiring any time soon. With three children in their prime cash-sucking years I am too busy investing in college tuition and car repairs. When I do retire,  I want to work for skier services at my local mountain, Loveland Ski Area. Drive a shuttle bus full of mostly millennials from the employee lot to the base before and after the lifts run. During the day, ski the circuit of on slope cabins, stoking the wood stoves and picking up after all the kids.

Hmmm....shuttling millennials around in a bus and picking up after kids. I think I'm qualified for that job.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle

Friday Feb 14, 2014

It's Valentines Day...Do You Love Cloud?

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

As an avid outdoorsman-well, really a cautious mountain man-I have a love/hate relationship with the cloud in my personal life. When I hike, ski, or bike I like to get as far away from people as possible. Yet I prefer to do so with strong enough 3G coverage to stream Car Talk on NPR or folk music on Folk Alley. And I sometimes leverage GPS to document my exploits with Ski Tracks or AllSport GPS.

On the flip side, access to social media often is a barrier to social interaction. I Snap my son to get up for school when he is dozing in his room fifty feet away after hitting the snooze button too many times.My daughter has tagged me on a Facebook post of a Grumpy Cat video when I'm sitting across the table from her at a restaurant. More than once, I've annoyingly fact checked someone's tall tale at the bar with snopes.

All in all...I'd rate the impact of the cloud on the quality of my personal life as net neutral. I can hike, bike, or ski without any of the aforementioned amenities. They're just nice to have. And I think that maybe we should check our smartphones at the door entering a social gathering.

Undeniably, I love how the internet has changed the way we do business. Yes, I support the local businesses in my small community in brick and mortar, face to face transactions. Restaurants, cleaners, tradesmen, one of a kind boutiques-the majority of which leverage web-based solutions to better serve their customers.

I like the internet when it comes to doing business. But my true love is Oracle Cloud. She takes my breath away when I see how she helps growing companies solve business challenges. Talent Sourcing to attract and retain the best people. Marketing automation to break through the noise and drive profitable revenue. ERP Cloud to transform and streamline operations. 

I'm starting to blush. I could go on and on about my love for Oracle Cloud. But I need to be careful. If I brag too much, you'll want her too.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle

Wednesday Feb 05, 2014

Oracle's Got Your Cloud Covered

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

When I meet with customer decision makers, the first question I ask them is, “Do you want Cloud?” If they say, “Yes!”, my second questions is, “Why?”

The use of the word “Cloud” in reference to technology solutions has been around for awhile now, maybe longer than you thought. It is a metaphor, and as such, its definition is open to interpretation. From a practical, decision-maker perspective, it’s a single word that doesn’t tell you much of anything about what it does. For example, if a vendor tells you they have “ERP in the Cloud”, what does that really mean?

When I ask a customer “Why Cloud?”, their responses generally align to three primary business drivers:

  1. They want an IT platform that drives growth.
  2. They are keen to move toward (but not necessarily all the way to) an “Everything as a Service” (EaaS) business model.
  3. They believe that Cloud and EaaS combined will provide greater flexibility and lower costs.

Flexibility to leverage new technologies as they become available. Lower costs through shared services and elasticity. That all makes sense.

My third question is then, “How are you going to do all that with Cloud?” That’s when it gets interesting.

In my experience...

Most decision makers know what they want from Cloud but aren’t quite sure how to get it. Most of the time, they mention examples of several Cloud solutions that they’ve read about or that a peer has mentioned.

Then I ask the bonus question, “How?” That is, how do they plan to transform their Cloud vision into a clear, executable IT strategy that supports their business drivers?

That’s where Oracle shines.

It’s hard to say who is the top Cloud company in the world. It depends on how you define it. But it’s not much of a stretch to claim that Oracle has the most comprehensive portfolio of Cloud solutions on the planet. Public, Private, Hybrid. SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, EaaS. ERP, HCM, Talent Management, CX, Planning and Budgeting. And we’re not a startup struggling to establish financial viability. We’ve been doing “Cloud” for more than a decade and have helped thousands of customers craft actionable Cloud strategies.

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now. Maybe you’ve decided to piece together a hodgepodge of point solutions from a dozen vendors to cover each of your processes. And maybe you’ve figured out how to connect all the dots. More power to you.

But if you’re still deciding, give Oracle or one of our partners a call. We’ll figure it out together.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle

Tuesday Feb 04, 2014

Hugs and Kisses from the Oracle JD Edwards Partner Summit

by Jim Lein | Sr. Principal Product Marketing Director | Oracle Midsize Programs | @JimLein

The fifth annual Oracle JD Edwards Partner Summit was held last week in Broomfield CO. I've been to them all but this was the best one yet. I learned a lot and made some great new connections. I caught up with my friend Lyle Ekdahl, SVP in charge of JD Edwards. My boss Steve Cox flew over from England for the event (I see him about once a year). And I finally got to meet our social selling evangelist Jill Rowley in person and pick her brain on social media strategy.

I started my IT career with JD Edwards in 1999 so I saw dozens of people I've known for a very long time. Lots of heartfelt handshakes, plenty of hugs, and here and there a bus on the cheek. I joined JD Edwards when it was a young public company that still acted like a private company. The very first day you learned the company's 7 guiding principles, including # 5, "Respect and Value Each Other", and #6, "Build Strong Customer Partnerships". They weren't hollow phrases. You lived those principles or you didn't last long.

We extended those principles to our relationships with partners. The strength of those relationships was clearly evident at the Summit. I met with many partners, some of whom I've worked with for a long time and some I met for the first time. Denovo. Corning Data. Brij. Terillium. CSS International. Capscient. Syntax. ERA Consulting.

Let me tell you...the Oracle JD Edwards partner community is busy, busy, busy.  Plenty of net new customers. Lots of upgrades. Lots of projects for add-ons products like HCM, Talent Management, Marketing Automation, and Project Portfolio Management.

 And, of course, Cloud was on everyone's mind. The partners shared stories of how many of their net new and upgrading customers are choosing to deploy their JD Edwards footprint in the Cloud and are increasingly taking advantage of managed services. It's all about reducing costs and simplifying IT.

Even though I live just an hour up the hill, I felt like was out of town on a business trip. One of those fun and interesting business trips. A reunion, of sorts. I'm proud to be a part of the Oracle JD Edwards community. And even though I don't commute down to the JD Edwards headquarters in the Denver Tech Center anymore, I'm not "ex-JDE". There's no such thing.

The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle



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