In the Field

Beyond ERP: The Way Forward, Part 1

OAUG president sees mission expanding as user group members delve into emerging technologies.

By Leslie Steere

March/April 2018

As Christine Hipp begins her tenure as Oracle Applications User Group (OAUG) president this year, she brings 14 years of Oracle technology experience and several years of OAUG service to the role. Along with a commitment to continue advocating for OAUG’s on-premises members, she also has a deep interest in helping the membership navigate their paths toward emerging technologies—from cloud computing to blockchain to artificial intelligence. Hipp recently took a few minutes from her day job as IT manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory to discuss OAUG’s ever-expanding mission.

Oracle Magazine: How do you see the mission of OAUG changing as members begin to look at the cloud and emerging technologies?

Hipp: When you use technology to improve your business, every time there is a technology change, it energizes you. You say, “What is this? What do I need to know? How is this going to be an advantage for me?” I think this is happening now with cloud technology. It’s obvious that there are advantages to the cloud, but which of those advantages are right for you right now? Is it moving your workloads and your disaster recovery to PaaS? Is it considering a SaaS solution as a bolt-on or an extension of your business capability?

Christine Hipp

Christine Hipp, president of Oracle Applications User Group, describes COLLABORATE as a place to develop skills, understand job options, and get ready for new technologies.

These are the questions for OAUG members who have long been core Oracle E-Business Suite users. But there’s a whole other group of people who are implementing for the first time in the cloud. And they’re also hungry for information.

OAUG was founded in 1990 to serve a real need. At that time, in order to maximize their IT investments users were dealing with questions such as “How do I install this?” “How do I patch it and when?” and “What are these applications capable of doing?” And they turned to OAUG, because OAUG put them together with other members that allowed them to get real answers to those questions.

That doesn’t change with cloud technology, because whether you’re implementing something on premises or in the cloud, you still want to understand how to use it, how to optimize it for your business, and what the options are. The cloud delivers new challenges and opportunities, but it isn’t changing that core need for information.

So while we’re still providing the education our members running Oracle E-Business Suite on premises need, we’re expanding into topics such as security, emerging technologies, system architecture considerations, and SaaS.

Oracle Magazine: How will those changes be reflected at the COLLABORATE user group conference this year?

Hipp: Honestly, most of what we’re hearing is that people with big on-premises installs can’t lift and shift quickly. But that doesn’t mean they’re not looking to see how they can take advantage of new technologies in a planned uptake. They want to hear specific stories in the context of their current state that help them in their own strategic planning. They are hungry for stories of companies with an on-premises install that are adding SaaS; they’re hungry for the stories of somebody who’s picked up and moved development workloads.

While we’re still providing the education our members running Oracle E-Business Suite on premises need, we’re expanding into topics such as security, emerging technologies, system architecture considerations, and SaaS.”–Christine Hipp, President, Oracle Applications User Group

So for cloud in particular, at COLLABORATE this year we have more than 500 sessions that explore various aspects of cloud solutions—up from around 140 last year. It’s clear that the appetite for information on the cloud is out there. The OAUG also will have a new special interest group specifically focused on emerging technologies, and at COLLABORATE that group’s conversation will be focused on blockchain. We’ve got about eight additional sessions covering blockchain as well.

Oracle Magazine: Have you noticed membership job roles changing as the technology changes?

Hipp: I do think traditional IT and business roles are changing and will continue to change with the new wave of technologies we’re working with in IT. There’s cloud; there’s agile implementation; and there are low-code/no-code conversations I have every day at work, where you look at what people have been doing in their role, and how that changes.

So we’ve got a renewed focus on the individual at this year’s COLLABORATE. The conference is about Oracle products, but it’s also about developing your skills as an employee, helping you understand what the various job options look like, and making sure you are ready to move with the new technologies. And it also helps employers when OAUG provides content about what they need to be looking for in employees. Let’s say I turn into an entire cloud shop in 10 years: what kind of employees do I need to have? It’s likely a different mix of skills from the employees I have had running my on-premises applications.

Editor’s note: Our conversation with Hipp continues in the next issue of Oracle Magazine, where she discusses the importance of diversity in the workforce, mentorships, networking, and more.

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Photography by Rick Scibelli/The Verbatim Agency