In the Field

Happiness Is a User Group

Feedback connects user group membership to happy customers.

By Mike Riley

March/April 2012

I’ve talked before about the value of user groups, and in particular the value of membership within Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG). In this column, I’d like to provide an example of this value proposition.

During our most recent conference, Kscope11 in Long Beach, California, one of our members—Blake Hughes, a data architect with Meridium—approached ODTUG Director Monty Latiolais with questions about Oracle Label Security. When Latiolais could not come up with the answers, he got Hughes’ contact information and promised to try to help him find the answers he needed.

Hughes was looking for resources, understanding of the performance implications, pricing and other costs, software dependencies, and references from customers who have implemented Oracle Label Security. Latiolais reached out to ODTUG’s contacts on the Oracle Global Customer Programs team, who then connected the proper experts with Hughes to answer his questions.

This connection process is not unusual for user group leaders, nor is it unique to ODTUG. We form many critical relationships with many members of the Oracle team. These Oracle team members might be in the Oracle Global Customer Programs area, or they might be product managers, developers, or instructors. We leverage these relationships for the betterment of the user community.

Could Hughes have found his answers elsewhere? Maybe the better question is, could Hughes have gotten better or faster answers elsewhere? My answer would be an emphatic no. User groups not only provide a network among users, but the members are also able to leverage other relationships for the good of the community.

Feedback Highlights

Oracle Global Customer Programs solicits feedback from Oracle customers, and recent customer feedback—based on a mix of customers who were members of user groups along with customers who were not— produced some very interesting findings. Jeremy Whyte, senior director of customer feedback and reporting at Oracle, summarized the information to various user groups and Oracle employees. The reporting clearly indicated that Oracle’s customers who were members of user groups (and this could be any user group, including international, national, regional, and local) are more satisfied with Oracle than customers who were not user group members, and they are more likely to recommend Oracle products and services to others.

This information highlights the value of user groups, both to the members of the user groups and to the greater Oracle ecosystem. The user groups provide learning, networking, and support systems to assist their members. Whether it be from conference experiences and networking opportunities, online education efforts, or user group infrastructure such as discussion forums and online educational resources, user group members take full advantage of the user group offerings to do their jobs better. Everyone, including Oracle, benefits from this satisfaction.

Underscoring the value of the user groups to their membership and to the Oracle ecosystem, Jeb Dasteel, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Oracle, has this to say: “Over and over again, we see that user group members are by far the most active and satisfied customers in our entire customer base. One of the best things that any Oracle customer can do to maximize the value from the investment is to join a user group.”

As a member of a user group, I have personally benefited from that membership. If I find myself having technical questions I cannot answer, I pick up the phone or send off an e-mail. This was true prior to my being elected to ODTUG’s board of directors, and it’s remained true since I have become an ODTUG board member. I have also helped other members in answering their questions or pointing them in the right direction, just as Monty Latiolais did for Blake Hughes. I hope that if you are not already a user group member, this column will encourage you to explore becoming a member of one of the many Oracle user groups worldwide at You’ll be glad you did!

Next Steps

LEARN more about user groups

 GIVE customer feedback

Photography bySumner Mahaffey,Unsplash