In the Field

Users Find Their Way

AT ORACLE: In the Field

Whatever your interest, there’s a user group out there for you.

By Mike Riley

September/October 2012

As this is my last Oracle Magazine column as president of Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG), I thought I’d look back at one pivotal moment from the past five years, what it has meant to the user group community, and what I learned from the experience.

April 2007: Oracle acquired Hyperion Solutions Corporation.

Oracle added Hyperion’s industry-leading enterprise performance management solutions to its portfolio and Hyperion’s customers to the Oracle customer community. The Oracle and Hyperion user group communities were also affected by the acquisition. Where would Hyperion users align themselves?

Many user group organizations reached out, in different ways, to the Hyperion user community. ODTUG, for example, reached out to influential independent leaders within the Hyperion community to help form an in-depth track at our annual ODTUG Kaleidoscope (now known as Kscope) conference. The track first surfaced at ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2008, held in New Orleans, Louisiana, that year, and was by all accounts a critical success. The Oracle Hyperion track attracted more than 170 attendees and was strictly focused on Oracle Essbase (formerly Hyperion Essbase).

ODTUG provided the infrastructure and logistics, and the Hyperion community leaders created the agenda, helped to market it, and spread the word. Out of that 2008 conference, Kscope has become known as the home for outstanding content related to Oracle Hyperion solutions. The conference has more Oracle Hyperion presentations than any other conference, includes the largest number of Oracle Hyperion–focused attendees, and attracts prominent vendors. Primarily—but not solely—as a result of this influx of content and attendees, Kscope has experienced significant growth each and every year, starting in 2008 and continuing through Kscope12 this year.

Other organizations also provide Oracle Hyperion content to the educational landscape, such as some of the recent Connection Point conferences, presented by the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), and COLLABORATE, hosted by the Independent Oracle Users Group, OAUG, and Quest International Users Group. With these events and many others, Oracle Hyperion users have taken the time to investigate and determine their best fit within the Oracle user group community. Many have chosen ODTUG as their home; many have chosen other user groups.

What have I learned from the experience? Several things come to mind:

  1. Don’t listen to the hyperbole when user groups claim to have the monopoly on something. For example, despite the size of ODTUG’s Oracle Hyperion content and attendance, it would be silly for me to claim that we are the only game in town.
  2. Users will determine their best fit. Ask others within the community where they are getting their education. Investigate those user groups for yourself. As I said previously, each provides its own value proposition, so it’s up to you to determine the best fit for yourself.
  3. User groups change under at least three conditions: when users change, when users drive change, and when technology changes users. New users reinvigorate user groups; user group members reinvent user group programming with new ideas and technologies; new technologies entering the user ecosystem change what users want and need and lead to reinvigorated groups and reinvented programming.
ODTUG’s conference content selection process has changed drastically as a result of the success of the Oracle Hyperion content at the conference in 2008. Instead of relying solely on an open call for papers and selection based on the highest scores, all of our content teams now select their content in a similar fashion to what was done in 2008: determine the best content, lay it out in a coherent fashion, and if necessary, recruit the speakers best able to deliver that content. In addition, our special interest group (SIG) program has been reinvigorated as a result of our Hyperion SIG, which meets at a minimum of once a month.

During my tenure as an ODTUG board member, as fast as technology has changed, the user group community has also changed. There is more interaction between the various user groups as we all realize that none of us alone can be a one-stop shop for the entire user community. These changes have been challenging and sometimes painful but ultimately worthwhile—because in the end, all of the user groups are interested in helping you, the user. Sometimes the only thing that seems constant in technology is change.

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Photography byTeo Duldulao,Unsplash