Big Ideas

Perfect Attendance

Ace this year’s Oracle OpenWorld with smart tips from a veteran attendee.

August 2011

Bonnie Johnson, executive vice president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), knows a few things about Oracle OpenWorld. She is the director of application services at Louisville, Kentucky’s ResCare, a human services company providing residential, therapeutic, job training, and educational support. This October’s conference will be her fifth time attending and her second consecutive year presenting. Profit spoke to Johnson to get her tips on preparing for the most important educational and networking event of the year for Oracle technologists, customers, and partners.

Bonnie Johnson

Profit: What are you looking forward to at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld?

Johnson: The educational sessions, the networking with peers, and the face-to-face time with my Oracle reps are the top three areas that I tend to focus on when I attend Oracle OpenWorld. I am looking for what’s happening with the new products—what product releases are coming out and what functionality is being added. If we need to collaborate with an Oracle partner, the exhibition hall is wonderful because everybody’s there. You can go speak to professionals in different areas and get a flavor for their background and their teams and how they can work with you.

Also, I always catch as many of the keynotes as I can. There’s so much going on in San Francisco, and the number of people at the conference can wear you down a little bit. But the keynotes are fun, exciting events and really energize you as an attendee.

Profit: How do you prepare for the show?

: I am one of ResCare’s main liaisons with Oracle, so if we are interested in a new topic or project down the pike I tend to be the one to do the research, bring it to the table, and coordinate with the Oracle partner reps at the beginning of that project. If I see something I think ResCare needs at Oracle OpenWorld, I can get out there and start building a case and bring it home. The timing is great for calendar-year end users who are beginning the budgeting process for next year.

I also hone in on the applications we recently purchased. For example, we just closed on the licensing for Oracle Essbase, so this year I will be attending sessions featuring projects that focus on that.

Profit: You gave a presentation about business intelligence [BI] last year. What about this year?

Johnson: I’ll be presenting on BI again this year. Our ResCare BI project went live this year at the end of January. I’ll be speaking more about how that go-live has gone within the organization, from the top down. I’ll also be talking about the enhancements we started and what we plan to accomplish this year. I want to give folks an understanding that BI is a never-ending project rollout.

Profit: What advice would you give to first-time attendees?

Johnson: I think the best advice that I can give is: Don’t be overwhelmed. Make sure that you have a focus—or your top three areas of focus—because you can’t take the whole event in. You really have to decide what it is you’re there for, personally and professionally. Then, seek out networking and educational opportunities that fit into that circle.

Also, don’t worry if you miss an Oracle session on the new features. There’s usually another one with a slightly different flavor where you can get the same information. And remember to use that face-to-face time with your Oracle reps.

Profit: What do you enjoy doing in San Francisco?

Johnson: My husband started coming with me a couple years back, and we’ve enjoyed wine tours—he mountain bikes when I am in sessions. San Francisco is just a hotbed of fine dining and art galleries, plus you’ve got fun destinations like Fisherman’s Wharf. And what I like is you can walk everywhere, so be sure to get a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Then, on top of that, there isn’t an evening that goes by without a networking event, whether it be sponsored by Oracle, a partner, or a user group. And the Oracle Appreciation Event is always a great final ending to the week. I always say, come early and stay late.

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