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Floyd Teter

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Watching the current trends and future direction of Oracle's Applicationsfteterhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11221041028141787708noreply@blogger.comBlogger359125
Updated: 6 days 23 hours ago

UX - No Time To Kill

Thu, 2014-04-03 15:51
There’s no time to kill between the cradle and the graveFather Time still takes a toll on every minute that you saveLegal tenders never gonna change the number of your daysThe highest cost of livin’s dyin’, that’s one everybody paysSo have it spent before you get the bill, there’s no time to kill                                        —From Clint Black’s “There’s No Time To Kill”
Ha! A classic country music pull…who’d have thunk it, huh?
There’s no time to kill is an appropriate phrase for the past few weeks in the Oracle UX world.  Lots of cool stuff happening.  To whit:
-  The brilliant and versatile Ultan O’Broin (@ultan) and the Oracle Applications UX team have released a free ebook on Simplified User Experience Design Patterns for the Oracle Applications Cloud Service.  Yup, it’s written for the recent R8 release.
-  In conjunction with the ebook release, Amis(@amis_services) and Oracle recently partnered together in putting on a great Next Generation UX showcase event in the Nederlands (you may need a little help from Google Translate to get the gist of this summary).
-  If you’re a member of the Oracle Partner Network, there is a new Guided Learning Path and Specialization:  Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience Specialist.  Yes, of course I jumped right in and earned mine.  And Steve Bentz (@smb1650) was “johnny-on-the-spot” as well.  It’s a challenging cert, but well worth earning…I learned a few things in the process. And I'm grateful that the test was offered online - no trudging down to a PeasonVUE test center.  Hello, 21st Century!
- In working with Higher Education customers, I’ve found a very cool (and free) prototyping tool for PeopleSoft, including Campus Solutions.  And it’s built in PowerPoint.  You can get a copy yourself here.  Very cool for those of you working with PeopleTools.
Busy, busy, busy time in UX…gotta keep up.  No time to kill.  

Moving Forward

Sat, 2014-03-22 09:55
Seems to be quite a bit of buzz in the enterprise software user community these days about moving forward.  Budgets have loosened up, users want better experiences, in-house IT providers want to reduce maintenance and infrastructure investments, C-level officers want better and more timely information on strategic initiatives, and everybody wants to be agile (even though there are multiple visions of agile, we all want it).  So it seems the big question lately is "how do we move forward"?

Most of my posts lately sound like "blasts from the past"...you can probably add this post to that category.  I'd recommend four things you can begin with right now in preparing to move forward:

1.  Move To The Latest Applications Release
If you're not on the latest release of PeopleSoft, Campus Solutions, E-Business Suite, or whatever packaged products you're using, get there.  Doing so will assure that you have the best platform to move forward from, in addition to making most transitions substantially less complicated.

2.  Prepare A Business Roadmap For Moving Forward
Another way to state this is is develop a description, in well-defined behavioral terms, for where you want your enterprise to be.  Note that this is not a technical roadmap, but more of a business-oriented roadmap.  Some considerations for that business roadmap may include:








3.  Inventory Your Enterprise Assets
Understand what assets you have on-hand that may help or hinder your way forward.  Were it me, I'd want five categories of existing enterprise assets:
  • Business processes
  • Applications (custom and packaged)
  • Information (including both what we have and what we share with whom - they're different!)
  • Projects
  • Customizatons
4.  Reconsider your customizations
Customizations increase the cost of moving forward and extend the time required. That customizations list we built in step 3?  Why do we have those customizations?  Could we replace any of them with out-of-the-box functionality from shrink-wrapped applications?  What about an extension to a packaged application?  Do we still need the customization at all?  Should we rebuild the customization on a new technology platform?

So, there ya go.  Four things you can do today.  No consulting services or special tools required.  Just serious commitment on your part: get to the latest release of whatever you're using, describe your desired business end-state, catalog your enterprise assets and reconsider your customizations.  The discussion doesn't change, regardless of the tech platform you're currently using.

We'll talk soon about what comes next.  In the meantime, share your thoughts in the comments...and get busy!


Deja Vu in Higher Education

Tue, 2014-03-11 22:22
And I feel like I've been here before
Feel like I've been here before

                  --From "Deja Vu" by Crosby, Stills & Nash

As I write this, I'm sitting in my hotel room resting up from another day at Alliance.  Sore feet, sore back, great conference.  I'm also having a Deja Vu experience:  Oracle made some product announcements here that hearken back to the early days of Fusion Applications (aka Oracle Cloud Application Services).

So, as you're probably heard, Oracle announced three new products directed specifically at the Higher Education marketplace:

  • Campus Solutions 9.2:  This new release of Campus Solutions, an upgrade from 9.0, rolls up of all the feature packs from 9.0.  It will also include the yet-to-be-released PeopleTools 8.54 and the PeopleSoft Upgrade Manager ("PUM").  The UI looks for similar to Simplified UI, but it's built on PeopleTools rather than ADF.
  • Student Cloud:  The first release will include services for continuing education, with later releases including functionality yet to be revealed.  The UI is Oracle's Simplified UI (which makes it pretty cool in and of itself).
  • Higher Education Cloud:  This will be a group of new features for Higher Education in Oracle's ERP and HCM clouds.  The features announced include Grants Management, Budgetary Control, Encumbrance Accounting (all in the ERP Cloud), Position Control Multiple Appointments and Collective Bargaining Agreements (in the HCM Cloud).
Some of the important points to remember in all of this:
  • These are not "either or" offerings.  The intent is to offer customers freedom of choice...including the ability to "mix and match".  For example, CS customers will be able to utilize features of the Higher Education Cloud to add value quickly, without additional infrastructure investment.
  • All the Oracle offerings in the Higher Education space will continue to evolve.  All three products will grow and develop according to the needs voiced by Higher Education customers.
  • For those worried about Oracle's commitment to the PeopleSoft and Campus Solutions products, my advice is to stop worrying.  This announcement represents a higher level of commitment to those products, not a death knell.
Now about that feeling of Deja Vu.  For those of you who recall the evolution of Fusion Applications, all this sounds mighty familiar...with one important exception.  Those in the Oracle ecosystem learned and improved quite a bit in the evolution Cloud Application Services up to this point.  Higher Ed customers will benefit from all that learning and improvement as the Oracle brings the opportunities of choice to the higher education space.
Campus Solutions 9.2, Student Cloud, Higher Education Cloud - this is going to be one fun ride...again.

Hanging With The HEUG

Sun, 2014-03-09 16:37
So I'm hanging with the Higher Education User Group this week in Las Vegas; Alliance 2014.  It's been a year or so since I've gotten to Alliance, so it's pretty cool to be back here.  I'm also excited in general about working with Higher Education customers.  I've only been here for a day so far, but I've noticed some very obvious things already:
  • The people here are almost desperate to provide their students with a 21st century experience.  They feel the need to have their student systems match the excellence found in their academics and research.
  • Many of the schools struggle to implement well.  And it's not that they don't understand the technology.  The common theme seems to be one of organizational change management.
  • While total cost of ownership is obviously a concern, system quality seems to be an even great concern with these folks...a positive in my book.
  • Prior point notwithstanding, a huge issue for many international schools seems to be infrastructure reliability.  Things many of us take for granted (dependable electricity, broadband internet connections, physical hardware security) are huge issues in some parts of the world.
I've already heard some of this from my involvement in strategy and road mapping efforts for Io Consulting customers, but this conference is reinforcing all these themes.  I'm absorbing so much, especially in terms of this unique set of Oracle users, that it feels a bit like drinking from a firehose.  Lots of interesting stuff happening here.  I'll post more as the conference progresses, especially in light of what is shaping up to be a really big Monday. Stay tuned!

A Crazy Game Of Poker, Verse 2

Fri, 2014-03-07 10:31
A few months ago, I announced my resignation from EiS Technologies ("A Crazy Game Of Poker").  Another one of those leaps of faith - agreeing to part months ahead of time, not quite knowing where I was going next.  It's a great approach to parting ways with an employer if all parties can step up to behaving like grown-ups.  It gives the employer time to find and train a replacement as well as picking your brain for knowledge transfer, and it gives the employee time to search for the next gig without facing huge financial pressures.  It works well as long as all parties are mature enough to refrain from any vindictive behavior.

Big kudos to the leadership at EiS for stepping up through this time period and making it all work well.  EiS is a special place with a special team...I miss every bit of it.

I started a new adventure with Io Consulting in February.  I like the social value of the company's mission:  100% Oracle, 100% Higher Education, 100% Customer Satisfaction.  Each and every one of those elements are important to me.  My role will be building up Fusion Middleware and Oracle Cloud Applications Services capabilities within the company. So I'll continue to be deeply involved in User Experience, ADF, and the overall Fusion/Cloud Applications architecture.  I'll likely get into some PeopleSoft & Campus Solutions areas as well...it's been awhile since I've been intimately involved in either, so it'll be nice to get back there again.  So I'm very excited to join the Io Consulting team and look forward to what lies ahead.

In some ways, it will be weird: no more Collaborate or KScope, a little less emphasis on EBS, a more narrowly focused customer set.  But I'll get to attend Alliance on a regular basis (rather than the sporadic attendance of the last five years) and I'll still be a regular at OOW.  And the new management team uses the word "cool" on a regular basis, so that's a good indicator.  And I get to work with Ted Simpson - it gets no better than that!

OK, I'm done being self-centered now.  The next post will take us back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Getting Lucky

Mon, 2014-02-24 10:46
Every once in awhile, I get lucky.  Out of the clear blue sky, life tosses me a bone…or a gold nugget…or a diamond.  We’re speaking figuratively, of course. I’m not much for bones unless it’s in the middle I’m BBQing.  Gold and diamonds…yeah, I’m not THAT lucky.  But I digress.

Aidan Duffy recently sent me an e-copy of his book, “The Oracle Opportunity: The Blueprint To Succeeding As An Oracle EBusiness Consultant.”  For those of you who don’t have the pleasure of knowing Aidan, he has been successfully delivering Oracle EBS implementation projects throughout Europe for the past 20 years.  Clients include Pfizer, General Electric, Canon, Alcatel-Lucent and Diageo.

Aidan’s book is not another “learn Oracle EBS” manual.  “The Oracle Opportunity” lays out a roadmap for becoming a successful EBS consultant, based on Aidan’s experiences.  For those of you who have wondered about making the transition from employee to consultant, this book is for you.  If you’re already in the EBS consulting field, this book is a great refresher for succeeding as a consultant.

In the book, Aidan explains how to build your own consulting career using four pillars:  Position Yourself, Package Your Experience, Promote Yourself and Partner With The Right People.  Aidan further explains how to build up your four pillars through a 12-step plan.  Well worth the read.

Had I possessed Aidan’s book 20 years ago, it would have saved boatloads of time and trouble.  Aidan captured many things I’ve had to learn from “The School of Hard Knocks”.  But it just wasn’t my time to get lucky.  But your time could be now…

You can find out more at www.iloveoracle.com or on Twitter @aidanjduffy.  Or you can grab the book off Amazon here.

Could Oracle Cloud Trump Amazon Web Services?

Tue, 2014-01-14 19:31
OK, we all read or heard it recently in one form or another.  Oracle has told Amazon that it’s “game on” for leadership in the “commodity” Infrastructure as a Service (“IaaS”) market.  In other words, “we’ll beat you on price”.  Lots have folks have called the declaration crazy - Oracle can’t compete with Amazon on the basis of commodity pricing and never will.  Funny thing is, I think Oracle could actually pull it off.  Before you call the loony bin to have me hauled off, let me set some context and provide an explanation.

Context
I’m obviously an advocate of Oracle technology.  At the same time, I’m a big fan and user of Amazon Web Services.  Love ‘em both.  But I do think that their different approaches to providing cloud services could be a difference-maker.

Explanation
In July 2013, David Strauss wrote a very detailed comparison of Containers versus VMs for the Linux Journal.  Rather than plagiarizing or rewriting, I’ll just boil it down:  in today’s world, containers are require less overhead than VMs, scale better, are lower cost and are easier to use.

With the 12c database, Oracle’s made a serious commitment to the container approach.  I suspect we’ll seem them leverage the container concept throughout their IaaS offerings.  AWS, on the other hand, sells and rents VMs (EC2 AMIs, for example).  Containers = lower cost, quicker provisioning, easier administration, lower overhead.  If Oracle continues to adhere to the container architecture, unless Amazon makes some technology changes, big advantage Oracle.

Containers v. VMs is a difference that significantly impacts the business model.  So, yeah, the technology matters.  And that’s why I think Oracle Cloud could trump AWS…even on the basis of commodity pricing, assuming Oracle is willing to accept the paper-thin margins that go with commodity pricing (and they might, with the strategy of up-selling IaaS customers to higher-margin Platform as a Service offerings).  It’ll be interesting to see how Amazon (and Rackspace and Microsoft Azure and all the other IaaS players) respond to the challenge.

As always, comments and concerns about my sanity are welcome.

Xprtly - Extreme Coolness

Tue, 2014-01-07 18:00
Something cool happened today…something extremely cool.  Xprtly was released into public beta.
What in the heck is Xprtly?  The best way to describe it is a cloud-based support platform, with a mobile application and a web interface for administration.  The idea is to connect users with support personnel who can respond to issues as they arise.  Xprtly also allows for data collection of both user and support personnel behavior, plus analytics of that collected idea - which can result in improved support performance, identification of additional training areas for both users and support personnel, and reductions in total cost of ownership for enterprise software.
Admittedly, my description doesn’t really do Xprtly justice.  Check out the website here.  Watch some scenario videos here and here.  Get a rough idea of how the mobile app works here.
As luck would have it, I’ve had an early peek at Xprtly.  What’s cool about this app is that, especially for users, it’s easy to use.  Great UX.  Mobile app:  Log in, pick your preferred response method (email, IM, phone call, etc.), describe your issue, submit the request.  Done. Help follows.  Simple. Clean. Easy.

Now, I understand that internal support applications are not a new idea. But, IMHO, the ease of use (a focus on simple elegance) of the entire platform plus the built in reporting capabilities are differentiating factors.  Enabling users by applying a new design approach approach to an old idea.

Xprtly was developed for your phone.  But I also see it as a future candidate for wearable tech (including Google Glass).  
Don’t you love it when small companies do extremely cool stuff?  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Fusion Applications: Some Suggested Reading

Mon, 2014-01-06 14:14
I just finished a really nifty book:  Oracle Fusion Applications Development and Extensibility Handbook.  Required reading for anyone working with Fusion Applications.

The organization of the book is one of the reasons I highly recommend it.  The first four chapters lay out a foundation of knowledge need by anyone working with Fusion Applications in a functional or technical role.  The remaining 11 chapters provide deep detail (including instructions with pictures) on personalizing, extending, and customizing Fusion Applications.  Loads of very cool techniques: I learned a few new tricks on how to use Jdeveloper and ADF with Fusion Applications without really messing up the works.

I was also impressed that the authors also tackle some of the more complex subjects fundamental to Fusion Application:  Run Time and Design Time Customization of SOA Components, Enterprise Scheduler Processing, and Integration with Fusion Applications.  On the latter subject, the fact that the authors shared details on the widely-unknown gems of Bulk Export and Bulk Import was very impressive.

The e-book version is destined for my iPad as part of my “go to” reference set.  If you’re working with Fusion Applications, you may want to consider adding this book to your toolkit as well.  It’s the real deal.

You can find and order the book at Amazon or Oracle Press.

Virtual tip o’ the hat to authors Vladimir Ajvaz, Anil Passi, and Dhaval Mehta - plus technical editor Gustavo Gonzalez.

Thoughts On Customer Experience

Thu, 2014-01-02 19:40
Lost my bank debit card the other day.  It took me about 4 hours to realize it was missing.  My first move was to use my iPhone to check my account using the bank’s app…sigh of relief, my money no unrecognized charges.  Then I called the toll-free number (a prominent link from that same app) to block the card - they not only blocked the card for new charges, but assured me that any fraudulent charges would be refunded to my account (because I called within 24 hours of losing the card).  I slept peacefully that night, knowing the money in my account was safe.
The next morning at 9:00 am, I received a phone call from my local branch:  based on my call from the prior night, my new debit card (with a new account number) was ready for pickup.  The cool thing here was I didn’t even have to ask for the replacement card…the bank took the initiative based on my call from the prior evening.  I was instructed to drive over to create a new PIN and pick up the new card at my convenience.  So I did.  The card was waiting for me…show some ID, punch in a new PIN, and we’re done.  From the time I walked in the door of the local branch, I walked out with the new debit card within five minutes.
Driving away from the branch, I realized that the total time invested by me to report to check the account, call in the lost card, and have the card replaced?  20 minutes, including the drive time to the local branch.  And it was easy…no fuss, no muss, no stress.

My point in sharing all this here?  I think I just had a superior customer experience.  And, yes, my bank now has a customer for life.  All tech related: 1) simple, easy to use mobile app; 2) easily-accessible live service from that app; 3) integration that automatically caused my replacement card to be created, along with a follow-up phone call.  So maybe this is the type of thing that all those customer experience pundits are talking about?  Hmmm...

14 for 14

Thu, 2013-12-26 14:37
So all the cool kids are sharing their predictions for 2014.  While I'm not much of a prognosticator, I thought it would be fun to share my own thoughts on the upcoming year.  If nothing else, we can all have a good laugh in 12 months over how poorly my crystal ball works.  Here we go:

1. The difference between fads and serious uptake will depend more than ever on whether we can figure out ways to add real value (better, faster, cheaper) for people and enterprises.  Wearable tech, big data, and the internet of things all fall into this category in 2014.

2. Enterprises moving to the public cloud will become a stampede in 2014.  The savings in total cost of ownership throughout the life cycle are just too good to pass up, security concerns aside.  Follow the money.

3. The combination of HTML5 and JavaScript for web development will continue to take the world by storm.  Frameworks (Oracle ADF, Twitter Bootstrap, Node.js) and design patterns make the builds easy and allow us to focus on the user experience design...which is the make or break point for web-based apps.

4. The differentiating factors for enterprise applications on the cloud will be:  ease of use, ease of services integration, ease of data integration, ease of simple customization, and cost.  Any product missing on any of these points will fizzle out, especially in terms of net new customers.  

5. Experienced enterprise applications customers, defined as those with more than five years experience under their belt, will realize that they’ve squeezed all the productivity gains available to them from automation.  2014 will be the year that the need for information from all that transactional data becomes the predominant demand from existing enterprise applications customers.  Which will make that ease of data integration point raised in #4 above a really, really big deal.

6. Hand-in-hand with #5 above, we’ll see a significant rise in 3rd-party reporting and BI solutions offering technology-agnostic “information as a service”.  Pentaho, Domo and Good Data are companies already well-positioned to take advantage of this trend.  OBIEE in the cloud could take off as well if the integration and pricing are right.

7. Somebody will finally figure out that your phone is not the right platform for complex reporting and analytics.  The phone, however, is a great platform for executing simple business transactions.

8. Oracle will continue with their transition from a database company to a technology company.  The transition will not be complete in 2014, but that’s not a worry…Oracle has the balance sheet to play a very long game.  And we will see concrete, measurable signs of their progress in 2014.

9. Oracle will also begin the evaluation of their numerous and somewhat disjointed array of products.  Those that make sense to the roadmap and those that make money will be separated from those that don’t.  Oracle management will begin working the exit plan for those in the latter set.

10. Technology consulting:  think consolidation and change here. Many implementers and integrators  will close up shop, unable to compete as the market continues to morph into a price-driven commodity space. Others will move into pure consulting plays, offering advice (road mapping, product selection, etc.) rather than implement/build services.  And some will shift into staff augmentation shops, offering services during workload peaks and specific projects.

11. Coupled with #4 above, we’ll see a significant rise in the acceptance and use of Integration-as-a-Service (“IaaS”); integration offered as a transparent service a la SnapLogic, Informatica Cloud, and MuleSoft.  One interesting angle in the mix, however…enterprise applications vendors will discover that a good API library will be a differentiating factor selling cloud-based applications.  SalesForce has this nailed already with their Salesforce1 platform.  

12. Enterprises will stop managing the mobile device you use as they figure out that the name of the game is managing resources, not devices.  As a result, any IT used by the enterprise will have to be platform-agnostic…’Droid, Windows, iOS, whatever else.

13. Watch for Amazon Web Services to lead an outpouring of new offerings from cloud vendors moving up the tech stack as the tech stack itself becomes less relevant:  platform-as-a-service (“PaaS”) and higher value services for enterprises.  Lots of returns available here in “adding value around the edges” of the enterprise.  This is another example of what I call the “gold rush business model”; check the history of any gold rush and you’ll see that it was not the miners who got rich, but the businesses selling supplies and services to the miners - adding value around the edges of the mining operations.

14. Oracle Fusion Applications will build more momentum in 2014, especially in the HCM market.  FUSE...The simplified user interface, combined with the SaaS offerings, will prove to be a sweet spot in adding value while lowering the cost.

So, there you have it - 14 predictions for 2014.  Thoughts, comments, discussion, critiques are all welcome...at least until New Year's Day ;)