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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.comBlogger426125
Updated: 5 hours 46 min ago

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Tue, 2016-04-05 18:13
All good things must come to an end
           - Geoffrey Chaucer,  "Troilus and Criseyde", circa 1385

Time has proven repeatedly that Chaucer was right.  And, for this blog, the time has come to wrap it up and call it done.

When I decided to rejoin Oracle, I was well-aware of the risk that I might have to dial back or close down my professional presence on social media.  Oracle makes great effort to shape their messages, especially product-related messages, through all available channels...including social media.  And, for the most part, Oracle products are exactly what I've explored with my own social media accounts.

Over the eight months since I've rejoined Oracle, there have been times when the things I write here and on Twitter have "crossed wires" with Oracle's own messaging.  And it's now reached a point where it could distract from what we aiming to achieve as a team.  And we're talking about information related to Oracle's products and services.  Simply stated, as a member of the Oracle team, I adhere to the concept that Oracle has a right to control the messaging about Oracle's products and Oracle's services.

One more thing I'd like to clarify here in this last post:  there is nothing draconian working in the background here.  Nobody at Oracle has threatened my standing within the company if I fail to dial things back.  No slap on the wrist or anything like that.  Quite the opposite:  I'm a member of a team attempting to accomplish significant things, and my commentary on Oracle-related products and services is heading towards becoming a distraction...possibly even a detriment...to that effort.  So don't go there.  This is my decision and mine alone.

Now don't get the idea that I'm done blogging.  I still have some serious passion for user experience, business metrics, SaaS and smart approaches to software design & development.  So it's highly likely that you'll see me start something up on one or more of those subject.  It just won't have an Oracle-related context.  So I'm not done.  I'm just done with this.

So this is it for ORCLville.  This is also it for Oracle-related commentary on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.  It's been both an educational and a fun ride for me.  Hope y'all got something out of it too.  Keep an eye out on my Twitter account (fetter) - you'll see new things from me in the near future.

UPDATE:  Be sure to check out my new, technology-agnostic blog The Enterprise Software Puzzle!

Customer Service Thinking

Mon, 2016-03-28 10:28
My definition of good customer service is pretty simple:  deliver what you promise.  Period.  You can over-deliver and still make me happy.  But other than that, it's pretty simple.  Tell me what you promise you'll do.  If I sign up for the service, then delivery that service:  on-time, at the price you promised, and make it as easy for me as you promised.  That's it.

Earlier this week, I encountered back-to-back customer service failures with my preferred airline.  The first fail took place when winter weather struck on the runway...waited in the plane on the runway for two hours because the airline failed to have the wing de-icers ready to go.  The second failure occurred when the plane failed a brake inspection prior to boarding; lost two hours and rebooked a later flight.

In both cases, the airline did quite well in providing details for the cause of the delays and expressed profound apologies.  But here is a tip for the airline:  that is not customer service.  You blew it when you failed to deliver your service on-time at the price you promised.  Providing details and status is about mitigating the damages from your failure to provide customer service...it's not good customer service.  In fact, the line defining a customer service failure has already been crossed.

One more customer experience failure this week; I went to my favorite hardware store to shop for a few tools and place a larger order for some building materials (more house remodeling).  The tool shopping went well, but it took two hours to place the order for materials.  The cause of the delay?  Not one of the five service representatives knew how to enter the order into the store's order entry system.  An utter failure of customer service due to a lack of effective training for the team that works with customers.

Now you may be thinking that I've just had a crummy week and I'm using this forum to vent.  On the contrary, it was a good week...because this experience got me to thinking.

You see, Software-as-a-Service is not just about software hosted on a public cloud.  It's about delivering a service.  Telling customers what you promise to do.  Then delivering on that promise.  Including provisioning, implementing, and support...all the activities and exchanges that go into the "Service".

We see too many service fails in the SaaS world.  All the time.  Every day.  Regardless of software vendor.  The industry is still working through the transition from thinking about providing software applications to providing a service...a much, much wider scope of responsibility to our customers.  We need to up the standard - quickly!

Thoughts?  Find the comments.

Tools vs Products

Mon, 2016-03-21 11:17
I have a garage full of neat tools.  Drill press, miter saw, band saw, table saw, power sander, Dremel, several Milwaukee power drills and portable hand saws, gauges, clamps, vise grips...yeah, the works. But I've learned something over the years; other than other people with a shared interest in nifty tools, nobody cares about the tools I have.  What they care about is the speed, quality and cost involved in making things with those tools.  I can own the niftiest hammer on the face of the planet, but few people will care; they care about the house I build, regardless of the coolness of the hammer.

This concept is not limited to traditional shop and construction tools.  Pull out your smartphone.  Take a look at the apps.  Nobody cares about what tools were used to build the app if it misses the mark on quality, speed, ease of use, or cost.

The same holds true for SaaS applications.  Customers don't care about the underlying platform...nor should they, when the idea is to make all that complexity transparent to them.  Customers care about care about speed, ease of implementation and use, quality (including reliability, depth of features and security), how well the application will perform their business process, and the information the application will provide about those executed transactions.

So, to put it bluntly, SaaS is not about the platform nor the development tools.  It's about ease of use, quality, and cost.  Let's stop talking about the technology and start talking about the things that matter.

Knowing Your Cloud From Your SaaS

Mon, 2016-02-29 11:23
I have recently spent far too much time in far too many conversations in which the terms "cloud" and "SaaS" are used interchangeably.  Let's be clear:  the two terms are not interchangeable as they describe very different concepts.

Cloud.  There are many definitions out there.  Marketers and sales people.  Engineers.  Industry analysts. The National Institute of Standard and Technology.  Frankly, most of those definitions are either wrong, or they're technically accurate while thoroughly useless.  So let's go with a simple definition: a computer in a different physical location attached to a network.  It's about physical architecture.  Think about it.  Play with it.  Hit the comments if you have a better definition.

SaaS.  Acronym for "Software as a Service".  Same set of folks attempting to define this idea with the same set of sad results.  Try this on for size:  Applications accessed via a browser, licensed on a subscription basis and delivered via Cloud.

So it's very possible to have Cloud (think hosting operations) without having SaaS.  But there is no SaaS without Cloud.  SaaS is a subset of Cloud.

In "Oracle speak", Fusion Applications (including Taleo), are SaaS.  As a customer, I could also opt to have my licensed E-Business, PeopleSoft, or JD Edwards applications on the cloud...but that is not SaaS, as those applications are not offered on a subscription basis.

So there ya go.  Simple set of definitions.  Yes, there are more nuances if you dig into the subject.  But this is a simple foundation to start.  If nothing else, the next time you're involved in a conversation, you can use this to know your Cloud from your SaaS...which will put you way ahead of the curve ;)


What Is This COE Thing?

Wed, 2016-02-17 12:32
Since joining Oracle, I've heard this same question repeatedly:  "This Oracle HCM Cloud Center Of Excellence team you've joined...what do they do?"  So I thought I'd attempt to answer that question here in the hopes that people may get some benefit from it.

Be aware that you can search the web and find many definitions regarding a Center of Excellence is and what it does.  Forget that stuff, most of it does not apply here.  We're creating an entirely different model.

Our team does not create any of the core elements of the Cloud HCM product: the software nor the service.  We focus on making all aspects of the product better.  At the risk of using language that is already overused in enterprise software, we work to make the customer experience better.  And the work is a mix of strategic initiatives and responses to current issues.

Some of our typical activities include:

  • Providing internal tools and processes for improved delivery of software services
  • Serving as functional and technical experts for strategic customers with unique challenges
  • Creating aids and solutions to help customers move from subscription to Go Live better, faster and cheaper
  • Give feedback to Product Development on wide-spread product issues that may lead to solutions within Cloud HCM products
  • Guiding strategic partners about products, methodologies, and current issues through regularly scheduled "cadence calls".
The upshot is that our team is located at the intersection of product development, delivery, and service.  We're a team of experts in all aspects of Oracle Cloud HCM and we apply that expertise wherever it's needed: internal Oracle teams, strategic partners, and customers.

So there you have it.  That's what we do.  And we're ready for you when you need us. So question answered...I hope...you can let me know in the comments.

Pareto Rocks!

Mon, 2016-02-01 17:55
I'm a big fan of Vifredo Pareto's work.  He observed the world around him and developed some very simple concepts to explain what he observed.  Pareto was ahead of his time.

Some of Dr. Pareto's work is based on the Pareto Principle:  the idea that 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.  In the real world, we continually see examples of the Pareto Principle.

I've been conducting one of my informal surveys lately...talking to lots of partners, customers and industry analysts about their experiences in implementing SaaS and the way it fits their business.  And I've found that, almost unanimously, the experience falls in line with the Pareto Principle.  Some sources vary the numbers a bit, but it generally plays out as follows:

  • Using the same SaaS footprint, 60% of any SaaS configuration is the same across all industries.  The configuration values and the data values may be different, but the overall scheme is the same.
  • Add another 20% for SaaS customers within the same vertical (healthcare, retail, higher education, public sector, etc.)..
  • Only about 20% of the configuration, business processes, and reporting/business intelligence is unique for the same SaaS footprint in the same industry sector between one customer and another.
Many of the customers I've spoken to in this context immediately place the qualifier: "but our business is different."  And they're right. In fact, for the sake of profitability and survival, their business must be different.  Every business needs differentiators.  But it's different within the scope of that 20% mentioned above.  That other 80% is common with everyone in their business sector.  And, when questioned, most customers agree with that idea.

This is what makes the business processes baked into SaaS so important; any business wants to burn their calories of effort on the differentiators rather than the processes that simply represent "the cost of being in business."  SaaS offers the opportunity to standardize the common 80%, allowing customers to focus their efforts on the unique 20%.  Pareto had it right.