“What will make you successful in life? . . . You have to be excellent in what you do, and
if you’re not, you want to learn from people who are and find out how to get there.”
—Rich Niemiec, Former IOUG President
about how their role is changing with
the integration of all the other companies
that Oracle has acquired and the fact that
now we need to know more about other
spaces. We need to know more about
storage, operating systems, and applications. The middleware space is huge, and
a lot of DBAs are taking on that role.
Another key concern is business
processes. IOUG members are asking
how their colleagues are managing the
business processes of handing off different pieces and taking in different pieces
across teams, and what communication is
needed between the business folks, the IT
folks, and all the different teams within IT,
because now all these pieces are coming
together. For example, what does Oracle
Fusion Middleware mean to me? Certainly
the IOUG has taken a lead role in bringing that knowledge and those people
together so that members can understand
the future and where they need to go and
what they still need to do and learn to get
there. Members are looking for education
and contacts, building relationships with
other people to help figure out what other
companies are doing.
Oracle Magazine: What brings IOUG
members to COLLABORATE every year?
Kaplan: The two big things are the educational content and networking. There
are more than a thousand sessions, plus
hands-on opportunities, panels, and keynotes. Although people have the option
of Webcasts, they prefer to attend so
they can interact with the presenter and
ask questions. And meeting your peers
in social settings or roundtable discussions—even hallway chatter—is valuable.
Floss: I sat on three discussion panels and
spoke at one session in the professional
development track. The panels are very
interactive, and people are asking a lot of
questions. What can I do? What are other
people doing? How are people handling
the changes in companies relative to
budgets? How do you justify a tool? The
panels are important to helping people
weather change—and of course building
relationships—because you always want
to have a wide network of people that you
can ask for help of any kind. The broader
the network that you have, the better
chance you have that you’ll get assistance.
Kaplan: With the networking here at
COLLABORATE, you have an opportunity to talk with someone and find out
how they architected something or did
the implementation. Just having a real
customer go through a 10-step procedure
is different and valuable.
Floss: In training classes, you learn all
the ways you can do something, which
is wonderful, and you have to learn that.
You have to go to training. But when
you hear the 10 steps of how somebody
implemented XYZ, they’ll also tell you
what they did that didn’t work. And if
they had to do it all over again, what
exactly are the things that they would do
differently? Those are key components
that you can’t get anywhere else.
Kaplan: Not even necessarily that they
made something work. Maybe technically it worked, but then they changed
this parameter or bought fibre channel
disk and now it works five times as
fast. The process was the same, but you
tweaked one thing and you get a monumental change in the end result.
Floss: And that’s key information. One of
the customers did a presentation on their
implementation of SAP on Oracle Real
Application Clusters, and he had pictures
of the different data centers, how they
were doing this. He listed the things that
they tested that didn’t go right. Here’s
what we did. Here’s what we expected.
Here’s what we got, and here’s why we
got that. Here’s where we went wrong
in our setup, or here’s where we found a
bug and here’s what we did to fix it, and
then we tested it again, and it worked
as designed. That kind of discussion is
huge; you can’t get that anywhere else.
Kaplan: Oracle also sent really key executives to COLLABORATE, which pleased
our members. They’re looking for insights
on what they can do today that’s new or
that will make their operations better, but
they’re also looking for Oracle’s strategic
direction, especially around Oracle Fusion
Middleware and applications. That’s really
where having [Oracle President] Charles
Phillips give a keynote is an extra benefit.
Niemiec: Even if you didn’t know anything
about Oracle, you could go to this conference and you’d benefit, because you’d
learn why these people are leaders. And
if you are in Oracle technology, you’re
gaining the knowledge of hundreds of
thousands of years of experience. You
won’t get that density of brainpower in
one spot elsewhere. If you learn just one
thing here—five minutes of time can save
you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You get intangible benefits too. The
IOUG has made a concerted effort to
build a professional development track.
I think if you look at what CEOs, CFOs,
and CIOs say is missing from college
graduates that go into technology, it’s that
they don’t have the soft skills. They don’t
have leadership skills.
What will make you successful in
life? Two things. First, you have to be
excellent in what you do, and if you’re
not, you want to learn from people who
are and find out how to get there. And
then you need the character attributes—
the things you learn from leadership
books and professional development
sessions. By giving attendees those
two pieces, COLLABORATE has really
expanded beyond technology. O
Jeff Erickson is a senior editor with Oracle Publishing.
Quest International Users Group
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