Mark Clark, president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), spoke with 5 Minute Briefing at the recent Oracle OpenWorld conference about issues facing Oracle Applications users and the OAUG’s plans for the year ahead. Helping members understand the significance of the cloud, Fusion applications, and EBS 12.2 are key issues, as the OAUG continues to provide education, networking opportunities, and a voice for members to Oracle, says Clark, who is also a senior partner at O2Works.
What are OAUG members focused on now?
Clark: A lot of our folks are in investigation mode around what the cloud is going to bring. In fact, I spoke with an OAUG member who said if this trend continues he may have purchased his last hardware - so cloud is something about which we will need to have more content for our members. The upcoming release of Oracle E-Business Suite 12.2 is also of interest to many members because there are some improvements in the technology stack that will minimize downtime for patching, and then I think many users are starting to investigate the functionality available in Fusion applications and whether it is appropriate for them, and whether the Fusion applications will be deployed concurrently with other applications. Those are the big ideas that people are exploring.
According to a recent study by Unisphere Research among 266 OAUG members, E-Business Suite 12.1 is in place at 46% of respondents’ sites and EBS 11.5.10 is in pace at 51% of respondents’ sites. The report was released in September 2012. Does the fact that 11.5.10 is still in wide use surprise you?
Clark: The current release of E-Business Suite is 12.1.3. The fact that 11 5 10 is still out there and still widely used has to do with a few factors. It is partly due to the economic cycle that we were coming out of, with the cuts to IT budgets and cuts to staff. If you think of a global organization, it may have taken it years to roll the suite out to multiple countries and sites and they did it in a phased approach, but now in an upgrade process, they have to bring everybody up at once and coordinate things like shared service centers and interactions with banks, so it is a lot to do and these are things that people have to plan for and coordinate in terms of resources and really do it the right way to be successful.
You have to make sure you have really good test plans and really good communication plans. There were a lot of improvements made between 11.5.10 and 12, especially in the financials modules, and because there were improvements made, you have to make sure that folks are trained to use the improvements and that you have tested them out to work with your internal processes.
In addition to global factors like the economy, there are often internal issues at companies that people are dealing with like mergers or acquisitions that take their attention away from doing an upgrade.
What is the OAUG doing to help members move to the latest version?
Clark: One of the things we have had a big emphasis on in the last 2 years is education and we have provided education in a couple of ways. We have created special on-site mini-conferences that have gone to different cities in North America to train people on, new features and best practices in testing. That is one area.
And then we also offer virtual education throughout the year. We know that travel budgets are tight and people can’t get away from their jobs so we have been doing e-learning sessions that people can attend virtually, and on their own time. And these are all OAUG member benefits.
How else is the OAUG working with members?
Clark: We also work closely with Oracle to try and get their messages out, and there are some things that Oracle support has developed that are more proactive tools to help with upgrades and we try to help get the word out about that.
These initiatives are separate from the OAUG’s Connection Point events?
Clark: Yes, we have two separate types of in-person events. We have COLLABORATE that we do with the other Oracle user groups, and our OAUG Connection Point events, many of which are Release 12-focused, and then the e-learning sessions are virtual sessions. In addition, we also have a white paper database that our members can tap into and there is a lot of Release 12 content in there. Many of the articles in our OAUG Insight magazine also have a Release 12 focus. It is a big move from 11i to 12 and we are trying to make sure that our members have as much information as they can.