Another year of UKOUG conferences is over and both from my own perspective and from feedback I received, this year in Birmingham the 3 conferences, Apps16, Tech 16 and JDE16 were better than ever.
Sunday evening before conference is always the time for Volunteers drinks. This social event is an important part of the agenda designed to thank all the people who work behind the scenes in a voluntary capacity to bring the annual conferences together. Our volunteers are at the heart of UKOUG and as well as event planning, they contribute in key roles throughout the year including governance, strategy and contributions to our publications.
Until I stepped into the President position last year I had no idea how many people were involved in selecting and organising the speaker sessions that happen every year in December. These people are the backbone of our conference and are committed to making sure the event is a success - we couldn't run it without them. I'd encourage anyone who may be interested in helping to plan next year's events, to join UKOUG as a volunteer. It's extremely rewarding and also quite fun.
Monday's opening keynote from Neil Sholay, head of Digital for Oracle EMEA, was a big hit with everyone. Neil's talk was about Data Driven Business. Neil had some great insights on this topic, including telling us that fewer than 5% of businesses truly understand the value of their own data.
"Information is replacing technology as the most critical business asset"
We also announced the UKOUG speaker awards on Monday. These awards recognise the high calibre speakers that support UKOUG. The winners are decided by feedback given by delegates at the previous year’s conference combined with judges scores. This is why we at UKOUG encourage all conference delegates to score the speaker sessions they attend; we want to identify the sessions that are of most value to attendees and also to reward the very best speakers.
As a member of the UKOUG Board I don’t get time to attend many sessions but I did manage to sneak in 2 or 3 each day and the sessions I attended were excellent; they included a talk on IoT and Industry 4.0, the 4th industrial revolution, Nationwide Building Society’s Oracle Cloud adoption and the JDE Keynote where Lyle Ekdahl, Gary Grieshaber and Bob Monahan announced a series of JD Edwards Digital Transformation Workshops to be held in the in the UK starting in January 2017. Sadly, I missed the JDE Ideathon on Wednesday but I followed it on Twitter and it seemed like a great success. I’m looking forward to seeing the winning idea in a future JDE release.
This round-table event lasted 45 minutes but everyone seemed to agree it could have been twice as long as the conversation was still going strong when the whistle blew for the 9am speaker sessions. Next year perhaps we should extend this session to allow us to continue the debate.
On Tuesday morning we held a Women in IT breakfast which was very well attended and proved to be a worthy of an early start, both as a forum for discussing ideas and as another networking opportunity.
Tuesday night at conference is the big social event of the week where we all get a chance to network in a more relaxed, informal setting.
This year the evening was complete with karaoke, virtual reality, casino, photo booth and a fantastic Blues singer, Miz Suzy D, aka Susan Duncan our very own UKOUG Oracle liaison.
Those of us who serve on the UKOUG board are elected for a fixed term and my own term as President comes to an end in March 2017. It’s been an absolute pleasure representing Oracle customers in the UK and although I’ll be very sad to step down, I’m delighted that our members have voted Paul Fitton as my successor. Paul took to the stage on Monday morning and got to meet many of our members, volunteers and partners during the event so our handover is starting already and I couldn’t hope for anyone better to step into this position when I move on. I won’t be going far though and hope to be involved with UKOUG in a voluntary capacity for many more years to come.