Friday, February 27, 2009

Find the Balance, it's Friday

Wow...Friday finally. I love Fridays. I like getting stuff done on Fridays. I hate to have things hang around over a weekend. Friday is a great day to bring closure to work that you have been involved in during the week. So on this day I wonder about the mix of work and life.

It is said by some that “They live to work”, while other say “They work to live”. Switch the words around and consider how different the meanings are. For many years I have seen people burn themselves out while living for work. They see work as something that defines them and that work becomes more important than life. This is unfortunate for those around the focused individuals. We see it all the time. The people who get home late, who work when they get home and they work at the dinner table. The Blackberry has enabled these people to take the live to work to take things to a whole new level.

Let’s look at the other side of this equation; the people who work to live. These are the people that strive for balance live and work. These people understand the meaning of downtime. The opportunity to clear your mind and return focused, is the major benefit of the balance. If you continually are in work mode, you have no opportunity to break away and regenerate creative juices. I always think that walking away from a problem will give me a new perspective and invariably it does and speeds me to a solution. The balance gives you this same advantage to clear your mind, focus and re-energize the batteries. So consider today; Friday as the day that you will strive for balance. The day you will leave on time. Make today the day that you will not answer your Blackberry after dinner and the day that you will reenergize yourself by bring balance back to the equation.

Of course one final mention for the week...if you need to reenergize your Oracle balance take part and attend COLLABORATE 09 in Orlando May 3-7, 2009.
Make it a great day and make it a great weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Being Pennywise and Pound Foolish

It seems like everyday I start this blog with a discussion on the economy. In these fluid times we see companies announcing their loss of significant amounts of money on a daily. GM announced today that they would lose $9.4 Billion this quarter. The amount is staggering and is a sign of the decline of the American automobile industry that has been happening slowly for years. Let's not forget who Killed the Electric Car, sometimes its about vision and missed opportunity. However, other companies sit in fear that they must conserve all resources, and reduce any and all costs. This is where being pennywise and pound foolish comes alive.

Recently I heard of a project that had the opportunity increase profits for the organization by some $70 million per year. The way this is done is through price and cost optimization, and sounds like some very cool stuff, that I know very little about. The project has been delayed, primarily due to limited customer resources, but also to save money. To me this seems a little counter-intuitive. At times like these you need to invest time and resources to improve and optimize revenue and do anything you can to improve profits?

Conferences are similar. I know that individuals and organization struggle with idea of investing in education at a time of economic turmoil. I think it is more important than ever to invest. The cost of going to an event like Collaborate09 is very reasonable and can be justified as a valuable investment in staff and knowledge. This is a time that we need to keep our best resources and to ensure that they are completely prepared for all that will be coming. Employees today can expect that they will need to do more with fewer people. So the people that we have in our organizations today, it is them that we must invest in. We need to spend their education and knowledge. They must be aware of best practices and build a network to help. Today the network and the knowledge you have will help save your database. It is a time to invest. It is a time to share. We must learn from the past and conferences are both historic and visionary. Hope to see you in May at Collaborate.

So think about spend or not to spend. Now is the time to think of it as an investment not a cost.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Generationally Speaking

As we get older it seem like kids get younger. When I look back at my life (all 45 years) of it I have been around at a time of great change.

I am a baby-boomer, but in the final years, which in some circles could make me a Gen X'er. I always wanted to be a Gen X'er, I never felt part of the baby boom. I was too young for the Beatles, Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix, the Love Generation; I grew up in the 70's. I remember the moon landing, even though I was four, I can still the family sitting in our living room watching it on our old black and white TV. Then I lived through disco, the fall of Berlin Wall, the space shuttle and technology being a part of my life. We owned a Commodore 64, that machine rocked! But we were so different from our parents. I know every generation says that but the difference between myself and my parents and myself and my kids is different. I feel that I have a better understanding of Generation Y then my parent understood Generation X.

The issue of generational interaction is more important than ever as we work in organizations that have workers in each of the various age categories; veterans, boomers, Gen Y, Gen Y. Each group has a title and each has an expectation. Whether it is that today's generation is completely wired for every situation or that some folks in the office type with two fingers and still can't seem to find the right letters, but then again they have experience and knowledge. How do we get them all to communicate together? It comes down to understanding how each generation communicates and keeping all options available.

Ultimately we need to ensure that we communicate. The IOUG is launching a more active participation in the various online communities. We will focus on Facebook , LinkedIn, OracleMix and Twitter. I encourage everybody to take part. This is an opportunity to bridge the Oracle generations and bring together a community that is quite varied. So join in; find the IOUG on your favourite social site and start the conversation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How can we get things right?

It’s amazing to me how many people get it wrong. You see these words and what comes to mind? Is it the way that the city times traffic lights? Or is it that bank made an error in your account? Or is it the economy? Or is it this year’s Oscars? No, what I am talking about are data systems. After all that’s what I do. However, I do have opinions on all of the previous questions.

I get exposed to many different data projects and sometimes we come in and it is Greenfields, other times you come into a situation where something has been built. It may or may not have satisfied business requirements at some point in time, but today it does not and probably has grown into something that is unmanageable and unproductive. How do things end up going so wrong?

They go wrong for numerous reasons. It could be a result of inexperience, other times it is someone so focused on their own solution that the bigger picture gets lost. At times it is a result of time. It’s easier to build a little application, than worry about integrating into the billing system. People make systems go bad and it’s generally those who don’t know better. Inexperience and lack of thought leadership is the biggest obstacle to success.

Generally, most situations can be fixed, sometimes you need to rebuild, but generally in the data arena, with data everything can be fixed. But how do you fix inexperience. By learning on your own and from others can help you avoid the pitfalls. Consider attending the IOUG Forum at Collaborate 09. Just click on the link and find a way to become the experienced and knowledgeable person and become someone who won’t get it wrong. Today with the current state of things we can’t afford to get it wrong. So come and be part of the place where people get it right.

BTW....I got 18 of 24 Oscar picks right this year and was crowned The Abramson Family Oscar champ!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Welcome to the IOUG President's Blog

Hi to all,

The world has changed at an unprecedented pace and we need to keep up.

Being the President of the IOUG, I thought that it would be great to open communications with the community and provide a perspective on where the Oracle user community is heading and how the IOUG can help each of us in our journey.

The blog is meant to foster communication from the Board and myself with the community. I expect that I will touch on many subjects and open new discussions. I will help everyone to understand what the user group is up to and how to take best advantage of the benefits as well as discuss general Oracle topics or technology.

To start with I would like to mention that everyone should consider attending Collaborate 09 ( ). We often look to the web for all of answers, but the face-to-face opportunity to learn is a very cost-effective option considering that the amount of information that you take in in-person is significantly higher than when you learn on your own or via the web. The conference has content that is critical for attendees to learn. I find that at every event I attend I learn something new (even after all these years), as well it energizes me when I return. Oracle education can be very exciting. I hope that everyone can attend this year and I hope to meet all of you in Orlando, May 3-7, 2009.

In the coming days and weeks I will continue to communicate what we are up to and I hope that people who read this blog voice their opinions as well, so that I can encourage the entire Oracle community to become more social!

Thanks, Ian