Mark Clark, the new president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), is no stranger to user groups. Once a consultant at Oracle, Clark left in 1992 and immediately became involved with the OAUG, helping found two local
chapters. Clark is a senior partner at O2Works LLC, a Dallas-based Oracle consultancy focusing on E-Business Suite. Clark replaces David Ferguson as president of the OAUG and its more than 2,000 organizational members. SearchOracle.com asked Clark about applications users’ plans for 2011, Fusion Applications and the quality of Oracle Support.
What is the issue at top of mind for Oracle applications users in 2011?
I think one of the biggest issues is probably the migration to [E-Business Suite] Release 12 for some of the folks that are still on 11i. I think it involves more than just a technical upgrade. It’s a project that involves a lot of stakeholders, including the business stakeholders, and so folks really have to dedicate team members to the project to be successful.
My understanding is that they have a number of customers going through the beta program, and some of them have actually gone live, so I’m very interested to see how their experiences were.
I think there will probably be two different camps. There will be organizations where this is the right time to look at Fusion. Oracle is also suggesting they can keep the majority of footprint that they’re on and adopt Fusion as a point-type solution. That will be appealing to some people.
The very first instance of Fusion will be targeted at a certain type of Oracle customer, primarily for Financials and Projects, among other things.
For those customers that haven’t yet upgraded to Release 12 of their Oracle applications, will they upgrade to R12 or just jump right into Fusion?
Because of the economic challenges that a lot of organizations have had, they have to look at all the potential projects. That may include continuing a rollout they had on hold, for example rolling out Oracle to additional countries or plants where E-Business Suite isn’t running. It may involve rolling out more advanced modules that weren’t in place for initial rollout.
SearchOracle.com recently published a story showing that many Oracle shops are dissatisfied with Oracle Support. What have you seen within the user group?
I don’t know that we have seen any drops in satisfaction. A lot of organizations, because they’re short-staffed, have had a hard time doing the maintenance and patching that’s required to stay up to snuff. So I don’t know that Oracle has really changed, degraded or eroded their level of support. But it is harder for organizations to stay up and stay current with smaller staffs and smaller budgets.
What are some of the areas the OAUG will focus on in 2011?
At the end of 2009 and last year we did a membership survey asking people what offerings were most valuable to members. The three things that came back were networking, the influence and interaction with Oracle, and then the educational opportunities. So we’re going to continue to focus on those three pillars. We’re hoping that provides better service to members and increases our membership.