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Collaborate conference aims to raise forum bar

Cloud, big data, security and mobile are set to take center stage at Collaborate 16, an event where networking and educational opportunities come together for members of multiple Oracle user groups.

Get ready to roll up your sleeves if you are attending the 2016 Collaborate conference being put on by Oracle's...

three principal user groups. This year's jointly organized event, held April 10 to 14 in Las Vegas, may change your perception of what conferences are all about, said David Start, executive committee member on the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) board of directors.

Attendees won't merely be sitting in lecture halls watching PowerPoint presentations all day. "This event is going to be different than the ones we've done in the past," Start said. "We are going to have quite a few hands-on labs going on throughout the entire week."

Collaborate 16 is a combined conference for members of the IOUG, the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) and the Quest International Users Group. There will be more than 1,200 sessions, covering everything from big data and security to mobile development. Participants will have numerous ways to tap into Oracle leaders, including sessions appropriately referred to as "Meet the Oracle Experts." In this format, users will be able to have one-on-ones with experts, where they can discuss their concerns or questions and get personalized feedback.

"Folks are coming away with technical solutions [and] technical knowledge," Start said. "Types of things they can bring back to the office and implement. It's no longer just an idea."

A key area of focus will be the cloud. "There is going to be a lot of focus on the cloud and how it fits in with your current implementation," said Patricia Dues, president of OAUG. "We have 137 sessions, to be specific, on the cloud."

Another new facet of this year's Collaborate conference that organizers think sets it apart from the pack is an international piece to the Exploration Series. The German user group, DOAG, will be on hand making presentations, as well. An international perspective is becoming increasingly important, because many organizations have a global reach.

Given that more than 6,000 people are expected to convene in Las Vegas, participants with various backgrounds and goals will be in attendance. To help people find those in similar situations, the Collaborate conference will have meetings geared toward specific groups. The OAUG is focusing on young professionals, for example, because the up-and-comers will soon be leading organizations.

Collaborate 2015 hall
Collaborate 15 conference hall photo courtesy of the Oracle Applications Users Group

Despite the many new sessions, the old favorites will remain. The annual Women in Technology Luncheon and panel will serve as a way for females working in the sector to share experiences. "There is always some very dynamic, interesting women talking about how they entered the field, giving some tips and tricks," Dues said.

Power Hours, which are two-hour sessions that follow presentations, are an ideal way for attendees to work in small groups to discuss ways to solve real-life problems, according to Dues.

The Collaborate conference aims to do more than serve as an education venue. Organizers said the conference is an ideal way for people to network. "Oracle technology is so flexible, you could have 200 people in the room using the technology in 200 different ways," Dues noted. "Being able to meet up with people who are running the applications like you are in your industry, or being able to share best practices, it's just incredible."

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What benefits do you look for when deciding which conferences to attend?
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I'm not in IT, but I think this applies to any sort of conference - think about the type of people who will be there and who you might meet/learn from. Conferences to me are as much about networking as what you might learn at the sessions. 
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