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New Oracle user group president talks upgrades, customizations

Margaret Wright, the new president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), talks about her vision for the group and challenges its users face.

The Oracle Applications Users Group elected a new president last month. Margaret Wright, a technology manager at Atlanta-based electric utility organization, Southern Company, has been an active member of OAUG since 2002, serving on the board and as the group's governance committee chairperson. She was OAUG's executive vice president last year. talked to her recently about her vision for OAUG and some of the major challenges the group's user base -- which has 2,000 member companies -- is facing, and how they're tackling them.

Margaret WrightMargaret Wright

Why did you want to be president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG)?

Margaret Wright: I'm committed to the success of the OAUG, and I feel like I have some leadership experience that would be helpful to the organization. So I'm excited.

What is one major goal you have for OAUG?

Wright: Certainly growing the organization. We're committed to doing that and strengthening the membership services. We're going to continue to focus on education and being a strong advocate to Oracle on behalf of our organizational members.

OAUG already has a lot of educational opportunities, so how can you improve it?

Wright: We're listening to members and so we'll be focusing this year on enterprise performance management and BI [business intelligence]. We'll be offering more e-learning sessions. We've heard our members talk about unstructured and structured data, and so we'll be doing more around that. The other thing we're going to try to do is increase the frequency of zero-cost networking opportunities, face-to-face networking forums.

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What is the biggest challenge Oracle Applications users are facing now, and what are they doing to solve it?

Wright: I think that there is a lot of emphasis still on getting to the current release, and we still have a number of members who are on [E-Business Suite] version 11. So they're trying to make a decision and lay out an implementation path to get there. There are tools and templates available to upgrade and help with migration plans, and the support extension gives a lot of our members additional time to put plans in place to get there in 2013 and 2014.

How long does an upgrade usually take?

Wright: It depends on the size of the company and how much data they have, but I would say eight months at a minimum, with the longest being 18 months. Of course that includes all of the planning and testing involved, in addition to the technology piece and addressing all of the customizations.

Have you found that users are trying to carry their customizations over to version 12, or drop them in favor of built-in features in the upgrade?

Wright: I've seen both sides of the equation. One side says they're going to take all their customizations with them. They still have to do some analysis of impact on the front end. But most members' goal is to look at features in version 12 and remove customizations. The more customizations you have, the more complex your upgrade becomes.

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