Melissa English is president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) and leads global change management and Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) training processes at Alticor Inc. and its Amway multi-level marketing subsidiary. At Collaborate 15, a conference held jointly in Las Vegas by the OAUG and Oracle's two other primary user groups, SearchOracle spoke with English about Oracle's shift in focus toward the cloud and how she, as an EBS educator, feels the vendor is doing in getting its Oracle cloud services message out to users.
In the interview, English also discussed some of the specific questions users have about the jump to the cloud, and she shared her opinion of how well a keynote speech by Oracle CIO Mark Sunday at Collaborate 15 addressed those questions. In addition, English explained how the OAUG is helping its members deal with Oracle's increasing emphasis on cloud services and how the growth of cloud computing and other trends are affecting end-user training and education efforts.
Oracle has been going through a lot of changes lately. Which change do you think will have the biggest impact on Oracle users?
Melissa English: I would say there's a lot of opportunity in the new technologies that are coming through. Cloud and big data are hot topics, as expected, and people just want to know: "When do I have to move to the cloud? Do I have to move to the cloud?" And I think Oracle is here addressing those questions and giving the answers. Mark Sunday's keynote was great, talking about the cloud and why it's important and that Oracle is moving in that direction to keep up with the pace of the [business] world. Businesses are moving in that direction, and so they need to keep up with that.
Why do you think that was beneficial for attendees to hear?
English: He was really helpful in helping to ground how [Oracle is] moving to the cloud, what pieces of technology are moving there faster than others and why. For me personally, that helped me better understand that cloud direction. He was kind of focused on the users out there whose businesses are growing really quickly and who really don't have anything but Internet-based services as their company -- Facebook, Google. It's examples like that that are [driving Oracle to say], "We need to be moving in a direction where we can accommodate those types of companies that are up-and-coming or that maybe haven't come out yet, and how are we going to do that?" Cloud is the answer to that for Oracle.
Right now they are really focused on user experience, which I think is perfect, because everything that is coming in the future is very much user-experience-related. It's all about being able to do things easily through the Internet -- and safely and securely as well, of course.
Has Oracle's heightened focus on the cloud affected how or what you're teaching users in the EBS training programs at Alticor?
English: My company personally is not going toward the cloud yet. We're still trying to get up and running implementing EBS 12.1.3. Eventually, we will get there. We're already thinking about new ways we can educate throughout our organization, and a lot of that is online and more collaborative. It becomes more important to have those mobile ways of learning, especially when you get into more high-tech regions, such as India and China. The way that people learn, right now it's still a lot of face-to-face learning, and you're seeing some blended learning online -- self-paced learning through webinars. I think that trend is going to continue to move more toward the Internet of Things and more online learning capabilities. And I don't think we're far from that -- it's probably going to be in the next three to five years.
We have a younger generation coming up who are very in touch with technology. That's the way they learn, so that's the way we need to adapt our learning to meet their needs. Also, we're doing a lot more with a lot less people in all of our organizations. We need to give flexibility in the way people learn so they can do it when it's convenient for them. They can't always be taken away from their work activities for days at a time any longer.
What is the OAUG doing to help its members deal with the Oracle cloud services strategy?
English: From an OAUG perspective, our focus mainly has been around cloud and how the cloud is developing. We're really just trying to help the constituents understand what the path is. Do they have to come off of EBS [on-premises] and into the cloud? If so, what is the timing for that? What about the Fusion apps? How do those fit in? Those kinds of questions have been coming up, and we're just trying to help our users understand what the roadmap is for all of that. I think there's been some confusion -- not about what cloud is, but about what the roadmap is and whether it's something people are going to have to do or something they can choose to do. Right now the hybrid solution is nice for a lot of our users, for [mixing] both EBS on-premises and cloud applications.
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