Last week HEUG Vice President for Global Community Development, Jason Wenrick (CIO, Sonoma State University) and I participated in Oracle's North America User Group Leaders Summit in Redwood Shores. The HEUG has participated in various forms of this event since 2004. This year there were a wide range of smaller regional group leaders as well as the normal larger groups such as OAUG, IOUG, Quest, and the HEUG.
During the event Oracle provides product updates which of course at this summit focused on their direction for the Cloud. They also solicited feedback from the leaders in the room with regards, to individual events, sponsorship opportunities, and the various needs for program content for each group. I am pleased to report that through working with Oracle's Jeremy Whyte and Nichole Scott the HEUG is far ahead of the other groups for all of the event planning this year.
One of the critical bits of feedback that was consistent with all of the leaders in attendance (including us) was the concern that Oracle messaging not forget the on-premise customers. While sales incentives are focused on Cloud products at Oracle, all groups in the room believe that the largest percentage of their members will not be going to the Cloud within the next five years, or even later. While Jason and I listened to where these groups are in terms of communicating with the membership, we both felt comfortable that the HEUG is probably a year ahead of the other groups in terms of dealing with on-premise members as well as planning a path to the Cloud. The work that Criss Laidlaw has done with the Cloud Symposium and the Cloud Readiness work group has put the HEUG in a strategic position moving forward. It will be interesting to see if Oracle heard the on-premise message from the leaders in the room and if they will be willing to adjust some of their communications to focus more on the on-premise customers.
Another interesting topic that came up during interaction between Oracle and the leaders in the room focused on how user groups may need to carefully look at how to expand who they are working with as it relates to the Cloud. Clearly we are a user group whose base application and product centers around Oracle, but based on Oracle's comments they recognize that there will be opportunities for user group members to broaden to other companies who have integration points with Oracle applications. Oracle even went so far as to say they recognize there are integration points in the Cloud with competitors such as SAP, Salesforce, WorkDay, etc., and they (Oracle) understand that user groups may occasionally need to engage with these competitors for conference content. The primary concern is to be sure that no Oracle competitor is seen as a higher level sponsor at our events. As we have had both Ellucian and SAP as sponsors of various events around the world, the next year or two could be interesting to see how this plays out.
While the HEUG has occasionally felt that this event (the North America User Group Leaders Summit) had less than stellar ROI for the HEUG, this year was a bit different. With new leadership on the Oracle side organizing the event and remaining engaged with us throughout the year, I came away very optimistic moving forward.