Pushing your company into promising new technology—while at the same time keeping the current, critical tech humming—is a maneuver best attempted with friends at your side.
I think about this every year when I attend the Collaborate technology conference, a confluence of three major Oracle user groups where people who run big applications for functions like enterprise resource planning meet alongside those who write code or manage databases or build complex data center architectures. More than 5,000 tech pros meet in sessions with names like, “Regulatory Compliance Is in Your NDA—Is it Part of Your DNA?” or “Leverage Robotic Process Automation to Meet Your Business Objectives.” There are a thousand such sessions over four days and nights.
“One of the things I want to learn about at Collaborate is managing trade compliance using artificial intelligence,” says Hans Kolbe, who helps manage technology investments for multinational companies and is part of an Emerging Tech Special Interest Group (SIG), which meets face to face at the meeting. “Others in our group are looking to wrap their heads around blockchain by hearing true business cases.”
Jerry Ward is deeper in the weeds on the database side of things and wants to “brush up on Cloud ERP options and deepen my knowledge of autonomous database technologies.” Plus, Ward, a fellow Emerging Tech SIG member, plans to lead sessions.
“People who come to my session will see how we’re using the Internet of Things on the farm” to measure animal health, he says. The project uses tiny sensors in a cow’s stomach to catch health problems early. “We get information off the device and stream it through Oracle’s data hub and into an Autonomous Data Warehouse so we can do reporting and some predictive analytics,” he says. “Then we feed that into the ERP solution so we can do scheduling and collect all the billing information and pass that all through in an automated fashion.” Ward’s “Digital Farm” session will appeal to people who are looking for interesting and useful business cases for IoT.
The Emerging Tech SIG that Ward chairs with Kolbe will be one of a hundred such SIG groups—on everything from human resources to aerospace to analytics—getting together that week. Several SIGs are sponsoring happy hours, says Kolbe, and this where the magic often happens, when random conversations open opportunities or solve technical problems from unforeseen angles.
“Our SIG will hold an open mic night,” says Ward, “where everyone gets a few minutes on stage and no slides will be allowed.” People can do a quick demo or lead a discussion about an interesting project they’re doing at work. “Everyone is going to get up and brag a little bit,” adds Kolbe.
And that’s fine with Kolbe and Ward, because that’s how the information gets passed on. That’s how the technology world moves forward, inexorably, one conversation at a time.
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