Out of FOCUS
Posted: Mar 29, 2012
It was with a great deal of excitement and anticipation that I greeted the announcement of Quest’s consolidation of their regional conferences into one applications-centric summit in Denver, birthplace of JDEdwards. Christening the affair “InFocus” harkened back to the halcyon days of JDE, when annual “Focus” conferences were held in the Denver Tech Center and later in the Denver Convention Center. Quest’s strategy of bookending the mega-conference “Collaborate” in the spring with a more targeted JDE “InFocus” in the fall, made perfect sense. Additionally, holding the gathering in Denver guaranteed easy access to all levels of JDE resources, allowing the conference to concentrate at a more tactical, application specific level. This approach would complement the more strategic “Collaborate” perfectly.
So, when I recently learned that InFocus would be an “EnterpriseOne Only” affair, my disappointment was immense! Once again World Software would be on the out-side looking in, the bast**d step-child begging for table scraps! Since the day in the mid-90’s when Ed McVaney announced that all World customers would be migrating to OneWorld (later EnterpriseOne), we have been fighting for World Software to be treated with respect, on a par with its more celebrated brethren. We have repeatedly refused to accept that the cause was lost, even when there was little reason for optimism. Perception is reality in the software business, so when a new version of World Software was released, a little over 5 years ago, notice was served that World was “not quite dead yet!” Combined with the support strategy of “Applications Unlimited” World Software had achieved a measure of hard-fought sibling parity, in its treatment by parent Oracle.
That is why the news of Quest ostracizing World Software from InFocus came as such a shock. We were back in the game; racle had committed resources to World Software. The snickers and derisive comments from our peers, regarding our software choices, were beginning to dissipate; replaced with a grudging respect. This news opens old wounds, and once again makes it easy to pick on World Software as some backward afterthought.
But wait; it gets worse!
In investigating why Quest committed this travesty against World Software, I was informed that the World “leadership,” both the World User Group and JDE World, participated in making this decision! How could this be? No amount of short -term rationalization can undo the potentially long-term damage of this misguided decision. This unilateral withdrawal of articipation
confirms the worst fears of the silent majority of World customers who believe that Quest has nothing to offer them. If participation in Quest events by World customers is low, perhaps we should examine whether we are providing the means, or the content, that appeals to these customers. This conference could have been a way to connect with long-time World ustomers, by reminding them of the productive meetings that used to take place in Denver under the Focus umbrella, with a promise to provide content that is more than just a veiled attempt to coerce an upgrade of some kind. But that opportunity has been lost.
There are a few thousands of companies running World Software, yet only from the same hundreds of companies participate in Quest. Abdicating our responsibility to provide meaningful content is not the way to grow participation in our user group. We should be embracing these kinds of meetings, if only to demonstrate that we are STILL HERE! To be sure, leadership is also about picking your battles; but if we fail to compete for the hearts and minds of the uninvolved, we will never reach them. If we do not have the vision to build it, we have no hope that they ever will come.