The title of this post notwithstanding, I was not abducted by aliens last week. Take off your tin-foil hat, it's all cool. I spent a few days last week a few different teams at Oracle HQ, mostly digging into the progress of some cool new work in progress. Thought I'd share what I learned.
One caveat before I start sharing. My agreement with Oracle prevents me from talking about specific details and delivery dates. Personally, I don't have much of a problem with that - product development news on Oracle's products is Oracle's news to share, if and when they decide to share it. Now that we're clear about that, let's get to the good stuff.
I was fortunate enough to have a good chunk of the brain trust from the Sierra-Cedar Oracle Higher Education Practice (that's the former Io Consulting group) with me: Steve Kish, Elizabeth Malmborg, Anastasia Metros and Ted Simpson (yes, he of HEUG fame). It was cool to watch them consider the new things coming for the Higher Education marketplace. Gave me a measure of how the Higher Ed marketplace will respond.
Most of day one was spent with the leadership of the Oracle Higher Education development team, reviewing their progress in building the new Oracle Student Cloud product. They're further along in the development lifecycle than I'd expected, which was a pleasant surprise. And one thing became very clear to me as a result of the review: planning to throw away PeopleSoft Campus Solutions should not be a part of anyone's short-term game plan. Oracle Student Cloud is focused on offering a solution for managing continuing education. Expectations are that early adopters of Oracle Student Cloud will be using the product as a value-added enhancement to the Campus Solutions product.
Don't get confused here. Oracle has both the Oracle Student Cloud and the Oracle Higher Education Cloud in their development pipeline. But we talking about two different products here with two different sets of target customers, development life cycles and different release dates. The latter product will have a much larger focus than the former.
So, what's the best strategy for a higher ed institution that preserves their investment and offers maximum flexibility going forward? Get to the latest release of whatever you're currently using, whether it's an Oracle product or not. Make sure you're up to date - it's the best platform for moving forward. And yes, there are other elements to the strategy as well, but that's not my main purpose for writing this particular post.
Day two was spent with the Oracle User Experience team. Great stuff as usual. A special thanks to Oracle's Michael LaDuke for putting the day together. And it was fun to see the understanding of UX take shape in the minds of the Sierra-Cedar leadership team, especially during a discussion around wire framing practices. We also some soon-to-be-released incremental progress with Simplified UI. And, finally, we saw some cool new products in the works. On this final note, it's pretty obvious that the UX team is now focused on innovating by applying Fusion Middleware technology to mobile use cases (both tablet and phone). Saw some pretty good stuff with the potential for adding some high value to day-to-day business processing (both in terms of automation and collecting business intelligence).
I only got two days this trip...wasn't nearly enough. The upshot? Lots of cool stuff on the horizon.