New kid on the block

The Middle East's first Oracle application user group has been held in Dubai, complete with Oracle big-wigs and a slew of end-users, but it was Oracle's pledge to continue investing in the region that stole the show. ACN reports on the debut at the Dhow Palace in Dubai.

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By  ACN Published  May 2, 2009

The OAUG has had plans to make their presence felt in the Middle East for some time now, though it was not until last year that things started to kick into gear.

"A year ago, eight of the CIOs who currently have Oracle retail projects got together and our objective was to discuss what would be the right initiatives for setting up a user group.

But then we all got busy in our own projects and this was an individual initiative. Interestingly, last year around August the OAUG board from the United States contacted me about running this conference. The OAUG over there had been so successful so we wanted to merge both of them," adds Rizvon.

Delegates were found from word of mouth and from an email blast campaign, which was necessary as this was the first time the event has been held, according to Rizvon.

One aspect in which the OAUG event differed significantly from SAP is the manner in which it handled meetings and comments from the end-users. During SUG-MENA, CIOs could schedule rooms for individual meetings, but in general end-users were expected to network during the breaks that peppered the event.

As befits an event that has run for several years however, there seemed to be no forum available for participants to provide direct feedback and advice on the event outside of randomly accosting the organisers.

OAUG followed the same script in terms of individual feedback, but in terms of feedback, chose to address it through an open panel on the final day. While most were appreciative about the direction of the conference, a call from the organisers for end-users to take up the mantle of running future iterations had few takers.

The international arm of OAUG is hoping to build up the Middle East and Africa chapter and to hold regular events like Connection Point throughout the region.

Rizvon explains that people have come from the US, Europe, Canada, Africa, Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE.

"We have put a lot of different people together to make sure this is happening - this is not a one-off event, this is the start of something serious in this region. We would like this to be an annual event," said Jan Wagner, board member of OAUG in his opening introduction.

Quick question

What does membership to the OAUG actually get you?

"The primary benefit is education - as a member of OAUG you get access to extensive blogs and forums and these are users not Oracle exhibitors. The second is networking - I can talk with other CEOs and CIOs around the world and then I can see how they are getting return on investment from the project and the niche they are doing it in. The third is influence on Oracle; in the Middle East we do not have a strong user group, which is something the region needs.

We can put all of our recommendations and say here we are - 20 organisations from the Middle East who want this and then Oracle will plan it into the project roadmap." - Mohammed Thameem Rizvon, group IT manager of Kamal Osman Jamjoom.

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