Oracle's first applications conference on tap next week

Computerworld |  Development

Users of Oracle Corp.'s applications who are hoping to get the lowdown on new products and the software vendor's vision for the future will be heading to New Orleans next week for the first U.S. version of its new Oracle AppsWorld conference, which is scheduled to kick off Monday with a keynote speech by former President Bill Clinton.

But if a European AppsWorld held earlier this week in Paris is any indication, the U.S. conference won't get high marks from Beth Barling, an analyst at AMR Research Inc. in Boston. "Oracle admitted that Paris was a dry run for New Orleans, and from our perspective, dry was the word," she said. "[There was] little news or vision beyond a barrage of marketing messages that were already well known."

Oracle declined repeated requests for comment about its plans for AppsWorld, which has caused a major rift between Oracle and the independent Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG). Officials at the Atlanta-based OAUG, which holds spring and fall conferences in North America, maintain that AppsWorld is nothing more than a marketing tool for Oracle.

Last spring, the OAUG turned down a request from Oracle to fold the user group's conferences into AppsWorld, with 87% of the members who responded to a survey saying they preferred to continue having independent shows focused on technical education. Oracle later that it would go ahead and hold AppsWorld on its own, and the company had a noticeably limited presence at the OAUG's conference in Honolulu this past October.

Donna Rosentrater, an OAUG board member who doesn't plan to attend AppsWorld, said users who do go to New Orleans probably will be able to get insight into industry directions and see new Oracle products. "[But] I still haven't seen many how-to presentations on the agenda," she added.

Oracle users have been clamoring for support when upgrading to Oracle's new E-Business Suite 11i software from previous application releases. Rosentrater said that until her company can get 11i up and running safely, she "cannot reap the benefits of the 'new world' of e-business" that Oracle is expected to showcase at AppsWorld.

Doug Allen, CIO at HostCentric Inc., a Houston-based Web hosting firm that uses Oracle's software to tie together its internal business processes, will be at AppsWorld. Allen said he's particularly interested in seeing a preview of some collaborative sales modules that Oracle has in the works. "This is a good opportunity to see the up-and-coming products we don't have implemented and how they would [work] in our business," he said.

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