COMMUNITY: Up Close
Connecting in AsiaBy Jeff Erickson
A user group leader spreads his passion for Oracle’s JD Edwards software.
When I last spoke to Daniel Strassberg, he was gearing up for a trip from his home in Sydney, Australia, to Beijing, China, cramming on his Mandarin and preparing to represent his user group and share his enthusiasm for Oracle’s JD Edwards enterprise resource planning applications.
Strassberg is president of Quest Asia, a chapter of Quest International Users Group (Quest), which serves users of Oracle’s PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications. His passion about JD Edwards applications is obvious. “It’s brilliant software,” he says. “It’s the reason I’ve stayed involved with the user group all these years and why I took the lead in my region.”
A Thriving User Community
Oracle acquired JD Edwards as part of the larger PeopleSoft acquisition in 2006. That event, says Strassberg, was momentous for the JD Edwards user community.
“PeopleSoft bought JD Edwards in 2003 and didn’t value user groups, and some of them began to flounder,” he says. “Oracle came along and started listening to the user groups; they really engaged us, and the user communities took off again.”
Strassberg describes Quest as a community of 55,000 people around the world working together to meet each other’s needs. “Our board members are all licensed users and real hands-on people involved in day-to-day business who are committed to JD Edwards and PeopleSoft and just love the products,” he adds.
Quest Asia serves a growing base of JD Edwards users. “New installs in China and Asia Pacific are up, and so is our membership,” says Strassberg, who credits Oracle’s investment in the product—adding new modules, new productivity kits, and innovative learning tools.
Quest Asia holds small conferences in member countries throughout the region, with a single Pan-Asian conference once a year called Fortune Asia. The location of Fortune Asia rotates: Hong Kong, China; Singapore; Thailand; Malaysia; and India have all hosted the conference. In October 2011, the meeting will be back in Hong Kong.
“We’ll bring all the Asian communities into Hong Kong. It’s a great hub. People can get there easily from around the region, and Chinese mainlanders can get there too,” says Strassberg. “We’ll host sessions throughout the day with member case studies, third-party presentations, and Oracle presentations.”
The real value in these meetings, says Strassberg, is the networking. “I think of Asia as an ‘introduction culture.’ Most people are reserved; until you make an introduction, they won’t open up and share readily.” To foster networking, Strassberg and his fellow Quest Asia leaders set up round tables at lunch and make members sit with people they don’t know. “At our last meeting in Singapore, we had great content planned for our afternoon sessions, but the lunch break could have lasted all afternoon. People were swapping stories, tech tips, and business cards. It didn’t make sense to break it up,” he says.
These are the kinds of stories Strassberg was eager to share in our conversation. But he also made another, larger point about his experience as a user group leader. “I’ve learned so many new things about JD Edwards and formed connections that I never would have if I hadn’t gotten involved with Quest,” he says. “Now when one member has a question, I hook them up with another member I’ve met along the way, and they solve the problem and form a new friendship. That, to me, is as good as it gets.”
Strassberg believes anyone can reap the benefits of community the way he has. “It’s not just Quest or JD Edwards,” he says. “Get involved with a user community around the tools you use at work. You will gain from it at any level you step in. It’s simple. Jump into a Website and join a forum, or come to a local meeting. You as an individual will get so much from it, and your company will too.”
Jeff Erickson (email@example.com) is a senior editor with Oracle Publishing.
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