COMMUNITY: Up Close
Strength in NumbersBy Jeff Erickson
A spirited user group community emerges in Latin America.
Habla Español? Você fala Português? If you do, there will be a new user-generated publication for you in late 2011 compiled by members of the Latin American Oracle Users Community (LAOUC). The publication, LAOUC Magazine, is just one of several initiatives by the ambitious group, which is determined to help Latin America’s large Oracle user base become more connected, more active, and more recognized internationally.
“Latin America has more than 35,000 people working with Oracle technology and applications but has had few user-generated resources,” says Brazilian Eduardo Hahn, vice president of LAOUC. Hahn, who also heads up the Brazil-based tech user group Grupo de Usuários de Tecnologia Oracle do Brasil, is part of the first generation of Latin American technology users to band together into local user groups. But, he says, the groups have been few and far between. “There were groups in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and only a few other countries. People had to travel to those countries to attend user group meetings.”
Founding New Groups
Hahn and Chilean Oracle Ace Director Francisco Munoz Alvarez formed LAOUC to help change that. In 2009 they began working with Oracle’s Latin American Customer Care group to reach out to people in underserved countries and form new groups. “We looked for professionals with good knowledge of Oracle products and asked if they would help create a user group in their country,” Hahn said.
Hahn and Alvarez reached out to Uruguay’s Edelweiss Kammermann and Nelson Calero, who met with Alvarez at a Chilean Oracle User Group meeting. They agreed to help, and the Uruguayan Oracle User Group (UYOUG) was formed. “It was hard to get it going,” says Calero. “We had to divide and conquer, we had to twist the arms of Oracle partners to put in a little money, we had to convince users to present at meetings. . . . We learned a lot.”
In 2010 Hahn, Alvarez, and LAOUC threw an ambitious launch party—called the Latin American Oracle Technology Network Tour—for UYOUG and the rest of the Latin American user community.
Latin American Tour
The plan for the tour was to group seven Latin American events in quick succession over a two-week period to attract top Oracle speakers for hungry crowds in places such as Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay. The events drew Ask Tom’s Tom Kyte; Oracle ACE directors including Dan Morgan, Hans Forbrich, Ronald Bradford, and Dana Singleterry; and many local Oracle ACEs. “These events drew more than a thousand users directly and many more to the videos and online presentations,” says Hahn. “[The tour] helped establish the younger user groups in Costa Rica and Uruguay.”
LAOUC will repeat the tour in 2011, holding events from July 4 to July 20 in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay. “The event model will be similar—with great names and even stronger local participation,” says Hahn.
In Uruguay, UYOUG is well underway, with quarterly meetings in the capital, Montevideo. These free meetings—scheduled for half days on Saturdays—often go all day, says Calero, who is now UYOUG president. “It has been eye-opening for people to see all the resources that have been sitting right under their noses,” he says.
Hahn is pleased with the progress in Uruguay and says he has seen similar success with a young user group in Costa Rica. Next up, he says, are user groups in Paraguay and Bolivia, and the launch of LAOUC’s print publication.
Hahn believes that an Oracle-user-focused magazine in Spanish and Portuguese will help to build an even stronger Latin American community. “Now that we’ve got content flowing in user groups throughout the region, we can collect use cases, tech articles, and event notes into a really strong publication,” he says. “This is one more step in building a strong user network in our region.”
Jeff Erickson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior editor with Oracle Publishing.
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