Change to Opportunity

Oracle and JD Edwards connection means stability, new prospects for customers.

by Darrell Hawkes, August 2010

I first became involved in Quest International Users Group years ago, when Turner Industries Group’s (now former) CIO was Quest’s president, as I am now. I was encouraged to participate in the industrial manufacturing special interest group (SIG) composed of Quest members and JD Edwards product specialists. As a community, we were able to share ideas and influence our shared vendor in a manner that increased the value of Turner’s software investment.

At its roots, Quest was solely a user group for JD Edwards customers and enjoyed a very healthy relationship and partnership with JD Edwards. My involvement with Quest grew into SIG leadership and eventually election to the Quest board of directors. Quest as a community was experiencing a unique story of its own—one that eventually planted Quest firmly in the Oracle family.

Change of that magnitude brings uncertainty, and any customer who remembers those times will tell you that uncertainty was not in short supply. Having the benefit of hindsight on my side, I can say that today, our environment is decidedly more stable, and Quest’s relationship with Oracle’s JD Edwards team is still strong. At the time, we were focused on the challenges of the journey: building relationships, forging partnerships, and continuing to meet the needs of our membership. We did not know how well things would turn out, but we pressed forward.

Today, we count on being part of the Oracle family, but we have an entirely new set of challenges: the economic environment, and in even broader terms, workplace demographics, rapid technological advancements, and the increasing demands of our everyday jobs. The world, it seems, is still not done changing, and we still have not seen the last of uncertainty.

In the middle of uncertain times, though, we sometimes forget to look around for something else: opportunities. The series of changes that brought Quest and the JD Edwards community into the Oracle world taught us an important lesson: user groups—and any forum where customers interact with one another—always have a place. People inherently want to connect and learn. That opportunity helped Quest grow into the community it is today—a great example is the creation of the annual COLLABORATE conference, supported by Oracle and hosted by Quest and two of our sister user groups: the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) and the Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG). COLLABORATE has become an important fixture in the Oracle landscape, and it was born out of our need to share with one another.

We were reminded of that lesson recently. Even in a severe economic downturn, the needs to connect and learn remained, and again, change created opportunities. For Quest, those opportunities came in the form of uncovering new concepts and ideas that enhance what we bring to the Oracle table. For example, economic constraints forced customers to rely more than ever on technology—to have information at their fingertips and to be able to find it quickly. For some, in fact, technology became a link to professional education when travel and training budgets were reduced. Quest has helped fill that gap, working with the JD Edwards team to create and distribute podcasts, online sessions, and Webcasts that give customers the answers they need without having to leave their offices or travel across the country. And we’re rolling out our new online community, which will feature new ways to interact and communicate with the Oracle team.

The landscape of business is changing; the way we have done business is no longer the way that we will do business. User groups are changing; Quest is exploring and implementing new outlets of communication that just did not exist a few years ago. We must remember that success for user communities is contingent on a supportive Oracle leadership, thriving partners and vendors, and an engaged Oracle customer community. The result is a vibrant user population constantly looking for opportunities. I wouldn’t have predicted years ago that I’d eventually become Quest’s president; that we’d still be enjoying a strong, productive relationship with the JD Edwards team; that we would have grown to include both the Oracle’s PeopleSoft and Oracle Utilities communities; or that Quest would have so many new prospects to celebrate in this, its 15th year. You can’t predict change, and you can’t predict opportunity—but you can make them work in your favor. Taking hold of these challenges adds value—to our companies, to our careers, and to the Oracle community.

Darrell Hawkes is the president of Quest International Users Group and IT manager at Turner Industries Group.
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