Look here for information on suggestions on how to work with Oracle, providing important feedback while directly influencing future product direction.
1. Find common ground which both Oracle and You (your team) are interested in. Oracle is a commercial entity which tirelessly promote and market their products. If you really want to influence the direction of those products, attend Oracle OpenWorld to see the company’s focus and direction for the next product cycle. Oracle OpenWorld is a yearly convention hosted by Oracle in San Francisco. While it is a huge marketing, media blitz that can be overwhelming you can gain direct access to Oracle employees. Go to the Oracle booths for the products you are interested in, there will be a mixture of highly technical programmers, marketing-focused product managers to wade through. I get a high response rate when I leave them my business card for any follow-up questions or concerns. Be direct and concise in these conversations. You may have to stand around waiting for a person to become available…plan these visits when the vendor hall is less populated.
2. Volunteer to be involved on the Oracle Beta Team. This requires commitment on your part with a semi-formalized agreement. This agreement includes a project plan, timelines and resources. In the past working with a Beta Version of an Oracle product was easier and less formalized. A higher level of commitment ensures that you are serious about this project and will provide reproducible results to the Oracle teams involved. Expect the beta product to have technical issues that need to be resolved, bleeding edge kindof stuff.
3. Oracle is a HUGE company….that means a lot of splintering of departments. You will encounter Oracle employees that know little about what other departments are involved in. As a customer it is important to point out the connections that Oracle should be making between departments. For example, when working on an Beta (even Alpha) version of a product the My Oracle Support (MOS) Engineers didn’t directly know or understand what Grid Control information was being gathered on different hosts. There are now the beginnings of connections between the harvesting of information directly to MOS by way of the Oracle Connection Manager.
4. You may not agree with the direction Oracle is taking with the new products or interfaces, SPEAK up. Don’t just complain, provide a list of concerns with numbers that indicate the impact to your bottom line. That is how Oracle markets their products, you should be able to find a common ground by talking in terms they understand.
For example: The new Oracle Connection Manager automatically uploads changes in the configurations to MOS as a sort of Emergency backup of key information. That saves me an hour a week for each person that uses MOS in my organization – 50 hours a year (taking a 2 week vacation).
5. Become involved at a regional or national User Group to influence Oracle product direction. Most organizations have volunteer boards that directly speak to Oracle on everyone’s behalf. Provide input by volunteering to be on a board, submitting information by poll or even directly suggesting changes to those that work on such a board. All types of organizations have influence with Oracle employees – third-party products, non-profits volunteer groups, industry-specific groups. Speak up…
6. If you are having a frustrating time with Oracle products, SOMEONE else is too. Oracle may not be aware of issues that are specific to a particular interest group or business type. For example, I am gathering concerns about the 11g OEM product for several different people and plan to talk to the product manager at OpenWorld 2010. I will keep this post updated about the results of my visit with Oracle, anticipated some time in October.