OpenWorld is so big it is really many conferences all held together.  To cover as much as possible,I brought along three associates who spent all their time attending JDE specific sessions and talking to JDE customers and partners.  I focused on the keynotes and Oracle big picture sessions while fitting in as many JDE sessions as time permitted.  Collectively, we came away feeling very positive and optimistic about the state of the JDE product, its customers and
how the future will play out.

The most encouraging thing was the upbeat attitude of nearly everyone we talked to in our community including Oracle’s JDE management team, customers and partners.  It helped that the uncertainty over what Fusion will be and when it will arrive is now gone.  The nice set of incremental enhancements that was announced also contributed to the overall great mood.  The annual Quest networking event at the Thirsty Bear restaurant seemed more energetic and fun than ever before – perhaps because the Karaoke machine uncovered some amazing singing talent.

Lyle Ekdahl’s state of the JDE union was not as zany as some of the past versions, perhaps because the story was strong enough to carry itself without enhancement.  He put the new Fusion Applications in context with a mildly strained analogy of two trees in a forest – a large, mature one (JDE apps) versus a new sapling (Fusion) that will one faraway day tower over it.  The point was that Fusion will slowly become something to consider, but that it currently represents no reason for concern.

Not one person expressed any negative concerns to any of us during the conference about the impact of Fusion Applications on JDE.  No one seemed even to care that Larry Ellison mentioned all the other major application products during his overview of the Fusion introduction but not JDE.  The
once strong paranoia about the future of JDE seems to now be completely gone.

One of the JDE executives confided in me that the relative lack of attention from top management was a good thing since it provides great freedom to do what is right for our community. I was also told that during Oracle’s 2011 fiscal year JDE revenues actually grew at a higher percentage rate than eBusiness Suite or
PeopleSoft.  My personal guess is that all three were in the high single digits.

The JDE enhancement that got the most attention and positive feedback was support for iPad – something great for me personally as a devoted Apple user.  The most important news in my opinion was that the next tools release for EnterpriseOne will enable a major upgrade to the User Interface for applications.  I can’t wait to see exactly how that works.

One of the featured advantages that Fusion will bring is a new user experience.  The new UI coming via the tools release is intended to bring key elements of that experience to JDE applications without the need to replace them with the Fusion equivalent.  This reinforces the strategy of making the transition
to Fusion Applications as simple and painless as possible.

Another nice piece of news is the available of web-based tools to help justify and plan upgrades.

As reported in previous postings, the keynotes focused heavily on new hardware appliances raising the question of what impact faster and less expensive hardware will have over time on applications.  That impact will clearly be felt first in applications like Business Intelligence where questions that once took hours to answer may soon be answered in seconds.

I have intentionally held off attempting to analyze the introduction of Fusion Applications at OpenWorld.  The subject is large and important enough to
warrant a series of postings which will come out as we digest what was announced formally and take an appropriate amount of time to understand.  For now it is safe to say that the introduction of Fusion Applications was an important milestone in the evolution of ERP software that will have a large and positive impact over time.  JDE customers can also feel very comfortable taking time making sense of Fusion since it remains something new and still
largely unproven.  Stay tuned for lots more over time.

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