We’ve all been told that presentations and demos will be better received if we weave a story around our topic and we take the audience on a journey with us.
Taking this concept a stage further is Storyboarding. Instead of using PowerPoint as the visual aid to your story, you start with a blank dry-wipe whiteboard and build up the big picture via a series of interconnected images as you move through your session.
Last week Oracle hosted a ‘Storyboarding workshop’ for Oracle HCM Cloud partners. We were obviously present and heard about the new improvements coming in HCM Cloud Release 10, but also some first-hand accounts from Oracle staff about how they’d used Whiteboard selling with customers successfully.
My first concern was that I’m no Picasso when I’m fully concentrating, so what my drawing would be like when trying to multitask and talk at the same time I dreaded to think. However, Oracle’s deck showed that the level of artistry necessary is something that pretty much anyone could achieve:
Then we adjourned to side-rooms and each partner present began to create their own story and accompanying picture. The end result wasn’t a polished and slick spiel as we only had a couple of hours to throw it together, and it’s a little cheesy/corny, however – for your amusement – here’s our masterpiece:
The story that we told alongside it was of a client (draw house/office in the Uk with Union Jack post-it) needing to expand. In this case, the growth was to France and beyond (draw Eiffel Tower and Tricolour – unwittingly used upside-down here!). The client has an on-premise system that is large and slow (draw ferry).
The client has a number of options to adapt their business systems for the required level of growth. They can:
a) Customise and add bolt-ons to their existing system. Although this might improve things slightly (draw tug to pull ferry along) you’re still left with most of the problems that you had before. Using the ferry analogy, it’s slow, you’ve got no internet access as you go so you aren’t productive and there is a limit to your growth as the ferry has a finite range.
b) Choose a competitor product (draw EuroStar). This is analogous to the EuroStar in that it is an upgrade to the ferry as it is faster and you may have internet access for some of the trip. Like a competitor’s product however, you’re still limiting your growth (the EuroStar only goes to some cities) and your visibility of the big picture of your business suffers when you’re in a tunnel.
c) Choose the Oracle HCM Cloud (draw cloud and plane). This is obviously analogous to flying which is the quickest route (although technically I guess this depends upon where you start!). It also unleashes your company’s growth in a number of ways (adding post-its as we discuss them):
Just as planes fly to many more destinations than ferries or the EuroStar, the HCM Cloud has more numerous and deeper translations than competitors.
In the same way that flying gives a greater choice of timetables and destinations, Oracle gives a lot more flexibility over upgrade timetables than competitors.
When you’re flying you have internet access so you can check out the Oracle Social Network which enables you to proactively see whether there are any striking workers at the ports (draw burning blockade in front of ferry), or you could use Oracle TAP to review CVs of the latest batch of job applicants and catch up with the performance reviews of your team. If you take other modules from the Oracle Cloud you could even file an expense claim for that beer you had in the departure lounge.
In the same way that airlines decorated their planes in country colours for the London 2012 Olympics, the HCM Cloud can be branded to your company’s corporate colour schemes.
When you’re on a ferry you’re disconnected. When you’re in the EuroTunnel you’re in the dark. When you’re in the air you get a great high-level view of what’s going on.
We’ve all heard the statistic that flying is the safest mode of travel. The Oracle HCM Cloud uses Oracle’s Red Stack from top-to-bottom, and 19/20 of the top Cloud companies also use Oracle’s software.
The final part of the pitch was ‘why Cedar’. In this analogy Cedar are your friendly pilot. We take you on the journey, reassuringly allaying any fears at take-off, steering around any turbulence and providing a smooth landing.
It’s hilariously-cheesy, we know. In our defence, it was hastily put together and it needs a lot of finesse before we ever consider using it outside the safe environment of the Oracle offices. It was however, a great learning experience and a fun afternoon.
Yesterday marked the first anniversary of my start date at Cedar. The year has passed really quickly and – although during the ‘heat of the moment’ it may seem like you’re only making small steps – when you take the time to step back and reflect you can see genuine progress has been made.
I’m not in any way pretending or implying that all of these are as a result of my presence – that would be doing a real disservice to the great people at Cedar – however these are areas that I’ve enjoyed contributing to, in some shape or form.
Cedar is now Specialised (Oracle accredited, in other words) to implement both Fusion and Taleo after passing a series of exams and client success criteria.
We’ve hired some genuinely game-changing staff to take our Oracle Cloud practice forwards (and some high-quality additions to the PeopleSoft side too). We’ve also progressed a good amount of our existing PeopleSoft consultants through the Fusion and Taleo courses, giving us a much more flexible resourcing pool.
We’ve presented at multiple UKOUG events, Cedar’s own ‘Oracle Cloud and PeopleSoft Day’ and have much more lined up to give (including OpenWorld if we’re selected). We view sharing with the community as a vital part of our place in the Oracle ecosystem. The Fusion/Taleo and PeopleSoft newsletters have gone from strength to strength – the Fusion/Taleo subscriber base has more than tripled, and the PeopleSoft list has grown from 650 to more than 1,000.
We’ve also launched our much-improved website, with lots of content and case studies.
We came away from the UKOUG Partner of the Year awards with a Gold and a Silver, in PeopleSoft and Taleo respectively, which we were very pleased with as it’s voted for by end-users.
For obvious reasons I can’t mention details here, but we’ve had some very satisfying gains in the last 12 months and the pipeline currently looks very strong for further Fusion and Taleo work.
We’ve also got a handful of really great initiatives coming up that we think will be very well received in the market.
We now have much stronger links with Oracle. On the PeopleSoft side, we have a great many good links at all levels, and we’ve a much better understanding of the ever-shifting landscape on the Oracle Cloud side.
In addition to the hard work, we’ve also had some fun along the way. From cocktail nights, to team days in the sun, to exploring our new office and the surroundings, all while getting to know a new group of colleagues has been a real privilege. We’re all off to Paris for our Summer Team day later this week where I’m sure the laughter will continue.
I’m looking forward to a second great year.
Every year Mary Meeker (partner at Silicon Valley VC firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers) publishes her take on the prevailing Internet Trends. It’s a lengthy read, but always absolutely engrossing. I’ve pulled out a few slides below, but encourage you to find the time to read her presentation as I’ve surely missed gems that others will spot.
1) Internet use is unsurprisingly increasing (by about 30 mins a year), but this increase is all coming from mobile devices. This means two things. Firstly, mobile internet usage is becoming hugely important (it’s now overtaken desktop/laptop use in terms of hours per day). Secondly, and most importantly, the increase in mobile usage is in addition to, not at the expense of desktop/laptop use.
2) Vertical video is now ‘a thing’
3) Messaging Apps are increasing their functionality (using the messaging functionality as a base to build from to create a cross-platform information hub for messages and notifications). Examples include Hangouts, WeChat, Viber, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook messenger. People are using multiple apps to cover all of their diverse communities (work, family, hobbies etc).
4) Millennials – 87% say that “my smartphone never leaves my side, day or night”. They are now the largest generation in our workforce (35%, versus 31% for Gen-X and Boomers).
Last week Cedar was one of the partners exhibiting at the Oracle Modern Business Summit. Naturally our focus was on the HCM Cloud and Simon, Greg – our new Taleo guru – and myself were on hand to demo the HCM and Talent Clouds to customers.
We also benefited from attending some of the sessions – by Oracle staff and end-user thought leaders.
The highlight for me was Stewart Monk’s session on the HR Technology choices facing us now and for the workplace in 2025. He had some great facts and figures on technology adoption and usage. What’s the World’s #2 search engine? (Clue: it’s not Bing!) …. highlight here for the answer >YouTube<. He also shared some hilarious videos, including one particularly memorable one about wearable computing and tracking of employees that was so invasive and creepy I’m convinced it must have been an April fools joke.
Other highlights included customer sessions from Elizabeth Arden and Macmillan, plus a panel with JT Group, Endeva, Cheshire Council and others.
Cedar will be at Oracle’s Modern Business Summit at the end of April. Come and see us if you want to learn about all things HCM Cloud.
It’s a 3 day event held at the Hotel Pullman in London, just a short 5 minute walk from our Kings Cross office. (We actually have some exciting news about a new office coming, but that’s for another entry.)
Cedar are Gold sponsors of the HCM day (there are also days for Financials and Marketing/Sales), we’ve got an exhibition stand and we will be discussing how our services can help you.
I attended last years’ event at the ExCeL convention centre in the London Docklands. It was really, really busy and there was a lot of great content to take in. This year is only going to be bigger. If you’d like to attend please get in touch and we’ll help you to register.
Much the same as you all, I’ve seen the studies regarding how bad sitting at a desk for long periods is for your health – both physical and mental – such as:
- The Scary Side of Sitting
- 5+ hours of sitting is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes
- How Chairs Are Killing You (91% increase in diabetes, 40% higher risk of early death)
For those who’ve followed my blogs for a while, you may recall that I’ve been experimenting with a standing desk (by placing a large, sturdy card box on my desk that’s big enough for laptop, keyboard, mouse etc). It’s worked really well, however it was clearly only a temporary solution so I’ve been slowly accumulating the pieces for my desired setup (it would have been too expensive to do it all at once).
I get to work from home a lot more with Cedar than I did previously which means that I needed to get my home working environment in shape. I used the Christmas break to get everything that I needed in order and set-up.
An awful lot of research has gone into this, so I thought I’d share it in case someone else can benefit.
I use my laptop screen (for email, HipChat) plus 2 larger monitors for documents, applications etc. There are lots of studies that investigate productivity correlation with the number of monitors and it seems that for development tasks the optimum number is 3 (one for coding, one for documentation, one for the final app). I also went for the ‘old fashioned’ 4:3 aspect ratio rather than the newer 16:9 monitors. Wider screens are great for movies but I want these monitors for Word Documents, Application screens etc so appreciate a taller monitor.
I went for 2x IIYAMA 19 inch LED Monitor and 2x £10 monitor arms.
I also picked up an Anker docking station. It’s got the display ports to drive the multiple monitors, plus enough USB ports to drive my keyboard, mouse, headphones, external hard disks and a powered USB port to charge my mobile. A nice bonus is that I need just a single USB3 connection to my laptop (all the other peripherals plug in to the docking station) so when I need to go somewhere with my laptop I only need to unplug the USB cable, the laptop power cable and that’s it.
I use a cheap USB external keyboard (if I use anything fancy it messes up my typing when I need to use a regular keyboard on client site). I also use an Evoluent vertical mouse to prevent RSI. It gets a lot of comments if I take it with me to a client, but it looks a lot better than some of the other RSI-reducing mice. I also have a Microsoft LifeChat USB headset at the recommendation of the Wirecutter which gives excellent clarity on our team’s Google Hangouts/Skype calls.
Desk and Chair
After loving standing with my laptop on a cardboard box I decided to bite the bullet and buy a proper, variable height standing desk. I went for one with quite a small sized table top as big ones can be upwards of £1,000, whereas mine was £400. It’s been a real help, because I like to alternate between sitting and standing (during a normal day I’ll probably stand for 70% and sit for 30%).
The only downside that I encountered was that the floor in the room that I have the desk in is quite hard and I found that I’d get ache in my knee joints after a full day of mostly standing. I read that the floor hardness makes a difference, so bought a standing mat and things have been fine since (although it did make the room smell really rubbery for the first 2 weeks).
Finally, I went to a local back shop and tried out all of the kneeling chairs there. By far the best was this one which fits under the desk nicely when I’m standing. I managed to get it off of a wholesaler (in an unfashionable colour) for much less than the published price so was very happy.
The Final Result
Here’s what it all looks like when put together:
This is how it always looks, I definitely didn’t tidy it for the photo!