Oracle sets plans for applications conference

Oracle yesterday announced plans to hold a conference in New Orleans in February for users of its business applications - an event that will pit the software vendor against the independent Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), which runs two conferences in the US each year.

The OAUG plans to hold its 2001 spring conference two months later in Atlanta, where the user group is based. The scheduling of Oracle Applications World, which is what Oracle is calling its conference, follows the OAUG's April rejection of a proposal to combine its two conferences into a single Oracle-sponsored event.

That decision, which was announced at this year's OAUG spring conference in Philadelphia, prompted Oracle to say that it would go ahead and hold its own applications conference starting next year. However, the company hadn't disclosed specific plans for the new conference until today.

Jim Collins, executive director of the OAUG, said the user group is "excited about (Oracle's) conference," despite the possibility of new competition for attendees.

"We think (Oracle's conference is) very much needed and certainly are enthusiastic about the fact that they're going to be doing this," Collins said. "This isn't really a competition issue. We're all here for the same issue, which is to expand the effective use of Oracle applications."

Collins said the OAUG is talking to Oracle about possibly helping to put together a series of educational sessions and case-study presentations by users of the applications for the Oracle Applications World conference. But he added that the user group's conferences may have to be modified somewhat.

"We're probably going to have make some adjustments going forward," Collins said. For example, Oracle executives and developers have led many of the sessions at the OAUG's conferences in the past. "We have a pledge of (continued) support," he said. "We have to figure out what that looks like exactly going forward, but Oracle is enthusiastic about us and our event."

Mark Jarvis, senior vice president of marketing at Oracle, said the vendor expects to invest "considerably more" money in its conference than the OAUG spends on its events. "Our cash reserves are somewhat larger," Jarvis noted.

Another difference, Jarvis said, is that Oracle Applications World will focus on "what is coming up" more than on existing implementations of the company's applications. The Oracle event also will be targeted "at the decision makers of the business," not just at information technology workers involved in applications projects, he added.

Oracle said it expects to draw up to 12,000 attendees to the conference in New Orleans, which will be followed by a European version of the event next spring. Up to 8,000 people typically attend the OAUG's conferences, according to Collins.

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