Last year I described the first OpenWorld Europe in London as being ‘exactly the event the Oracle community needed’ and I’m pleased to say the 2020 edition left me feeling just as optimistic as I left the ExCeL. The first point to mention is that I honestly struggled to get to all the talks I wanted to attend and, counter-intuitive though it may sound, I view this extremely positively. Not only was there an extremely busy programme with plenty of ‘good-problem-to-have’ clashes, but everywhere I went I kept bumping into people I’d arranged to meet with or needed to speak to.

Ultimately, this demonstrates Oracle’s event is a ‘must attend’ for the vast majority of the European Userbase, and really vindicates the decision to commit to the ExCeL until 2024. As a community it’s invaluable for us to all have such an opportunity to network, knowledge-share, and keep abreast of developments within Oracle technologies – and the fact attendance continues to be complimentary shows exactly the right attitude from Oracle towards the community which surrounds it.

A sustained and welcome change in corporate tone from Oracle has been commented on by many other blogs, so I won’t go over old ground, but I too noted a visibly more flexible, caring, and considerate attitude behind all the changes unveiled last year. A focus on the application of data for societal as well as commercial benefit is something we can all get behind; commitment to supporting on-premise solutions up to 2030 in some cases shows quieter announcements in 2018 and 2019 weren’t just acts of appeasement to slow-adopters but rather central pillars of Oracle’s long-term strategy; and Oracle Analytics Cloud being classed as ‘Visionary’ in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is yet further proof that Oracle’s offering is once again at the top of the pile, where it belongs. This was an event which put Oracle continuing to develop its partnership with Microsoft at centre stage, complimentary Illy coffee stands, and a greater emphasis on client-side case studies to support the informative messages coming out of Oracle HQ.

I was particularly supportive of how many ‘Lightning Sessions’ were being run to keep coverage of topics concise, digestible, and easy to fit in to everyone’s busy schedules. Once again most stands on the exhibitor halls were kept small but well-supported, with every country and tech-stack widely represented. Thursday morning’s Hyperion Strategy Update was especially useful, and I recommend looking up the roadmap slides which are publicly available. I think it’s fair to say a few question marks still remain over the future Oracle EPM offerings and where these shall fit in to Oracle’s wider tech re-alignment, but the comments I received from across the community which attended gives me confidence that Oracle continues to bring a compelling offering to this increasingly competitive market.

‘And Finally’, the guest speakers at the end of each day provided light relief and poignant musings in equal measure – although I expect I’ll find it easier to cite Tim Peake’s recollection of his mission to space than Dara O’Briain’s vision of VR applied to the adult entertainment industry in a corporate setting…