The South African Oracle User Group conference, themed 'Navigate', will provide local businesses with insights and guidance on how to maximise the value they derive from the software. Scheduled to take place at Sun City from 13-15 October 2008, the lead sponsors of the event are Oracle SA and HP.

The primary objectives of the conference are centred on information and interaction. Tracks are organised around Oracle technology, middleware and applications, while guest speaker Dr Mathews Phosa, Business leader and Treasurer General of the ANC joins a host of international and local expert presenters, customer case studies and a co-located partner exhibition for an agenda designed to maximise value for delegates.
According to SAOUG chairman Frans Cronje, who is also CIO at pharmaceuticals company Adcock Ingram, the conference is a premier opportunity for information sharing between the Oracle user community, vendors, and organisations offering value-added services and solutions around the Oracle technology stack.
"As users, we are all looking to introduce best practice and achieve the best use from the software in which we have invested. We also want to gain a clear understanding of where Oracle is going with its products in each suite. As such, the conference provides an unparalleled opportunity for interaction with peers in the industry who have faced and solved similar challenges," he says.
By attending the event, Cronje says delegates will gain valuable information and perspectives on current approaches to the use of Oracle products from those actually using them. "As a user conference, delegates can balance what the vendor is saying, through the contribution and participation of senior Oracle executives, with what customers themselves are experiencing," he adds.
He says the 'Navigate' theme reflects the fact that, with its many acquisitions and subsequent rapid growth, there may be some uncertainty or even confusion among users as to the direction Oracle is taking with its extensive solution set. "There have been many changes and developments. Navigate reflects the aim of this conference to help users find the right way to use Oracle technology within their environment for the future."
Nicky Sheridan, vice-president and MD of Oracle SA, points out that the company views the success of the SAOUG as a measure of the strength of the Oracle community and its footprint in the market. "The conference gives our users the opportunity to network, upskill and share best-practices with each other in a supportive environment.".
Noting that the conference is independently run by the SAOUG, Sheridan nevertheless says Oracle is  supporting the event by providing leading speakers including Dr Andrew Sutherland, Senior Vice President Technology EMEA, and Chris Baker, Senior Vice-President, Core Technology Business EMEA.
"Oracle is also holding ten Hands-on Lab Sessions around BI and Fusion Middleware, in order to raise the general skill level in the market, and give users a chance to experience the technology in a secure environment," he says.
HP SA's strategic alliances manager Martin Meltz says that HP and Oracle have forged a long-standing alliance based on developing and marketing joint information technology and business solutions.
"Global leadership in respective market segments and a growing list of over 140 000 mutual customers worldwide is testimony to the strength and success of the HP and Oracle alliance," he says.
As part of its commitment to customers, he notes that HP has supported both the SAOUG and the numerous events it has conducted over the years.
"HP will be bringing technology experts from our SOA Competency Centre to South Africa, whom together with local specialists will be available for customers to interact with, at both the HP stand as well as meetings requested by customers," he adds.