A Walk Down Memory Lane – JD Edwards Conferences

Joining the EmeraldCube team earlier this fall, I now have the opportunity to make my first contribution to the EmeraldCube blog. Join me, as I provide my own personal perspective and walk down memory lane of JD Edwards Conferences…

I have been supporting JD Edwards software since 1991. It was World Software back then, and I was hired to help with an upgrade in a time when modifying the software was sanctioned. The upgrade went so well, I was allowed to attend my first JDE conference in June of 1992.

Back then, JDE sponsored their own conferences.  They would provide training classes the weekend before, condensing their normal five-day courses into a single day. This was a real deal you did not want to miss if you were a worker (the bosses flew out for the weekend golf tournament). After the weekend, the conference extended 4 more days at the Marriott Denver Tech Center.  Some sessions were held at the JDE offices and were presented by JDE employees. They even had equipment setup for hands on demos.

At that first conference, I was struck by how open the JDE organization was to having customers help design their software in order to make it more useful.  They had adopted the idea of Special Interest Groups by then, and each group talked about a specific area of the software, like financials or distribution. At that time, Programmers were called “Systems Analysts” and they knew user functions in their organization.  They were able to vote on the validity of enhancement requests as well as the priority for their organization.  I personally felt like a piece of the puzzle, a moving part of something larger than myself. The feeling made me want to get involved. Parties and dinners aside, the feeling of camaraderie between the customer and software vendor just seemed right.

I was allowed to attend one conference per year after that, and each year I filled out the enhancement request voting forms.  At the conferences I learned which of the enhancements were included in the new releases.

The funniest and most disturbing conference was when One World was introduced. Then President and CEO, Ed McVaney, using a puppet, introduced it. All of a sudden that year, all of the sessions were displaying applications in this new interface.  We were told in the sessions about the flexibility of configurable network computing. It all looked way too intricate and complex, requiring more employees and software to support it.

World Software users revolted when they were told that they would have to move to this software by year 2000 in order to pass the big computer issues.  At the conference a huge meeting was abruptly scheduled.  World users cried, ”Hey, we are paying for software support for the software we have! We make up most of JDEs development budget. You cannot expect us all to move from a totally stable and custom coded environment to software that (at the time) is not very stable!”

JDE relented, went back and retested their One world software to make it stable, (Version XE) and created a World version that would take customers into the century without making the big jump to new software.  They also started preaching the art of changing your company’s processes to use vanilla software.

As the conference numbers grew, JDE decided that they were not in the conference business and hired a company to take over.  This company became Quest and they moved the conference to Denver’s Convention Center.  One year, the attendance topped 10,000.

Quest created a second conference that year, the White Paper Forum, that brought the SIGs together for writing white papers in order to further define their enhancement requests.  I was so into the concept of helping JDE get it right, that I barely noticed the swanky surroundings at the Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs.

Peoplesoft took over a year later and the conference attendance went down to 900.  That was the year when Shell Canada stopped supporting the effort and corporate policy pushed ahead with SAP. At that time, Sue Shaw handed over the reins of the Technology SIG to me.

The numbers were down and the JDE development group was trying to listen to customers, but Peoplesoft was not supporting Quest and the days of enhancement surveys were gone.

Thank you Oracle for picking up the pieces.  Eventually, Quest was able to rise from the flames, along with other user groups.  Quest was able to create an enhancement system and process by which customers could work alongside their partner software firm to make everyone’s job more efficient.

Although JDE is still preaching vanilla software, they continue to listen to their customers and work to make the upgrades less painful.  I look forward to supporting the new era of EnterpriseOne and their new 9.2 version. Make sure to stop by and see us in April at booth #423 at Collaborate16, where we’ll be highlighting how EmeraldCube can help you with your 9.2 upgrade.

Bravo to partnerships with JD Edwards, Oracle and Quest!