AT&T Agrees To Move Large Internal Databases Into Oracle Cloud

Oracle and AT&T have announced AT&T will be moving thousands of AT&T's databases into the Oracle Cloud platform. 

Read their press release HERE

This is part of AT&T's plan to virtualize  their Wide Area Network. "The company’s goal is to virtualize 75% of its core network functions by 2020, hitting 55% by the end of 2017."

Historically, there are two major challenges to address with virtualization:  

  1. Security - Is my data safe?
  2. Functionality - Is the software robust enough to meet my core business functions?

This represents another check mark in the column for the future of Cloud-based systems.  If AT&T trusts their data to the Cloud, maybe your company can, too. 

Now, let's see if it helps them get the cable guy to my house on time.

Content Available at JDEdwardsERP.com

Everyone interested in updates on JD Edwards trends and technology should sign up for the newsletter and whitepapers available at www.JDEdwardsERP.com.  (Their About statement indicates this site is not managed by Oracle, but it is accessible through Oracle.com site.)

I downloaded PDF documents on their "2017 Guide to the State of JD Edwards EnterpriseOne" and the "ERP Technology Value Matrix".  I found them to be both informative and objective in highlighting features and benefits in JD Edwards and other enterprise-level platforms.

This site provides articles on a variety of topics, including industry-specific applications.  Some examples include:

  • "Manufacturing Industry Shaken Up by Servitization"
  • "Food and Drink Industry Is Going Digital"
  • "Commodity Traders Make Better Deals with ERP"

Whether you are looking for content to validate ROI to your executives, specific feature whitepapers, or information for personal growth, I recommend this site to you.

 

New Jobs Search Feature

Today, we are rolling out our improved Careers search engine and job listing.

You can see our openings through our Careers page or you can click HERE.

The default listing is our Featured Jobs by reverse date order.  Once in the Featured Jobs page, you can search for Jobs by Keyword, Location or Job Type.  

Note: Our search engine does not allow you to filter jobs by "Open" or "Remote" locations, but you can use these terms in the Keyword search to see what we have available.

You can apply for a specific position by completing a simple form and attaching your resume, or you can email your resume to us (without filling out a form) from the Careers page.

Check back regularly for updates on our openings as we cover the spectrum of ERP roles (Technical/Developer, Functional/Applications, Technology/Systems and Leadership/Project Mgt) most of the time.

Being More Human

I recently read “The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us about Being Alive” by Brian Christian, a very interesting book recommended by a friend.  I learned some things about cognitive computing, but more importantly, it made me think about the unique values we bring as humans in the digital age.

Alan Turing, widely regarded as the father of artificial intelligence (and portrayed in the 2014 movie, “The Imitation Game”), postulated by 1990 a machine would be able to mimic the intelligence of a human so well that at least 30% of human judges could be convinced the machine was indeed a human. The Turing Test evaluates a machine/computer’s ability to “exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human” (Wikipedia).

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In 1991, the annual Loebner competition was created to determine which computer would be most humanlike as evaluated by a set of judges in a five minute chat. To create a control group, human “Confederates” would also be paired with the judges in chat sessions. Judges then would vote on whether the entity they were chatting with was human or machine. The machine receiving the most “human” votes would win the Loebner Prize.  The Confederate receiving the most “human” votes would be declared “The Most Human Human”.

The author of the book was selected to be a Confederate in the 2009 Loebner competition.  The book explores his preparation to distinguish himself as Most Human when compared to fellow Confederates and their computer competitors.

The overarching question is: “What makes humans unique?” and interestingly, we find that machines not only can do the things we do, but they can do many things better.  When we say World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen “plays like a computer”, we are complimenting the human that he is approaching the precision of a machine. 

But, being “like a computer” used to mean something different entirely…

In the infantile days of computer research and the development of algorithms, the best “computers” were not machines at all...they were humans (and usually women). In early code breaking attempts at Bletchley Park, the Allies employed small armies of human “Computers”. In fact, if a machine was found in some way to come close to the ability of a human, it was declared to be “almost as good as a Computer”.

How times have changed when the device in your pocket has magnitudes more computing power than the best mathematician! 

To be sure, one way to be more human is to make more mistakes, after all, "to err is human..." Machines in the Loebner competition often were programmed to make typos (or curse) to appear more human.  Conversely, Confederates with in-depth understanding of certain disciplines were commonly regarded by judges as too “booked up” to be real.

Next, the author delved into the philosophical differences between humans and machines.  Descartes famously said: “Cogito ergo sum”, translated, “I think therefore I am”.  A distinctive between humans and machines for decades has been in the ability to associate value in things, not just count them.  But, alas, we find today’s computers also are better at valuation than are we. One example is the systems used to evaluate the stock market. Today, only a foolish investor would put money behind a human analyst whose recommendations lacked solid computer data!

One remaining bastion where machines have not yet surpassed human ability is in the field of creative art.  While a machine can be built to render a copy of a work of art better than a human, building a machine with the genius to create (or learn to create) an original masterpiece which could stand up to professional scrutiny is a challenge we haven’t yet solved...and that is probably a good thing!

If the author asked me, I would say an area where humans continue to be "more human" than machines is in understanding and managing relationships. Indeed, people like you – reading this very blog – are an extension of my personal human network. Of course, some machines now are being taught to act as "virtual counselors".  These go far beyond the automated response lines we all have encountered; some are being used in suicide prevention lines (!) and are programmed to use methods a psychologist might employ in treatment of patients.  (Honestly, this gives me reason to doubt the Psychology profession more than it makes me believe computers are better at relationships than people are - although some of us are better at relationships than others!)

This article doesn’t give me the time to give you the full CliffsNotes summary of the book, and if you read it, some parts may resonate more with you than with me, so I would encourage you to do so.  You should look into whether a machine has successfully passed the Turing Test or not...and don’t use Google! (Because what if the machine is lying to you?)

In a time when everyone from our best trained analysts to fast food workers may soon be replaceable by machines, we would all do well to think of ways we truly are unique - and better.   

An interesting side note is that Hugh Loebner, the benefactor who funded the Loebner competition, previously had been victim of a scam, when for six months he had romantic correspondence with a Russian woman, who later was revealed to be…

A computer. Of the digital kind.

TonyF

Sometimes You Need a Pro

Before today, I had fished Lake Lanier (here in Atlanta) with very little success.  I filled up a tackle box with lures, watched Youtube videos and spent a lot of time on the lake, but basically had been shut out. No doubt, I had been more successful on a one-acre pond my mom owns. 

As the busiest lake in Georgia, I was convinced Lake Lanier was "fished out".

But today was totally different. We loaded up our boat with fish. Were we lucky or had we become great fisherman overnight?  

No.  We hired a professional guide.

Mack Farr has been a fishing guide on Lake Lanier for more than 30 years.  In fact, he he has never had another job!  With him as our guide, less than a minute into our first cast, we were pulling 8-10 lb. fish out of the lake.  After three hours, three of us had caught almost 150 lbs of fish. 

You would think if you "teach a man to fish" he would learn to fish the same way with the same results next time, but in this case, I don't think so. "Captain" Mack has exactly the right equipment for what he does (much is his own branded merchandise). But even with identical tools, I probably would strike out again if Mack wasn't in the boat with me showing me exactly what to do.

The life lesson is that, to be successful, sometimes you need to hire a pro.

  • If you want to catch fish, don't hire me. You need a pro like Mack.
  • If brain surgery is required, I definitely am not your man.
  • But, when you need to hire ERP consultants (or you are an ERP consultant looking for a job), you should call Enspire Partners.  

Don't Waste a Failure

The University of Alabama has won the national championship in NCAA football four times in the last eight years under the leadership of coach Nick Saban.  Many people see Saban as the best coach in football, possibly ever.  They will be ranked #1 when they play the FSU Seminoles to open this year’s college season.

But they lost last year.  Once.  On the last second of the last game.

They were 14-0 going into the championship game against Clemson in January.  In the final game of the previous season, they also had faced Clemson and beat them for the championship.  They led the entire game this year, but Clemson came back and scored on the last play to win the game, 35-31.

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Losing is painful, but losing at the 11th hour (in games and in “real” life) can be a killer.  I think it is natural to sulk over a loss or to push back and blame others or your situation (or God, if you are so inclined).  When asked yesterday about the loss, Saban would have been fully justified in saying: “We have been the best team in football over the last decade.  We were the best team in 2016, and we were the best team last year except for one second”.  Or, he could have said: “We beat Clemson the last time we played them.  We lost to them in January, but we would like nothing better than to have another chance to play them for the championship this year.” 

Both statements would be true, but he had a better answer.  Saban said: “We don’t want to waste a failure.”

He is saying, as hard as they worked last year, and for all of the pain they felt when they came up short, they are using their loss as an opportunity to get better.

The Atlanta Falcons had a similar outcome last year – getting to the final game and leading only to lose on the last play.  The motivational phrase they are using this year is “Embrace the Suck.”

I am a very competitive person, and in my job, I get lots of opportunities to embrace failure, because in recruiting there is nothing (but pain) for coming in second place.  Most of the time, I think we can learn lessons from our failures with the goal of not repeating them.  Other times, we have to accept there are things out of our control that may cause a deal to break, and the best remedy to a loss is to work a little harder and put another deal together that turns into a win.

We are having the best year in our six year history as a company with many wins, but we want more.  Let me know how we can help you.

TonyF

Our new website!

We needed to update our website for several years.  What we had available since our company started was a Wordpress site my brother and I developed over a weekend six years ago. 

Taking this on during a slow time over the July 4th week, I thought I could knock it our pretty quickly...not so fast!  To be sure, I encountered many of the classical problems associated with development:

  1. The consultant who first presented the project to me (aka my daughter) helped me get started, but usually you have to take ownership to get things set-up the way you want.
  2. When you take existing data and put it into a new platform, in many ways, the platform choice causes you to reshape the data to fit the skin instead of the other way around.
  3. Sometimes you are tied to integrating into legacy tools (in this case, our Jobs search engine) whether you want to or not.
  4. Version control is a real problem. Making minor changes often creates massive rework.
  5. If you really care about the details, it will take a lot of time to get things like you want them (and even then you have to make compromises).
  6. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  When I asked my QA team (aka my wife) to look over the site, she tore into some of my proudest features. Understanding I couldn't fire her, I had to listen to what she had to say. 
  7. Perfection is probably not achievable, and even if it was, your perception of perfection probably doesn't mirror that of your audience.  Even my own perceptions of things I liked and didn't like evolved as I went through the process.
  8. The joy of go-live!!
  9. The re-calibration of your happiness when people who have put one gazillionth of the time you have into this site are able to point out veryobvious issues that can be improved. 
  10. The whole exercise made me appreciate Steve Jobs more...

So, we look forward to our comments. If there is anything you like on the site, you should probably credit my wife and the other people who helped to critique it. If there is something you hate, it is my fault alone.

Whether you are awe-struck or feel pity for the designer of this website, I hope you find reason to do business with us in the future.

TonyF