January 7, 2009

#6. Disbanding of the Hyperion User Groups

The polite way to refer to the Hyperion User Groups (adorably referred to as the "HUGs") pre-Oracle merger was... decentralized.  There was no common organizing body (unless you count Hyperion offering to help fund some of the HUGs in some areas).  The HUGs just operated as 25+ regional entities with no coordination between them.  Even though there was no central governing organization, all the HUGs held meetings with invited speakers on Hyperion topics, Oracle would frequently speak along with clients and vendors, and in general, dues weren't charged (although their were a couple of notable exceptions like Michigan's annual HUG event).

This led to some interesting regional differences between the HUGs.  Some areas like Southern California didn't have a HUG to speak of (for the last few years, at least).  The last time SoCal tried to hold a HUG meeting, twelve people attended.  In all of Southern California, home to one of the largest concentrations of Hyperion clients in the USA, twelve people made it to their last user group meeting.

Other areas had very strong HUGs that met quarterly.  In North Texas, the quarterly meetings attracted anywhere between 50 and 120 people depending on who was speaking.  South Texas also had a strong HUG that attracted roughly the same numbers every quarter.  Even smaller Hyperion communities like Iowa, Michigan, and upstate New Jersey still managed to put on an annual user group meeting that attracted up to 50 people.

Some of the HUGs were controlled by users, whereas others were dominated by consulting companies, but at least they were holding meetings.  All told, across the 25+ HUGs, you could pretty much find a user group meeting somewhere in the USA at least once a week if you were a HUG junkie.

And then Oracle arrived.  Oracle insisted that the HUGs be under a common user group umbrella.  Oracle offered up OAUG, IOUG, and Quest and each was invited to present to the 25+ HUG leaders about why they should "disband" their local HUG and go under the banner of the much larger group.  For reasons I don't understand, ODTUG was not invited to present to the HUGs even a large number of HUG attendees were developers/administrators.

After various pitches from the umbrella groups, the HUG leadership (usually, without a vote of their individual HUG's members, sadly) decided to go under the leadership of OAUG in the summer of 2008.  I have no idea why the HUG leaders thought this was a good idea, but I know for a fact many of them are wishing they could take it back.

What's happened since the HUGs gave up their independence?  Some of the HUGs ceased to exist while others kept meeting as usual... basically ignoring that they were now part of OAUG.  Most of the HUGs are in total disarray because neither the leadership nor the users even understands if their groups still exist.

While it's true that Hyperion/Oracle definitely doesn't provide sponsorship dollars and support to the individual HUGs anymore, there's nothing stopping them from existing.  They don't even really have to coordinate with OAUG's Hyperion SIG if they don't want to.  Either way, the users have no clue what's going on, they have no where to turn for information, and that's bad for everyone.

Personally, I think that Oracle did a great job of acquiring Hyperion from a corporate standpoint, but the systematic dismantling of the user groups and the annual Solutions conference was abysmally handled.  While I think the acquisition deserves an "A" overall, how Oracle handling the users gets a solid "F".

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