While at Collaborate, I had the opportunity to sit down with Denise Grills, JD Edwards’ Vice President of Content and Communications Engineering at Oracle. Denise was gracious enough to spend a few minutes discussing the emphasis her JD Edwards content team has made recently to provide helpful content to users—including a fresh look and user experience with LearnJDE.com. Below is a lightly edited version of that conversation.
Aaron Chappell: All right, so would you mind telling me a little bit about yourself? How did you get into IT and to your role at JD Edwards?
Denise Grills: I started in IT when I was 17. In high school I took a programming class, attended college, and got a job programming for a local school district in Montana. From there on, it was business and computer science through my career.
Aaron Chappell: And was it JD Edwards that brought you specifically to Denver?
Denise Grills: No, I actually was with IBM in Seattle for about 10 years. My husband had a career opportunity in Denver so we moved. I had a friend from IBM who was working for JD Edwards in the Pacific Northwest. She came into Denver for training at JD Edwards which was two miles from my house. She recommended that I talk to them and she gave me an intro. I was working at JD Edwards two weeks later. And that was 22 years ago in August. I was about the 2,000th employee. It was when OneWorld (now EnterpriseOne) was in development.
Aaron Chappell: How would you best describe your role within the Oracle organization?
Denise Grills: I’m Vice President of Content and Communications Engineering. We formed that group about three and a half years ago. I had a marketing team, but we also had a very talented technical writing team that produced our documentation and training materials. Lyle Ekdahl, our Senior Vice President for JD Edwards, asked me if I would bring those two teams together. Our marketing team had a need to produce content and we had the technical writing team where we saw a lot of potential.
We combined and went down this journey of content and communications. We have ‘engineering’ in our department name because we’re part of the engineering process. Our writers are on Scrum teams, are part of the development cycle, work with the developers to produce the documentation, and contribute all the way through to the marketing content. Some of the videos that you saw at Collaborate and soon at OpenWorld are produced by our team.
Aaron Chappell: I wanted to talk specifically today about your LearnJDE.com website. Would you mind starting off by discussing Oracle’s main goal for the LearnJDE.com site? What are they hoping to accomplish through the site?
Denise Grills: Sure! We want LearnJDE.com to be THE destination for our customers, partners and also Oracle employees to find JD Edwards information. There a lot of different sites for information, even within Oracle. We also have a lot of audiences that need to be reached. We want to make it easy for people to locate all of our content. We started LearnJDE.com a few years ago based on customer inquiries on where to find timely updates about our new features in JD Edwards. This site has served our customers well.
April 2017 we launched a new version of LearnJDE.com, which is search driven and a web-based solution. The idea is still to have deep content, one place to go, but to be more like the search processes we all use to find information on our next vacation, where to go for “how-to” suggestions, and even documentation for the appliances in our home when we are making a change. Our goal is for you to find what you’re looking for easily in a modern, web-based solution.
From LearnJDE.com, we also have links to other Oracle content locations. We want to reach and interact with more of our JD Edwards customers. We want our technologies to make it easy for customers to find product information and use it in support of their organizations. We want them to know there’s a place they can go to get that information, find it quickly, and then go on with their job and role with JD Edwards.
Aaron Chappell: What types of content can visitors to LearnJDE.com access?
Denise Grills: We provide a site where any visitor can get deep product information and documentation. Traditional content types include tutorials, product descriptions, solution overviews, white papers, and videos. We also provide our visitors with access to product announcements, upgrade and migration documentation, and access to our social medial channels. When people visit LearnJDE.com, they’ll also find links to Oracle’s product catalog, which shares features and enhancement for all releases. So customers can go in and experience rich and robust content.
Oracle also uses the LearnJDE.com site as a way to communicate “what’s new” to our JD Edwards community. So we’re talking about product enhancements and new functionality. We want the JD Edwards community to know what the Oracle team has been doing…things we’ve released for them, and what enhancements and new technology are available. We also have a lot of upgrade and migration content that goes fairly deep.
We’ve had customers use LearnJDE.com to justify upgrading or going to a new release for specific industry functionality. A lot of our customers are using 3rd-party applications where they have to create a custom integration which can complicate things. Oracle may have a whole module available that does the same thing, but the customer isn’t aware of it. LearnJDE.com is there to educate customers on all of the products that Oracle has to offer. In some cases, they may have already licensed a product and just need to get some more information.
Aaron Chappell: A lot of customers are already using partner websites, or connecting through the User Group websites as well. How is the LearnJDE.com website different than what they do? What type of additional content does LearnJDE.com provide versus some of the other sites that people go to?
Denise Grills: LearnJDE.com is a place where Oracle customers can obtain official key product information. We often hear that there is so much information available, but it was hard to find something specifically. We designed the site to bring deep product information, and help the community understand why Oracle has released that feature, the benefit of adopting it, who might use it, and who else uses it. We have regular news and updates as well as access to our documentation to help customers use the product and get the most out of their investment.
After our major conferences and product announcements, LearnJDE.com will be updated for the latest news and information.
We certainly encourage our customers to visit their User Group or JD Edwards Oracle Partner Member network websites. We work closely with Quest, who just launched a new site, and coordinate with international user groups who have excellent communications to their communities such as the OBUG group in Europe. Our European customers have an excellent translated website at JDEdwardsERP.com. More information is always better!
I encourage everyone in our JD Edwards Community to regularly use LearnJDE.com for announcements and product information from Oracle.
Aaron Chappell: You mentioned new functionality features available. Are there any features that might be newer to people who have already been to the site that maybe might be a reason for them to come back and try it out again?
Denise Grills: On the new LearnJDE.com site, the search functionality is a major improvement. For the new site, we wanted to bring people to one place where they can get product information, announcements, and also see how the community is interacting. If you scroll down the page, the Twitter feed is there, along with the news. So you can scroll down and get a feeling of what’s going on more easily. It also works well on tablets and mobile devices for our users who are serving their customers at the point of process.
Please try our new site and we would love to hear your feedback.