By Blair Campbell
St. Gallen, Switzerlan
Company/URL: Data Geekery
Job title: Founder and CEO
Length of time using Oracle products: 12 years
How did you get started in IT? It began when my dad bought a 286 computer for his work. I got really curious and played with it to the point of breaking it many, many times. He then bought me my own brand-new 386, which had QBasic on it. Later on, I got a hold of a Turbo Pascal copy, which I used and enjoyed a lot. I must have been around 13 or 14 at the time, and my career was already decided.
What’s the most common cause you see when IT projects go wrong? I would say one of the most common causes is Conway’s Law. IT is very transformative, but only if we let it be. Most large corporations do not allow IT to “run loose,” and as such, they follow Conway’s Law by building complicated closed systems whose interfaces are designed along the lines and units of the organization. It must feel painful to work on such a system.
What’s your go-to Oracle reference book? Truth be told, Google and Stack Overflow function more for me as references, but I also like Expert Oracle SQL by Tony Hasler [Apress, 2014], which I read in ebook format. It’s a great book for learning about the depths of Oracle technologies.
Company/URL: Sysco AS
Job title: Consultant
Oracle credentials: Oracle Certified Professional (Oracle Database 10g)
Length of time using Oracle products: 22 years
What’s the next big thing driving change in your industry? Data collection and machine learning, both of which will lead to changes almost everywhere. Combined with automation, this trend will lead to the disappearance of many manual tasks. The amount of data collection is already massive, and it’s only going to grow. More of it will be in a form fit for automatic consumption by machines, so machine learning is the logical next step, because the volume is way too big to be processed only by human experts.
What’s the most common cause you see when IT projects go wrong? Underestimating complexity, and trying to do too much at once. You can’t solve a problem with a standard process when what’s really needed is good old computer science. There’s still a need to understand how things work in order to spot bad design. The only difference now from earlier days is that the tedious work has been automated—or will be automated, possibly with the help of machine learning. The autonomous database is one example of that.
What would you like to see Oracle, as a company, do more of? I like the way Oracle is bridging the gap to open source communities and also encouraging more people to get involved with coding. The company has contributed to GitHub with several repositories, invested a lot in container technology such as Docker, and made it much easier for DevOps to get started with Oracle technology and to integrate it with different systems. I hope to see the company continuing in this direction.
Job title: CEO
Length of time using Oracle products: More than 10 years
What advice do you have about getting into information technology? First of all, you must gain a deep understanding of the technical underpinnings of your chosen area of focus. Once you have that foundation, you can then gradually move toward understanding technologies outside that area of focus—truly grasping their function and usage.
How are you using social media in your work these days? I frequently use WeChat, which is very popular in China. It focuses on mobile messaging and social features and is super-easy to use—you can friend someone; send text and audio; shoot videos; or even do video calls with your family, friends, and workmates. WeChat also has the ability to create and manage groups, so you can discuss all kinds of topics, including technical ones. The MySQL communities that I run manage nearly 40 “super groups” on WeChat. Every group can have 500 accounts at most, and the accounts in these 40 groups cover nearly the whole MySQL expert community. These groups help us exchange insights and plan various kinds of events such as forums and conferences.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of the office? Contributing to the open source community. The most popular MySQL community in China is ACMUG [All China MySQL User Group]. Its membership includes almost every MySQL user in China; I’m one of the original members and now lead its operations. I’ve participated in and managed this community for years. We host seminars and tech conferences all over China, and it has become one of the main channels for people to share their tech experiences and expertise.
Blair Campbell is Profit magazine’s deputy editor and a contributing editor and writer at Oracle Magazine. She is a past managing editor of both magazines and the current managing editor of Sonoma magazine, where she also writes about wine and design.