Oracle VP Gives Advice on Doing Business in China


Kevin Walsh, a vice president of Oracle, the software giant based in Redwood, California, was interviewed in Shanghai on October 17 by china.org.cn after a press conference at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation International Media Center on Human Capacity Building. The conference reported on progress of several projects established in May at the APEC High Level Meeting on Human Capacity Building in Beijing. They include an Internet platform for training senior computer technicians from the 21-member APEC countries, particularly the developing companies; an analog network classroom to help disseminate computer and network-based knowledge; and an Internet Forum for people in business, government and education to exchange views concerning human capacity development. The following interview was conducted by Guo Xiaohong, china.org.cn’s correspondent at the APEC meetings.

china.org cn: “How important is Human Capacity Building for Oracle?”

Walsh: “Very important – because our business is knowledge-based. As a business, it is important that we improve knowledge not only for our own workers but also for people we work with like our business partners. When we go to a country for business, it is certainly important that the general level scale of knowledge can accept the advanced technology that we have built. So these things go hand-in-hand. If a person does not have the basic skills, then the technology cannot be employed productively. When we work in any country, we want to bring our technology and share the things we have learned and help the people in that country and their economy to adapt technologies to the local situation. This is always a process of transfer of technology. It is a critical way for us to do business.”

china.org.cn: “Is the APEC Human Capacity Building Program discussed at today’s press conference a must for APEC to bridge the digital divide?”

Walsh: “There are many answers, but one thing necessary – especially in developing countries – is supplying practical tools. It is not enough to teach concepts. It is also important to make these tools accessible to people at as low cost as possible.”

china.org.cn: “Do you have any suggestion to your Chinese information technology counterparts in terms of human capacity building?”

Walsh: “I think our Chinese counterparts are taking a great interest in this. And I think many people in China are realizing the value of the Internet as an alternative means of learning. In China for many centuries learning has traditionally been a respected activity. It is revered in Chinese society. I think the challenge has been in the past that many people couldn't have access to information technology because of the great distance, the language. But now the Internet process is allowing learning which is full of value to all Chinese people. Our Chinese counterparts realize that it is necessary to utilize western technology but in a way that is adapted to the Chinese way of doing business. But to be able to adapt, you need to have a deep understanding of the technology. I believe that Internet technologies are working to help solve these problems by allowing quicker adaptation of new technologies to improve the efficiency of basic industries. It gives workers and managers the skills to have a vision, a power to adapt new technologies to the Chinese situation, which is unique.”

china.org.cn: “Does Oracle have any plans to invest in Western China?”

Walsh: “Later on this fall, I will explore visiting western China to study the situation in the western provinces. Technology is advancing rapidly in China. I have learned a lot about policies, and I want to understand basic communications, the infrastructure situation, and so forth.”

china.org.cn: “What is your impression of China as a place to do business?”

Walsh: “If a company comes here, if you try to understand Chinese culture and the way Chinese people need to adapt technologies, you can always be successful. I feel sorry when I see people coming to China who don’t understand these things. So this is my strategy. I spend at least half of my time in China and the other half in the US. In a week, I can shuttle back and forth to have conversations with both cultures to bring together the best ideas. I think I learn more from China. Ellison (Lawrence J. Ellison, Oracle's Chairman & CEO since he founded the company in 1977) has come to China many times and gives special attention to the Chinese market.”

china.org.cn: “What are your future plans for business in China?”

Walsh: “Right now we are looking for locations in the country to see what the market needs are and how Oracle can respond. This year, we are planning to increase our investment in China and establish additional Research and Development capability in the country. We will not only export software. Oracle can also implement projects that support the largest national infrastructure like the 10th Five-Year Plan initiatives. Almost all these initiatives and national infrastructure projects [2001-05] – whether in banking, financing, manufacturing, or human capability – all can use technology. The challenge in China is that it is difficult to understand and keep up with the trends in the US because most communications are in English. Also for China, it is difficult for the professionals involved. They can have direct conversations with experts regularly, but they have to travel. So what we want is to bring our technology here to share and to learn how to adapt concepts which are accepted in the US to the Chinese situation. We want to work with Chinese engineering talents, too, who are among the best in the world.”

(china.org.cn by Sara Grimes and correspondent Guo Xiaohong October 19, 2001)









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