“…in another life I’d be tracking sharks”
Every Monday morning we fire five questions at a C-suite technology industry interviewee. Today we’re pleased to be joined by Exasol CEO Aaron Auld
Biggest challenge for your clients?
Every business we work with has their own unique challenges – speeding up sales or financial reporting, fixing their existing data warehouse, building a modern analytics infrastructure, or helping to integrate data science into their business processes, just to name a few.
However, there are some fundamental challenges most of our clients are looking to address: such as high performance, flexibility and scalability. Enterprises increasingly need the flexibility of a hybrid data platform approach – from on-premises through to the public cloud.
In addition, there are some other challenges that organisations face which are often determined by their size and history. Larger companies usually have complex legacy estates that are siloed, holding data in disparate areas of the business.
Some have deployed data lake strategies in an attempt to centralise their data, but they remain unable to access and analyse that data at speed. For example, understanding the customer lifecycle might require fast and deep analysis across several sources, including digital marketing tools, CRM, and customer service tickets. Exasol helps by connecting and combining these disparate data sources to provide a unified data structure – on-premises or in the cloud – and provides the ability to analyse that data at speed and scale, within the database.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have pioneering digital natives that have a data-driven culture at their core. They have the advantage of a simpler legacy, but their data teams want to leverage the information from enormous volumes of live and historical data, at a speed and performance unachievable by conventional databases. These companies are built on having results and insights quickly so that they can adapt all aspects of their business in real-time and have the competitive edge on the established businesses with bigger brand recognition.
One example of this is the world’s largest online dating service, Badoo, which is built on the web and has 400 million users sending 60 million messages each day. Badoo uses its fast and scalable data infrastructure in many ways – for example, analysing user data around the clock and measuring the effect of updates as they are made to the live platform, to improve the dating experience for successive demographics.
Technology that excites you most?
It’s incredibly exciting to track the pace at which humans are able to build upon existing knowledge to create and innovate, especially where new technologies have a positive and transformative impact on people’s lives.
We work with PATH, for example, a non-profit and global leader in health innovation, which is using data – and our database – alongside other transformative technologies to support the Zambian government’s ambitious campaign to eliminate malaria in the country by 2020.
In Africa, malaria takes the life of a child every two minutes, and in Zambia alone, it’s estimated nearly 3,000 people die from the disease each year. To see the technology that we’ve developed playing a role in such an important project is incredibly rewarding. Considering the negative impact the human race is having on the planet right now, it gives me hope that people can also come up with solutions to fix the damage and help the planet regenerate and stay as clean as possible.
My greatest success is continuously keeping our customers happy and being part of their transformation process. I measure my success by the impact I have on the people I work with and meet. When I hear from our customers what a difference Exasol makes to their organisations, it gives me huge satisfaction. One customer recently told us that our technology had “saved his life”, because it changed everything for the better.
I am very proud of being a part of Exasol’s story and seeing how we have evolved over the years without having ever lost our original core values. Today, we are in a great position in a very cool market and have become a global player. This is down to the people at Exasol, and their passion and commitment, so anything that I have been able to contribute to that counts as success in my world. I also take great pride in building lasting friendships within our community of customers and partners.
I honestly cannot think of any great failure in my career. I guess that I have just been lucky.
However, I am very aware of smaller failings over time, of situations I could have handled better, dynamics I didn’t recognise, people I misunderstood or failed to connect with. I constantly reflect on these things and try to change for the better. Maybe getting older and a little bit wiser will help.
In another life, I’d be…
…a marine biologist, working on a boat, tracking sharks to see where they go. And, now more than ever, I would work to understand what we are doing to our oceans, however unbearable that is, and work on solutions for saving them.