Events & Initiatives
2,330 views|Apr 6, 2020,08:00am EDT
Guyanese Chemist Goes From Plant Manager To Tech EntrepreneurLisa MorganBrand ContributorOracleBRANDVOICE| Paid Program
Determined to solve the problem, Kwang experimented with different Microsoft options, including Power BI and Microsoft Access. Neither quite gave him what he wanted, in part because the result was hard to consume on a mobile device, which was necessary for easy data entry.
Anton Kwang is on a mission to help public and private sector organizations-especially those in emerging economies like his home country of Guyana-replace paper-based business processes with software.
Kwang, a chemist by trade, believed in that mission enough to cofound a tech services company three years ago that built business intelligence systems at the time using Microsoft Access, Excel, and Power BI. Kwang and his partner ran the company as a side business, while Kwang continued as manager of a food factory owned by a leading food manufacturer in Guyana. In January, he left his job to embrace full time his company, HESC Power Dash Analytics, which primarily uses Oracle Application Express (APEX) to build business applications.
APEX is a tool that comes with Oracle Database, and lets people quickly build apps that make use of data. Kwang discovered APEX in November 2018 while working as a manager for Edward B. Beharry & Co.'s food factory in Guyana. He became so passionate about APEX's power and ease of use-including for nondevelopers like him-that in addition to founding his company, he and a few other APEX enthusiasts recently started APEX_GY, an informal community of APEX developers in Guyana.
Kwang has aggressive goals for his business. His personal story is part of a series of stories we're sharing to show how creative people are using Oracle APEX to energize and sometimes change their careers.
From Chemist to Plant Manager
When Kwang started his chemistry career in 2009, he couldn't imagine doing anything else. He spent more than a decade at Edward B. Beharry & Co. working as a chemist, then moved up to assistant manager of the pasta department, and finally as factory manager of curry and spice production.
As a manager, Kwang was responsible for overseeing day-to-day production records, many of which were captured in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The company is ISO-certified, so it monitored many key performance indicators for production and equipment maintenance. "With a lot of records in Excel, it was very tedious," Kwang says. "And as the data size grew, Excel froze up a lot."
Exasperated, Kwang reached out to some old university friends who majored in computer science, and one of them recommended Oracle APEX. When he first discovered APEX, he used Oracle Database Express Edition (XE), a free version of Oracle Database for developers. (He now uses a free cloud version for developers, Oracle Cloud Free Tier.)
"I was kind of intimidated because it seemed very complicated to me, but we needed to find a cost-effective solution and APEX was bundled free with Oracle Database," Kwang says. "I decided to look at some videos on YouTube. After watching the first video I was completely blown away by how easy everything looked."
Kwang mimicked each step on the videos, which only made him want to learn more, inspiring him to start reading blogs and experimenting further.
His first accomplishment was a computerized maintenance management system that was faster and easier to use than spreadsheets. It went into production in July 2019. Next, he built a quality management application to manage and track the kind of non-conformances, risks, and opportunities required by the ISO 9001 quality management standard. He also built an exchange-and-return application to manage and track product returns. Along the way, Kwang also began learning SQL and PL/SQL.
Moonlighting Leads to a New Career
Kwang started HESC Power Dash Analytics as a small side business in 2017 with a medical doctor friend who is now a senior health officer in Guyana. The company's primary focus is data analysis, although the scope of projects has expanded to include different kinds of business management applications. Kwang is the lead developer, and his partner handles analytical modeling, sales, finances, and other business aspects.
Most clients come from the public sector, although they've helped other manufacturers and have had inquiries from organizations interested in digitizing their records and business processes.
Meanwhile, Oracle APEX activity has been pouring into Guyana, in part as the result of government-sponsored hackathons. Kwang says several of the hackathon contestants, including two winning teams, have used Oracle APEX since the competitions started in 2015. One of the winning applications is a public-facing farmer's market commodity trading site built by team INOSYS. Some of the contestants have joined the APEX_GY development community started in September.
Kwang marvels that, after 10 years working at one company, he is able to transition to running his own company and helping nurture the country's APEX community locally. "I can only describe it as a miracle of some kind," Kwang says.
Becoming a Catalyst for Social Change
Kwang is most moved by some work he has been doing for the country's Child Care and Protection Agency. The long-term goal of the work is to manage all paperwork with Oracle APEX. So far, applications have included internal systems for child abuse and sex offender registry, a daycare registry, and the digitization of several other internal forms.
"One of the reasons I decided to focus on Oracle APEX and leave my job was because I see the impact APEX can make on a social level in Guyana," Kwang says. "A lot of the people in the community have this vision that maybe in 5 or 10 years, APEX will be the leading technology in Guyana. I view APEX as a means to a much bigger end."
The APEX_GY community members plan to showcase Oracle APEX's potential by doing volunteer projects as they believe it could "make ripples at a national level," Kwang says. He sends emails to different organizations offering to do small pilot projects for them-even unpaid. That way, those organizations will be able to see the power and the benefits of APEX applications versus traditional paper-based business processes.
"For me, it feels like some kind of divine calling," says Kwang. "It gives me such a giant satisfaction when you finish building an application for a client, and they start to use the application, and you see that you've added value and benefit to that organization."By Lisa Morgan
Lisa Morgan is a journalist, industry analyst, and content strategist who plans and develops content on technology-related business and legal issues.