What's in a name? As in, my team's name.

Over the past several months, I have put together a team of expert technologists whose job is to…well…back to that in a moment.

I have been calling this team Oracle Database Evangelists.

And now we are really close to launching ourselves into a flurry of activity and fun. Which has gotten us focused for the moment on what to call ourselves: both our team and each person.

Do we really want to be evangelists, for example?

My fine and very smart friend, That Jeff Smith, suggests that we not overthink it. I agree. But a little thought could go a long way in this case.

And since I like the idea of engaging our user community in what we will be doing, I thought I would share with you our various ideas. Including our current favorite alternative to Evangelist.

Hopefully you will give us some feedback. Before you can judge a name, though, you should have some idea of what we are naming. In other words:

Why have I assembled a team of Oracle Database experts who are also really good at communicating ideas in a creative, inspiring way?

1. Make sure everyone (current and prospective users) know that Oracle Database is not just for storing and retrieving bits and bites. It also is a powerful foundation for application developers, packed with features that make it easier for us to build performant, scalable, maintainable applications. Think: SQL, PL/SQL, Oracle Spatial, Oracle Text and more, even “small” features like Query Change Notification.

2. Help our users fully leverage all these features by providing more training resources, more scripts, more tools, more how-tos.

As noted above, I had been thinking of calling our team and each of us individually “evangelists.”

That’s the title I had at Quest/Dell - PL/SQL Evangelist - and it’s a fairly common title in the software world these days.

But I was never really comfortable with it. Why not?

First, it tended to put me up on a pedestal: I am better than everyone else at this, you should all learn from me. Now, certainly I have lots of experience with PL/SQL. But so do lots and lots of others, and I am certain (really: I know for a fact) that some of them know as much about PL/SQL as I and are better developers than I am.

And even if I were the absolute best at PL/SQL in the whole, wide world, one of the things I want this team to do for other (non-employee) Oracle experts is make them more visible, give them a way to share their knowledge and build their reputations. How do all of my PL/SQL friends out there fit into my "evangelism"?

The second problem with “evangelist” is that it’s all about pushing and being pushy.  By pushing, I mean that when you evangelize you try to convince others that you are right, that they should follow you. It is an outward-directed process, from the vendor (Oracle) to the user (you). But I want our team to put users first, in every possible way.

I want many more of our users to become well-known experts in their own right. I want to make it as easy as possible for you to get answers to your questions, solutions to your problems. I want to help everyone learn about and take advantage of the many advanced (and some not so advanced) features of Oracle Database that are beneficial to developers, but rarely utilized.

Bottom line: I see us more as "inside partners" for our users than as promoters of Oracle Database technology. And I think we will be excellent partners with you.

Yeah, we could probably go with Evangelist and people wouldn’t blink an eye, think twice about it.

But maybe there is a name that better fits what we want to accomplish and how we want to work.

Last week, at our first meeting together at Oracle HQ last week, we bounced around a number of different naming ideas, including:

Navigator
Guide
Outreach
Advocate
Enthusiast
Mentor

I must admit: I came up with Guide - and I really like the idea of it, that we are helping guide users through the vast jungle of Oracle products and features, to find the solution to their problem. But it sounded too much like Scouts and Girl Guides and also did not convey the sense of being a communication channel back in to Oracle.

As we tried on different names for the team and titles for the individual members, we kept circling back around to Advocate.

Advocate our software to our users.
Advocate for user needs back to Prod Dev.

Combine that word with a realization we are focusing (at least initially) on the application developer, and we have a current favorite amongst the team of:

Team name: Oracle Developer Advocates

Individual titles:

PL/SQL Advocate
SQL Advocate
Javascript Advocate
etc.

So...what do you think?

Thanks in advance,
Steven

Comments

  1. Personally, I liked Evangelist. The Advocate approach seems like a support group. "Hello, my name is CJ and I'm addicted to PL/SQL."

    What would differentiate an Advocate from an Ace?

    CJ

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like that: I could organize PL/SQL support groups. :-)

    Differentiate Advocate from ACE (or Evangelist from ACE): first, my team is composed of Oracle employees, who cannot be ACEs. In fact, two of us gave up our ACE-dom to join the team.

    ACEs certainly also promote Oracle technology AND represent user needs back to Oracle - but from outside the company.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Evangelist always makes me think of religious people knocking at the door in the least appropriate moment. Advocate has a nice ring to it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great thoughts, love your approach, and you are right it's not just a name. Besides I wouldn't use any religious expression these days when so much nonsense is going on in the name of religion. Advocate is great!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aren't PL/SQL support groups %OUGs?

    Steven, what about Oracle Solution Advocates? Being an advocate does not mean that Oracle is the one and only way to go, rather your team tries to come up with a Oracle solution first.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Sam - certainly OUGs provide lots of support and we will be supporting THEM.

    Oracle Solution Advocates: I like the emphasis on solutions. But I'm not sure how well that parses - I don't think you advocate solutions. And I don't want to come up with general a title, and lose our focus as a result.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking that your team would be focused on providing or evangelizing Oracle products as there are hundreds of them, and really they can do almost anything. I agree the verbage is very buzz-wordy.

      I like ODA. You need you have a employee of the year for each section. Call them the "Yearly Oracle Developer Advocate" of their group.

      Delete
    2. Just for an idea "Oracle Sewak"

      Sewak is a Hindi word which comes from the word sewa (meaning service) and is used to refer to one who perform sewa (service).Sevak is someone who offers services for free (like a volunteer).
      Quit often, experts(in Indian context) prefer to be called as Sevak instead of experts/evangelist etc.

      my 2 cents :)

      Delete
  7. @pahadia - I like it! The problem is that it is so culturally/linguistically specific. So few people will "get it." Thanks for the suggestion!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Steven, How about "Samaritans"?

    ReplyDelete
  9. @prasad, thanks, but I think Samaritans is a bit too focused on doing good deeds, some religious overtones.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @menno, yep that is a good one. And here's another one I just thought of and at first glance like quite a lot. What do you think of:

    Oracle Developer Catalysts

    * a person or thing that precipitates an event or change:
    * a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Liaison is what I think best describes it. It refers to equals on both sides of the liaison and the liaison facilitates communication back and forth and helping users with how to best take advantage of a technology.

    I've posted twice with a longer comment. But there seems to be an issue with it when I have two google accoounts logged in. Trying name/urlnow.

    ReplyDelete
  12. @mathias, sorry you had troubles posting, glad you made it! Liaison is an interesting and new idea. I will run it by my team. At first glance I would say it is perhaps too much focused around facilitating communication, which is quite neutral.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What about Champions? As in 'supporter/defender of a cause'.
    For me you are, and it sounds a lot better to me than 'Advocates'!

    ReplyDelete
  14. @john, champion is taken. It is already used by the Java Champions program (similar to Oracle ACE). And it has the same problem, for me, of evangelist: setting us up and above everyone else. That's not where I want to be with our users.

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  15. Point taken. I'm currently re-reading the Star Wars saga, so this is an obvious one: Jedi. The Jedi study, serve and utilize a mystical power called the Force, in order to help and protect those in need. If you replace the Force with Oracle database, than it sounds a lot like what you like to do with your team.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, we can perhaps replace"Jedi" which is an imaginary word, with a better word based in history = RISHI. The Rishis were the actual ancient people who knew the RIT (the way) and used it to help and protect people. RITA or ERETA in the ancient Sanskrit and Avestan languages stands for the Law of Nature, this is the real "force" with a grounding in language and history. But on second thoughts, I wouldn't recommend the word Rishi for the team, since that denotes spiritual illumination and a knowledge of the mystical truths of the universe. It is too high a word to use in this case. The Rishis of India were the ones who talked about string theory or the fundamental illusion of reality and the universe, thousands of years before it was theorized by theoritical physicists. Regards, Porus.

      Delete
  16. Steven, IMHO "Advocates" sounds great. The word signifies knowledge as well as being helpful. Regards, Porus.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful feedback and suggestions. We have decided to go with Oracle Developer Advocates!

    ReplyDelete

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