The CTO as COO and vice versa

Oliver Schabenberger talks about his merged role at SAS, and what he believes is the next phase for AI

Early this year, Oliver Schabenberger attended a conference where the speaker talked about having just bought a Tesla.

“I love it,” he recalls the speaker saying, “and a couple of days later, I ask, ‘What is next?’”

For Schabenberger, executive vice president at SAS, this simple question reflects what is happening in an environment constantly changed, when enabled, by technology.

“It seems our attention span and our expectations with technology and being surprised by new technology is getting increasingly smaller,” says Schabenberger.

“When we first interact with smart devices, using natural language, the voice, all of a sudden when it works, we will assume it will always work, and it will always be everywhere.”

“So we ask, what’s next?

“This acceleration is actually quite challenging,” says Schabenberger, who also holds the concurrent role of chief operating officer and chief technology officer at the analytics provider.

He does not, however, see this as a downside as a range of technologies emerge and impact organisations and sectors across the globe.

“I am an optimist. My German background does not suggest that,” he says, smiling.

Schabenberger had moved to the US from his native Germany for his post-graduate degrees, a masters in statistics and a doctorate in forestry.

“I see opportunities, I see the good with technology,” he adds. “I don’t want to get too distracted on what could go wrong.”

Read this report from CIO