Stephen Brobst, a leading data warehousing expert, is associated with Teradata Corporation as Chief Technology Officer since 1999. He also has the privilege to start three branded companies related to data warehousing. He is recipient of the year award in the MET Computer Science Department at Boston University. He has the honour to have worked as a member of US President Barack Obamas Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee. During his recent interview with the Technology Times, Brobst explained in detail the prospects of technology future in Pakistan

Q: Kindly explain a bit about the Teradata CTO road show?

A: The roadshow is really to help our customers understand what the new trends in technology are and how they can use those technologies to create business value for analytics. Right now, there is a lot of focus on big data analytics – how we can use it to improve operations and customer experience. So the CTO roadshow is really about education and knowledge sharing.

Q: What has been the response?

A: We have done similar shows in Pakistan for several years – the turnout and reception has been really good. This is one of the reasons why I keep coming back to Pakistan. In the past, we did it a little bit later in the year. This time around we did it in September last but there wasnt really much difference in the number of attendees. The Pakistani customer is quite enthusiastic and is interested in learning about the latest technologies as well as best practices from overseas.

Q: Will the technology that you are bringing to Pakistan have an impact on virtual technology?

A: Virtual reality is a very specific technology – we are more interested in sensor technology. So its about using sensors to monitor the health of a person or driving habits in a car. So sensor technology is more aligned to what we are interested in than its virtual counterpart.

Q: How many customers do you have?

A: Its probably over a thousand but I dont know the exact number right now.

Q: How can people use the sensor technology to solve their everyday work problems?

A: Its basically through better decision making so if you want to optimize your decisions related to customer risk, customer relations or the analytics around the quality for what you are manufacturing, you make use of data.

Q: Do you think Pakistan will change as far as online business is concerned?

A: Pakistan is already changing. For example, if you consider how people had to go to a bank to open an account versus today where people an account online, there is a huge difference. There is a shift towards businesses interacting with customers directly so that they can make use of their products and services. So I think it is going to continue. Internet in Pakistan is certainly getting better and smartphones are becoming more common so its only a matter of time when things change completely.

Q: What is your biggest technology issue right now in Pakistan and other countries?

A: If you look at what is going on in the industry, you see that data growth is exponential so one of the main problems we solve is that how do you handle this growth with an exponential growth in cost. It is a challenge to do cost-efficient compression and use high-performance access to the data in order to deliver but not spend more money.

Q: What is your opinion on the next big technology in Pakistan or other countries?

A: The next big technology is sensor technology. It will change almost every industry. Just imagine, driver-less cars, smart grids and power meters in delivering electricity, being able to track every product on the supply chain and so on. These things will dramatically change how efficiently we can manage business.

Q: Do you think the youth in Pakistan will adopt these technologies?

A: The youth in Pakistan is definitely more technology-oriented so if you look at people who are less than 25 of years, they spend more time on the internet than on watching TV. They are comfortable with technology and online decision-making tools so they really are the future.

Q: Any message that you would like to give to the Pakistani youth?

A: I enjoy coming to the country. I think there is a great desire to learn so the personal reward as far as knowledge sharing is concerned is quite high.

Q: What do you think of the Pakistani IT industry?

A: Pakistani industry is very competitive, especially in telecommunications. Where there is competition, there is innovation so that is a good thing.

There are a lot of smart people here who make the industry all the more competitive.

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