AI Plays Important Roles at 3 Leading Companies

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Today we conclude the insideBIGDATA Executive Round Up, our annual feature showcasing the insights of thought leaders on the state of the big data industry, and where it is headed. In today’s discussion, our panel of experienced big data executives – Ayush Parashar, Co-founder and Vice President of Engineering for Unifi Software, Robert Lee, Vice President & Chief Architect, Pure Storage, Inc., and Oliver Schabenberger, COO & CTO at SAS – discusses the most important role AI plays for their company’s mission statement, and how that role will be cultivated in 2019?

The conversation is moderated by Daniel D. Gutierrez, Managing Editor & Resident Data Scientist of insideBIGDATA.

insideBIGDATA: What’s the most important role AI plays for your company’s mission statement? How will you cultivate that role in 2019?

Robert Lee, Vice President & Chief Architect for Pure Storage

Robert Lee: AI aligns squarely into our core mission, which is to help innovators create a better world with data. In 2018, we delivered AIRI, the first AI-ready converged compute/storage/networking solution, in partnership with NVIDIA. We’ve helped many customers (from research institutions to government, financial services, social media, retail, and many others) deploy AI into production and we plan to continue evolving and building out solutions on this platform in 2019. Additionally, as we talk to customers about how we can help them with productionizing AI projects, we also find customers who see the promise of AI but maybe aren’t prepared to go all-in on their first deep learning project. For these customers we can help them today get prepared for that journey and begin with the end in mind – by building out better data management and cataloging practices, evolving their infrastructure to be prepared, and implementing and accelerating other parts of their analytics practice (such as data-warehousing or scale-out analytics).

Ayush Parashar, Co-founder and Vice President of Engineering for Unifi Software

Ayush Parashar: AI is at the heart of our company’s mission statement to make data discovery and working with data ubiquitous inside an enterprise. It’s central to providing an easy user experience where different personas like a data analyst or a data engineer can work on data easily.

In 2019, we look forward to expanding the AI tools that substantially broaden intuitive and seamless ways to interact with data.


Oliver Schabenberger, COO & CTO at SAS

Oliver Schabenberger: SAS’ mission is to transform a world of data into a world of intelligence. We help customers solve their most critical business issues, as well as tackling humanitarian issues related to natural disasters, opioid abuse, child welfare and more. Our investment in honing AI technologies takes that mission to the next level. By making AI more transparent and accessible, we’re able to lead more organizations from data to discovery, enabling decision makers with powerful advanced analytics to automate as many of their decisions as possible.

Our approach to AI is multi-fold. By embedding artificial intelligence and machine learning into our products (tools and solutions) we empower others to benefit from AI without having to develop AI. By providing AI tooling such as deep learning, natural language processing and computer vision tools, we enable others to build powerful AI applications. By providing tools that govern, monitor, and explain AI models, we add transparency. Finally, we provide services to our customers to solve business problems, sometimes those solutions involve AI.

In my role as SAS COO and CTO, I am tasked with the execution of this vision from both a business and technology standpoint. As COO, I am responsible for ensuring SAS data scientists, marketers and salespeople remain curious about what’s next for our business, and how we can continue to help our customers solve new and emerging challenges. And as CTO, I am responsible for making sure these customers have access to innovative SAS technologies, including a host of AI and machine learning capabilities.


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