In conversation with: Sam Robertson, Head of Research & Innovation, Western Bulldogs

In conversation with: Sam Robertson, Head of Research & Innovation, Western BulldogsWe’re excited to welcome Sam Robertson, Head of Research & Innovation – Western Bulldogs and Victoria University to CeBIT 2017. Sam will be will be a panellist on our Reaching for the future: Global trends taking place in the Big Data & Analytics conference. We had the chance to have a chat with him before the event. Stay tuned to learn more about Sam or read more about his views on why data science is the way forward in sport.

How did you get to your current role?

Sam: I was at a conference in Qatar. The sports performance industry is small and while I was there I met many people. It was a bit of a targeted recruitment, actually. I started the role four weeks later. It’s not commonplace for a university and professional club to form a partnership like this.

What do you love most about working in technology?

Sam: It’s really exciting. We’re constantly being contacted to try out the latest technology and assess the validity. There are many extraordinary ideas out there. I never struggle to talk about what I do because it’s always interesting.

What is the most challenging part of working in this sector?

Sam: In professional sports it is difficult to make a call about which technology will be the best long-term investment. However, with working on the academic side, we have the ability to validate it. We are constantly asking what’s going to give us results next week, but also in 5 years time.

Name a book, podcast or presentation that has had an impact on your worldview. How has it changed your perspective?

Sam: Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment by Daniel Kahneman and Thomas Gilovich and anything by Don Norman.

They’ve shaped me both professionally and personally. I challenge myself to be as objective as possible. And Don Norman’s books help us improve on our flaws and ensure we don’t lose our human characteristics.

What is the technology that will transform the sporting world in the next 10 years?

Sam: Sensors for ubiquitous monitoring - nanobiotics will be the major driver of that. However, there will be many ethical considerations that it will raise.

What’s the most valuable advice you’ve been given?

Sam: Not sure you would consider this ‘advice’, but I liked a lot of Daniel Kahneman’s work that refers to overcoming human biases in decision-making. For example, ‘humans tend to make important decisions based on the coherence of the information presented rather than the completeness of the information.' I definitely try and keep that in mind a lot at work!

Another one I always liked was ‘Nobody on their deathbed has ever said "I wish I had spent more time at the office" – I think that was from Harold Kushner. But not sure I have followed that one too well thus far!'

Lastly, do you use an iPhone, Android or… other?

Sam: Android. For our technology’s functionality we need to use Android.

Like what you read? Keep up to date with the latest in b2b technology by subscribing to the fortnightly CeBIT 365 newsletter.