AI & Big Data Leaders Summit Hong Kong 2019

The AI and Big Data Leaders Summit were hosted by Forward Leading at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong on the 5-6th November. At the two-day event, 42 speakers came from a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from finance to creative media, focused on real business applications, data protection issues as well as the vision of big data and artificial intelligence in Hong Kong. The Euromonitor International Digital Consumer Industry Insights report surveyed more than 600 industry professionals in September 2018, almost 60% of the respondents ranked the most impactful technology for the next five years is expected to shift from cloud computing to artificial intelligence; more than 40% of the companies have expressed that they were planning on investing more resources in AI, it is undeniable that artificial intelligence is revolutionising how businesses run. The following are the key takeaways from the conference:

Conversational chatbot as future main user interface

With the growing demand for customised services, conversational user interface is expected to be the main driver to enhance the user experience. Speaker Jasmeet Singh Gujral, Global Product Owner – Conversational Banking at HSBC, mentioned that conversational AI is the most natural and humanising retailing experience. It is not an intuitive experience to search for clues on a website, while conversational chatbots provide the most natural one-to-many solution.

Scalability is another significant advantage of the conversational chatbot: call centres and web chats have always struggled with scalability as it is costly to scale up, while the flexibility of scale for chatbots is a massive advantage over client-facing solutions. While the technologies are well developed in the conversational AI field, there were still challenges in terms of real business applications. The upcoming Euromonitor strategic report “Chatbots are Over-rated” will highlight the current technology of conversational AI, as well as challenges when applied in services.

New nature of tech solutions, business dynamics, and talent building

Technology solutions had moved from understanding the problem and programming the solutions in the past, to inputting all relevant data and letting the computer come up with the solution. While this may be a fascinating concept, one of the key highlights of the event was that businesses must understand what the nature of the problem was before applying any technological solutions. “There is no technological solution to political problems,” says keynote speaker Tomas Laurenzo, assistant professor of the City University of Hong Kong.

This concept extends to talent development as well; aligning goals of the tech team and the business team is the key factor to make or break a company’s tech strategy. It is important for businesses to close the knowledge gap between the data science team and the business team: empowering the business team with technological know-how as well as enriching the business knowledge of the tech teams could dramatically improve the performance of the solution. This also means that tech teams must be able to communicate why a certain algorithm is suitable for a specific business scenario. “Tech teams’ storytelling techniques is far more important than the perfect algorithm,” said the panelists. The ability to explain the result of a data model is as important as the performance of the data model itself, as it is almost impossible for a business to invest in a solution simply because it is mathematically sound. Only with the combined effort of the business units can businesses leverage technology to do greater things.