Artificial intelligence

Re-imaging business processes in the age of AI

The Artificial Intelligence Summit, commenced in Hong Kong, today. Mark Beccue, Principal Analyst, AI & NLP, Omdia,  welcomed the guests, stating that companies who have started AI initiatives are accelerating. There are new markets resonating with those who have done AI.

Dr. David Chung, Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology Bureau, spoke about Hong Kong’s digital economy. The Greater Bay Area (GBA) is about 1% of the land area. We are strategically integrating Hong Kong with the Greater Bay Area.

The AI Innovation Hub, the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Hub, and SenseTime, with support from the HKSTP, set up the HKAI Lab in October 2018. The new research cluster, the AIR@ InnoHK, is focused on AI and robotics research. It is targeted to open at Hong Kong Science & Technology Park (HKSTP) in the second half of 2020.

Venture investment in AI startups totaled about HK $9.75 billion in FY 2018/19. AI startups secured 52 venture deals in 2018/19. There are mutual benefits between Hong Kong and Mainland China on technology know-how, as well as commercial/market experience.

We are nurturing the local talent. There is the IT Innovation Lab in secondary schools programs that cover 500 schools, worth, HK $500 million. There is a technology talent scheme to establish a post doctoral hub worth HK $500 million.
We are doubling the expenditure on R&D from around 0.8% to 1.5% of GDP to around $45 billion a year. No less than $10 billion is funding for university research. There is cross-border usage of national scientific research funds. We have also launched the fast-tracking Technology Talent Scheme (TechTas) to admit overseas technology talents (only two weeks processing time).

We are developing a new science park close to the Shenzhen border. We can get more talent from Hong Kong to collaborate talent from Shenzhen. The Smart Government Innovation Lab is set up at Cyberport. There is the Sino Inno Lab, Fintech Innovation Lab in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Exchange and Innovation Lab. Hong kong has a very vibrant IT ecosystem.

Re-imaging business processes
In the session, re-imaging business processes in the age of AI: Leadership, culture and data,  Ms Jacqueline Teo, Chief Digital Officer, HGC Global Communications Ltd spoke about the things that drive AI. These are AI processes, or, processes for AI, and about leading AI. You need to refactor processes for AI. AI is about ML, NLP, robotics, predicitive analytics, etc.

There is a set of use cases. It uses massive data. We can commonly agree that AI is functional, interactive, uses data and has physical inputs. Many organizations treat AI as another technology, and try to apply it to tried and true methods of process monitoring.

All of this localizes AI to point outcomes/decisions within a process. There is digitization and digitalization. There are multi-channels, multi-triggers, etc. Customers are humans, until the buying is driven by AI. Digital journeys co-exist with the ecosystems/complex processes. Digital thinking and continuous innovation is really hard. How can you re-imagine AI-driven processes, instead of refactoring processes for AI? We need to do modelling, have intent and then do adaptation.

By modelling, there is unstructured behavior, manifested in emails, screen behavior , etc. By intent, there is the problem universe — end-to-end experience, goal and problem formulation, etc. You can optimize the target operational, business and customer experience goals. By adaptation, there is role opportunity, and risk, imperfect knowledge, bridge the semantic gap, etc. We can bridge culture, emotion, intuition, situation, street smarts, common sense, etc. We can re-imagine to think about the processes.

How do you go about hiring a digital employee? A digital workforce is a team of software robots. Treat machines as colleagues, and talent to hire. Consider how machines can be integrated into the workforce. Build diversified teams and data sets.

The key to AI has always been the representation. Next, build the social networks as you build the neural networks. A leader’s role will be to recognize the possibilities in collaboration. Our intelligence is what makes us human and AI, is an extension of this. Letting the AI team follow a direction, helps obtain better results. Armed with AI technology, leaders can make decisions that result in significant shifts across their businesses.

Indrajit Ghosh, principal analyst, India Research & Analysis, Omdia, and a director of technology business development for India and South Asia, was the driver from India, for this event.

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