Stage set for disruptive AI

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Digital Entrepreneur Leadership Forum

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 11:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 11:33am

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Embracing disruptive changes with AI

Technology, the inducing change agent that disrupts and revolutionises all industries, offers the possibility that what was once unimaginable in the past will soon be imminent. Artificial Intelligence, now commonly known as AI, is a perfect case in point as this forefront technology is undergoing exponential growth at a skyrocket pace and disrupting facets of life that many people would not have imagined possible.

Some of us might have experienced smart chatbot interactions when engaging customer service at their bank. Autonomous cars (also known as driverless cars) are regularly tested and deployed without causing fuss in many parts of the world. Indeed the application of AI offers so much more than that - it is revolutionising a wide array of industries, reshaping business models and making every way of life smarter.  And as recently reported in The Guardian, [AI will] potentially help mankind tackle some of its most complex scientific, technical and medical problems.

"[AI] is poised to unleash the next wave of digital disruption," read the June 2017 discussion paper Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Frontier— prepared by the world’s leading private-sector think-tank McKinsey Global Institute (MGI). In 2016, it was reported that tech giants spent US$20 billion to US$30 billion on AI. This figure represents three times the investment spent in 2013.

The world is without doubt in a new era of AI. Having a permanent finger on the pulse of the latest digital and technological waves, Cyberport will proudly host the Digital Entrepreneur Leadership Forum with the theme Embracing Change in the New Era of AI. The Forum will feature a distinguished list of experts across sectors.

Along with Fintech - the application of technological innovation in the financial sector - AI is among the core clusters Cyberport is committed in promoting.  Cyberport organises and participates in many regional AI events including the Hang Seng Bank AI Hackathon, the AI Summit, GMIC Hong Kong as well as the Chinese Chess Challenge – 1K vs AI, to name a few.

"We see AI and Fintech as two defining tech trends that complement each other," said Cyberport chairman Dr Lee George Lam. "AI is set to innovate and disrupt a wide spectrum of the finance industry including process automation, security, advisory, insurance, investment and wealth management. More and more financial institutions are embracing AI technologies to streamline operations, enhance competitiveness, as well as improve their service offerings by anticipating customer demands and optimising customer experience."

As Cyberport is widely recognised as the Fintech hub of Asia, Lam further pledged: "Cyberport will continue to bolster our Fintech and AI ecosystem to groom start-ups and support the tech industry, inform and educate industry and public about the various trends and opportunities, connect players and promote innovation and adoption."

The Forum's speakers include top executives from leading technology companies and financial institutions, research professionals, as well as founders of AI companies. Among the speakers who have ample experience in the financial sector is Dr Au King-lun, CEO of Value Partners Group, an international asset management firm, and also Committee member of the Financial Services Development Council.

Au is confident that AI is the catalyst needed for the Fourth Industrial, or Fintech, Revolution. Au optimistically predicts: "All customers, regardless of their wealth, will one day have personalised financial advice offered to them in anticipation of their needs. Financial markets are expected to become much more innovative as most repetitive tasks will be performed by AI computers unleashing the creativity in all of us.

"I believe AI is going to change many aspects of the financial industry eventually thanks to the [superior capability] of machine learning to infer its own rules from analysing vast amounts of data that are beyond human comprehension."

Leading author of the MGI paper, Jacques Bughin will speak at the Forum as well. The paper has offered some insights on the adoption of AI.

"High tech and telecom or financial services are leading adopters of AI and have the most aggressive AI investment intentions. Their adoption uses multiple technologies across multiple functions, with deployment at the core of their business. Automakers use AI to develop self-driving vehicles and improve operations, and financial services firms are now more likely to routinely use it in customer experience-related functions.”

The paper anticipates that early AI adopters that combine strong digital capability with proactive strategies have higher profit margins and the performance gap between these companies and other firms will widen in the future. "These companies are already creating competitive advantages, and the gap with the laggards looks set to grow."

Marketing professionals with hands-on experience see the potential of AI adoption in actual business. Existing AI technology is already capable of offering enhanced customer experience across industries, according to Eric Thain, Managing Director & Head of Digital, China, LEWIS, a multinational agency offering marketing and digital solutions to clients across such industries as finance, telecommunication and tourism.

"Customer expectation is now very different from years ago. A business just cannot get away with the fact that a legitimate enquiry should be left unaccounted for days," said Thain, one of the Forum speakers. "Adoption of ready AI technology, such as the application of chatbot, allows a firm to offer ever-improving customer service 24/7."

Also the president of the Artificial Intelligence Society of Hong Kong— an organisation committed to the development and understanding of AI technologies in Hong Kong, Thain observes that AI technology will only get better and better over time, thanks to the availability and accessibility of ample data. "Consider AI technology as an engine, data is the fuel. AI technology will only improve over time as the digital world is generating and collecting data at a rate never experienced before."

If AI technology is properly harnessed by a firm, Thain believes that firm will be well prepared for the many benefits the technology will create, such as enabling organisations to further optimise their operating model and deliver the insights that can truly connect with customers across all business functions seamlessly.

The Digital Entrepreneur Leadership Forum will take place at Cyberport on February 1. Over 20 speakers will take to the stage to share their experience and insights on practical implications of AI from technology, change management and investment perspectives, in particular on the trends in cognitive transformation, measuring returns of AI, strategy and leadership in managing the change matrix, as well as tech venturing in AI start-ups. The Forum is one of the signature events organised by Cyberport to heighten the awareness of Hong Kong’s AI capabilities as well as encourage AI adoption among businesses and enterprises. 

See event details at