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AI and humans must work together to turn dreams into reality

In May 1997, a world record was set for the first machine to defeat a world champion when Garry Kasparov, Russian chess grandmaster and former world chess champion, lost to Deep Blue in a rematch held in New York City.

While contemplating his loss to artificial intelligence, Kasparov postulated that humans and machines could potentially form a perfect synergetic relationship. And his theory came to fruition when, in 2005, a bunch of amateur chess players controlling three computers beat a team of grandmasters.

Humans possess intuition, strategy and experience. Machines are obedient and great at calculations, tactics and memorizing. We set the goals and formulate hypotheses. We determine the criteria and machines will perform the routine work. We then evaluate the results and insights. The consequence of this symbiotic relationship between humans and machines is work that is far superior to what humans alone can perform.

Newsweek cover showing Garry Kasparov before he challenges IBM’s Deep Blue computer to a chess rematch (Image Source:

Machines are good in computing. Machines are great in following instructions we have programmed into them. Humans, however, have purpose. We possess passion. We have dreams of a better world.

Deep Blue was victorious, but was it intelligent? No, no it wasn’t, at least not in the way Alan Turing and other founders of computer science had hoped. It turned out that chess could be crunched by brute force, once hardware got fast enough and algorithms got smart enough. Although by the definition of the output, grandmaster-level chess, Deep Blue was intelligent. But even at the incredible speed, 200 million positions per second, Deep Blue’s method provided little of the dreamed-of insight into the mysteries of human intelligence.

Kasparov versus Deep Blue, 1997 (Image source:

Instead of worrying about AI taking over our current jobs and rendering us all out of work, we should be thinking about what AI and machines still cannot achieve. For we will need their help to turn our far-reaching dreams into reality.

Rather than dreading artificial intelligence, we should fear our own complacency and limited ambitions. We need to overcome our own easily-contented attitude and seek out man-machine solutions to ever more challenging problems currently plaguing humanity.

Machines have calculations. We have understanding. Machines have instructions. We have purpose. Machines have objectivity. We have passion. We should not worry about what our machines can do today. Instead, we should worry about what they still cannot do today, because we will need the help of the new, intelligent machines to turn our grandest dreams into reality. And if we fail, if we fail, it’s not because our machines are too intelligent, or not intelligent enough. If we fail, it’s because we grew complacent and limited our ambitions. Our humanity is not defined by any skill, like swinging a hammer or even playing chess. There’s one thing only a human can do. That’s dream. So let us dream big.

Artificial Intelligence cannot touch you if you are unpredictable

Jobs in highly-predictable environments can be automated easily!

Technologies such as artificial intelligence will automate 50% of the current activities that our workers carry out today. This is especially true if they work in highly-predictable environments like accommodation and food services, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, agriculture, retail and mining.

Jobs that are least susceptible to automation would be work that requires expertise in decision making and planning, creative tasks, people management and development, stakeholder engagement, and performing physical activities and operating machinery in unpredictable surroundings.

The advent of AI and automation doesn’t mean people are not needed in the workforce anymore. On the contrary, they will create new jobs that most of us cannot even envision yet. Many workers will be upskilled to work alongside smart machines.

The broad usage of machine learning across industries

Machine learning is finding its way into practical applications across many industries.

  • Agriculture: crop personalization depending on weather and environmental conditions
  • Finance: Fraud identification, personalized financial products
  • Pharmaceuticals: personalized health outcome prediction, customized remedies
  • Media: Personalized advertising, new consumer trend discovery

Source: What’s now and next in analytics, AI and automation


(Webinar) How SMEs can tap onto AI-driven automation tools for competitive advantage

Make yourself available on this date and find out how you can exploit tools driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to gain marketing success and competitive advantage.

Date: 13 Feb 2017 (Monday)
Time: 3.00 – 4.00 pm (MYT / SGT)
Format: Webinar


1. Five most common mistakes SMEs face when it comes to Facebook marketing
2. Future and trends of Facebook marketing in 2017
3. How SMEs can tap onto automation tools driven by AI to gain marketing success and competitive advantage
4. Demo of Optimate product
5. Case Studies / success stories

Retailers, e-commerce owners, e-entrepreneurs and anyone interested in employing AI to enhance their marketing campaigns.

SPEAKER: Dr Wenting Sun is the CEO of Optimate, a high-tech startup focused on marketing AI. Dr Sun is a data scientist, innovator and technopreneur. She has been active in the application and commercialization of data-driven technologies for the last 15 years. She has led Optimate to win multiple awards in the region, and be featured in various media and IAB and IDC events as one of the most innovative AI platforms available for marketers.

AIRVOLUTION 2017: World’s first hackathon by AirAsia

AIRVOLUTION 2017 – the world’s first hackathon by AirAsia aimed at spearheading innovation in the Asean region. The challenge will be open to 100 selected individuals – the cream de la cream of software developers, designers, engineers and/or technopreneurs – who are based in any AirAsia destinations.

AIRVOLUTION 2017 has listed 3 key challenges for the participants to crack:

  • How does one improve customer experience based on their digital footprints?
  • How does one reduce wait times at airports, from check-in to boarding?
  • How does one craft the best itineraries, the best flights and the best tours for AirAsia customers?

Although the Malaysian low-cost airline does not state it upfront, the above 3 challenges are very much data-driven. The hackers will likely be given a snapshot of various datasets from AirAsia, as well as AirAsia BIG and BIG Duty Free, the airline’s loyalty program and online duty free store respectively. These datasets are expected to be available via APIs.

And the solutions will most probably have to be developed in a “mobile-first” spirit and on leading mobile platforms.

The participants had better come equipped with mobile app development skills, as well as proficiencies in data science.

The winning team will receive RM25,000, 100,000 AirAsia Big Points, and 5 return flights to any destination flown by AirAsia.


Contact Centres Asia 2017: Driving Contact Centre Transformation

Driving Contact Centre Transformation through Digitisation, Innovation & Exceptional Customer Experience

14 – 16 March 2017
Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Contact centres of today are no longer just about handling enquiries and resolving complaints. The focus is now on transforming contact centres into strategic customer experience management (CEM) assets.

Join your peers at this MUST-ATTEND event to strategise how you can take your contact centres to new heights in 2017! From deploying new digital contact channels, streamlining operational efficiency to investing in the latest technologies such as biometrics, speech analytics, virtual assistants and chat bots, the Contact Centres Asia Summit 2017 will showcase digital transformation opportunities and highlight the latest technology and best practices on enhancing customer interactions.

Download the brochure at:

*Register with discount code: ISG_ADS and enjoy 10% off the standard rate. Simply email with your full contact details.

Susy A.
Tel: +65 6722 9388

4 Ways Big Data and CRM are Shaping Modern Marketing

This term ‘big data’ refers to massive amounts of data that can be mined with analytics software to generate crucial information such as preferences, needs, and wants of your potential customers and customers alike. This type of information allows you to predict the kind of services to extend to them to produce the most sales. However, you need a CRM to be able to manage your business leads and provide them with care and service that has a personal touch. Here are four major ways the combination of big data and CRM are shaping today’s marketing campaigns.

Enabling Better Pricing

Getting pricing right is one major concern for most businesses. According to Mckinsey, a one percent price increase is equal to an 8.7 percent increase in operating profit. Unlike time-consuming, manual practices, big data makes it virtually possible to see the pricing patterns that can easily unlock value. These prices constantly change, making it overwhelming for large companies to get granular and manage these pricing variables, and at the core of this is big data.

Fairmont Raffles Hotels International is using dynamic pricing to optimize revenue. They incorporate inventory and supplier data among other real-time datasets, financial forecast, and models of consumer likelihood to purchase to be able to employ dynamic pricing. Their hotel chains can offer one standard rate on some days and a different one on other days. Their prices are sometimes at a markup or a discount depending on the predicted prices. As the hotel rooms get filled up, the management can increase the price of the rooms, as part of the package deals and standalone rooms. The management can also vary the pricing depending on the consumer or characteristics of the consumer as per the outcome of data examination. For example, if the examination shows that customers who access Fairmont’s website using a smartphone are more likely to make hotel reservation irrespective of the prices, this hotel can increase prices for these individuals.  

Better Customer Responsiveness

Big data allows you to have scads of data about your company, and this allows your company to craft outreach in the most productive way. Based on what you know about your neighbors and cyber-neighbors, your marketing campaigns will be completely different.

Salespeople have always used this technique in face-to-face and phone sales. In almost all cases, they start by making observations and asking questions to gather enough information about you and then use that information to create goods and services that will be interested in.

New big data technologies better position these individuals to meet many challenges and deliver substantial revenue and performance benefits to the organization. Your company has higher chances of converting outreach and interaction into sales if you use focused, multi-channel marketing techniques that provide value to customers and potential customers. Marketers who use big data in this manner increase their customer engagement, customer retention, and upsell and cross-sell revenue.

McCain Foods has transformed the responsiveness of their customers with big data and CRM. This global food giant uses Teradata to get insights into what customers want, how, why, and where they spend their money. Those insights have shaped McCain’s business culture of treating data ‘one way’ into a new culture that seeks more data from customers so as to be able to innovate and create more changes. Executives look at their dashboards frequently and get insights from their customers to improve their marketing strategies.

Improving Decision Making

As has already been demonstrated, big data can help you to attract many customers. Big data is indeed a viable decision-making tool, and as it becomes increasingly used in the real-world business environment, the way businesses make decisions is bound to continue changing. Businesses are able to build their decisions at all levels on top of big data insights, which are being used to determine the best way to identify your audience, how to communicate with them, and what time to communicate with them.

Research has shown that the best time to send emails to your prospects is 5:00 pm, which has 23.63 percent chance of being opened within the first one hour after delivery. But that might not be so with all your clients. Big data is able to give you a different time to serve the unique needs of your company depending on the behavior of your leads and customers. CRM comes in at this point to help you know how to connect with these individuals and how to affect their opinions in the most productive way.

Paypal has more than 143 million active accounts in 193 markets and processes over eight million payments daily. This global company relies on data analytics to drive customer satisfaction and reduce customer churn. According to their director of operational excellence and customer advocacy at Paypal, by applying text analytics and voice-of -the customer-concepts to customer feedback in more than 60 countries, they have been able to identify, classify, and count customers as either “top detractors” or “top promoters.” This enables Paypal to make the right marketing decisions.

Enhanced Management of Leads and Customers

CRM ensures the benefits of big data do not ultimately become a problem. With increased leads and customers, there is a need for a system that will help you to serve these individuals effectively. Without such a system, they become ex-customers and ex-leads, and all your efforts go to waste. Furthermore, your brand can suffer significantly when these individuals go negative about you to their neighbors, cyber neighbors, and friends.

CRM tools are available for the service of a wide range of professionals. If you are a real estate agent, you can use specialized, cloud-based CRM to manage every step from lead and staying in touch with their clients to scheduling open home, appointments from any devices, and the final settlement. Doctors and dentists are not left out of this. They use CRM for scheduling, posting of up-to-date medical documents for the patient to go through, posting pre-visit and post-visit instructions for the clients and much more.

Johnston Press has rolled out Salesforce CRM cloud software on iPad to be able to manage their leads and customers effectively. This newspaper company is running an eight-year roadmap to transform their business into a digital media firm. By deploying this CRM, the company has significantly reduced the number of their staff members who have to travel to the office daily. The software also enables sales teams to work more directly with potential advertising customers. Johnston uses CRM software on their iPad to capture details of a customer’s advertising campaign and transfer this data to a customer’s service advisor in their office for processing.

Johnston sales teams are able to manage the sales process and run sales presentations at customers’ premises and still allow people on the road to stay in touch with their office via mobile video-conferencing over a 3G network and email. These sales teams also use Google Hangouts to enable up to 10 customers or lead to participate in a video-conference session.

The Bottom Line

The integration of big data and CRM allows marketers to pay greater attention to making customer relations more successful. You need to have CRM software that can help you turn most leads and customers into growing sales and intimately increased profits.  Big data will allow you to have more leads and customers, but how you manage CRM will determine whether your marketing plan is successful. If you are using big data techniques already, CRM can actually become your revenue driver.

Wrangle Malaysia Interviews: How Data Science Impacts Us All

Wrangle Malaysia was held on 9 Dec 2016, and was co-organized by MDEC, Big Data Malaysia and Cloudera. It was a single-day, single-track event about Data Science across multiple data-rich industries where 10 international data scientists flew down to Malaysia to share their toughest problems, and the solutions they found for them.

We managed to interview a few attendees – from a variety of ICT and non-ICT backgrounds – on what their thoughts were on a plethora of topics such as how big data and data science applied to their organizations and individuals, the types of skill sets required to be a data scientists and how attending Wrangle Malaysia would help them think about their big data strategies and projects.

Check out these 6 awesome video interviews below.

There seems to be a disconnect between arts and science, but there is actually a very important connection. Data looks so dry when it is just numbers, but when it interacts with artists, the implication of data can be conveyed, and the way data is expressed will be different. Artists can help convey the impact of data to the public. So I think the interaction between arts and science need to be brought out. ~ Wan Zaleha Radzi – Managing Director, Asiapromote Ventures Sdn Bhd

If I have to summarize the skills that a data scientist needs – one would be the stats and math skills for developing complex models to solve problems, the other would be programming skills to convert unstructured data to structured data, and the third would be the business skills… people having business skills is difficult to find. These are the people who can bridge the data gathering and data modeling with the the right business problem. The lack of such [business-oriented] people is the reason why many do not see the usefulness of data science. ~ Fajar Jaman – Head, Data Science Indonesia

[Advice on how fresh grads can get themselves involved with big data analytics] I think technology is the current wave right now, and if you are still thinking about it, I would say just jump in and dive into it. And when you start, that’s when you start developing your knowledge and experience, and that’s where people will start hunting you for jobs. Go participate in competitions. Even if you just sit in, you would be inspired by all the great ideas. Joining online courses; you will learn something that will help in your journey as well. ~ Dr. Yap Poh Hean – Technology Consulting Manager, Accenture

In data science, it is very important that you are able to put your point across to the other person. Being able to present your idea and convey your message is something that has to be ingrained into the data scientist. ~ Ashish Dutt – PhD candidate, Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University of Malaya

Over the past 2 years, the demand for data scientists has increased. The events that MDEC organized have created a lot of awareness. And now it’s up to the industry to pick it up and hire data scientists and perform more analytics. Sometimes a data scientist can be called a unicorn because it can produce magic. But a data scientist is very dependent on the domain he or she is in. In different industries, a data scientist may be doing different things… domain knowledge or expertise of the data scientist is very important. ~ Dr. Poo Kuan Hoong – Senior Manager Data Science, Nielsen

In oil and gas, there are very large volumes of siesmic and petrophysics data, but volume alone doesn’t really make the cut for big data. Big data is about the 4V’s… once you bring in streaming and realtime data, you start to add the additional V’s and the problem is compounded. It’s not only about static data for throughput and process. It’s really about making decisions on the fly with data that is hitting you very quickly. There are lots of use cases [in O&G] and pockets of data that need to be studied together in order to come to better business decisions and that’s where the whole data science play comes in. ~ Philip Lesslar – Principal Consultant, Technical Assurance – Technical Data, PETRONAS Exploration & Production

2017 Predictions for Big Data, AI and IoT

  1. Artificial intelligence will be the most exciting area of the hottest trend, and its usage will be in one-to-one conversations between buyers and marketers (in the form of chatbots and digital assistants).
  2. Hype surrounding deep learning will finally fizzle out. Deep learning will be become a reality.
  3. Those who adopt AI and machine learning early will have a huge advantage because the system would have started learning about their business sooner.
  4. Machine learning will cut across all IT functions.
  5. AI will help businesses comprehend and obtain a thorough view of their clients, vendors and partners.
  6. ETL companies will rise to help maintain accurate and high-quality data so that AI technologies can make accurate predictions.
  7. Big data projects will increasingly move to the cloud.
  8. IoT will continue to be a hype. Adoption will be sluggish.
  9. IoT will redefine how the internet works.
  10. Hackers will create the first IoT ransomware.
  11. Workers in labor-intensive jobs will communicate with AI-based supervisors.
  12. AI will extend the conventional recommendation engine to power the B2B market.
  13. Data scientists will continue to be in short supply.
  14. Chief Data Officers (CDO) will play a prominent role in enabling data access and sharing within the enterprise.
  15. Marketing teams will heavily rely on data scientists for their campaign performance.
  16. An IoT Analytics Architect will be more valuable than the data scientist.
  17. Data engineers will get poached as they become more and more prominent.

Read the full article here.

Diamonds are not forever according to data science

At least not for pricey wedding rings! Analytics involving 3,000 couples – married or otherwise – presented a correlation between the price of an engagement ring and the length of marriage. If you are spending a large part of your salary on your other half’s diamond ring, be prepared to be saddened. If the ring costs over $20k, you are 3.5 times more likely split up than you spending up to $10k for the ring. But then again, in data science, correlation is not always causation.

Full story by Big Think:

I don’t think anyone’s ever argued that the breadth of a hetereosexual couple’s love for each other can be measured by the size of the rock on her finger. At the same time, I wouldn’t have suspected that gaudier rings correlate to higher divorce rates. Yet that’s exactly what researchers at Emory University found in a comprehensive study released last month (though only picking up viral steam during the past couple days). Simply put,if you’re dropping major stacks on your engagement ring, you may be setting yourself up for a whole lot of disappointment.

The two Economics professors behind the study — Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon — analyzed data from 3,000 married or once-married heterosexual couples, so long as the once-married did not include the widowed. The researchers sought to “evaluate the association between wedding spending and marriage duration.” As it turns out, length of marriage among subjects was indirectly related to the money spent on their weddings.

Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel sums up the stats really well. Women whose engagement rings cost over $20,000 are 3.5 more likely to get divorced than those in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Men who spent $2,000 to $4,000 on their wife’s ring got divorced 1.5 time more than those who dropped between $500 and $2,000.

It’s important to note that these relationships between marriage duration and wedding cost are much more correlation than causation. There are plenty of happily married people who have the monetary equivalent of Fort Knox on their finger. There are also others clutching $500 rings who likely wish they had the kept the receipt. But with the average cost of weddings in the United States flirting with an ungodly $30,000, it’s understandable that all this ostentation might come with a little unwanted pressure.

The study was titled ‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration. It successfully found the correlation between marriage success and marriage prices. Though they stated that the price tag and the marriage duration was “not or inversely associated,” they found enough correlation that one can start naming the ceiling on wedding spending.