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SMU MITB Day 2019

2 October 2019

SMU MITB Day 2019

On 2nd October 2019, the SMU Master of IT in Business (MITB) programme celebrated 12 years of continued success in education at its inaugural SMU MITB Day 2019 Conference.

The MITB programme was started in 2007 with a specialisation track in Financial Services Technology & Operations. Today, the MITB programme offers three specialisation tracks: Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, and Financial Technology & Analytics. The Analytics track (AT) launched in January 2011 was the first in Asia, and it remains a leading programme in analytics training due to its wide and deep coverage in different topics, ranging from customer to operations, text analytics to big data, and solving problems from a myriad of business domains. The track develops a new breed of IT professionals with the skills and in-depth knowledge for industries ranging from retail, healthcare, logistics and government, to telecommunications, transport and banking. The programme’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) track goes even further, training students who are able to build AI tools and implement algorithms to solve business problems. The recent growth of interest in Financial Technology (FinTech) and Analytics reaffirms the School’s belief that the Financial Technology & Analytics (FTA) track will train talents to bring the banking industry to new heights.

To date, the MITB programme has more than 1300 enrolled students, with about 400 active students and close to 900 graduates. MITB aims to provide students with deep technical knowledge, as well as more domain-specific training in business and management. The marriage of the two skillsets is becoming increasingly pertinent in the current business context, with a greater need for sensitivity in developing intelligent and data driven models in serving consumers – a point underscored in the theme of the MITB Day 2019 Conference, Balancing Profit, Privacy and Responsibility in an Intelligent World. The value of such capabilities has been reflected in the continued success of MITB graduates, as well as its valuation and perception by the wider global community, with the SMU MITB programme being ranked 1st in Asia for the second year in a row and 14th worldwide out of 83 Masters in Business Analytics programmes from 18 countries around the globe, according to the QS Masters in Business Analytics Rankings 2020.

Joining Dean, SMU School of Computing and Information Systems and Professor of Information Systems Pang Hwee Hwa in discussing and addressing the theme of the conference were three distinguished industry experts – Mr John Shannon Hogue, Head of FinTech Asia at Citi; Mr Alvin Kan, Head of Insights, APAC Talent Solutions at LinkedIn, as well as Dr Pan Yaozhang, Head of Data Science at Shopee. Together, the industry experts offered a nuanced and multi-faceted discussion on how society and businesses should forge ahead in a world increasingly running on data and intelligent systems.

In his keynote speech ‘Disruptive Competitors: Do We Still Need Banks?’, Mr John Shannon Hogue started off noting the integral role banks and financial institutions play in the history of humanity – with the developments of ATMs and credit cards as examples of how banks have championed innovation and enabled innovation to happen. With increased digital capabilities, however, traditional banks are now facing competition from entities that did not previously threaten the industry. Platform companies such as Grab and Alipay for example, have started integrating financial services into their core services. Companies will need to improve internal capabilities, such as using data to deliver more personalised experiences to customers and engaging with partners to serve a seamless cross-platform experience online.

The issue of privacy features prominently in the next sharing by Mr Alvin Kan, titled ‘Data Empowerment: Balancing Profit and Privacy’. Mirroring a concern for data privacy and its potential for abuse brought up by Professor Pang in his Welcome Address, LinkedIn thus set out to create a culture that places the interests of its users before all else. Hence, by designing trust into the fundamental core of the company from its technology architecture, to design and even training for its employees, LinkedIn answers the question of how to maintain the balance between profit and privacy — by putting its users first before everything else, and building trust with end users which in turn allows it to obtain better data and to finally derive better insights and data-driven outcomes.

In her keynote speech ‘AI versus Human — Who is Responsible?’, Dr Pan Yaozhang addressed some potential issues arising from intelligent systems that many do not even consider. With intelligent systems, assigning responsibility for the actions of such systems is extremely challenging. Hence, Dr Pan opines that standards for responsible AI systems should be put in place before having fully AI-enabled businesses. Shopee aspires towards these standards through five key values — doing no harm to humans, active inclusion, fairness, understanding and finally, continuous monitoring. By trying as hard as possible to eliminate biases in their development as well as responsibly using and monitoring in AI systems’ deployment, Dr Pan believes that companies can confidently apply, develop and push intelligent systems in future.

Featured photo (from left): Dr Paul Griffin, Associate Professor of Information Systems (Practice), Director, MITB (Financial Technology & Analytics), SMU School of Computing and Information Systems; Dr Pan Yaozhang, Head of Data Science, Shopee; Mr Alvin Kan, Head of Insights, APAC Talent Solutions, LinkedIn; Mr John Shannon Hogue, Head of FinTech Asia, Citi at the MITB Day 2019 Conference organised by SMU on 2 October 2019.

The engaging keynote addresses were capped off with a leadership dialogue session with Mr John Shannon Hogue, Mr Alvin Kan and Dr Pan Yaozhang. Moderated by Dr Paul Griffin, Associate Professor of Information Systems (Practice) and Director, MITB (Financial Technology & Analytics), the panel discussed important concerns such as the possible over-reliance on automation, unintended consequences of using automation/AI systems, as well as the convergence of humans and machines in the far future.

Rounding up MITB Day 2019 was an MITB Industry Showcase where some of the best projects from MITB students were showcased to industry partners and event guests. One of the featured Financial Technology & Analytics projects explored how topic modelling can be utilised to automate the categorisation of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) into a range of topics based solely on the content within whitepapers. Other innovative Analytics and AI projects featured made use of IoT technologies to locate patients at the Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments of hospitals, simulation models that evaluated the effectiveness of implementing queue management systems in supermarkets, and deep learning generative adversarial networks for incident predictions.

Last updated on 15 Jan 2021 .