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Technology Featured East Asia

Mimi Poon appointed as new GM for IBM Hong Kong

Hong Kong – Global technology company IBM has appointed Mimi Poon to be its new general manager in Hong Kong. In her new role, Poon will oversee IBM’s business operations and strategic development in Hong Kong and Macau.

More recently, Poon was the director for the software group at IBM Hong Kong, where she was in charge of the company’s data and AI, automation, security and AI application software portfolio and the expert labs to support clients in both Hong Kong and Macau.

She also held several roles at IBM such as technology leader in Hong Kong and client director for banking and finance. She is also an IBM Industry Academy member and a trusted advisor and partner to banks in the Greater China region.

Speaking on the new appointment, Xudong Chen, general manager at IBM Greater China Group, said, “Mimi is our top female leader with in-depth knowledge of Hong Kong’s clients and market. She has strong C-suite client-facing relationships and has been advising many clients, especially in the banking industry, in designing their hybrid cloud and AI journeys.” 

Chen added, “With her strong leadership and proven track record, I’m confident that she will lead the Hong Kong team to help clients innovate and lead the company to new heights.”

Poon succeeds Charles Kiang, who has assumed the role of technology leader at IBM APAC.

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Technology Featured Global

IBM launches new research initiative on using AI on detecting, mitigating ad bias

New York, USA – Global technology company IBM, through its AI advertising solutions arm IBM Watson Advertising, is announcing the launch of a new research initiative in order to apply open-source AI technology, developed by IBM, to better understand how prevalent unwanted bias is in advertising, while simultaneously laying the foundation for potential mitigation. 

Said work aligns with IBM Watson Advertising’s overarching mission to make AI the catalyst for improving solutions, services and trust in the advertising ecosystem, and builds upon IBM’s leadership in transforming business across industries with AI.

A part of the research initiative’s inspiration stems from a study conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which found male characters appeared in advertisements 12% more than females. This while women-led and gender-balanced videos yielded 30% more views than other videos, revealing a demand for more inclusive content.

For IBM Watson Advertising, the goal is to drive a deeper understanding of the factors leading to unwanted bias in advertising and how AI can help, spanning audience segmentation, creative messaging, performance optimization and campaign impact. Armed with this information, marketers and IT vendors may be able to develop a roadmap for the responsible use of AI to reduce unwanted bias and more effectively create and execute campaigns.

“We find ourselves at a moment in history where a long-overdue discourse on socioeconomic inequalities is dominating the national agenda and compelling action. Our hope is that AI can be the catalyst for reducing unwanted bias in advertising, just as it is helping to transform the advertising industry as it rebuilds for an era without third party cookies. Through this research we are taking an important first step toward that goal, applying scientific rigor to determine just how big of an impact AI can have,” said Bob Lord, senior vice president for Worldwide Ecosystems at IBM.

Areas of the research initiative include:

  • Incidence of bias in advertising – The prevalence and frequency of bias in campaigns through the analysis of performance data. For instance, using the AI Fairness 360 toolkit, a suite of open-source AI tools developed by IBM and donated to the Linux Foundation, the study will look at how certain audiences of past and active campaigns are being targeted with creative content to assess whether bias was present.
  • Role of signals in determining bias – How heavily signals, which refer to the context in which an advertisement is delivered, impact bias. As an example, if a creative message is deemed to be unbiased on its own yet is delivered on a digital channel alongside an inherently biased signal, the advertisement may be perceived as biased.
  • Capabilities of AI to potentially mitigate bias – How useful AI can be in identifying instances of bias, and what can be done to fully capture the power of AI to potentially reduce occurrences of bias in advertisements.

As a start, data from the Ad Council’s “It’s Up to You” COVID-19 Vaccine Education initiative will be used for this initial research phase. The AI Fairness 360 toolkit will be used to examine the data and determine whether there are ways AI can be useful to help mitigate discrimination and bias.

“Collective bias has been prevalent in our industry for far too long, and the need to study its origins and impact is critical so that we can effectively work together to create progress. The Ad Council is proud to be the first industry partner of many working alongside IBM to help fuel this compelling research mission,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO at the Ad Council.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

UXPH 2020’s virtual conference makes UX/UI ‘open for all’

Manila, Philippines – User Experience Philippines (UXPH), a local-based non-profit organization that provides connections and resources to the local design community, has recently concluded its annual conference held online on November 14 and 15. 

The event was attended primarily by attendees from various sectors, ranging from UX/UI designers by profession, students, SME founders, and media practitioners.

Opened up formally by Aldrich Tan, UXPH’s managing director and CEO/co-founder of digital banking suite NextPay, Tan stated that the prime focus of the convention is to stress on the importance of collaboration and community in the design community.

“Our mission is to grow and nurture the Filipino creative community through sharing and collaboration, and raise the design standards and practices within our country; to help uplift the lives of our society. We envision an empowered culture where products and services are built mindfully and sustainably,” Tan noted.

The event was also graced with a short message from Design Center of the Philippines’ executive director Maria Rita Matute, in which she stressed the importance of designers as leaders of change.

“We as designers are called to lead the change for the better. It is time we show how we can use design and design thinking to pave the way forward, not simply towards a new normal but a better normal, a better forward, but we cannot do it as individuals [for] we are stronger together,” Matute stated.

Designers towards change and transformation

One of the prime topics being focused on in this conference is the importance of user interface and design towards change, breaking the norm, and moving towards the 21st century.

“Designers have the responsibility to share the skill that we have—this gift that we have to more people because ultimately what we, our skill as designers it’s not just to create change, it is to enable change,” Daisuke Yukita, senior interaction designer at IDEO Tokyo, a global design firm.

Yukita stressed in his talk titled “Designers as Enablers of Change”, that there are four points to note that design creates change:

  • compelling content that creates emotional impact 
  • tangible prototypes that generates momentum
  • authentic voices from users that propels decision making
  • unlock the creative potential of the people that we work with

On the other hand, Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng, SVP for digital transformation and corporate services at JG Summit, stressed the importance of digital transformation amongst businesses, whether a small-medium enterprise (SME) or a traditional conglomerate company.

“[Digital] transformation is not an end state, it’s a journey. We keep iterating our operational model as we learn. In a few months, we probably will learn a few more things, or realize that some of these [are] wrong. The point is to keep pivoting,” Cheng stated in her talk titled “Lessons in Digital Transformation in a Corporate Setting.”

Accessibility and democratization: the future of UX/UI

While UX/UI have strived over the years providing accessible interfaces to many products and services both in the physical and the digital world, there is still room for improvement of such prototypes that describes both practicality and futurism.

Julian Charles Serrano, an accessibility consultant at Catalyst International, discussed keystones of web accessibility which includes usage of accessibility guidelines, accessibility training, and testing or auditing.

“When you make your content accessible, you’re going to show everybody that you took your time to understand the needs of people with disabilities, and provide them with content that they need,” Serrano stated, stressing that blind and deaf people often rely with tools such as magnifying tools and text-to-speech reader to understand online content.

On another realm, Phil Balagtas, experience design director at McKinsey Design notes that the future fares better for the UX/UI world as digital transformation strategies have helped device new services such as AI-oriented vending machines or prototypes of modern-design PPEs and face masks.

“There is no one future: there are multiple futures and multiple possibilities that could arrive. Once we are able to map out those possibilities, we could prepare for different types of scenarios. We could use these to plan out our next agenda for today.”

Other speakers of the convention came from companies like Dropbox, Tokopedia, Eskwelabs, Shopify, IBM, and scores of others.

MARKETECH APAC is an official media partner at the UXPH Conference 2020: Designers as Navigators of Change, which was held from November 14 to 15, 2020.

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Main Feature SME South Asia

IBM unveils ‘SkillsBuild Reignite’ for job seekers and business owners in India

Bangalore, India  — In an effort to address the current skills gap in the country, IBM has unveiled ‘SkillsBuild Reignite’ to provide job seekers and entrepreneurs with access to free online coursework and mentoring support, designed to help them reinvent their careers and businesses.

According to the India Skill Report (2019), only 45.6% of the youth graduating from educational institutions are employable. This reflects the massive shortage of skilled workforce in the country. Job seekers, business owners, entrepreneurs and any individual with learning aspirations can now tap into a host of industry-relevant content, including Artificial intelligence, Cloud, Data analytics and security to reskill and upskill themselves, at no cost.

In November 2019, IBM India, in partnership with Directorate General of Training (DGT), Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, and its implementation partners, made the SkillsBuild online learning platform available to Indian students. Digital classrooms on this platform are being made available from the Industrial Training Institutes, ITI and technical education ecosystem in India.

Currently, the platform has benefited 14,135 learners who have completed 40,000 courses and 77,000 hours of e-learning. SkillsBuild is rated as one of India’s Top 10 online learning platforms by the National Skills Network.

Beginning today, SkillsBuild Reignite will include more coursework and personalized coaching for entrepreneurs seeking advice to help establish or restart their small businesses as they focus on recovering from the COVID 19 pandemic. Courses include financial management, business strategy, digital strategy, legal support and more.

Working with NGOs such as Edunet and Unnati Foundation amongst other new IBM partners will play a key role in addressing local needs. For example, entrepreneurs looking to create detailed plans to re-launch their business can work with mentors to refine market research, learn about tapping into economic development assistance or improve digital marketing.

Congratulating DGT and IBM India for their collaborative efforts to bridge the skills gap in the country through this initiative, Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Union Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship said, “Today, we mark a significant milestone in supporting Centre’s efforts in accelerating Indian economy’s revival from the adverse effects of COVID with the launch of SkillsBuild Reignite and Innovation Camp, in collaboration with IBM India. In line with our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s Skill India Mission and New Digital India, the Ministry has been working relentlessly to strengthen the skilling ecosystem and leverage the rise in demand for new-age skills by expanding industry cross-collaboration and creating learning pathways through digital learning platforms.

IBM’s expertise in providing multifaceted digital skill training in the area of Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will strengthen our efforts in the recovery of local workforces, communities and economies by supporting job seekers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.”

“There is a need to shift the needle and focus on new technologies and changing skill requirements to bridge the skill gap. It’s important that we align the workforce to industry needs and technology shifts. The SkillsBuild Reignite platform helps equip job seekers with digital, professional skills and relevant training to re-enter the workforce. Not only does this platform provides career reinvention opportunities but also innovative ways of working and individualized support for relaunching business strategies,” said Sandip Patel, General Manager, IBM India/South Asia.

IBM also announced the SkillsBuild Innovation camp today. The ten-week camp is open to learners who are interested in gaining hands-on project experience to enhance learning and who are intent on building their network to increase employability. Participants in the camp will get an opportunity to work as part of a diverse team on real-world challenges and learn new skills along the way. With the aid of expert facilitators, students will be guided through the design thinking process and learn strategic methods to craft their problem statement, ideate creatively, solve complex problems and tell compelling stories. The camp concludes with a pitch to stakeholders and potential employers or investors.

Image Article Credit: SkillsBuild