Consistent in their quest to spearhead innovative, groundbreaking events, Eventus International is hosting the first-ever AI In Gaming 2020 summit in Dubai on 26 and 27 February at Crowne Plaza Dubai.
Joining a lineup of top international industry experts, is Andrew Pearson, founder and MD of Intelligencia Limited, who will be speaking at AI In Gaming 2020.
Andrew Pearson was born in Pakistan, grew up in Singapore and was educated in England and America. With a degree in psychology from UCLA, Pearson has had a varied career in IT, marketing, mobile technology, social media and entertainment. In 2011, Pearson relocated to Hong Kong to open Qualex Asia Limited, bringing its parent company's experience into the ASEAN region.
Pearson is the Managing Director of Intelligencia Limited, a leading implementer of BI, CI, data warehousing, data modeling, predictive analytics, data visualisation, digital marketing, mobile, social media and cloud solutions for the gaming, finance, telco, hospitality and retail industries. Pearson is currently working on projects in countries such as Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia. Pearson has also leveraged Intelligencia's expertise to implement software solutions from such vendors as SAS, HDS, SAP, Qlik, and ITRS at some of the world's biggest casino operators, lottery companies, and sportsbooks.
In 2009, two books that Mr. Pearson edited appeared in print; the first in the Double Down on your Data series, Clive Pearson's How Analytics is Revolutionizing the Casino Industry and Santiago Maggi's Investment Strategies for Uncertain Markets, a book about the financial markets that presciently predicted the 2007 global financial meltdown. In 2010, Pearson also wrote The Mobile Revolution and it was published by Qualex Publishing. In 2013, Pearson was invited to write a chapter in Global Mobile: Applications and Innovations for the Worldwide Mobile Ecosystem, a book on mobile technology. The book, which was co-authored by several of the mobile industry's leading figures, was published in July 2013. In 2017, Pearson published The Predictive Casino, a book about how analytics should be used in the casino industry.
Pearson is also a noted columnist, writing on topics such as mobile media, social media, predictive analytics and cloud technology for such publications as ComputerWorld HK, The Journal of Mobile and Social Media Marketing and The Mobile Marketer. Pearson is also a member of the editorial board of the upcoming Journal of Business-to-Consumer Marketing as well as the president of the Advanced Analytics Association of Macau.
Andrew has an interesting and diverse background leading up to his current position as MD of Intelligencia Limited. In this interview he tells us more about his career journey and why he believes AI In Gaming 2020 Dubai is a relevant and not to be missed event.
Your career took an interesting turn from the entertainment industry to eventually founding Intelligencia Limited. Can you tell us a bit about that journey?
While working in the entertainment industry in LA, I noticed a convergence coming between tech companies like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and distributors like NBC Universal and ABC/Disney. This was a time when the video chain Blockbuster didn’t live up to its name and imploded into stunning bankruptcy. Radical realignment was going on and tech companies were clearly going to change everything about the way we lived.
I moved to Asia from Los Angeles to work in the IT and software industry. Once I arrived, I immediately recognised the strong need for analytics, AI, social media (both content and content analysis) in Asia and the Middle East, so I decided to create my own company and we’ve done very well since netting clients pretty much from all over the world. In some ways, moving to Asia was really a homecoming, as I grew up in Thailand, Singapore and Bahrain, so I was really an internationalist before that term was coined. I’ve always felt comfortable out here, even when the humidity is off the charts and it’s 110 in the shade.
I think my past experience as a screenwriter has helped me to convey the story of technology and the journey of analytics in a way that is not only relatable but also humourous and, most importantly, memorable. I recently spoke at a conference in Dubai on data privacy, a pretty dry subject, all-in-all, but I was able to offer a vampire analogy that was quite fitting, I believe. I compared data hackers to vampires who stand at the edge of your door coyly asking if you’re going to invite them in. Vampires, like hackers, know they are forbidden to enter a home without being officially invited in. Hackers need you to click on something that gives them access to your systems. Once you say yes to the vampire or hacker (by clicking on his phishing email), all hell breaks loose. I believe the audience immediately got the analogy and understood my point that education for employees about hacking activities is imperative. It was a warning wrapped in a colorful description that probably made it more interesting and, potentially, digestible.
Where did your interest in data science and artificial intelligence originate from?
I’ve always been fascinated by technology, always loved sci-fi movies like Blade Runner, Star Wars, Altered States, Her, Alphaville, even Mad Max’s dystopian vision proved compelling. I actually worked for a company that produced the special effects for Blade Runner and was creating IMAX-type technology. It was clear in the ‘90s and early 2000s that technology was going to radically alter the way the world worked in the 21st century and that data was not going to be the new oil but rather the new printing press, a unique way to connect the world.
‘AI’ is a rather ubiquitous term these days, it’s probably the buzzword of all buzzwords, for a multitude of reasons, including because it might just bring about the end of the world (at least according to the Global Challenges Foundation (10% chance, apparently)). In Blade Runner, the protagonist Rick Deckard directs his version of Alexa when he’s piecing together some of the location evidence he’s collected as he’s trying to track down three rogue A.I. Nexus 6 robots.
I’m a writer and I often speak at tech events on the latest technological developments in AI, customer personalisation and analytics, so I try to keep up to date on the latest trends and I noticed, towards the tail end of the ‘Big Data’ era,‘AI’ was entering not just the business consciousness but also today’s zeitgeist. As I say in my latest book, “The fastest way to raise seed funding these days is to put ‘AI’ and ‘ML’ at the front of your prospectus and a ‘.ai’ at the end of your website’. AI can offer so much but there are a lot of snake oil salesmen selling a version of AI that is anything but and, in my talks, I want to expose the potential and the pitfalls of this revolutionary technology.
How did it come about that your company implemented AI in the gaming industry?
When I came to Asia, I immediately started work implementing a marketing and analytics solution for one of the largest casinos in Macau. We’ve built analytics models and digital marketing and social media campaigns for some of the biggest casinos and cruise lines in the world. Although an overused and overhyped term, ‘AI’ is extremely useful when it comes to customer personalisation. Honestly, there’s probably never been a better technology to use to get users to personalise your marketing and even your product; the phone was good, but AI takes everything to another level.
One of the examples I tell my clients is that if you want to test campaign effectiveness, the old rules-based analytics way was, you’d set rules and weights to attribute the value of each touch that led to a conversion. In the AI-powered way, the AI analytics tool automatically weights and reports the factors that lead to each successful outcome and attributes credit to each campaign element or step accordingly. Obviously, considerably more computing work is required with AI, but the results are going to be much more effective and much more useful.
During our AI In Gaming 2020 summit in Dubai you will be speaking on the panel Man vs. Machine: Will AI replace human performance? How do you think this presentation will benefit gaming operators in attendance?
One of the best use cases for AI is robot process automation (RPA) and one of the inherent problems in the gaming industry is the fact that it’s hard to keep good employees. I have many clients who have trouble hiring and keeping staff because they are based in Asia and don’t have access to a deep pool of talent. AI can both help reduce the need for talent as well as make an employee’s job more interesting so he or she won’t be tempted to jump around to other companies.
AI can also reduce the work that humans don’t like to do, i.e., the dull repetitive stuff. In marketing, Adobe believes that 80% of current processes will end up being automated, even to things that seem so humanly creative as image cataloging and video editing. Who doesn’t want to automate away one’s most boring tasks so that humans can focus on what differentiates us from the machines -- our innate creativity. In a marketing world just around the corner, AI can bring video ad personalisation down to the level of showing an ad that not only takes into account the viewer’s gender but also their age, their race, their location and even the weather outside their window. Without AI, none of this would be possible. Adobe has one of the best quotes on the subject; “You can’t win in the digital era with industrial-age technology.”
What do you look forward to gaining from at AI In Gaming 2020, Dubai in February next year?
I spoke at three events in Dubai in 2019 and my business is expanding into this region so, as with all Eventus conferences, I expect to meet some interesting people, see some past clients, as well as, hopefully, attract some new ones. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and continuing the AI, analytics, and esports discussion.
How do you think delegates will benefit from attending AI In Gaming 2020 in Dubai?
When I speak, I like to both entertain and inform, part of my former work as a screenwriter, I guess. I find the best way to connect with people is to provide them with concrete examples from their industry, as well as give them overriding industry themes couched in interesting stories. I believe I both simplify technology and make it relatable. I’ve heard so many casino executives complain about how software vendors waste their time explaining how their solutions work in unrelatable industries and I try to partner with vendors whose tools are important for this unique industry. I also create demo and write content that is directly relatable to this industry, like my new book, which will be released shortly, The A.I. Casino.
Dubai and the Middle East are growing radically right now. The world’s attention will be on Dubai in late 2020 for the Expo, Saudi Arabia is opening up in ways that were unimaginable just a few short years ago, so this is a great place to be and will probably be the center of the world once the Expo opens in late 2020.
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