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AS Watson Group hosts retail Hackathon

Health and beauty retailer AS Watson Group (ASW) has hosted the first retail-themed Big Data Hackathon in Hong Kong.

Over 36 hours nonstop, 110 professionals in technology and data science worked to solve real-life business problems in retail and come up with recommendations on how to enhance customer experience.

“Big data is a game-changer for retailers,” says ASW group COO Malina Ngai. “AS Watson Group is adopting a data-first strategy toward understanding customer shopping behaviour. We organised this Hackathon to enable local startup communities, data scientists and programmers to bring their creative ideas to life, and provide ideas to enable retailers to become smarter and faster.”

Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group (second row, 5st from left), Dominic Wong, Managing Director of PARKnSHOP Hong Kong (second row, 3rd from left), Tony Verb, Managing Partner of GreaterBay Ventures & Advisors (second row, 6th from left), Donald Tang, Private Investor, Former CEO of D.E. Shaw & Co. (Asia Pacific) (second row, 4th from left), Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong & Macau (second row, 7th from left) and Jack Lau, Chairman, Swanland. AI & Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Electronic and Computer Engineering, HKUST (second row, 6th from right) take a group photo with the winning teams
Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of A.S. Watson Group (second row, 5st from left), Dominic Wong, Managing Director of PARKnSHOP Hong Kong (second row, 3rd from left), Tony Verb, Managing Partner of GreaterBay Ventures & Advisors (second row, 6th from left), Donald Tang, Private Investor, Former CEO of D.E. Shaw & Co. (Asia Pacific) (second row, 4th from left), Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong & Macau (second row, 7th from left) and Jack Lau, Chairman, Swanland. AI & Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Electronic and Computer Engineering, HKUST (second row, 6th from right) take a group photo with the winning teams

For the two-day event, the participants were grouped into 16 teams. Their challenge was how to detect certain imminent health incidences and develop an algorithm for prediction, plus devise approaches to assortment planning, pricing and personalisation of customer offers. The three criteria for judging were technical innovation, business impact and quality of the pitch.

Using gigabytes of ASW business data, the participants gained exposure to real-world business scenarios.

Over 110 elites in the technology fields gather in the A.S. Watson Hackathon to come up with innovative proposal to shape the future of retail
Over 110 elites in the technology fields gather in the A.S. Watson Hackathon to come up with innovative proposal to shape the future of retail

“While data and analytics will never replace the experience and judgement of running a retail business, it can definitely provide us tools to perform better,” says Ngai, who was one of the judges along with ParkNshop Hong Kong MD Dominic Wong, GreaterBay Ventures & Advisors managing partner Tony Verb, investor Donald Tang (former CEO of DE Shaw & Co Asia Pacific), Microsoft Hong Kong/Macau GM Cally Chan and Swanland chairman Jack Lau (professor at HKUST Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering).

The Hackathon champion team was Dr Watson, comprising Amy Lau, Eugene Choi, Jaclyn Tsui, Jeffrey Leung and Justin Yek.

The first runner-up was Trendmate (Annie Chan, Chris Kam, Larry Wong, Mandy So, Will Chiu and Winnie Yueng), with the second runner-up being 10 Fold Cross Validator (Aaron Chan, Duncan Mak, Hamilton Le, Leo Xie, Tom Li and Xiangdong Gu).

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