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FB Magazine JUN 2020

Digital Transformation and Leadership

Xu Xin
Dr Xin Xu
Associate Dean (External Relations and Development)
Associate Professor, Department of Management and Marketing
Faculty of Business

Digital innovations are transforming both the business world and society. In recent years, several themes of technology innovation have emerged - Data Science, Virtual Reality and Gamification, AI and Robots, Block Chain, 5G Mobile Network, and the Internet of Things. These technologies engender both opportunities for and challenges to organizations. Business executives and organization leaders have a pressing need to understand how to manage and market the transformational impact of such technologies.

In view of the intense demand for training and consultancy in the areas of data utilization, technology application and business strategy, the Faculty of Business Digital Transformation Centre (DTC) was recently established. In line with the Faculty’s focus on Innovation-driven Education and Scholarship (IDEAS), the DTC promotes and enhances the understanding and management of technology innovations and digital transformation, mainly via applied research, training, and consultancy. It caters to the needs of individuals and organizations, academia and businesses, and the wider community.

Applied Research

The Centre has a team of elite researchers who have successfully secured funding from the Chinese government, the Hong Kong SAR government, and the business community. Some current projects are listed below.

  • The Effects of the Definitive Tone in Customer Review on Review Usefulness Evaluation (National Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong, China);

  • The Effectiveness of Big Data Breach Response Strategies in the Healthcare Industry: A Mixed Methods Approach (General Research Fund, Hong Kong);

  • Uncovering Sequential Pattern in Online User Opinions Based on Deep Learning Techniques (General Research Fund, Hong Kong);

  • Artificial Intelligent Platform for Sales and Customer Support in the New Era - Apparel Retail Applications (Innovation and Technology Fund)

  • Multi-stage Big Data Analytics for Complex Systems: Methodologies and Applications (RGC Collaborative Research Fund)


The Centre seeks to provide teaching and training materials and other resources - including business cases, data sources, and project-based field experiences - for the purpose of professional training. It also conducts knowledge transfer in workshops and other settings.


The Centre seeks sponsorships and builds partnerships partly through the Faculty’s Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) / Doctor of Management (DMgt) network. It also encourages enterprises and practitioners to work with the Centre in projects and consultancy.

The DTC promotes and fosters collaboration and cooperation, sharing of intelligence and expertise between academic institutions, industry experts, public agencies, and private enterprises. It has developed links with several successful high-tech start-ups and companies in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). The GBA is China’s most vibrant region, and its development into a world-class urban cluster constitutes a significant part of the country’s reform and liberalization. The success and pace of GBA development depend heavily on the support of industry, professionals and businesses. To participate in the development of the GBA into an international innovation and technology hub and to support Hong Kong in capitalizing on the opportunities in this region, the DTC will focus on research, training, and consultancy in and for the GBA in the days to come.


Dr Xin Xu is Associate Professor in the Department of Management and Marketing. His research interests include IT innovation management, data science and social media analytics, the Internet of Things and smart services, and human–computer interaction. He is currently engaged in several projects in the areas of Virtual Reality and Gamification in Education, Driver Analytics for Internet-of-Vehicle Smart Services, Intelligent Chatbot Design for Digital Marketing, and Social and Mobile Data Analytics. His projects focus on the business value of data science. For example, his Driver Analytics project uses the huge amount of data available from on-board devices and the Internet of Vehicles to design better training programs for young drivers and to optimize fuel consumption. He will be overseeing the establishment of connections with both the business community and other organizations with a portfolio of professional training and consultancy opportunities for the Centre.

Deputy Director

Dr Li Jiang is Associate Professor in the School of Accounting and Finance. His research interests include capital markets, behavioural finance and quantitative investments. He has particular interest in understanding how investor biases and sentiments influence their decisions, and how traditional and alternative data can be processed to improve investment decision making. He is involved in the management of the DMgt programme and will be assisting the DTC in collaborating with DBA/DMgt alumni for executive training and consultancy projects.

Eric Ngai
Professor Eric Ngai
Professor and Associate Head
Department of Management and Marketing

In the new digital era, customers commonly ask questions about products and services through the omnichannel (integration of a range of channels for seamless customer experience).

For the past year, Professor Eric Ngai in the Department of Management and Marketing and his team have been working on the design and development of an Intelligent Information/Knowledge-Based System (IIKBS) Platform for sales and customer support. The prototype system platform uses AI-powered technology to facilitate the conversion of online/offline data and information into a valued knowledge base in the omnichannel.

Apparel companies, like many of their counterparts in the retail industry, are looking to upgrade their service so that all touchpoints are connected and customers who switch between multiple channels have a consistent and unified experience.

The IIKBS platform has been designed to help apparel domain experts build and manage the content in the knowledge-based system based on consolidated knowledge from both external and internal data sources and to improve the knowledge base proactively and continuously with existing knowledge and users’ feedback. It will also enable online/offline sales representatives, customer service staff and a virtual apparel shopping assistant (chatbot) to handle omnichannel customer enquiries effectively and efficiently. The system and data collected can also be used to support e-commerce in addition to sales and customer service personnel training.

Artificial Intelligent Platform for Sales and Customer Support in the New Era - Apparel Retail Applications is the title of the project under the Platform Research Scheme of The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) at PolyU. It involves $4.55 million of ITF-HKRITA funding and five industry sponsorships. ITF is short for the Innovation and Technology Fund set up by the Hong Kong SAR government. The project team includes Dr Luo Mei at PolyU’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing, Dr Lui Ariel K.H. at the Swinburne University of Technology and Dr Franklin Lam at The Open University of Hong Kong.

The two-year project involves the design and development of an IIKBS for Sales and Customer Support using artificial intelligence (AI), natural-language programming (NLP) and big data technologies. The system focuses on four product categories: sportswear, intimate garments, casual wear, and suits.

The IIKBS integrates data from a range of sources, including social media websites (Weibo, Instagram, Discuss, Uwants, Baby-kingdom, Lihkg, Golden), Q&A sites (Tmall Q&A, 百度知道, 360問答, 知乎), and knowledge sharing sites (Wikipedia, 百度百科). The system was based on the 2017-patented Method and System for Linguistics Query-Based Text Analysis (LQTA) developed by Professor Ngai and his researchers.

Professor Ngai and his team have completed a system requirement study report that specifies the system’s functional and non-functional requirements, data collection and analysis scope. They are currently working towards the delivery of the prototype system of an apparel knowledge building tool to support apparel domain experts in continual management of the knowledge base. The IIKBS prototype system for sales and customer support will soon be delivered before a pilot run and evaluation of the proposed system performance. These steps will be followed by the compilation of a case study report, a technical manual for the system, and a source code for the software.


Solution overview

Solution overview

Application operation flow
The flow of the conversational agent

The flow of the conversational agent

The flow of preparing materials for sales

The flow of preparing materials for sales

The flow of updating training materials by the trainer

The flow of trainer updating training materials