With a background in data and gov tech, the new chief technology officer of the Singapore Tourism Board is driving possibly the most ambitious of digital transformation of not only a tourism organisation but the entire travel industry ecosystem of a nation.
Wong Ming Fai (right) outlines the comprehensive steps to do this in an interview with Yeoh Siew Hoon.
Q: I am curious, your first job listed in LinkedIn was as programmer for WhizBang! Labs. Sounds fun. What did you build there? And what lesson did you take from this experience that has stood you well in your career?
WhizBang! Labs was a startup founded by university professors specialising in machine learning, and their focus was to help businesses automatically scan the Internet for information, and extract those information into structured formats for easier consumption.
One key use case was crawling job advertisement pages on company websites, and compiling the list of available jobs, including the job title, the job description, the hiring company and the contact number. These information could then be put up on a job search website like Monster.com, and because the process is automated, it saves a significant amount of manual labour.
Machine learning powered much of this work, from picking out relevant webpages from the sea of information on the Internet, to identifying where to look on shortlisted pages for relevant information like job title. I was building part of this machine learning engine during my time there.
My stint at WhizBang! Labs reinforced my passion for data. I was intrigued by the insights that can be uncovered through data, and the many possibilities that could be achieved through technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. That passion guided my subsequent career choices, and even to my current role at STB, as I was drawn by the many possibilities data can do for the tourism sector.
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