SME-Focused Digital Transformation Solution Secures Grand Champion Prize for APU Students

As digital transformation continues to be a top priority for global business organisations, the market value of this sector has reached an impressive USD 588 billion. With global spending on digital transformation projected to reach USD 3.4 trillion by 2026 , tertiary education institutions are expected to play a vital role in providing an innovative workforce to meet the growing market demand. 

Team DoBetter, comprising undergraduate students from Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) Computer Science and Information Technology programmes, showcased how young talents can bridge the gap for 77% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia that are still in the early stages of digitalisation.

Team DoBetter is made up of Woon Eusean (3rd from left onwards), Nicole Ee Sze Mien, Hoh Shen Yien (Team Lead), and Khor Zhen Win. They received recognition as the Grand Champion of ImpactHack 2023, flanked by Inbaraj Supiah, Jomhack (1st from left onwards); Sammeer, Managing Director, Private and Business Banking; and Joy Chowdhury, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, Standard Chartered Malaysia (1st from right). 

The team, led by Hoh Shen Yien, a high-achieving final-year student from the Computer Science Data Analytics specialism track, emerged as the Grand Champion of ImpactHack 2023. This nationwide hybrid hackathon, organised by Standard Chartered and hosted by JomHack, focused on digitalising Malaysian SMEs to transform the industry. 

With the support of Hoh's capable teammates, Khor Zhen Win (Data Analytics), Nicole Ee Sze Mien (Information Technology - Digital Transformation), and Woon Eusean (Computer Science), Team DoBetter stood out among 100 teams with over 350 participants, including industry professionals from all over Malaysia.

The APU students won a cash prize of RM30,000 from the event's total pool of RM105,000.

Their project, BizFlow, is a centralised data intelligence solution featuring a user interface (UI) that provides a general-purpose solution with potential benefits for various industries. The team successfully navigated the 48-hour virtual hackathon held from June 16 to 18, qualifying as one of the top 10 teams. They then captured the attention of the judges during a five-minute presentation at the grand final, which took place physically at the Asian International Arbitration Centre (AIAC) on June 24.

"BizFlow was developed using Next.js, React, and Flask, enabling us to build a functional website with a seamless UI and high performance within a short timeframe. This allowed us to distinguish ourselves from our competitors. Overall, our team demonstrated exceptional skills in data science, business and marketing, web development, innovation, and creativity," explained the team lead.

The team employed various AI models, including FlowAI, a powerful Large Language Model powered by ChatGPT's API, supplemented with a locally trained Llama Index that provides the model with relevant knowledge about the business's data. By highlighting the challenges faced by SME owners, the team demonstrated how BizFlow can digitalise day-to-day operations and business processes using AI.

"BizFlow went the extra mile by incorporating Stable Diffusion models, enabling the inclusion of media such as images and videos in the output. It further distinguishes itself by automating user actions, allowing for message sending, posting of social media images, and even providing video recommendations based on user prompts," explained Hoh, emphasising the team's innovative approach.

In addition, recognising that typing may not be convenient for every SME owner, the team implemented a voice recognition feature, which was a unique feature in the competition.

Upon their victory, the team was delighted to be invited for a tea session with the judges and sponsors, an honour that further acknowledged their hard work and dedication.

Affirming the exceptional achievements of his students from the School of Computing, Associate Professor Dr. Tan Chin Ike remarked, "Team DoBetter's victory in ImpactHack 2023 not only highlights their exceptional skills in the area of digital transformation but also underscores the significant role APU plays in meeting market demands and empowering SMEs from a talent perspective. Through their innovation and creativity, the students have set a remarkable example and benchmark for the next generation of innovators. That is what the young talents at APU always strive toward – constantly pushing the boundaries of technology, innovation and a winning mindset."