AI needs IA

Too few artificial intelligence (AI) projects succeed.  Many organisations approach AI believing that you can collect data for an algorithm in the hope that it realises the anticipated benefits.  Instead you should look at data and design a system to address a problem, not an algorithm.

Here are some keys to success for adopting AI.

  • Select the right business problem. This must be one for which a team already exists and has the data.  It avoids the pitfall where, “We need to test AI,” results in a deceptively attractive initiative which has low business value and is hard.  For example, a business process is required to collect data.  Nevertheless, there is a conundrum for many organisations that the business case to get the data requires a demonstration of AI.
  • Look at the data. Typically, organisations significantly underestimate the effort needed to orchestrate the data in readiness for AI.  AI needs accurate data, and data cleansing and preparation takes 80% of the effort.  This is a hard engineering problem and requires a sound approach to information architecture, technologies and a range of skills, not just data scientists.
  • Build systems, not algorithms. Many assume that a sequence of steps is sufficient to generate insight and recommendations.  However, feedback is crucial to improving overall accuracy.  It is complex with lots of moving parts and demands a multi-disciplinary approach.

AI must be transparent for the public to trust it.  This is especially significant for the public sector because important decisions must be explainable.  It is essential to understand who trains the AI system, what data was used to train it, and what went into the recommendations made by the algorithm.  This extends the realm of information governance.

In summary, AI needs IA: Information Architecture.

Wimbledon technology impressions

The dominant impression left with those taking IBM’s technology tour at Wimbledon this week is how artificial intelligence is used to enhance fans’ experiences of The Championships through automation and scale.  The magnitude of what it takes to amplify match data and content out to millions of fans is always a revelation.  This spans drawing fans to Wimbledon’s own digital platforms, supporting its media partners, through to providing a valuable service to the players.


AI and Augmented Reality

The Championships Poster for 2018 applies artificial intelligence (AI) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.  AI is used not only to select 8,400 photographs that make up the mosaic from the archive of over 300,000, but also to match the colour, tone and content of the picture used in each tile to the part of the picture it represents.  The reaction when I enlarge a section of the mosaic, such as the umbrellas by the umpire’s chair which is made of photographs of umbrellas, is amazement.IMG_0066

IMG_1181There are various pictures displayed around the grounds when visitors can experience augmented reality (AR), including the mosaic poster.  Their locations are indicated on the map in the mobile app.  I show how you can tap on the ‘AR Experience’ tile in the app.  The camera recognises the picture, and in the case of the poster, the app launches the video showing how it was made.

You can experience augmented reality for yourself using Wimbledon’s phone app by pointing the camera at the poster on

Trusted data

Wimbledon Interactive is a system running on 400 press desks at The Championships that contains 2 million pages of data.  It is only available on site, and I explore the wealth of data of current matches and Wimbledon’s history all the way back to 1877 on my tours.  Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 08.10.24IBM employs tennis players to read matches and record the data associated with every point accurately within a second.  This trust in data is essential for amplification out to fans on Wimbledon’s own digital platforms and by the world’s media.

Players from the six show courts receive point-by-point video analysis about twenty minutes after the match completes to help them prepare for the next round.  This is always a highlight on my tours.  In addition, IBM has a data science team on site to assist Wimbledon and the media with access the best possible information, including bespoke reports for any angle a journalist might want to investigate.

One example of how data is made available to fans is the tactical Keys to the Match delivered in the IBM SlamTracker on  They are the top three areas that each player in a match should focus on to maximise their chances of winning.  Keys are custom generated from analysis of individual player data, including the 4.8 million tennis data points collected at last year’s Championships.  Analytics have been further honed using ball placement and player movement insights.  Fans are able to monitor players’ performance against their keys as the matches unfolds.

Brand quality

IBM uses artificial intelligence to automatically generate a video highlights package within five minutes of a match finishing.  Clients are amazed that the speed.  Video analysis of player gestures and detection of their emotions is combined with audio Screen Shot 2018-07-06 at 08.07.59analysis of the crowd’s reaction, e.g. clapping and cheering, plus analytical insight from the data collected.  The points with the highest excitement score are assembled, along with captions generated from meta data that tell the story of the match, for Wimbledon to share with fans on social media and its digital platforms.

Wimbledon has become the host broadcaster of The Championships this year with the launch of Wimbledon Broadcast Services.  It is indicative of Wimbledon’s shift to become more of a data-driven media organisation rather than simply global sporting event – this digital transformation is food for thought for those joining my tours.  Despite this approach, Wimbledon is permitted one hour of tennis action coverage from each day so as to not undermine its media partners.  The digital team uses the excitement level calculated from analysis and AI to quickly search for the points of greatest interest.  This enables the team to optimise this hour to maximise fan engagement by easily identifying and sharing the moments that matter most.

Taking Wimbledon to its fans

IMG_1196Wimbledon aims to be where its fans are.  In 2018, it is widening its appeal to those that use messaging.  The Wimbledon messenger can be accessed from within Facebook Messenger to provide up to date scores on matches, monitor the progress of your favourite players, and access news.  It also provides assistance to all fans in natural language using an AI chatbot building on the ‘Fred’ in-app service that was introduced last year.

You can access the latest information from within Messenger by searching for Wimbledon on Facebook.

I found that all the clients that I took on tours this week, technical or not, are impressed with the scale, reach and focus of the Wimbledon’s digital operation.  Find out more about the technology at


Wimbledon’s use of AI to engage fans

At one o’clock this coming Monday, Roger Federer will walk out on to Centre Court to begin the defence of his Wimbledon Championship.  I particularly remember his semi-final match last year.  I was in the bunker where I runs the technology for Wimbledon, and about eight minutes after the match had finished, Wimbledon had produced a two-minute video highlights package of the match.  This was the first time that a sports highlights had been generated automatically.

The rise of video

Wimbledon continues to extend its appeal to a time-poor, younger demographic, and sharing short videos is a key element of the strategy to drive engagement on its digital platforms.  Video views were up 75% year-on-year to 201 million in 2017, of which 14.4 million were such match highlights.  Automatic generation accelerates production so that Wimbledon has first mover advantage, and it enables scale.

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It is achieved using artificial intelligence (AI): learning player reactions in analysis of video, detecting crowd reactions by applying AI to audio, and fusing both with statistical analysis of the data to identify the most important points in the match.  Meta data is used to generate captions that tell the story of the match in the highlights package which Wimbledon then shares with fans through its digital platforms and on social media.

AI becomes the artist

This is an example of technology innovation using AI, Cloud and Data at Wimbledon – 2018 is the twenty-ninth year of IBM’s partnership – that I described yesterday at the Cloud and Data Summit held at Landing Forty Two in London.

Cloud and Data Summit

I opened my talk with a video of the poster that Wimbledon created using AI to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC).  AI has become the artist to create a poster.  It looks like a water colour but is actually a mosaic made up of 9,000 images.  These were selected from over 300,000 images in the AELTC’s archive using artificial intelligence to match image recognised content and colour tone.  You too can watch how 150 years of archive photography has been used to stitch together a single beautiful image.

Social engagement

I told the story of data, how it is captured courtside by tennis professionals who can quickly read a match.  They aim to accurately capture all the data associated with every point within a second.  It’s about making data simple and building a trusted foundation that allows insights to be scaled on demand.

Wimbledon combines such insights with analysis of conversations and what is trending about the Championships on social media.  It uses Watson AI to exploit 23 years of articles, press and blogs – 11.2 million words have been analysed – so that it can share facts, video clips and stories with fans in the moment.

Digital resilience

IBM runs Wimbledon’s applications in the Cloud.  Four IBM public cloud and three private cloud data centres around the world are used, offering elasticity and resilience.  The software-defined operating environment allows capacity to scaled up quickly for The Championships.  Easy access to Wimbledon’s digital platforms is sustained through huge fluctuations in demand, such as a spike in interest in an epic match.  Capacity is quickly deprovisioned when no longer required to optimise the cost of infrastructure.

Over 200 million security events were halted during The Championships in 2017.  IBM correlates and normalises security event data to prioritise them and remove false positives.  Security analysts make use of threat intelligence from IBM’s X-Force research on vulnerabilities and malicious IPs, etc.  A knowledge graph is generated to help security analysts understand what is happening.  Watson for Cyber Security offers assistance through its application of AI on the corpus of security research, information on events, security notices, blog posts and more.  The result is a reduction in the time taken to analyse a threat from sixty minutes to one.

AI assistant

Wimbledon launched “Fred” last year, an AI assistant that helps visitors prepare for and make the most of The Championships.  This year, Wimbledon continues to put content where its audience is.  “Fred” powers the new Wimbledon Messenger, a service for millions of other fans available through Facebook Messenger.

Wimbledon’s digital platforms provide the window into The Championships for many fans.  A fabulous experience is enabled by AI that is powered by the IBM Cloud to exploit data.  Experience a little of this for yourself by downloading the Wimbledon app or visiting