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June 24, 2019

Embracing automation: How to drive value for your business in 2018

The benefits of automation go far beyond cost savings. From elevated insights to industry disruption, here’s how to truly benefit from this emerging technology.

Alongside flying cars, home-helper robots have long been predicted as a staple of how we’ll live in the future. And with the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home taking over day-to-day tasks, we’re well on the way to having mechanised butlers. Outside the home, similar technologies are becoming more common in the workplace, generating new opportunities, facilitating cost savings and generally transforming business practices.

Unfortunately, not everyone recognises these opportunities for what they are. A common misconception is that digital automation means robots will replace people and no one will have a job to go to. Similar fears were voiced when computers first became part of our professional lives. But while computers have rendered some roles unnecessary, they have created far more jobs than they ever replaced. The same is predicted of automation.

According to a study by Adobe, only the most mundane tasks will be automated. This will free up human capital to be used on more creative, fulfilling and ultimately strategic duties. Another misconception is that automation is solely about cutting costs, when there are many other benefits to reap.

Industry disruption

“Automation is not about taking out cost – it’s about becoming more competitive,” says Sean Smith, Isentia’s CEO Media Intelligence. “Done right, it can uncover new business models and revenue streams, and improve outcomes with more efficient processes and better-quality products and services.”

For example, Daimler used sensors as part of the Internet of Things (IoT) in its car2go on-demand service. Thanks to these sensors, it could monitor the performance of individual vehicles and analyse data to maximise efficiency. It could also manipulate this user-specific data to offer drivers customized insurance policies, rather than traditional policies based on data from all users. This meant better value for the drivers, and more revenue for Daimler.

This is just one example of how automation can disrupt traditional models to provide a competitive edge in the market. And if your competitors are doing it and you aren’t, you’ll likely be left eating their dust.

“Automation creates opportunities for deeper insights and analysis,” says Smith. However, to really reap rewards, you need to consider the bigger picture. Daimler wouldn’t have thought of adding personalised insurance if it was solely focused on getting car2go up and running. Instead, it looked further ahead, saw the potential for creative collaboration with adjacent industries, and found some easy wins using the same system. As Smith says: “It’s an investment that requires vision beyond year one.”

How to get the most from automation

So how do you embrace this brave new world? The first step is to fully audit your business and find the low-hanging fruit where automation can drive the biggest impact. Cincom, a provider of enterprise software, audited its content as part of its behavior-based content marketing campaign. It also tracked its users, gained a clearer picture of them using progressive profiling (asking them their company name and size, and requesting more information with each subsequent website visit) and tagged its content to see who was reading what. Once Cincom had built a detailed picture of its audience, it was able to market to them more effectively.

The result? An average of 18 new sales leads every week. Most importantly, it achieved this without overhauling how its business functioned. It didn’t change what it did; it was just able to execute it better.

Upskilling and educating staff

The final piece of the puzzle is your most valuable asset: the people who work for you. It’s imperative you assuage any fears of robots “stealing” their jobs, and steer the conversation towards a more positive outlook. Emphasise what automation can do for the company, and for their careers. Explain how it will mean fewer mundane tasks for them, and more creative, strategic work instead. Consult with them to identify where their skills would be best utilised and focus on making the most of them – for their benefit as well as the organisation’s.

Automation is just one emerging technology with the power to transform your business and the working lives of both you and your colleagues.

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The immediate challenge is not killer robots, its job replacement. If individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

The robots are coming. Although often spoken of in future tense, the truth is machine learning is well and truly here. Without realising, consumers interact with ‘smart’ technology at almost every touch point; from robotic vacuums to facial recognition technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to complete tasks faster, cheaper and – sometimes - more effectively than ever before.

In an economy that’s driven by speed and efficiency, it should come as no surprise that a computer’s ability to communicate at a trillion bits per second is favoured above the human capability of about 10 bits.

McKinsey recently reported that 40 per cent of work tasks can be automated using existing technology, prompting everyone from factory workers to lawyers and accountants to consider the threat of being replaced by robots as not just inevitable, but imminent.

For technologists, we are witnessing first-hand how this emerging field is transforming the companies we work for.

In my work at Isentia, we use machine learning to process seven million news items each day. Not long ago this was a task relegated performed solely by humans with the mind-numbing task of flipping through newspapers in search of stories that might relate to a client.

We have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible.

Today, machines trawl video, audio and digital content across over 5,500 new sites at a rate of 234 stories per second and present meaningful summaries to clients in real-time.

Whether a story breaks on Twitter and then spills across news platforms and onto television and radio, machine learning can track and analyse how a story evolves with 99 per cent accuracy.

While AI is revolutionising the way that we work, the impact is far greater for those in the tech industry. In our mission to develop software that can learn complex problems without needing to be taught how, the success of the AI industry ultimately comes down to technology professionals: our ability to automate, and the pace at which we expand the field of machine learning.

With an annual growth rate of 19.7 per cent percent (predicted to be worth $15.3 billion by 2019), it’s safe to say our foot is well and truly on the pedal. While this relies greatly on our technical capabilities, it is something that challenges many of us ethically: what set of values should AI be aligned with?

Two of the greatest technologists of our times, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, have spoken about both the potential benefit and the harm that an AI arms race could deliver. An eradication of disease is not unfathomable, but nor is a threat to humanity. They hold grave concerns as to whether or not robots can be controlled against misuse or malfunction.

While thought provoking, the immediate challenge is not killer robots, it’s job replacement. Employment may not seem like an ethical problem, but if individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak. While the phrase ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ has forged its way into the 9-to-5 vernacular, for most people, jobs create a huge sense of personal and professional satisfaction… not to mention a means to pay bills.

An apocalypse might be somewhat melodramatic, however I do agree that it is important to consider just how closely we should merge biological and digital intelligence.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here? It’s both exciting and terrifying. The last time we experienced a revolution like this was in the early 1900s when cars, telephones and the airplane all emerged at once.

Contrary to the hype, there lies an enormous opportunity for humans to work with artificial intelligence, not be replaced by it.

Make no mistake: at some level every job can be carried out by a robot. But there are certain jobs, particularly in technology, that require decision making, planning or coding software.

While computers do a brilliant job of executing well-defined activities - such as telling us the fastest route to get from home to work - it is safe to say that humans are an essential component of goal setting, interpreting results, humour, sarcasm and implementing common sense checks.

The most difficult jobs to automate are those that involve managing and developing people. While in this industry most of our jobs are safe (for now), we should heed the advice of Musk and Hawkings and protect those outside our field by proceeding with caution. How then to facilitate human and robots working together harmoniously without the workforce morphing into cyborgs? The secret is to not sail out farther we can row back.

As technologists, we also have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible. It's the best, and most ethical, way to prepare for the inevitable advent of AI.

First publish in CIO New Zealand

Andrea Walsh, CIO

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Blog
It’s time to slow down the AI arms race

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

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The state of the electric vehicle industry in Malaysia

Malaysia's automotive industry is one of the more environmentally-friendly industries. Various parties, such as the government and local automotive industry players, have continuously sought to promote electric vehicles (EVs). 

The subject of electric vehicles (EV) is growing among the Malaysian public in the social media sphere due to continuous efforts to promote EVs by various parties such as the government, local automotive industry players as well as companies directly involved in several aspects of EV (charging facilities/networks etc.)


Using data from Pulsar, Isentia analysed the conversations surrounding the topic of EV amongst Malaysia's social media users.

 

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How did discussions involving electric vehicles in Malaysia go?

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In this word bank powered by Isentia’s vast datasets, some of the most common keywords used by Malaysians when discussing EVs, apart from the topic itself, are 'drive', 'chargers', and 'battery'. EV is also associated with ‘future’ and ‘expensive’.

Across the country, social media users agreed that Malaysia is lagging behind neighbouring nations (such as Indonesia and Thailand) in EV facilities and vehicle development. They also agree that EVs are only accessible to rich people in the country because of a lack of affordable options and that the Malaysian government and other players should do more to promote electric vehicles as a practical form of transportation.

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What are the audience segments that have been talking about electric cars online?

Malaysian social media users who are more interested in electric vehicles are most interested in watching movies and TV. The three main audience segments include the Conservatives, Technology Enthusiasts, and Innovation Seekers. They are predominantly male audiences aged between 18 and 24. 

They also have high media affinity with Malaysia's prominent media outlets, such as Astro Awani, Bernama, and technology-focused outlets, such as Amanz and Digital News Asia.

 

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Conservatives follow social media accounts of mainstream news outlets and the government (ministers, ministries, agencies etc.) They believe government policies would benefit their daily lives, such as EV-related ones.

Technology enthusiasts seek out exciting posts on new technologies and actively participate in discussions surrounding them. They are advocates of technologies that would make the environment that they live in better, as well as efficient technologies.

Innovation seekers are actively sharing news and involved in conversations about innovations that enhance the development of industries relying on the newest technology. They tend to evolve their lifestyles accordingly and embrace innovations available at their disposal.

 

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What are the catalysts of EV discussions among Malaysians?

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Several points between April and July 2022 peaked due to active discussions among Malaysians on EV:

Launch of Automotive High-Tech Valley on 14 April - The launch would assist in positioning Malaysia as a hub for EV manufacturers and component suppliers to the ASEAN market.

Foxconn announced plans to build a facility in Malaysia on 19 May - Taiwanese company Foxconn plans to build a chip production facility in Malaysia with Malaysia's Dagang NeXchange Berhad to fulfil the demand for EV semiconductors.

Criticism of parking at charging facilities on 10 June - There was criticism towards road users in Malaysia who parked their vehicles at EV charging facilities.

Samsung develops plant in Malaysia on 21 June - Samsung SDI Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd announced that they are developing a RM7 billion plant in Negeri Sembilan to pioneer the EV battery cell industry in the country.

First Range Extended EV developed in Malaysia on 21 July - Mimos Berhad has developed the first Range Extended Electric Vehicle (RE-EV) in Malaysia with the cooperation of Motosikal dan Enjin Nasional Sdn Bhd (Modenas) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP).

Get in touch with Isentia today to learn more about what consumers are saying about your brand. 

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Isentia Malaysia Case Study | Electric Vehicle (EV) Conversations in Malaysia’s Social Media Sphere
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How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia.

What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar's recent report on the online conversation on sunscreen and SPF, we can understand how audience intelligence and media monitoring can help organisations direct and target their messaging and operations in response to (for example) significant regulatory changes. 

Last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the release of the new Therapeutic Advertising Code that came into A pivotal reform to the code involves restrictions on testimonials and endorsements of therapeutic goods in advertising, including social media. Influencers were flurrying about how they would continue to promote therapeutic products like sunscreens, skinny teas, collagen powders and the like within Australia. 

The code allows for genuine, unpaid testimonials in advertising. Still, it prohibits influencers from making testimonials or endorsements based on their own experiences due to using a product. They can only stick to communicating the product's aims and purpose as claimed by the product's labelling and instructions. The recommendation must also align with the product's purpose, as the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods records.

So why is this happening, and how can influencers still operate under these new regulations? The TGA ensures that consumers can trust that recommendations are unbiased without the influence of incentives, including gifts. There is a further requirement for social media influencers to include mandatory statements in their advertisements depending on the type of product and its availability to the public. The TGA also highlighted that they aren't making any unusual changes but are just aligning advertising on new platforms with code that previously targeted more traditional forms of advertising.

The code requires all testimonials that are in breach to have been taken down by July 1st.

But some influencers have not taken to the new regulations well, believing the new rules will hinder a critical source of information for consumers and audiences. Australian sunscreen (Naked Sundays) owner Samantha Brett, told the Sydney Morning Herald Emerald City she believes sunscreen should be exempt from the laws asking, "How else will those who are influenced by social media, particularly Millennials who are most at risk of melanoma, be encouraged to use sunscreen every day."

On August 22nd, Got-to Skincare's founder Zoe Foster Blake posted a statement on Instagram to announce the release of a new SPF 50 sunscreen product and how the code impinges people's sun protection practices and knowledge.

“I believe elements of the code have the potential to reverse the momentum public health, cancer awareness groups, and skin specialists have been building for years to ensure Australians wear sunscreen daily”.

Foster-Blake goes on to highlight how some still find sunscreen polarising and unappealing. 

“Many consumers still believe sunscreen is gross, thick, greasy. It’s not.”

But are younger demographics, influenced by social media, confused about sunscreen use? Social discussion would say the answer is yes. Where to apply, how many times to reapply and in what settings is wearing sunscreen necessary are some questions people are asking.

Social media conversation around sunscreen is evolving and recorded by Pulsar as a therapeutic good that goes beyond a necessary use case. Sunscreen is feeling the influences of climate change activists and holistic beauty trend-setters tied to long-term health values.

@sethobrien using the recommended amount of sunscreen for the first time #skincare @cerave ♬ original sound - Sethobrien

Promoting sunscreen and daily SPF use on social media has a positive impact on long-term health and beauty maintenance and protection against skin cancers; 51.1% of Australians' reasons for applying sunscreen, as discussed in online conversation, is to protect against skin cancers.

There is still confusion around SPF levels and growing concerns around online conversation promoting misinformation that sunscreen use increases the likelihood of ailments like melanoma, reportedly one of the most common cancers in young adults.

Social media conversation and prolific posting of beauty & wellness-related content frame spaces where skincare brands can find their niche. Brands like Cerave and Supergoop are finding ways to differentiate their branding to appeal to specific communities (meet their communities in the full report). Is this new code holding social media influencers to account for their sway over masses of followers? Or is it taking away a vital information-sharing source? Time will tell if the regulations will significantly impact beauty and wellness influencer marketing in Australia. However, the effects may be taking hold now. If you look up sunscreen and SPF on tiktok, you will notice a decrease in related content since the end of 2021.

Avoid the risk of getting burnt and check the code to ensure you’re not in breach.

Discover the full report

Want to understand how therapeutic goods are driving beauty trends and changing the intersection between health and beauty? Download Pulsar’s report “Applying audience intelligence to Sunscreen”.

Contact Isentia to stay on top of media topics that impact your organisation!

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Blog
Will wellness brands need to rethink how they use and apply influencer marketing?

How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia. What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar’s recent report on the online […]

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Sustainability in businesses, and where to draw the line

With consumers taking more of an interest in living a sustainable lifestyle, many companies are prompted to take steps to reduce their environmental impact and embrace sustainability.

 

However, what happens when companies make false claims that they are more sustainable than they actually are? This is where greenwashing comes in. Greenwashing is when a brand frames itself to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but is not making any notable sustainability efforts.

 

We analysed conversations on greenwashing among Malaysia's social media users powered by Pulsar's data.

 

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Who is involved and how did these discussions on greenwashing go?

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Our study shows that the term "greenwashing" is not as widely used when consumers call out practices that mislead the people with positive communications on environmental and sustainability practices when it is not. 

 

'Investment', 'banking', 'ESG', and 'sustainability’ are just some of the keywords most commonly used when Malaysians talk about greenwashing. 

 

Consumers tend to be sceptical and raise concerns with sustainability claims as they question the effectiveness and legitimacy of such initiatives. Some have linked such "green efforts" as a tactic for cost-cutting and even for financial gains.

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What are the audience segments that have been talking about greenwashing online?

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Malaysians talking about greenwashing online lean slightly more towards males. In terms of age group, the 18 to 24 years old have shown stronger interest in the topic. 

 

They are most interested in watching movies and TV and have high media affinity with some of the nation’s prominent media outlets such as Astro Awani, The Star, and Bernama. They tend to be sentimental, particular, and analytical.    

 

The top three audience segments we have identified talking about greenwashing are The Green Lovers, The Informers, and the Activists

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The Green Lovers who are passionate about sustainable lifestyle are highly interested in entertainment and social issues. Their choices are driven by a desire for well-being. 

 

The Informers, on the other hand, follow media outlets such as Astro Awani, The Star, and Bernama and tend to share content that concern the people with their networks. Their desire for organisation drives the choices that they make.


The Activists describe themselves as advocates for social issues. They follow political figures such as Khairy Jamaluddin, Syed Saddiq, and Hannah Yeoh. They are philosophical, authority-challenging, and empathetic.

Despite having different interests, their purchase decisions are likely to be influenced by online advertisements, brand names, and social media.

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What industries do consumers associate with greenwashing?

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Sustainable businesses are focused on continuous improvement and long-term goals. They seek to promote the health of a company and the community in which it operates while balancing these goals with the need to develop profit.

 

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However, despite efforts to campaign for sustainability and adhere to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards, some industries such as banking, oil and gas, and fast fashion have been called out for greenwashing.

Consumers have also pointed out initiatives such as the RM0.20 plastic bag pollution charges by the public sector for missing the ESG mark for seemingly profiting from the use of plastic bags. 

Generally, these sectors have been criticised for failing to fulfil their 'green commitments’ adequately.

Greenwashing can be harmful to a company’s reputation in the long run. As many consumers are focusing on ‘conscious consumerism’, companies are expected to live up to their sustainability goals. 

 

Get in touch with Isentia today to learn more about what consumers are saying about your company and brand in relation to greenwashing.

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Isentia Malaysia Case Study: Exploring Malaysians’ Perception of Greenwashing

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