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June 25, 2019

Isentia’s CIO, Andrea Walsh on Game Changers

From programmer to industry leader, as one of Australia’s only Chief Information Officers in technology, Andrea Walsh has shattered the glass ceiling. And she’s championing other women, while she’s at it.

So, is she a game changer? Let’s find out. I’m Sarah Harris. Welcome to Game Changers.

Sarah: Andrea, welcome to Game Changers, now you are one of Australia’s only female CIOs of a technology company. You must see yourself as a bit of a role model?

Andrea: I never thought I was, but having been in the role now for number of years I look around and I do think where are all the other women, where are all the females.

Sarah: And, where are they?

Andrea: There is just a real shortage of women in I.T and technology, which is a real shame.

Sarah: So, tell us a little bit about Isentia and what it actually does.

Andrea: So, Isentia is a media monitoring company. And basically what that means is we take information and news from across varying countries, about 18 countries, multiple languages, and we filter that and disseminate it to what is important to our clients and what are the leading issues that they need to focus on. An average day, there’s about 7 million news items that we’re processing.

Sarah: That is a big job, lots of information to get through. So, what does your role as CIO involve?

Andrea: So, I lead the technology team. We are responsible for all the systems and the technology that processes those 7 million items a day. And we also provide all the services for our clients and tools for them to be able to do their job each day.

Sarah: Why do you think there’s a lack of women in IT roles?

Andrea: I think through education. I don’t think that girls are encouraged to take up sciences and engineering when they’re younger. It’s very much seen as, ‘it’s for the boys’. I think it starts really early on. And then I also think women don’t put themselves forward necessarily for opportunities, and roles to re-train. And maybe say, I might be interested but unless I’m absolutely sure I not going to give it a go.

Sarah: You are quoted as saying, “we’re on the cusp of a technological revolution”. What are you most excited about?

Andrea: There is so much. I think that’s what’s exciting. I think with cloud technology, it’s enabled a lot of organisations to be able to experiment with technologies. And things like artificial intelligence, so looking at machine learning. And I think that will really shape future roles and jobs.

Sarah: You really passionate, which I love, about women moving up in the industry. In particular, girls learning how to code. For someone who is not as technologically advanced as you, perhaps, explain to me what coding actually is.

Andrea: It’s basically creating something using computer and technology. Sometimes, yes, it has to be, or can be, detailed lines of programming. But some of the tools that are available, especially to young children who are interested in coding, enables kids to build stories, cartoons and make videos.

Sarah: The number of girls studying, as you said before, STEM, which is science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it is slowly increasing. Which is brilliant. But it’s not at a rate of ‘the boys’ just yet.

Andrea: No. Certainly not. And I think that it is great that it is slowly increasing. But it’s got a considerable way to go.

Sarah: Well, how do we change that?

Andrea: I think again, it goes back to the education. It’s encouraging girls and young children to get involved in these subjects. And I also think that they have maybe a brand, or an image, issue with engineering and IT often see as ‘it’s for the boys’. I think it’s also about the parents and the carers. So often we teach our children when they come home about doing their homework, reading, writing, maths. But what about the children who want to learn technology, and they want to learn to code? And if the parents aren’t IT, how do they support them. So I think it’s really about, as I say, the education, but then also then about the parents and finding these great programs that are out there to give the kids opportunity.

Sarah: Your daughter is eight and she’s already taken an interest.

Andrea: When I first showed her the iPad, she just took it instantly. It was quite amazing to experience. We certainly encourage here to use it. There’s s o many educational programs for children that you can use on the iPad. So I’m a big advocate of it.

Sarah: It does bring up that other thing as well, because I have a little boy who’s 18 months, and he’s very savvy when it comes to technology. You know, he’s coming up to the television and trying to swipe it like an Ipad. But I do kind of worry that (you know) we’re introducing technology to these kids too early, because there’s been research that show that it’s actually changing the chemistry of the brain. When should we be introducing this sort of stuff to our kids? Because as a parent you sort of think to yourself, I don’t want my kids to have their head in technology all the time. But at the same time, you don’t want to hold them back, because that’s the future.

Andrea: I think its each individual parent’s choice. For our daughter’s, Charlotte, we introduced it quite early on, so it was before kindergarten. But we’re very strict with her, both from what she can do on there and so content she can see. And also how long she spends on there, because the last thing we want is to build a relationship and the communication is with the back of an Ipad all of the time.

Sarah: IT is a well-paying field, but there id still a gender pay gap when it comes to technology, isn’t there?

Andrea: Where I work at Isentia, we pay the market rate and we pay on skills regardless of gender. But it is a known issue within many industries and with many organisations and that’s something we need to address.

Sarah: What advice you want to give to women that you mentor?

Andrea: I would say, seek every opportunity. Just go for it – what can you lose at the end of the day? I think work with other areas of the business as well; get to know the business and the industry in which you work. Do things that are potentially outside your remit so you can learn and grow from them.

Sarah: You are a trailblazer and a Game Changer. Thank you for joining us today.

Andrea: Thank you.

Disclaimer: Featured in Game Changers

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This is not a list of what to do to be more successful. Or a list about the highly successful morning habits of CEOs and CIOs.

Instead, it’s a call-out to others who read the titles of articles like these on a Monday and sometimes feel exhausted by the amount of additional ‘work’ that is actually recommended to be more productive or successful.

But, it’s not about being lazy either, in fact Australia was listed in Collective Hub’s Top 15 of the world’s most productive countries, so as a nation we still like to get things done.

This is, however, a question as to whether our push for productively has blurred into so many areas of life that we’ve forgotten why we strive to be increasingly efficient in the first place. Are we now too focused on volume, rather than value?

For example, in the last week alone we’ve seen the launch of a five-minute workout video series, been served an ad for an app which gives you the world’s best nonfiction books in bite-sized formats and scrolled past a ‘mindfulness in microseconds’ Instagram post.

While squeezing more into everyday life is a common challenge (and arguably a goal) for many professionals, it does present an interesting behavioural shift where we start to use smart technology to speed up activities that perhaps we shouldn’t.

Working in the always-on media Industry, we work with some of the most pressed-for-time people on a daily basis.

These communications and marketing professionals are dealing with huge amounts of fragmented media across channels that sometimes need urgent attenuation or action, particularly in times of crisis. However, this is where our technology thrives – it puts in the hard yards for them. Crunching huge volumes of data, providing the tools to report, alert, shred and more, and helping to give back time that should be spent on the more important strategic tasks, away from a computer.

From a professional standpoint this could mean more time for pitching ideas, benchmarking results against business strategy or presenting to the board. This is where value is achieved – with time spent on activities that need extra thinking space and deserve focus. From a personal standpoint, this may mean taking time back to pick up the kids from school, getting to yoga or simply enjoying a cup of tea in silence.

It’s not a case about fitting more into the day, but about filling your day with more valuable activities. Smart technology holds so much power in helping us spend less time on task-based needs like emails, to-do lists and life admin to free up the time for (hopefully) more than a ‘mindfulness in microseconds’ quick fix.

Remember, effort is not the same as impact.

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Blog
The push to be ‘on’ by 6am

This is not a list of what to do to be more successful. Or a list about the highly successful morning habits of CEOs and CIOs.

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What can you learn from 750,000 social media posts in China each day? Sean Smith of Isentia explores how technology is disrupting market research.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No YouTube. With stifling regulations around social media use, how can New Zealand businesses’ use social media to enter Chinese markets?

The basic premise remains the same – the way in which Chinese consumers engage with social media platforms is not dissimilar to here, nor is their decision-making journey. Needless to say, understanding the landscape is paramount for any company aspiring to capitalise on the booming Chinese economy. It’s certainly an opportunity worth pursuing – this year China’s GDP is estimated to exceed US $12.1 trillion (NZ $16.44 trillion).

An obvious difference from the outset is the sheer volume of online conversations that happen within China’s firewalls.

This is not surprising given the 740 million-odd internet users, and is exacerbated by the fact that social media is a much larger phenomenon in Chinese culture than it is here in New Zealand.

In today’s digital world, this level of activity offers businesses unprecedented access to millions of organic conversations unfolding in the alluring Chinese market – in real time. The million-dollar question is, how can this information be used to help businesses make important decisions about when to launch a product in the market and drive sales?

Givenchy and Mr Bags

A great example of the power of social media in China is the partnership between Givenchy and blogger Tao Liang, better known as Mr Bags.

He uses his encyclopaedic fashion knowledge to retain over 2.7 million Weibo readers and a further 600,000 WeChat followers; keen to be ‘in the know’ on the latest handbag trends and the current “it” bag.

In an act of extreme commercial nous, in 2017 Mr Bags called for his followers to nominate a potential collaborator for the blogger. When Givenchy emerged as the overwhelming favourite, the brand took the opportunity to launch a limited-edition handbag on Valentine’s Day via Mr Bags’ social channels. What followed the announcement was a 12-minute frenzy seeing Givenchy part with 1.2 million RMB’s (NZ$247,000) worth of handbags – a complete sell-out. Needless to say, the campaign was deemed a success.

Listen to many, speak to a few

By now it’s no secret that social media isn’t just a broadcast platform. In fact, true to the proverb “we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say”, there’s far greater power in using social media to understand a potential customer’s motivations.

In today’s world, social media provides market research on an unprecedented scale.

Once upon a time, businesses invested heavily in market research groups to understand consumer insight.

Test groups were enticed with gift vouchers or free products to partake in a fishbowl-style exercise, where they were asked to provide honest and open feedback as eager marketers and communicators looked on.

Despite questions being developed using the latest, tested methodology and astute moderators, the quality and authenticity of the data was often in question.   

Let me be clear – this has less to do with the methodology and more a reflection that as consumers, we find it much easier to speak the whole truth when we think we’re not being watched.

With such a high level of human involvement, it is also incredibly difficult to collect data consistently and without bias.

Technology: the market research disruptor

Why might technology make consumers more honest and open with their feedback? The truth is people are more honest in a casual setting. Therefore, dialogue about a product or service that’s exchanged in the comfort of someone’s home (behind a screen) will often be more candid than their responses to a survey.

At Isentia, Mediaportal’s cloud-based technology trawls video, audio and digital content across more than 4,400 print items, 1750 broadcast items, 62,500 online news sites, 6 million blogs and 300,000 forums. Processing seven million news items each day a rate of 234 stories per second, it presents summaries to clients in real-time.

For China enthusiasts, the technology mines over 750,000 WeChat and Weibo posts daily and uses this information to unearth the Mr Bags’ opportunities – the people or issues relevant to specific industries – so that businesses can make informed decisions based on both data and sentiment in foreign markets.

What’s more, the nature of social media means the survey technically never ends. Social media listening provides continued real-time pulse checking and the perfect new product incubator. It’s more than watching @mentions and comments pour in via your social profiles, mobile apps or blogs.

“If you’re only paying attention to notifications, you’re missing a huge group of people that are talking about you, your brand and your product.”

The true value is in tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries, and leveraging these insights to discover opportunities or create content for those audience.

Data – a modern marketing and communications must-have

It is now hard to imagine a marketing and communications industry that doesn’t rely on data to inform strategy, new product development and campaigns.

Much of what took place in marketing and communications teams, even as recently as a decade or so back, was based on assumption. We *think* that this product would be of interest to this audience, so we *figured* the best way to tell them about it would be mostly via a TV ad campaign.

“But data is now essential for any smart and savvy marketer or communicator and presents the opportunity to tap into foreign markets with a level of insight that has never been more accurate or accessible.”

When you combine and embrace the use of technology, social media, and analyse the data that it provides – you can not only quickly test and learn new products, but also give the fans what they want.  

Givenchy were clever and reaped the rewards of listening, embracing and reacting to their consumers’ want, making it big in China. Now it is your time to get onboard and reap the results.

Originally featured in CIO Magazine.

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Blog
Listen to many, speak to a few

No Facebook. No Twitter. No YouTube. With stifling regulations around social media use, how can New Zealand businesses’ use social media to enter Chinese markets?

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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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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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