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June 25, 2019

Transformative tech: What to expect from AI in 2018

It’s official: artificial intelligence has arrived. But how will this disruptive technology transform businesses in the near future?

After more than a few false starts, artificial intelligence (AI) is finally here, and it’s powerfully disrupting the way business is done. We don’t need to ask if or when businesses will adopt AI – the question is where and how widely it will be employed.

AI is already a big player in the technology industry. In particular, there is a growing use of AI in IT’s backroom functions like cybersecurity and tech support. A Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) survey of 835 company executives found that nearly half of respondents were using AI to detect and fend off intrusions – the most frequent use of the technology. But a number of other industries are also opting for AI.

Early adopters

In entertainment, companies like Netflix and Amazon are using machine learning to help their movie recommendation engines. Health care has seen myriad applications, including virtual assistants for doctorsapps that can interpret test results and even AI-based spine surgery technology. In the financial sector, AI has been put to work in regulatory compliance and fraud prevention – PayPal uses a combination of its own AI program and human analysts to combat fraud, for example, and HSBC has teamed up with Silicon Valley startup Ayasdi to automate anti-money-laundering investigations.

Worldwide spending on cognitive and AI systems is expected to reach $12.5 billion this year, according to IDC, a whopping increase of 59.3 percent over 2016. Much of this growth is powered by use cases like the examples above. But there’s another area where AI is rapidly being adopted: automated customer service agents, or chatbots as they’re more commonly known.

Customers now expect AI to be used by companies and they are comfortable interacting with the technology (up to a point). Research from HubSpot found that nearly half of people are happy with the idea of buying products from a chatbot. Perhaps more importantly, 40 percent of respondents said they were indifferent about receiving customer support from either a chatbot or human – provided they got the help they needed fast and easily.

Dealing with data

Whether patrolling a computer network for intrusions or trawling through financials for signs of fraud, AI is most often employed to intelligently handle vast amounts of data quickly. “AI is best deployed in companies with significant amounts of data and robust data systems,” says Andrea Walsh, Isentia’s CIO.

Gartner predicts that, in 2018, half a billion users will save two hours a day as a result of AI-powered tools. Every time a business gains efficiencies, it saves money – and that is AI’s chief benefit.

AI’s smarter processing power is also helping companies generate more quality leads on new customers, using IBM’s Watson AI, for example. Finding, contacting and closing new sales is a time and resource-heavy activity. But AI-based sales assistants can tirelessly work on reaching out to people, while intelligently analyzing data on leads. This can then be effectively communicated with point-of-sale staff.

When employees hear the word “efficiency,” they often assume it will lead to lay-offs. While there is no question that some jobs will be replaced by AI programs, the naysayers are largely exaggerating their mass-redundancy predictions.

AI is a data-cruncher, and it is often employed to take care of something that didn’t even exist 30 years ago: big data. When it accomplishes its analysis, a human is still needed to interpret the results, such as in cybersecurity and anti-fraud scenarios. Even in the case of customer service chatbots, these will mostly be applied to routine queries and simple support functions, augmented by human representatives for complex problems. “AI should not stand alone as a technology,” say Walsh.

Enhancing existing infrastructure

As with all industrial revolutions, AI will create jobs even as it replaces them. There are already glaring shortfalls in STEM-trained employees across the world, and that’s likely to continue as the rapid pace of technological transformation outruns educational reforms. But eventually, new generations will be trained and educated to do jobs created by innovative technologies like AI.

Any business can benefit from AI programs, but when it comes to how broadly they adopt AI, companies need to look at how the technology can augment their existing capabilities. Instead of replacing staff, current AI should be used to support them and put their invaluable human minds to the best use, saving tedious, data-crunching work for the machines. For customers, AI needs to be a helpful, timesaving addition to their experience, and companies should never try to create the false impression that a human is doing the work. People are ready for AI; companies need to be too.

Andrea Walsh, Isentia’s Chief Information Officer

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A World Of Information Without Noise 

Big data is more than just a buzzword. It’s one of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing almost every industry, business and brand today. With the potential value that it holds, investment in big data, machine learning and AI will be crucial for any business that wants to remain relevant through the ages.

Big Data

noun : extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.


Each day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated – a number that continues to grow exponentially. While we have seen improvements in the collection of data over recent years, the ability to synthesize meaning from this data is demanding more from engineers and their technology than ever before.


The problem that we face is sorting through these huge chunks of data to separate the noise from what is important to individuals and their organisation. While automation has offered speed, simplicity and efficiency, the ‘why’ is where the untapped value and excitement lies.

“Contextualisation is key. It's not about just collecting data, it’s about how that data can provide clear information that enables and inspires action”

Richard Spencer, Chief Marketing Officer at Isentia.

Rather than reflecting on past performance, answering the ‘why’ has the potential to lead action that focuses on influencing the tomorrow.
Beyond big data, the 'why' behind AI and machine learning may raise new questions. For instance the wider interplay behind machine learnings ability to  translate to a language without any knowledge or assumptions about that language.

As teams start to ask these questions, the data starts to be reimagined. The perception of a data point transforms into breadcrumbs of a narrative that can tell a bigger story, and ultimately influence our thinking.

The question is, when big data becomes manageable and meaningful – how fast will it move into being predictive? And even beyond this, be able to simulate what is ‘likely’ to happen.

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Blog
From Complex To Context

Big data is more than just a buzzword. It’s one of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing almost every industry, business and brand today. With the potential value that it holds, investment in big data, machine learning and AI will be crucial for any business that wants to remain relevant through the ages.

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If your New Year’s resolution is to get ahead of the tech curve, you’re in luck.

As artificial intelligence (AI) transitions from novel to normalised in 2018, there are many ways you can integrate advanced technology into your day-to-day life, making you more productive at work and at home. Andrea Walsh, one of Australia’s most successful CIO’s, shares tips on how everyone can use machine learning to squeeze more out of the day.

Decision making

You may not trust a computer to make important decisions for you, but it can help guide your choices. Committed to read more in 2018? Amazon will analyse your previous purchasing behaviour to recommend books you might like. If you’d simply like to reconnect with old friends or spend more time with new ones, Facebook will flag friend suggestions for you. If you’re in the market for a new job this year, let LinkedIn’s algorithms suggest jobs you may be interested in or people you should be networking with. Embrace these tools to help cut through the noise and then use your own insight to make decisions on a narrowed, personalised field.

Be more punctual

If you are perennially late and have vowed to be more punctual in 2018, Google Maps is your new best friend, helping you avoid time-sucking activities like getting lost in parking lots or being caught in heavy traffic. Using data from your smartphone, Google is able to provide you with directions to where you parked your car. On the road, Google will analyse your position together with anonymised data from other smartphones to suggest the fastest route to your destination. If driving full-stop is your peeve, then you will be pleased to hear that California authorities will allow self-driving cars to be tested alongside cars driven by humans on roads this year. Experts predict this could result in a 90% reduction in accidents (which will arouse all sorts of ethical debates as to whether humans will still be able to drive cars), 75% less cars on the road and reduce the work commute by almost half.

Boost creativity

With the rise of machine learning comes the fear of job losses. “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Stephen Hawking told the BBC.

An Oxford University survey suggested that 47 per cent of the world’s jobs could be replaced within decades. Autonomous cars present one example of how jobs in transport and logistics may be replaced by robots. With this uncertainty comes the understanding that routine work is far more likely to be automated than jobs requiring skills like creativity or emotional intelligence. Machines may be adept at processing large volumes of data, but they can’t make insightful or creative decisions. The good news is that as machines become smarter, humans are freed from mundane tasks and can become more creative. If you’re in a small business, using accounting products like Xero to manage your financial reporting. This allows you to turn your attention to business boosters like problem solving, improving customer service or creating new products. If you’re in big business, tools like Amazon Transcribe or Amazon Translate can perform laborious tasks like producing and translating documents with lightning speed and accuracy, allowing you to focus on big picture thinking like strategy and profitability.

Stay on top of current affairs

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 to humans with the mind-numbing task of flipping through newspapers in search of stories that might relate to a client. Machines trawl video, audio and digital content across more than 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% accuracy. Use these tools to stay on top of the issues or people relevant to your industry – in real time.

Make your mark in 2018

The robots aren’t ‘coming’, they are well and truly here. Without realising, we interact with ‘smart’ technology at almost every touch point of our daily lives. As a technologist, I am excited by machine learning not only because I see its profit boosting value, but also for how much it can improve our working lives each and every day.

If you learn one thing this year, take the time to discover how AI can help you be a more creative and productive version of you in 2018.

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, Isentia is a media intelligence company operating since 1982. The company is backed by over 1,200 employees with 18 offices across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the US. Isentia provides more than 5,000 clients, including many of the world’s leading brands, companies and governments, with media intelligence software and services that help drive more informed and timely business and communication decisions.

Originally featured on Women Love Tech.

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Blog
Tips For Success: Make A Robot Your Partner In Crime In 2018

As artificial intelligence (AI) transitions from novel to normalised in 2018, there are many ways you can integrate advanced technology into your day-to-day life, making you more productive at work and at home.

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The story around supermarket prices has been evolving for a number of months, finally reaching an inflection point as the Woolworth’s CEO appeared in a challenging interview with Four Corners and then announced his upcoming retirement only two days later.This chain of events underscores the critical importance of understanding the connections made by broadcast media, as they can significantly influence public perceptions and shape the narrative surrounding key industry players.

https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicRelations/comments/1aukych/australia_woolies_ceo_interview_mishap/?share_id=S-JDSwqI-UlHg_mIeTlkg&utm_content=2&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=ioscss&utm_source=share&utm_term=1

It was only the latest in a series of media items to seize Australia’s attention, and cast the nation’s supermarkets into something of a PR and Comms crisis.

And yet, viewing events through this framing also only gives a partial picture. As the discussion surrounding the impact of supermarkets on the rising cost of living intensifies, we've observed a notable surge in the usage of terms such as 'shrinkflation' and 'skimpflation'. Reaching back even further, we can see how the topics attained a gradually greater place on Australian news and social channels. Shrinkflation and skimpflation are tactics employed by supermarkets during economic challenges. Shrinkflation involves reducing product sizes while maintaining prices, subtly passing on costs to consumers. Skimpflation maintains product sizes but compromises on quality to preserve profit margins. These strategies often frustrate supermarket shoppers, especially during economic strains like inflation.

Clearly, the topic has become ubiquitous. But if we want to understand how information and perceptions have been communicated to mainstream Australian audiences, then it becomes vitally important to pay particular attention to broadcast media. 

Broadcast media (which includes television, radio and podcasts)  plays a pivotal role in shaping public discourse and influencing perceptions, particularly on pressing issues such as the cost of living crisis. 

Using Isentia to monitor these data sources, we gain valuable insights into their contribution to consumer attitudes. From identifying which organisations are most associated with the issue to pinpointing key public figures and preferred channels within radio and TV, broadcast media monitoring allows us to understand the complex dynamics that shape public opinion.

It’s the oldest of these media types which accounts for the most mentions of the supermarket crisis. Beyond reporting updates on the senate inquiry and government actions, radio excels in facilitating in-depth conversations between hosts and listeners, which surfaces more individual consumer stories than television or podcasts can match.

ABC's predominant coverage of the topic corresponds with the network's content strategy. Major programs such as the Supermarket Four Corners special and podcasts like The Briefing attract substantial listenership and garner attention from other channels. Channel 7, in addition to delivering key news updates, focuses on the shopper experience within supermarkets, shedding light on everyday challenges faced by audiences, such as navigating shrinkflation and skimpflation tactics.

Understanding the majority share of broadcast channels within this topic is important as it reflects who has the loudest voice, and is most persistently advancing a certain narrative or way of framing the situation. 

Coles and Woolworths dominate the conversation, reflecting their prominent presence in the retail landscape. Their widespread accessibility and familiarity to consumers make them prime subjects for discussion in the context of rising costs and economic pressures. 

Conversely, Aldi and IGA, while still significant players in the grocery market, may receive comparatively less focus in these discussions. Aldi's reputation for offering lower-priced alternatives and IGA's decentralised business model, with independently owned stores, may also contribute to their reduced presence in conversations about supermarket practices during times of economic strain. 

Each channel and network approaches discussions about supermarket groups differently. While Coles and Woolworths understandably dominate each station's broadcasts, the precise balance (and the time afforded to Adi and IGA) is revealing.

For instance, 4BC has encouraged audiences to diversify their shopping habits, with one 4BC broadcaster highlighting that "Aldi and IGA are actually doing more than the other two to really help enormously with the cost of living."

In the discourse on supermarket practices during the cost of living crisis, a number key figures emerge across broadcast channels. Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, is predictably prominent on just about every channel, particularly broadcaster 2SM. 

All of them, that is, apart from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which spotlights Allan Fels, an economist and former ACCC chair who has analysed price gouging by major corporations. Other notable politicians mentioned include Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Craig Emerson, Steven Miles, and David Littleproud. 

Media's focus on these figures is crucial for shaping public discourse and policy responses amid economic pressures. While supermarkets are often discussed as a key antagonist in the cost of living crisis, they are increasingly being viewed in the context of potential solutions, particularly regarding government policy to regulate supermarket giants.

At the same time, focus does not only fall on the prominent individuals driving business decisions and policymaking. Country Hour (NSW), for instance, focused a story on cherry grower Michael Cuneo, who ceased selling to supermarkets after he made a financial loss on a shipment of fruit. And it was this story that achieved the greatest media reach of any radio content on the topic.  

Clearly then, the topic has not played out in any one way across any one channel. The prominence of key figures and top broadcast channels in this conversation underscores the importance of understanding how media coverage impacts public discourse and regulatory decisions. Isentia's broadcast capabilities offer unparalleled insight into the role of broadcast media in shaping the narrative surrounding supermarket practices. By harnessing Isentia's monitoring and analysis tools, organisations can gain deep insights into how influential discourse and coverage can impact an industry. 

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Blog
How Australian broadcast media has shaped the cost of living crisis narrative

The story around supermarket prices has been evolving for a number of months, finally reaching an inflection point as the Woolworth’s CEO appeared in a challenging interview with Four Corners and then announced his upcoming retirement only two days later.This chain of events underscores the critical importance of understanding the connections made by broadcast media, […]

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The rising cost of living is not just an issue in Australia but a global concern that affects countless individuals, with people facing the daunting challenge of affording basic necessities while striving to maintain a decent standard of living. It’s a topic that can touch a nerve for many, but it’s also a dynamic conversation that drives the media, public opinion, and individual experiences. 

What’s driving the cost of living concerns?

A range of factors are driving the cost of living in Australia, with some having more of an impact than others. Using data from our sister company, Pulsar, inflation (as the overarching issue) is gaining the most media coverage as the price of goods and services continues to increase over time.

The top drivers of the cost of living
Source: Pulsar TRAC, 1 Jan - 30 Jun 2023

The chart also shows the rise in energy costs, interest rates, and housing prices (rent and mortgage prices) as other main drivers for cost of living concerns. As energy prices continue to increase, households are feeling the pinch as their expenses soar. And when it comes to housing, whether it's the skyrocketing rent or the burden of increasing mortgage payments, many individuals and families are finding it increasingly challenging to secure affordable accommodation.

Let’s take a closer look at these topics.

Energy fuels the discussion

Energy sources and prices are hot topics in the media, impacting households, affordability, and vulnerable populations. But a troubling discrepancy emerged in the May 2023 Budget: businesses got more attention than households in energy relief measures. Surprisingly, only 13% of media coverage focused on the struggles faced by individuals, while a whopping 29% centered around the politics and policies of Australian businesses. This raises valid concerns about whether the media is truly addressing the needs of Australian communities.

The energy narrative and the cost of living

Sectors feeling the heat of media scrutiny

Media outlets play a crucial role in shaping public opinion and influencing the cost of living. When it comes to specific energy sectors, they have become the subject of intense media scrutiny. Data from our Energy Transition report shows that coal and gas are in the hot seat, with a significant portion of media coverage - 43% for coal and 26% for gas - dedicated to discussing these fossil fuels. This media focus highlights the ongoing conversations surrounding the environmental impact of coal and gas, their contribution to climate change, economic considerations, and the urgent need for policy changes to transition to cleaner energy sources.

Feeling the pinch

The cost of living crisis goes beyond numbers; it’s intertwined with the housing market and interest rates. Escalating housing costs, fueled by rising prices and interest rates, can put immense strain on household budgets, leading to financial stress and widening economic inequality.

But the conversation doesn't stop there. The story behind the data is clear: the cost of living is an issue that affects us all, and the media plays a crucial role in shaping and amplifying the conversation. Google searches and social media activity reflect people’s ongoing concern about the weight of living expenses, especially around RBA announcements. Anxiety emerges as a dominant theme, with a staggering 93% of media coverage highlighting the keyword.

cost of living comparisons
Source: Isentia (print, online, broadcast), Pulsar TRENDS (Twitter), Google Trends, May 1 - July 30 2023

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows living costs have reached an all-time high. Over the past 12 months, all living cost indices have risen between 7.1 percent and 9.6 percent for all households, compared to a 7 percent annual increase in inflation.

The difference largely stems from living cost indices taking into account mortgage interest charges. Housing and interest rates have been the largest contributors to the rise in the cost of living, with home owners feeling the pinch from rising mortgage payments and renters feeling the brunt of it. According to the RBA, the average mortgage size in Australia has increased by 38% in the past decade. According to Pulsar data, unsurprisingly, 84% of Australians are left feeling sad about the cost of living. 

Influential figures shaping the conversation

Data from the Pulsar Platform gives a visual snapshot of how several Australian and foreign individuals and groups are influencing the conversation, including politicians, economists, consumer advocacy groups, and business owners.

who is talking about the cost of living
Source: Pulsar TRAC, 1 Jan - 31 May 2023. Influential people and organisations

Unsurprisingly, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) holds significant influence when it comes to shaping the cost of living conversation in Australia’s political landscape. As the governing body in Australian Parliament, their policies and initiatives subjectively bear the everyday Australian in mind, aiming to tackle the affordability challenges that many face. The ALP resonates with citizens worried about rising living costs due to its focus on income inequality, social justice, and fair economic policies. But are they doing enough?

Treasurer Jim Chalmers, along with other influential ALP members including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Chris Bowen, and Mick de Brenni, are leading the conversation in an effort to alleviate living expenses and promote income growth. Despite their desire to achieve these outcomes, the public outcry on Twitter shows the frustration Australians are feeling. The Prime Minister and Treasurer are in the firing line, with the public urging more action on the cost of living crisis.

Jim chalmers and the cost of living
online sentiment about the cost of living

How media intelligence can help you navigate the cost of living

Advocacy efforts can be significantly enhanced through the use of social listening and media monitoring. These tools allow you to effectively navigate the dynamic narratives surrounding the cost of living. By tailoring your advocacy approach, you can foster a more equitable and sustainable solution that brings positive change to communities and influences public opinion.

Additionally, by staying well-informed about the ongoing public discourse and trending discussions related to the cost of living, you can develop compelling communication strategies that effectively inform and engage your stakeholders.

Curious about how media intelligence can enhance your communication strategies to connect with your audience? Request a demo here, and our expert team will reach out to help you develop your communication strategies.

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Blog
The Story Behind the Data: Navigating the Cost of Living

The rising cost of living is not just an issue in Australia but a global concern that affects countless individuals. Within our shores, people are facing the daunting challenge of affording basic necessities while striving to maintain a decent standard of living. It’s a topic that can touch a nerve for many, but it’s also a dynamic conversation that drives the media, public opinion, and individual experiences.

Ready to get started?

Get in touch or request a demo.