Another year draws to a close and 2018 fast approaches, but it's business as usual at Isentia offices across the globe. Mediaportal is now available in Korea and Taiwan, and Asia Pacific continues to be a highlight for Isentia’s Media and Intelligence business.

We spoke with David Liu, Chief Executive, Asia, and Sean Smith, Chief Executive Media & Intelligence, to get their insights on how Isentia will continue their expansion into Asia.

Isentia’s growth in Asia Pacific has been positive for the business for some time. With the recent launch of Mediaportal in Korea and the addition of Taiwan to the portfolio, can you share your thoughts on the journey in Asia so far?

David: From my point of view, if any company wants to launch in a new country, the key is a flagship brand, or product. What we would like to see is Isentia moving from more than just a company name but to a strong and recognisable brand. The exciting aspect about our future in Asia now is that we have a product that can really help us to build our presence in the market. The launch of Mediaportal in Korea and Taiwan really marks the beginning of a new chapter in the launch of Isentia in Asia.

Mediaportal is a very powerful tool that provides a lot of clarity to our clients on what our capabilities are. Anybody can say ‘we monitor media’ but with Mediaportal, what we can do means so much more and it’s going to make it easier for us to continue to build the brand in the region.

Especially with the capabilities Mediaportal brings:
• Metadata applied to local sources
• Multilingual content when it’s available
• A user interface in English, Korean and Traditional or simplified Chinese

Having this portal in very unique countries like Korea and Taiwan, where the media landscapes are not in line with any other international market, gives us the insight and confidence to expand our services further and faster. As a business we haven’t actually changed anything that we can do at the core, but it’s much easier for the team to tell the story of what we can help clients achieve.

How have clients received Isentia’s new product offering in Korea and Taiwan?

David: The reception in Korea has been incredibly positive. The fact is, the decision making processes in companies in these markets are typically longer than most countries, so there’s still a lot of opportunity there for us to sign on more clients than we already have. I’m confident it’s going to be a real breakthrough for us.

Taiwan is just as promising! We’ve recently launched and already signed our first round of clients. They’re coming over from competitors after seeing a demo of a prototype. So you can see that there was already a buzz building there. Of course, the client services team are really excited about Mediaportal, too.

Sean: The other key point to add to this is that this is the first time we’re taking a single platform approach to Asia. We’re simplifying what we do by retiring a series of smaller platforms and outputs & providing a superior, whole-of-company approach. In doing this we will give our clients the best media intelligence service and make it more seamless to our clients to go get regional or global servicing.

The important thing to emphasise again is that we’re delivering a Mediaportal experience which has been adapted to the client needs of each market. Mediaportal will have a multilingual UI and be able to receive content and data from any Asian language.

Sean, I know you’re heading over to Hong Kong and China really soon, can you tell us a bit more about what that trip will entail?

Sean: My time in Hong Kong and China will focus on getting both these markets ready for Mediaportal. There’s a big change management process that David and I need to work through in order to enable our teams and ensure a successful release of Mediaportal.

Launching in Korea and Taiwan was exciting because both were new markets, and there was no legacy to contend with. This isn’t the case when we go live in Hong Kong and China. We’ll introduce a new platform, and a key challenge will be enabling our people and clients so that Mediaportal is easy for them and improves the service. We already deliver the market leading media intelligence service in Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. We now want this to be the reality in Hong Kong and China.

So we are coming together to build the internal culture and knowledge. What David brings is the skills, expertise and leadership in doing business in Asia, while I bring my experience in Media and Intelligence – we meet in the middle and will work towards a shared goal of releasing Mediaportal in Hong Kong and China and all other markets. Isn’t that the plan David?

David: [laughter] We’re really happy with the way we have structured this because what we have is someone who really understands Mediaportal through his experience and leadership in Media and Intelligence. The support in implementation, positioning and communicating the value of Mediaportal is fantastic and will really help our teams to expand their knowledge.

As we see digital connectivity continue to grow across the region, it’s easy to see the potential in this diverse and unique region. What’s your take on the media landscape and the growth in Asia Pac.?

David: Well as you you’ve already pointed out, the landscape has been rapidly changing and becoming more digitized. I think the difference in Asia is that the capturing of data is actually easier than before because there is less print (print media requires more complexity to capture and costly) and maybe less in broadcast. A notable change in the media landscape is that there is more online news and social –with the digital growth, everything is moving on to the cloud. If you’re not using a platform with the power of the cloud, how will you contain all the data?

Another key point, as well as fast paced growth, is the demographics across the Asian population. For the most part, it is a younger subset. For example the median age of the Vietnamese population was 30.4 years in 2015. This has a big impact on the adoption curve to digital and how media is consumed now and into the future.

What does it take to succeed? And what can we do to bring all that together?

Sean: We know Mediaportal is a great product and that our clients in other markets use it successfully every day to help manage the media and stay informed. Getting the change process right will be critical. We need to make sure our people become experts at using Mediaportal and understand how to show case to our clients so that they can see the benefits it will bring to them as professional communicators.

Secondly the media market is very different in Asia, not just as a region, even as we look country to country. As David has pointed out it is more digitally driven – so online news and social media will be key. Isentia has always had depth of content and data and in Asia this will be no different. In addressing this, we have got to be smarter – the volumes of data in Asia are infinitely bigger. Managing volume and noise for our clients is that we do, by getting the relevant sources to our clients at the right time.

Can you outline what each of you view to be the key competitive advantages that Isentia have over other key players in market?

Sean: We have the greatest reach and can provide our clients with the relevant content and data that they need to stay informed. We do this through a single platform (Mediaprotal) and clients can access this through the web, mobile apps or any device. Importantly Isentia monitors any media type - whether it is print, broadcast, radio or online news - we cover it all. Our clients will have the confidence that they are fully informed. This is unique, as what I see of most other players in the market is they only cover one or two media types.

Another key difference is what Isentia does with all that content and data, through our relevance engines. We make sure that we get the right information to our clients at the right time. We shield them from the noise!

Lastly, it is the strength of our people, we are local and operate in every country. Our teams will understand the media landscape and clients in each country individually.

How do you both collaborate and come together to bring some of Isentia’s strategic objectives to life?

Sean: We talk all the time! We have regular meetings and when needed I spend time in Asia. We stay connected and touch base on all the important points and have very open and robust conversations about what we need to do.

Again, we both bring different strengths to this partnership. David has the Asian knowledge, like people and sales, whereas I bring a range of experience across media intelligence, and that’s how we build a better business.

David: I think we have only one goal and is to make sure that we deliver the best client experience – that is how we really grow Isentia. We understand the client needs locally and I think Sean and his team contribute different industry knowledge and product insights so that our teams can deliver.

“Powered by Technology. Inspired by people” – What does this mean to you?

David: We’re in the business to help clients solve problems. We need our people to understand the client problem and the approaches we can take to help them solve it. But when it comes to implementation, we need technology to help with the complex media landscape world. I doubt any company successfully performs without technology and people going hand in hand.

Sean: I think it’s getting the best out of both. Our service is powered by technology, especially when you talk about the scale and volumes we now encounter. Our people help guide our clients through that busy 24/7 media landscape, and add value to what technology cannot already do.