At one of the many ‘server shut down ceremonies’ to take place at media monitoring firm Isentia over the last year, someone from the IT team pasted a picture of the retiring server onto a piñata.
“Then the infrastructure and ops guys got to smash it!” remembers chief information officer Andrea Walsh. “We’ve had lots of different parties and ceremonies as they’ve turned off.”
When Walsh joined Isentia in 2015, the Sydney-headquartered company which operates across the Asia Pacific region had been struggling with its on-premise set-up.
The media’s attention is often unpredictable, meaning when focus fell on one of Isentia’s long list of clients, there were huge spikes in compute demand for its monitoring services.
“Really early on we knew we had an environment that was constantly having issues and disruption to service,” Walsh told CIO Australia at the Amazon Web Services Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas last month.
“We had a large physical footprint and a challenge with that is how do you cope with spikes in volume of data? It’s that tipping point where you need enough capacity to cope with a level of a spike, but then it sits there idle in between.”
Two years ago, Walsh, with the backing of the executive, established a cloud-first strategy. Starting with its broadcast storage, then its client Mediaportal and social listening offering, the company is now – almost – all-in with cloud, with AWS.
With only a few pinatas left to pop, Walsh and her team, freed from the fire-fighting and management, are looking at how far they can push automation and how machine learning might improve their customer offerings.
“We can now focus more on creating new services and being a center of innovation for Isentia,” Walsh said.
Isentia operates in 11 countries across the APAC region supporting more than 5,000 clients worldwide, including 84 of the world’s top 100 brands. Among them, the likes of IBM, Lenovo, L’Oreal, Macquarie, Microsoft, NAB Bank, ANZ Bank, HSBC, Nike, Nikon, P&G, Samsung, SAP, Seek, Starbucks, Visa, Walt Disney, AMP, Bupa, Canon, Destination NSW, and Domain.
The communications teams within each of those companies needs to know when and where their company is being mentioned and it what way. They might also want to keep track of how their industry or competitors are being discussed. The same is true of the public sector – the Australian Government is a major customer.
“What we do is set up a series of search criteria all across TV, radio, online, social media, print press and basically find anything relevant for them,” Walsh explains.
“It could be how your CEO is being represented, or how the AGM was perceived, in the public sector how is the public responding? How's the media responding to this suggestion or recommendation? And it's not always what I would assume to be obvious things – it’s often something that's emerging that is completely separate from anything,” she adds.
Isentia’s clients access coverage through the company’s Mediaportal, and can access a repository of media files about them.
The volume of data monitored daily by Isentia is in Walsh’s words “insane” averaging about nine million items a day.
Isentia captures for its clients every day:
- 13,000 broadcast summaries
- 30,000 print items
- 300,000 Facebook comments/posts
- 1,200,000 online news items
- 3,200,000 forum posts
- 4,500,000 tweets daily
Isentia FY17 results presentation, August.
“We try to find relevance in all the noise and there is a lot of it!” Walsh says.
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