KEEP CONTACT and IRIS LUXEMBOURG: Technological innovation as a driving force

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Media and public relations agency Keep Contact has reached a new phase in its development by acquiring a new digital tool: Watson Explorer. With this smart technology, Keep Contact opens up new information processing and monitoring horizons. The agency chose document and data management specialist IRIS Luxembourg to support this company project.

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26/10/2017 | Partenariat
  • KeepContact IRIS 2

    Kevin Casoli, Country Director, IRIS Luxembourg ; Ludivine Plessy, Fondatrice et Directrice, Keep Contact; Catherine Plessy, Directrice du développement, Keep Contact; Marc Vandeveken, Delivery Manager, IRIS Luxembourg

Independent media and public relations agency Keep Contact has been operating in Luxembourg for 10 years, deploying a wide range of high value-added services in its various sectors: media relations, public relations, digital communication, design and creation of content, training (Keep Academy), surveys and mystery clients, photography, video, and traditional media (monitoring the press and advertisements). It also operates in France and Belgium. A true innovator, the agency was the first in the Grand Duchy to develop true media relations strategies. It was also a pioneer in the field of monitoring, as a very early investor in high-performance digital monitoring and analysis tools.

"Our press reviews reach an unrivalled level of excellence"
Today, Keep Contact reaffirms this striving for excellence that benefits its clients, as the world's first communication specialist company to adopt Watson Explorer technology, developed by IBM. Watson Explorer is able to look at a huge body of data, select the pre-defined content (key words, themes, etc.) and perform an initial analysis. Watson Explorer integrates these operations to then raise its own level of knowledge, improving the relevance even more. "Media monitoring is asserting itself as a driver of competitiveness. Using Watson Explorer, Keep Contact takes on a new dimension in the field of monitoring and analysis. Thanks to this cognitive tool, our press reviews have achieved unrivalled levels of richness, relevance, and added value in terms of their content," points out Ludivine Plessy, founder and CEO of Keep Contact.

"The quality of the information: the key to success"
For 30 years, IRIS has made information processing a major area of development and innovation in order to provide people and/or companies with a technology that remains easy to use despite ever-growing volumes of data.

"Everything started in the late 80s in Belgium, with the development of optical character recognition (OCR) technologies. The success of these developments quickly propelled the company into the ranks of the world leaders in the field. After that, it was natural for the teams to keep developing their expertise in the areas of document management and information management. This is the context in which the CANON Group acquired IRIS in order to bolster its development strategy with a Business Information Services (BIS) division."

"Today, its combination of various fields of expertise allows IRIS to support its customers through their digital transformation via a spectrum of fields ranging from regulatory compliance (such as GDPR), structuring fields, to other, more "business"-oriented areas, such as the search for differentiators or even disruptors in the field of artificial intelligence (IA). " explains Kevin Casoli, Country Director of IRIS Luxembourg

"The IRIS roadmap is based on pursuing this learning process and adopting the trends and techniques of the cognitive data processing market to continue to develop, on the one hand; and on the other hand to help our customers find new ideas or even business models that will lead them to future success. We want to be a major player in this field," says Marc Vandeveken, Delivery Manager at IRIS Luxembourg.

"Added value for the benefit of customers"
To implement this tool, the agency hired a professional specialising in document and data management: IRIS Luxembourg, a part of the CANON Group. "These professionals not only provide expertise; they also understand our businesses. That was an essential consideration for us," adds Catherine Plessy. IRIS Luxembourg and Keep Contact worked together closely for six months to configure Watson Explorer for the agency's specific media watch requirements. One of the priorities was to implement the ScanNews platform, which has been operational since last June. Using key words, this business application is able to process huge databases (such as the daily newspapers) for the purpose of extracting the most relevant information as pre-selected by Watson. This results in considerable time savings for the agency. It means that their teams can devote more of their time to processing this information so that it generates added value for the client's benefit.

"When a Customer-Supplier relationship becomes a real partnership"
Thanks to an ambitious vision and new technologies, this innovative project has formed the basis of a relationship that is destined to last. This business opportunity has become a common strategic issue. Both companies wanted to use this "success story using Watson Explorer technology" to go beyond a simple technological project. They had to develop a whole platform that was able to digitise and automate as many tasks as possible in media watch processes, from browsing the web to a client deliverable that would be relevant and compliant which a specification that would have to be continually evolving.

"With its experience and its advanced knowledge of its field, Keep Contact became a real partner as this project progressed, both in terms of defining business needs and their constraints, and describing best practice that had to be "digitised and automated". Because each party in turn was striving to improve the deliverable, we both had to play our part, in technological terms for some and in functional terms for others. Some developments were the product of joint decisions, and others were imposed by one side or the other, according to their field of expertise," explains Marc Vandeveken.

"We could not have completed the project unless we all had the same ambition to succeed. In other words, it started out as a traditional software supply and installation project, and we ended up delivering a Software-as-a-Service platform, ScanNews, incorporating third-party software packages purchased by Keep Contact, such as IBM Watson Explorer. During this type of "disruptor" project, it is important to be able to depend on a trusting relationship, because beyond the roadmap drawn at the beginning, you need the ability and, above all, the courage and strength to change direction—even a complete U-turn if necessary—to reach a goal that is sometimes, as in this case, beyond anything we had all imagined." explains Kevin Casoli, Country Director of IRIS Luxembourg.

"Innovation is in our DNA"
The integration of Watson Explorer gives Keep Contact an undeniable competitive advantage. And this technological jump on the competition will be maintained, because Watson Explorer is an open-ended tool that opens up a multitude of prospects. "Innovation is an integral part of our DNA. It's our trademark. For now, we have purchased the Watson Explorer licence, which lets us use the primary functionality, but we are still a long way from taking advantage of its full potential," admits Catherine Plessy.

"Already looking to the future"
A few growth areas have already been identified and activated, in the field of media watch and monitoring. Thanks to artificial intelligence, Watson Explorer will soon be able to produce automatic summaries and cut out text and photographs, for example, without human intervention. In terms of advertising watch, it already knows how to recognise images, but developments currently in progress will double its expertise in this area. On another note, it integrates relevant solutions related to high-potential technologies such as Speech-to-Text.

"This offers many different prospects. Along with IRIS Luxembourg, we are tracking these developments very closely, and we are conducting a discussion about creating a global project, a real project for the company's future, allowing us to seize future opportunities and further optimise the quality of our services and enrich our range of services. Watson Explorer is already configured to accept these innovations, which will bolster our digital strategy. And the whole team is ready to fully embrace them for the benefit of our clients," concludes Ludivine Plessy.

"The technology is a means, and customer satisfaction in facing one of their business challenges, is the end."

"Technology alone is rarely enough to generate economic value; to be a real wealth creator, a company must know how to combine technological advances with new ways of approaching its business and/or its ecosystem. With support from our dedicated innovation unit, we have identified some important technology-based trends, as well as new ways of processing data that should have an impact on the business and economic world in the years to come. These trends affect three major business areas: information management, smart processing of this information, and correlation." Kevin Casoli adds, "It's an experimental and disruptive approach that is necessary to create innovation. We work with Keep Contact and IBM in a spirit of partnership so that the integration of certain products in the Watson family can very closely match the expectations and needs of the company, whilst bearing in mind the importance of anticipating future developments.

IBM Watson Explorer, which confirms the wide capabilities of IBM's cognitive products, invites us to think differently. We are entering the cognitive era, and it is important to understand the issues of survival for companies. They have five or ten years at most (for certain sectors) to change their approach. Those that decide to do nothing today will very soon be left behind when the train leaves the station. Companies like Keep Contact have already stepped on board."



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