Microsoft has high hopes for Australian government's big data

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Microsoft wants the Australian government to close loopholes in proposed data sharing-and-release legislation that it believes could be used to shut down or limit access to data without explanation. The software giant used a submission [pdf] to a Prime Minister & Cabinet-led consultation to outline concerns that data could be too easily withheld or not offered in the first place, despite assertions that "much of the Australian government's data is not personal or sensitive". Microsoft suggested that Australian laws should, in part, mimic the EU's reuse of public sector information directive, which requires agencies to explain why they deny access to data. "We note that the proposed process for sharing data does not appear to require Commonwealth data custodians to provide an explanation either when denying a data access request, or if they decide not to provide open access to data in the first instance," Microsoft said. "[We] suggest that the bill require data custodians to provide such an explanation.


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reveals next stage of Australia's investment into artificial intelligence - Startup Daily

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During his first official visit to Australia, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed how the company will be working with a range of local organisations to push the next stage of Australia's investment into artificial intelligence [AI]. Among the world's first users of Microsoft's new high performance virtual and intelligent machines are the Australian Government, Cricket Australia, and Webjet. Microsoft will deliver cloud services to Australian developers that will underpin the next generation of intelligent apps. This comes as the largest Windows 10 deployment in the Asia-Pacific region, and will help companies around Australia generate deeper customer insights and learnings. Speaking at a technology developer's conference in Sydney on Wednesday, Nadella said the new intelligent technology to be deployed by Microsoft and will allow human-like interactions with complex business systems.


Machine learning will scale personalised customer interactions: Flamingo

ZDNet

Following a successful listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) on November 17 with a market capitalisation of AU$23 million, conversational commerce company Flamingo is now looking at Australia as a key market, with online lending marketplace DirectMoney being announced as its first local client. Born in Australia and based in the US, Flamingo is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that provides an "intelligent guided selling platform" to help financial services firms address the problem of low online sales conversion rates. Currently, the average online quote-to-sales conversion rate in the US insurance industry sits between 1 and 3 percent, compared to 20 to 60 percent conversion in call centres. "The reason for this is that buying products online such as financial services is enormously complicated and customers have a large tendency to abandon doing things online and eventually will go to a call centre or to a broker," Flamingo founder and CEO Dr Catriona Wallace said at a media and investor meeting last Wednesday. "One of our large US clients report that within the first 90 days that a new customer comes on board, 80 percent of those customers will call the call centre four to five times because they don't understand what they've bought.


Australian AI spots dodgy deals that look like money laundering

New Scientist

WHEN it comes to following the money, the authorities have their work cut out. Every year, criminals are thought to launder more than 1.5 trillion worldwide. Which is why Australia's financial intelligence agency is turning to AI for help. In Australia, the scale of the problem could amount to some US 4.5 billion annually. There, the task of cracking down on illegally obtained funds falls to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).


NSW government turns to Microsoft for procurement monitoring

ZDNet

The New South Wales government has announced signing Microsoft to help it commercialise its data science capabilities, initially focusing on the state's AU$30 billion procurement spend. Big data is transitioning from one of the most hyped and anticipated tech trends of recent years into one of the biggest challenges that IT is now trying to wrestle and harness. We examine the technologies and best practices for taking advantage of big data and provide a look at organizations that are putting it to good use. The NSW Data Analytics Centre (DAC), stood up in August 2015, will work with the local arm of Microsoft to offer data-related products both inside and outside of government, and "turbo-charge" the government's digital and data agenda. Under the arrangement, DAC data scientists are using Microsoft Azure and a range of Azure cognitive services to build a machine learning neural network to categorise how the NSW government's AU$30 billion annual procurement budget is allocated each year.