Telstra gets ahead with ‘AMSI Intern’

Written by Laura Watson
AMSI Media and Communications Officer

Telstra is ahead of the optimisation pack thanks to the AMSI Intern program. Steve Morris, General Manager of Technology and Analysis — Big Data at Telstra, encourages others to jump on board with AMSI Intern and discover the benefits of innovating with Australia’s brightest minds.

Telstra gets ahead with AMSI Intern

More than simply the buzz phrase of the moment, Big Data represents one of the most exciting optimisation opportunities within Australian and global industry. With every click consumers create a complex digital footprint of their online preferences and behaviours. Information businesses are using Big Data to transform customer communication and service delivery.

Steve Morris, General Manager of Technology and Analysis – Big Data, and his team are at the frontline of Telstra’s Big Data response. Using new approaches and technology, they are helping to manage and harness the growing volumes of insights and information being produced across the organisation.

To maintain Telstra’s competitive edge, Steve turned to leading Australian postgraduate internship program AMSI Intern, hosting two interns to assist on network and customer advocacy projects. With a tailored approach and access to Australia’s brightest minds, the program was a perfect fit to help optimise Big Data application and innovation at Telstra for the future.

“As the technology pace quickens, industry needs to be innovating for the future and thinking about the challenges of the next horizon,” Steve said. “Working with researchers connected to enterprise realities is essential to stimulate this process with management and internal staff.”

University of Melbourne PhD student Bahar Salehi was one of two interns who completed placements with Steve and his team in 2015. Her natural language processing expertise and fascination for artificial intelligence – the provision of human language understanding to computers – made her a perfect fit to enhance customer engagement.

“One of the goals of the project was to use intelligence systems to optimise Telstra’s customer engagement. The project strongly aligned with the work I was doing as part of my studies, the big difference being I was working on real-world data,” explains Bahar.

It has been a win-win situation with Steve and the team relishing both the opportunity to foster new skills in Bahar and learn from her technical experience, vision and research approaches.

“As well as the satisfaction of exposing students like Bahar to industry and how enterprises work with and adopt new technologies, our team has benefited from the opportunity to pick up new ideas and techniques,” says Steve.

AMSI Intern is a welcome opportunity for Telstra, which has a long history of research investment, to strengthen ties with universities, emerging technologies and the community. Citing the program’s flexibility and ability to match students to short-term leading-edge opportunities, Steve is quick to encourage others across the organisation to jump on board.

“I’m an advocate for AMSI Intern,” says Steve. “We have been able to successfully match interns based upon our short-term special project needs and their interest areas.”

Bahar too is waving the AMSI Intern flag. “AMSI Intern has given me a better understanding of industry and the capacity of Big Data related jobs,” says Bahar. “To see how my research can impact outcomes at one of Australia’s biggest companies has been invaluable.”

With Telstra’s AMSI Intern journey only just beginning, it seems likely more students will be wetting their toes in one of industry’s biggest pools.

“After the success of the 2015 internships we have another three interns commencing in early 2016 to work with high performing staff in my team and elsewhere in Telstra,” Steve says.