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How our publisher harnessed machine learning to overhaul TechDay websites
Wed, 25th Mar 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Everyone is talking about Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) these days. Fitness devices are measuring our steps and analysing our daily health; map applications telling us the best way to get from A to B based on the trips of countless others before us; even the alarm app on our phone taking note of how long we sleep.

Here at TechDay, we see examples every day of how AI and ML are shifting the landscape of modern technology into new and exciting territory. We have even seen the potential to harness it in our own operations.

This is the story of how our publisher's passion for ML brought him to the CoderSchool in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and how we are incorporating AI and ML into TechDay's business.

The publisher in question, Sean Mitchell, began his mission to bring cutting edge digital transformation technology to our business model two years ago.

Sean has always been passionate about systems and how automation is not just a nice to have but becoming a competitive must-have. So in 2018, he enrolled in a coding boot camp – a full stack web development course.

He had never written code before this course, but by September 2018 he had finished and began overhauling TechDay's websites and systems. We run 26 websites with complex systems for our editors, advertising and operations teams.

After redeveloping the look and feel of the TechDay websites, he focused on our backend systems. This started pointing him in the direction of artificial intelligence and what a dramatic impact it can have on businesses.

"The goal was for our team to achieve more each day and be freed from the most mundane tasks. We knew we could achieve this with more automation and infusing machine learning into our systems," says Sean.

He couldn't find any suitable boot camps in New Zealand, and he didn't have time for a two-year computer science degree with “little practical benefit”.

Then he discovered a 12 week-long course on machine learning coding in Ho Chi Minh City taught by CoderSchool which boasted the strong practical element he was looking for.

He signed up, flew over, settled in, and loved every gruelling hour.

“Accommodation, food and transport were significantly cheaper than in New Zealand.

“The whole course was taught in English, and Ho Chi Minh City was very friendly and welcoming to foreigners.

But the best part?

“The course was 25% of the cost of a similar one in the US,” says Sean.

Sean goes on to say the instructors were extremely helpful and had plenty of capacity to practice one-on-one tutoring, as there were four teachers and only 21 students in his course.

The course also included the basics of learning the python language for those who hadn't coded in it before, as well as a crash course in data analysis.

“I can recommend the course to anyone who wants to practically implement AI and ML. This is a technical course with superb teachers and great course work,” says Sean.

Sean is now back at TechDay headquarters in New Zealand and has already put his studies into practical use.

“Already, just a month after finishing the course, we are in the final steps of implementing machine learning into TechDay's first AI workflow,” says Sean.

Sean created a machine learning tool to read a draft of an editor's story, and suggest keywords to use as tags for the story.

“With over 6,000 stories written per annum this could add up to be a real human time saver.

Sean says the practical experience learnt at CoderSchool is proving more valuable every day.

“If you're on the fence, then learning to code will change your life. It certainly did mine and our business will never be the same again.

If you want to learn more or apply to CoderSchool, visit their website.

UPDATE: Coderschool is continuing to teach temporarily in an online format during this time of crisis. More information is available on their website above.