The University of Sydney: Exploring AI and implementing Chatbots to achieve operational efficiencies

Ignia are thought leaders in helping Australian organisations digitally transform their way of business to achieve a competitive advantage. They assess, architect and implement leading-edge Digital Solutions. This case study on the University of Sydney demonstrates their proven expertise in leveraging artificial intelligence to develop user-led solutions to help drive operational efficiencies in ways previously unattainable.

The University of Sydney is Australia’s first university and is regarded as one of the world’s leading universities, ranked 50th in the world by QS World University Rankings. Competing on a global scale, the University has earned the ranking as having the world’s 4th most employable graduates and 1st in Australia. To continue competing on a global scale, the University was keen to explore ways to leverage artificial intelligence and validate the technologies available to drive operational efficiency. The volume of financial queries and subsequent stress on its financial department was a key problem the University wanted to solve. The University searched for a technology partner who could validate what was possible.

“We were looking for expertise we could form a business partnership with to help us with some thoughtful experimentations into AI and initially into conversational agents (chat bots), and we found that in Ignia/Insight. They were always willing to discuss the best way forward, work things out together and were also happy to work beside us to help transfer the relevant capability into our tech teams.”

Christine Tsintarakis Associate Director, Engagement & Business Operations, The University of Sydney


As thought leaders, Ignia was able to demonstrate a Proof of Concept to the University, leveraging the Microsoft Bot Framework to develop a conversational agent that could handle a range of financial queries. The chatbot was developed to remove the administrative burden on the finance department and covered purchase orders, invoices and supplier-related queries.

Ignia’s solution integrated with the University’s back-end financial system to query data. The solution also leveraged the multiple Microsoft Cognitive Services to established a framework that combined the best parts of both the QnA Maker and Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS) services, in a way that enabled them to work together.

Ignia’s team of experts focused on the user experience, personality, tone and user interface of the conversational agent, ensuring it was a user-led, rather than a technology-led solution.

Ignia followed the Agile methodology approach which was key to delivering a successful and faster implementation. Their approach to the engagement ensured the University’s prioritised use cases were addressed to help deliver the highest value items, pivoting as necessary.

Ignia’s ability to show early promise on the Conversational Agent, justified the University’s transition from a Proof-of-Concept to a production-polished pilot. Today, Ignia is engaged on enhancing features of the Conversational Agent and exploring other use cases. As a trusted technology partner, Ignia continues to provide the University with thought leadership support with engagements on the horizon to further deliver artificial intelligence solutions to help the institution stay globally competitive.

Why Ignia, an Insight Company
Ignia was selected as the University’s technology partner due to their unique balance of Higher Education domain experience and expertise in delivering Artificial Intelligence solutions, including Chatbots. Their blended team approach of having their developers, user experience consultants and quality assurance specialist work collaboratively with the University’s testers and developers were essential to a successful implementation of their agile approach to deliver user-led business outcomes.