Telecoms operators have been hyping big data for at least five years, but its taking them a long time to realise the benefits of data analytics. There are, essentially, three things that an operator can do with information gleaned from customer usage trends.
The first is feeding information about which services customers are using and when, and any network problems they are having, into the network planning process.
The second is using customers’ data as part of a customer experience management (CEM) program.
And the third is monetising the data by either selling it to third parties or including it in existing propositions - think Internet of Things.
Each of these usage cases is compelling. Network capex is mobile operators’ biggest single item of expenditure.
Customer experience has emerged as, arguably, the biggest strategic priority for the operator community. And building new revenue streams is core to the strategy of any digital operator.
While operators are already using analytics - to a greater or lesser degree - in network planning and management and CEM functions, the repackaging of customer and network analytics into products that can be sold into different vertical sectors remains an underexploited opportunity.
Many operators have launched products (Telefonica - Smart Steps, Sprint - Pinsight Media+, Vodafone - mAnalytics, etc.), but there is little evidence that these services are generating meaningful revenues.
Knowing how to position and price services can be difficult for an operator because in many cases there is no existing service that sets a price benchmark.
Media is also a key vertical - a number of operators are looking to package their data to sell to the advertising industry.
A big technology challenge for operators is the fact that their data sits in different silos.
The challenge for service providers in becoming leading adopters of big data solutions is taking a holistic approach, joining up the dots in different parts of their business and adopting a single strategy and business plan.