Is Big Data the Next Big Thing in the Telecom Industry?
Big Data has been around for a while now, and telecom operators who are seeking ways to develop new revenue sources are ideally placed to make use of the wealth of data that they have at their disposal.
Streamlined costs, improved customer service levels, better targeted marketing, product management and even staff time management are all benefits that can accrue from leveraging the huge amounts of structured and unstructured data that telecom operators collect from their own OSS systems managing their networks, from their own BSS systems managing interactions with their customers, and from third parties such as social media.
At a very basic level they can use such data to:
- Predict periods of heaviest network usage and take steps to avoid congestion
- Identify the customers who are most likely to leave and take steps to keep them loyal
- Identify the customers who are most likely to stop paying their bills and take steps to avoid them defaulting
- Identify potential fraud by creating baseline “normal” behavior and comparing it against unusual usage patterns
- Identify new features and services to improve customer service
Big Data - the Game Changer in the Telecom Sector
But one of the biggest challenges to making use of all this valuable information is that most of it is generated, captured and stored in different systems that end up as isolated silos.
Even within one company, the legal department may label and store material differently to the marketing department, which may in turn have different processes than the finance department. Data within these silos is rarely consolidated and reconciled on an ongoing basis, and so cannot contribute to the big picture.
More often than not, it is left unattended in a data lake of raw, unmanageable material that can easily deteriorate into a swamp that is of no value to anyone. In fact, Gartner predicts that through 2018, 80% of data lakes will not include effective metadata management capabilities that will make them efficient. And just having data is not enough. You need to extract intelligence from it and then use it in a meaningful way.
Partners in the Telecom Industry
This is where the use of partners comes in. Telecom operators traditionally monitor and analyze their data manually in-house or outsource the task to a third party, but both options can be expensive and may not provide them with actionable information quickly enough.
Broadly speaking, there are three categories of telecoms partners:
- Vendors of systems that analyze raw data on the network comprehensively, but which is not always enough on its own to bring real business value
- Major companies that deliver analytics platforms, such as IBM Watson or SAS (Analytics Solutions), but who work across many sectors, not just in telecommunications
- Companies experienced in the telecommunication industry and analytics, and which know telecoms and also understand how to deliver measurable business value from available data.
The third category, a partner with expertise in both data analytics and experience in the telecoms sector, is the best option.
Partners with broad experience across multiple clients and who can suggest new approaches – for example, the ability to apply a methodology that worked for a telecoms company in the US to a telecoms organization in Europe – can add real value. Organizations can sometimes get stuck in a rut and apply the same solutions (which may be tried and tested, but might not be the best option) to every situation if they don’t bring in new ideas every now and then.
Data can deliver amazing value to the telecom industry, but operators need a platform that uses intelligent big data processing and real-time data analytics to achieve it.