Vodafone calls up Google Cloud for digital transformation platform

Vodafone is using Google Cloud to create products and services based on deeper customer insight to engage customers with better, more personalised support

As part of its digital transformation programme, global telco Vodafone is to begin working with Google Cloud (GC) to build a global big data platform spanning global markets.

Vodafone serves 625 million customers on owned and partner networks in 66 countries, creating what GC regards as an “ocean of data”.

By taking advantage of real-time analytics from that pool, GC believes that Vodafone will have the ability to create powerful new products and services based on deeper customer insight, to engage customers with better, more personalised support and to use its anonymised network data to help tackle important societal issues.

From the outset, GC acknowledges that the Vodafone big data project is complex and multi-faceted. Vodafone’s existing on-premise group data platform is a shared service comprising eight clusters with more than 600 servers and is used in 11 countries. The platform relies on legacy Hadoop architecture that lacks the agility or scalability to support demands for analytics and an increasing list of innovation projects.

In the first phase of the project, Vodafone will embark on a large-scale migration of its global data into GC’s public cloud. It will also create a custom platform for data performance that lets disparate data from across the organisation be aggregated into one “data ocean”, rather than multiple so-called “data lakes”, within which analytics and business intelligence can take place.

Once complete, GC is confident that the speed with which Vodafone will be able to run queries will enable it to gain real-time insights, providing new levels of agility, scalability and cost-effectiveness.

One huge element of the project has seen Vodafone integrating Google Cloud tools into its custom Neuron platform, rather than lifting and shifting existing workloads into the public cloud environment.

Vodafone built Neuron on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and is in the process of rolling it out to 11 countries, taking insights from it to support a range of applications.

For example, Vodafone’s Gigabit networks are increasingly optimised by artificial intelligence (AI) to push capacity to where customers need it most. Real-time analytics also enable Vodafone to push personalised commercial offers to customers – such as a data top-up – when they are most likely to buy.

Simon Harris, Vodafone’s group head of big data delivery, said the goal is for Neuron to become the driver for AI and business intelligence across the global estate.

“Neuron serves as the foundation for Vodafone’s data ocean and the brains of our business as we transform ourselves into a digital tech company,” he said.

“Not only will we be able to gain real-time analytics capabilities across Vodafone products and services, it will also allow us to arrive at insights faster, which can then be used to offer more personalised product offerings to customers and to raise the bar on service.

Many of the leading analytics tools [that the company uses] have been developed by Google, so having its managed service expertise has helped us to optimise our implementation,”  he added.

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