Millions of terabytes of digital information are flowing every day, and it is the communications service providers (CSPs) that have access to a staggering amount of this data, perhaps more than any business or industry in the world.
On average, a typical CSP generates over one billion call data records each day, creating more than half a petabyte of data each month. CSPs should therefore be at the forefront of the big data movement. In actuality, they’re lagging behind, and the super-platform players, who were the frontrunners in big data adoption, are the ones reaping the benefits.
CSPs have a tremendous opportunity to unlock new forms of value for themselves and their customers. But to capitalise on the value from big data and operate as intelligent businesses, telcos must develop analytics strategies based on data-driven decisions. There are three considerations for success.
The customer is the driving force of today’s digital economy. Because loyalty is a fragile commodity, it is critical that CSPs focus on understanding the behaviour of their customers to create unique experiences and personalised offerings, fluidly across all channels. Using big data, CSPs can assess their customers in more granular detail and uncover insights that allow them to offer premium services in real time. For example, offering a particular data plan to sports fans, but a different package to film aficionados.
Customer demographics, purchasing behaviour and clickstreams can be combined with attributes such as location and content preferences to anticipate the customer journey and act accordingly. By leveraging real-time analytics at each stage of this journey and responding at the right time to promote tailored services and offers based on customers’ current position in the lifecycle, CSPs will be able to deliver the best possible customer experience.
Loyalty goes beyond attracting consumers. It is about earning trust and building a bond by delivering a consistently excellent customer experience. To attract and retain customers in the face of today’s rapid technological change, a truly differentiated experience is required. It is essential that CSPs engage consumers with a tailored design-led experience – capturing individual customer personas, the characteristics of the users around whom the customer experience should be designed, and delivering a unique and flawless customer journey.
The key to enabling this change is gathering customer insight through big data, and by demonstrating agility in deploying content and tailoring experiences across multiple channels. Today’s consumers want engagement across channels and devices that is authentic and tailored to their needs, and there is a balance to be struck in terms of how to gather and use personal data to be able to offer that and benefit from additional sales opportunities, which is why trust remains key.
Optimise operations and network data
Analytics and big data is moving to the centre of business strategy in the communications industry, especially at the C-suite level. According to Accenture research, 62% of communications companies believe they need to implement a big data strategy to maintain competitiveness.
However, as the use of mobile devices continues to expand, many CSPs are struggling to cope with the growing pressure on their infrastructure. They are constantly battling to prevent network outages and service quality issues that can arise from increased demand for high-bandwidth services such as video streaming. By analysing how and when consumers are using devices, it can become easier to identify pressure points and areas that might be vulnerable.
Insights from network data can also be used to help drive more effective decisions at the consumer level to help CSPs effectively optimise their network resources. By examining consumption and usage data flowing through the network, CSPs can increase profitability by providing tailored real-time recommendations to customers such as upgrades based on, or bundled by, consumption patterns (social, video and SMS).
Moreover, by analysing traffic data alongside analysing details on the age and health of devices, operators can use predictive analytics to determine which part of the network may be at a heightened risk of failure. They can then make recommendations on what network engineers need to do to prevent outages, spotting and managing problems before they occur. This is essential to remain a competitive and trusted service provider, by ensuring CSPs optimise their workforce, reduce maintenance costs and, most importantly, keep their networks up and running.
Grow new revenue streams
Companies are sitting on huge amounts of under-utilised data, and conditions for monetising this are ripe: massive volumes of data from increasingly diverse sources; decreasing storage costs; the potential for data-driven marketing campaigns and promotions to drive greater returns and better customer experiences; and improving business intelligence and processes, all by applying analytics to gather insight that can inform business decisions and help to build an intelligent business.
CSPs today are also collecting more detailed user data, such as location, call data, browsing history, application usage and customer preferences, which can in turn be used to develop new services and revenue streams, either by partnering with other businesses in their ecosystem to best utilise the data, or innovating in new ways to disrupt their own business models. Big data is rapidly evolving, and so are the best practices to convert vast amounts of information into valuable insights. Big data offers CSPs an opportunity to gain a complete picture of their operations and customers to further innovation efforts.
One example of how this data might be used with other organisations, across industries in an ecosystem, is in the connected car scenario. CSPs can monetise their data by helping organisations leverage telematics data to create targeted communications and offers to drivers, on everything from traffic information to reduced insurance premiums for safe driving.
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What’s more, big data is fuelling the rapid rise of “shared economy” based businesses, such as Airbnb and Uber. Each of these organisations is constantly cross-referencing various sources of data to solve real business challenges, presenting an opportunity to CSPs and their vast reach. Likewise, companies such as Google and Amazon leverage data internally and externally, to provide services that did not exist just a few years ago. This disruption could be an opportunity to CSPs, as opposed to a threat, but it needs to be strategically managed and proactively considered.
CSPs are embarking on their own journeys while navigating complex issues of data privacy, regulation, security, talent gaps and legacy systems. While CSPs look at implementing the big data use cases, it’s important to look at the end-to-end processes, integration points, analytics tools and storage, and, above all, applying advanced analytics to derive intelligence out of data.
Given the communications industry’s immersion in nearly every aspect of digital life, access to big data could become the lifeblood to fuel the industry’s continued health and expansion. The CSPs that take advantage of these data-driven possibilities will be best placed to compete in an increasingly demanding market.
Arnab Chakraborty is managing director, communications industry and Austria, Switzerland and Germany (ASG) lead for Accenture Analytics, part of Accenture Digital.