Telcos and the Big Data-Driven Opportunity
- Blog by Chris Lewis at Lewis Insights
The big data opportunity for telcos is not a new phenomenon. Vast amounts of data have been generated both internally and externally over generations of fixed and mobile services for consumer, business and partners alike. Over The Top (OTT) players have come into the market and built business models on the amalgamated analysis of data being generated at the customer end from their search, social media and apps store-based activities.
Telcos have missed an opportunity as they had some of the pieces of data in place to address some of these issues, but perhaps the telcos and the market weren’t ready for it. The emphasis for telcos was on internal measures and network-centric KPIs. The focus now has to switch to look at all data generation points touching the telco. They need to build a unified view of all activity to improve both the performance of the network as it comes under more and more pressure. But, most importantly, it needs to underpin the new business models emerging which include OTT-based services as well as telco-centric ones. This is an inversing of the telco approach, putting the customer and partners first and using that insight to help shape the network in order to ensure all information flows satisfy all parties. That is not to say that the network is not critical. It is, but the emphasis should be on what the network is enabling rather than on the technology of the network itself.
Telcos must step back; gather network-centric, service-centric and customer-centric data into a suitable architecture. This will allow for the interrogation, validation, and extraction of value from the data for all stakeholders. ICT assets exist outside of the telcos themselves to allow this to happen, leveraging both the compute and storage capabilities of the cloud, as well as the algorithms and the data scientists who can work their magic with structured and unstructured data.
Data sources will include the core and edge of the network, the disparate customer, applications and content being consumed as well as the proliferation of social media and comment flowing around the use of broadband, applications and content in both personal and business lives.
The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) adds another layer of complexity to the data puzzle, but it also allows the telcos to bring their sovereign national assets to bear in building the support mechanisms essential to help drive digital business transformation.
The need has also shifted from a retrospective requirement looking at old data records to a real-time need for insight into customers’ behaviour and the opportunity to adapt service offerings to suit every occasion. In this way, the leveraging of data becomes an essential component of the telco’s contribution to the ecosystem. Sharing some of the data with partners will doubtless become part of emerging offerings. As connectivity approaches ubiquity, it is the insight and knowledge of what is being done by people, households, businesses and ‘Things’ that becomes the fuel feeding the economic engine. As noted above, telcos missed the initial opportunity around data analytics. Let’s encourage all parties to work together to make sure that they don’t miss this next even more exciting wave.