Sunday, May 17, 2015

Blueprint: Big Data Opportunities for Communication Service Providers

by Vishwanath Ramachandran, Principal Consultant, Communications Vertical Group – Tech Mahindra

Big Data Analytics was meant to be the panacea to attain the next big leap for growth, innovation, new streams of revenue and productivity. Many businesses are storing data that could form the basis for strategic decisions and planning. However, organizations are astonished to see the enormity of the large amount of both structured and unstructured data from across the entire organization. This data can be arranged in so many different ways, combined, compared and examined to find patterns and organized into meaningful information.


Capitalizing on the opportunities presented by Big Data entails the co-ordination of a number of cultural, organizational and technological facets. Synchronizing, harmonizing and harnessing these elements in support of business objectives require that IT departments are closely aligned with long-term business plans. Business operations for CSPs can benefit manifold with application of Data Analytics in their complex environment. From a customer experience and business operations perspective, proactive monitoring of hundreds of systems in real-time can prevent potential IT failures through timely alerts and minimal human effort or intervention. Real-time visibility into systems health helps CSPs deliver higher quality of service.  

Opportunities in Big Data for Communication Service Providers

CSPs with increasing consumer focus will require next-generation analytics to combine data from both the legacy and Big Data environments. They need to transform this data into deep insights based on subscriber’s frequency of consumption of data and usage and spend patterns for applications. This presents the opportunity to improve marketing programs and campaigns for cross-selling and up-selling products and services, as well as to increase customer stickiness.

CSPs might also utilise their Big Data capabilities for forecasting customer lifetime value. This foresight can help them to develop personalized product and service offering bundles. With data anonymisation, CSPs would be well positioned to monetize customer intelligence as retail and research organizations will be more than happy to pay for accurate and relevant information.  It is interesting to note that one of the CSPs in Africa have put to use big data to determine the behavioural pattern of the various citizens in different part of Africa and then anonymise this data for marketers to potentially use this for their services.

Big Data is a strategic activity and requires CXO direction and alignment. While many executives go with anecdotal evidences, the discipline to accept objective data and take appropriate action is vital. Falling back on conventional knowledge, insights and past experiences may delay responses and the real benefit is lost. Agility is really the key here. It is imperative to understand the importance of the special skills required. Big Data is not a single technology. Hence the skills required to handle it cannot be acquired in silos and traditional learning and development methods for skill upgrade do not do justice to the cause. Big Data initiatives can be implemented by teams having a right mix of experts such as data scientists, reporting and analytics experts, developers, system and infrastructure analysts, domain and technology experts, solution architects and data integrators.

The growing importance of Big Data applications across the value chain in Communication business cannot be ignored today. However, it is widely observed that CSPs are still in the early stages of adoption. Areas beyond IT, such as, customer care, sales, marketing and network operations are gaining much traction. CSPs need to do away with the siloed approach in their value chain and also change their attitude towards Big Data to make most of the benefits this technology promises, especially with the automation of Big Data applications to bring in efficiency and agility. They also need to have complete confidence in their data sources and related systems to ensure that Big Data is leveraged to its maximum potential. There is also a need to create a balance between being sensitive to customer problems and privacy as a regulatory requirement, while at the same time ensuring that business operations and upcoming opportunities are not missed.

About the Author

(Vish) Vishwanath Ramachandran is Principal Consultant, Communications Vertical, Tech Mahindra Vish has over 22 years of experience in IT services in the areas of Practice management, Program / Delivery management, Business consulting, Process redesign, Change management, Quality management and Software engineering.



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