Mohammed Sha, head of market strategy at customer management solutions vendor Convergys, discusses the Big Data challenge.
Eurocomms.com: In your opinion, what is the “Big Data” challenge for the telecoms industry?
Mohammed Sha: It seems that the industry as a whole has still not fully woken up to the storm of Big Data; the recent European Communications survey that found that only 54 percent of operators said Big Data was a current strategic priority in their organisation.
Adding to the already massive amounts of databases that telecom operators have to manage, the market drivers of Big Data – from telematics and machine to machine, to cloud computing and social media – are multiplying and diversifying the information that telecoms companies need to handle and leverage at a phenomenal rate.
Traditional database management systems, such as business intelligence and analytics solutions, as well as existing corporate cultures, cannot address these challenges.
And of course the ghost of data privacy is a key part of the Big Data challenge for the telecoms industry.
Creating new revenue streams or improving customer experience; what is the biggest opportunity that Big Data presents?
As increasing numbers of consumers adapt to a “smarter” life, the data they and their machines generate poses a challenge as well as a great opportunity for operators.
In my view, the most important opportunities include: mitigate risk or reduce churn, boost revenue, shrink costs, enable innovation and, most importantly, deliver the timely and appropriate customer experience that has been a Holy Grail in the industry.
Technology is evolving rapidly in this field; what are the most important developments that people should be aware of?
While the size, shape and speed of data changes, the biggest impact will be the new pressure on to change the way they view and use data.
Data will be seen as an asset, not a menace, and will become key to providing those golden nuggets that will contribute to all the benefits and opportunities I mentioned earlier.
Technological innovations around database management, analysis and real time actioning capabilities will all contribute to enabling this change.
Practically, what do operators need to do now to prepare for a Big Data future?
Businesses need data as it happens when it happens, converted into intelligence that can automatically trigger actions.
Examples range from reacting to a customer or product issue on Twitter and managing the interaction, to situations such as monitoring TV subscribers’ increased demand for a specific type of content on a given day and synchronising it with advertising to satisfy partners or cross–sell or up–sell relevant products and services.
To get to such a stage, organisations need to assess the entire business to identify which area needs higher prioritisation – be it new talent, new technology, budget reallocation or new partnerships.
The Big Data strategy development exercise needs to happen today as any delay will give competition a significant advantage.
Are there any other industries that telecoms can learn from?
While some say that the retail industry has been at the forefront when it comes to showcasing smartness around leveraging data, I think that the telecoms industry – even with the limited success it has had so far – has been by far the most advanced in this area.
I’m confident that it will emerge as a leading industry once again.