Many communication service providers (CSPs), from telecom operators to satellite and cable providers, long operated in a world where they were the specialists in providing their services. But where we used to call and text, we now often choose to Skype or Facebook Message.
In the past, we may have had to pay up to £40pcm to receive a host of movie channels – offering many films we’d never watch – while today we can pay £9pcm for Netflix, or get Amazon Video as part of our Prime package.
Customers these days are just a lot more demanding and CSPs are under pressure. They can’t continue to depend on their traditional telecoms services anymore for income, but neither can they keep increasing the price of those services, because people just won’t pay for them. CSPs currently find themselves trying to do two impossible things at once - race to the bottom on price and climb to the top on speed and content - and it’s unsustainable.
Over-the-top (OTT) competitors such as Google, Facebook and YouTube are pushing telcos into thinking about how their business model works and how they can evolve. One way of doing this is to make use of the vast array of customer, network and external data (such as social media) that they have at their disposal.
Some of the ways to benefit from this Big Data are:
1) Better Urban Planning through managing traffic
2) Data Monetisation through Digital Advertising
3) Adding value to the Internet of Things (IoT)
4) Internal Customer-Centric Use Cases
1. Better Urban Planning through Managing Traffic
Creating new revenue sources is an obvious route to go down. CSPs can sell aggregated and anonymised data to Local Authorities to track the movement of traffic and populations through a city for planning purposes. By looking at anonymised mobility patterns of large data sets, local authorities can spot changes in behaviour patterns which can then be used to decide on new public transport routes and the best locations for public services such as hospitals, roads or schools. It can also be used to reduce congestion and prevent accidents by redirecting transport to less busy routes at peak times.
2. Data Monetisation through Digital Advertising
Sellers of digital advertising space depend on real time data to inform real-time bidding (RTB) and build more sophisticated and lucrative advertising tariffs. As an online advert loads into a user’s browser, information about the page is sent to an advert exchange which auctions it off to whichever advertiser is willing to pay the most, depending on the demographic of the page viewer and the content of the page. The winning bidder’s advert is then loaded almost instantaneously. Advertisers can more precisely target their adverts, and advert exchanges can correspondingly charge more for them, when they have the data to support their tariffs. Digital billboards can be changed in minutes to match the time of day, the day of the week, the weather conditions or even sporting or entertainment events taking place.
3. Adding Value to the Internet of Things
CSPs are in an ideal position to provide network connection services to everyday items in a ‘smart home’ or ‘smart office’ connected through the Internet of Things (IoT). A Smart Office equipped with IoT technology can enable employees to manage their time and resources more efficiently, reducing operational costs. Security is a big worry for businesses but CSPs can centralise all of a customer’s IoT data from across various sites and provide data encryption before transmission, allaying any security fears.
4. Internal Customer-Centric Use Cases
Data insights can be also used to drive much more effective decisions about network resources and reduce network capex and opex costs. By monitoring customer demand and seeing when it falls or rises, network operators will be able to boost their network and correct falling speeds so boosting customer satisfaction. Data insights can also be used by CSPs to engage with and develop more tailored services for their customers, helping to reduce churn rates. Customers can benefit from personalised services, contextual offers, cross selling and upselling, while an in-depth record of a customer’s usage, services and plans may help identify customer complaints before they happen.
The telecoms industry is ideally placed to take advantage of its pivotal role at the centre of the digital world and its access to some of the most valuable Big Data could prove to be a life-saver for the sector. The CSPs that take advantage of these data-driven opportunities to open up new income streams, improve business and civic efficiency and reduce customer churn will be well-placed to face the challenges ahead.