Big data is the fastest growing enterprise digital service provided by communications service providers (CSPs) and benefits from the largest amount of investments from CSPs and their partners. For example, last year SK Telecom announced plans to invest 1.2 trillion won ($1.11 billion) over the next three years to develop new big data businesses.
CSPs around the world are forming partnerships with analytics and business intelligence (BI) firms to mine internal structured and unstructured datasets to improve the efficiency, productivity and profitability of their business. Several CSPs are already using insights from customer data for a number of internal use-cases such as: improving their supply chain, network quality and the efficiency of their stores; input for new product design and development; and to send contextually relevant, personalized and targeted marketing and advertising offers to their customers.
A select group of diversified CSPs are moving beyond internal use cases to combine their datasets with the data from businesses, machines and third-party sources (for example, weather and sensor data) to develop new enterprise use-cases. Some CSPs are equally monetizing some of their industrial-grade big data tools and enablement services on an “as-a-service” basis to businesses.
Similar to cloud, big data is a key building block for many horizontal and vertical enterprise digital services and is one of the four forces in what Gartner calls the Nexus of Forces, or the convergence of mobile, information, cloud and social technologies to create new business opportunities (see Figure 1). However, out of the four nexus areas, information or big data is currently the least mature.
We’ve been looking at the big data initiatives of leading CSPs around the world to identify the key trends and best practices for CSPs seeking a role in the big data value chain. Unlike more mature digital service areas such as cloud, enterprise mobility and M2M, CSPs’ big data products, solutions and services aimed at enterprises are still quite sparse.
The enterprise big data solutions and services of the CSPs we analyzed are largely grouped into four broad segments:
1. Big data tools and enablement services
This involves monetizing different processes along the big data value chain by performing them on behalf of an enterprise. The typical processes in a big data value chain include data monitoring and collection; data aggregation, processing and storage; and the application of BI and analytics to derive insights.
Examples of solutions include storage as a service, analytics as a service, business process as a service and data management as a service. CSPs can also provide professional and managed services to enterprises that want to leverage their data to improve customer experience, design new services and realize cost-efficiencies.
This is currently the area with the largest number of activities. This is because CSPs have already developed the infrastructure and expertise in this area by collecting, processing, storing and analyzing customer, device and network data for internal use-cases. Examples of CSP big data tools and enablement services include analytics as a service offerings, data management services and storage as a service solutions. Several CSPs also store and manage health data records on behalf of health service providers.
2. Personal data use cases
These typically combine data relating to individual consumers (name, age, address, gender, preferences, service usage or behaviour) with contextual data such as location, time, network conditions and device capabilities. It typically requires customer opt-in.
Examples of use cases include advanced service personalization and targeted mobile advertising and mobile marketing based on individual demographic data, preferences, location, purchase history and device capability.
In this segment, most CSP activities focus on the retail and commerce verticals, with CSPs such as AT&T, Orange, SingTel, SK Telecom and Telefonica offering targeted mobile marketing and mobile advertising solutions. In line with the increased CSP activities in the area of healthcare, CSPs like Telstra and SingTel now offer health data records management services. In all of these use cases, customer opt-in is mandatory and can act as a barrier to adoption with the level of insuperability varying from country to country.