Time for carriers to cash in on big data

Justin van der Lande/Analysys Mason
20 Jun 2013

Big data is creating considerable interest amongst communication service providers (CSPs) and has been placed on the agenda of many CSPs at board level. Although not all big data use is oriented to customers, it is where much value lies for operators. CSPs that mine their customer data are enabled to deliver greater segmentation and provide targeted offers for their own services, to optimize their current operations, and to offer access to customer data to third-party companies.

Transient data, largely discarded in the past because it was viewed as expensive to store and process, is now being used to deliver greater insights on customers. For example, tracking individual voice and data patterns or which parts of a website subscribers search on can be used as triggers for predicting churn.

Customer location data can be used in conjunction with retail outlets to trigger offers based on a customer segment. Transitional data provides the context that ensures that offers are more targeted and can be timed for optimum effectiveness.

Operators are using big data on their own processes first, but are increasingly looking to sell data externally. There are various points at which CSPs are able to sell data to third parties. Where the data is made anonymous there are fewer restrictions on its uses and this is generally non-real-time, helping to reduce the IT requirements in its delivery. As the data becomes more personalized and the requirements move toward providing the data in nearer real time, the IT systems require greater investments.

CSPs will typically not actually release data to third parties but provide the data as a service, which gives them stricter control over who contracts their customer base and how often. This is a similar approach to fulfilment houses in other industries such as print or on-line media.

For instance, China Mobile captures search terms on mobile devices to deliver near-real-time contextual offers. In order to encourage more subscribers to experience the "Cool Car Reports" service - available from the China Mobile digital services portal - the operator configured the tracking word "car" in their real-time context-aware marketing system (which combines stream computing with big data analytics). Customers who belong to the Mobile News preferred customer group receive a push link to the "Cool Car Reports" service at the moment of searching for "car" on the internet.

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