When it comes to data, the grass is not always greener

29 Apr 2015

Is it just me or has ‘big data’ become passé for others, too? It wasn't so long ago that there was a conference on the subject being held every second week somewhere in the world. We became besotted with terms like Hadoop and were introduced to a new breed called data scientists.

As if data stored in Oracle, SQL and Teradata systems wasn’t big enough, we convinced ourselves that it we needed bigger data to be able to determine the smallest trend or fad and be able to ‘profile’ customers at a ‘personal’ level to give them a better customer ‘experience.’

Telcos were told that this is what the new digital players were doing and that was one of the reasons they were able to become so popular and grow at astonishing rates – the antithesis of the general trend for themselves.

No one seemed to pay much attention to the fact that they were newer entities without the burden of legacy systems and that most actually made their money by crunching data and selling the results to others. Telcos, after all, were designed to provide connectivity and a few formerly unique services – like voice and messaging.

Google may have started as a search engine, but its founders soon discovered the power of data as a source of income, particularly in advertising. Amazon learned very early in the piece that to sell customers ‘up’ they had to know more about them and be able to suggest linked products on-the-fly. Booking.com and Trip Advisor worked out that people were the best source of rankings for properties and became powerhouses in their field.

All had a unique reason for analyzing data and all make money out of it, but I'm not sure how many telcos can boast increased revenues – let alone improved bottom lines – as a result of ‘big data’ initiatives. Even so, many have been practicing the fundamentals for some time, but perhaps didn't realize it.

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