It’s Time for Telco to Get Transparent about Data

Posted: July 25th, 2013 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

For the past few months, consumers have been rocked by government and corporate scandals involving their mobile data.

It’s fair to say that people have been a little taken aback due to all the revelations of mobile activities being tracked, stored and observed.

As long as there’s that suspicion in the marketplace, it’s going to be hard for companies to achieve any success with Big Data that doesn’t come at the cost of consumer trust.

Here, we see a confluence of two factors: consumers are becoming more aware of how their data is being used, and companies are becoming more interested in using that data. The problem is that neither party wants to give up its end of the bargain.

Today, a lot of communications service providers (CSPs) know that Big Data analytics is a powerful tool to personalise marketing, reduce churn and optimise business processes. Most also know that countries have very stringent – and often very different – regulations about how telecoms data can be used. Meanwhile, consumers are sharing data across social media networks, websites and through mobile apps at all hours of the day.

So how can CSPs find a middle ground where consumers are happy, but all that data can be used in a secure way to help their businesses?

The Two Ways to Use Mobile Data

Primarily, CSPs rely on mobile data to deduce two things: general results and specific activities. That’s the difference between Big Data and “small data.”

Big Data is leveraged as market research and is usually anonymous. By monitoring huge segments of customer data, CSPs can determine how people use their mobile data, at what times and for what activities. This makes it easy to create personalised campaigns for different customer profiles.

Small data is more personal, because it is used to create a profile of an individual’s decisions and actions.

The latter can cause some uneasiness among consumers, unless they know exactly how that data is being used and that, in the long run, it’s going to benefit them somehow. A campaign offering a temporary upgrade in bandwidth to someone suffering from stuttering speeds on his/her phone is handy, but a campaign offering a temporary upgrade in bandwidth for the exact hours on a Saturday night someone watches a mobile video can be unsettling.

Companies and consumers are still struggling to find that fine line between how all of this data is used, but one thing is clear right now: there are a lot of Big Data plans that are ambitious, bold and completely ambiguous.

CSPs that have been intrigued by Big Data analytics invest a lot of time and resources to collect as much data as possible, but then are left with a flood of unfocused insights that are impossible to leverage. At the same time, consumers will get suspicious when they realize that their CSP has been tracking how they spend every moment on their phones.

The solution is that CSPs must become very transparent on how they collect and use data. That will please customers and encourage businesses to make their Big Data efforts more granular, more segmented and ultimately more actionable.

An original version of this article appeared on and

Jouko Ahvenainen is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Grow VC Group. In the 1990s, Jouko worked for Nokia in Europe and Asia, and then lead the 3G practice at Capgemini globally. Over the last 12 years, he has been an entrepreneur, investor and
founder of Xtract.

Management World Americas: What can CSPs do as customer touch points increase?

Posted: December 6th, 2012 | Author: Malla Poikela | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Management World Americas 2012 is coming to a close, and as I looked at the beautiful sunrise this morning (which you can see in this picture), I was reflecting on our time here and all of the stimulating conversations and topics that are so relevant to our industry.

In particular, we recently discussed putting the customer first – a key theme in the customer experience management (CEM) sessions — and I’d like to expand on that a bit. In thinking about CEM, another trend we’ve seen come up here is that customer touch points are rapidly increasing, with ever more players having a role in the customer experience. As new devices emerge, over the top (OTT) services are introduced, and data usage continues to surge, this should come as no surprise. In fact, I found it interesting that even when it comes to contacting communications service providers (CSPs) directly, customers generally use multiple methods such as web, phone, email and SMS.

What all these various touch points and subsequent players mean for CSPs, though, is that it’s challenging to control the customer experience end-to-end. To help mitigate this, it’s essential to take advantage of the data at hand by collecting and analysing customer information. Doing so will provide a clear picture of who the customer is and allow for more personilised interactions at each touch point. As Ulla mentioned, this was something that was very prominent during the Equinix case study session where the company collected data and mapped the entire customer lifecycle for a complete view of customer activities and preferences.

In order to really make this strategy successful, a holistic approach to customer experience is needed, with both the marketing, IT and telecom teams aligned in their goals. Automated processes is an asset in bringing these worlds together – simultaneously looking at what’s happening in the network and coinciding customer activities. Where these two elements meet is where automated processes play a key role – enabling CSPs to see exactly what the customer is doing, understand the context, and automate an appropriate, personalised response. Strengthening this with machine learning means that CSPs can track customers’ behavioural patterns dynamically and automatically adapt to those as they change throughout a customer’s lifecycle.

Of course, I’d like to emphasise that this should be used in combination with personal, human interactions. Treating customers this way, with a human touch and by providing unique communications based on their preferences, is key  to differentiating in an ever crowded market. And with automation helping this, CSPs can make many more targeted offers at the right time – a crucial factor to enabling a positive customer experience as touch points continue to expand.

Around the World

Posted: May 12th, 2011 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Cellular News…
Canadians Annoyed with Increasing Cell Phone Bills
J.D. Power and Associates conducted a survey that examined Canadian wireless customers’ perceptions of their service, mobile phone and retail experience. The study revealed an average of 648 for overall satisfaction (on a 1,000-point scale) and an average of only 551 for satisfaction with cost of service. This could be attributed to rising monthly wireless costs, which have increased from an average of $71 in 2009 to $78 in 2011—and are being driven by the bump in smartphones and, consequently, larger data plans. According to the article, 39 percent of Canadian customersown a smartphone, a 25 percent increase from 2009, while the number of those who have a data package has increased to 60 percent from 15 percent in 2009.

To provide a superior customer experience and balance profitability, operators should offer progressive pricing options based on demand for speed and data consumption, for example. This is especially important because, according to Adrian Chung, senior manager at J.D. Power and Associates, the low satisfaction levels with cost of service have led to a high potential churn rate. In fact, 28 percent of customers strongly agree that they would consider switching to a new wireless service provider with offerings that better met their needs.

Billing & OSS World…
Subscriber Data Management Exploding, Critical in Europe
Infonetics Research recently found that the market for subscriber data management (SDM) tools for wireless networks is growing worldwide, particularly in Europe. The SDM market is seeing significant growth with mobile operators viewing the tools as critical for their wireless infrastructure-sharing initiatives; SDM allows them to identify which subscribers are using their networks. The article also notes that the machine-to-machine (M2M) market is important for SDM investment in Europe, and predicts that this too will become the case in North America over the next few years.

Analyst Shira Levine believes that, “as SDM strategies mature, operators will  better leverage their subscriber data for functions such as customer care, campaign management, churn management, revenue assurance and marketing, and possibly to expand subscriber data sources to include IT systems, including CRM, billing and fulfillment.”

As Simo Isomäki previously noted, we too are seeing growing interest in using subscriber data for active decision-making in OSS/BSS. And while data management is still a challenge, there is no doubt that this intelligence will help operators improve customer loyalty and safeguard profitability.

Light Reading…
It’ll Be Cloudy in Dublin
Ray Le Maistre dwells on the location change from Nice to Dublin for this year’s Management World 2011, but looks forward to the event’s discussions around the deployment and support of cloud services. He states that, to play in this space, the first step will be building the physical infrastructure to support hosted applications and capabilities. Following this is the greater challenge of provisioning, activation, tracking, managing, guaranteeing and billing for those services against a service level agreement.  This is a topic we’ll be exploring at Management World – both on the expo floor and in Forumville with the Enhanced Cloud Service Management Catalyst.