Uncovering the value of telco data

If you’ve ever surpassed your mobile data allowance or been charged onerous overage fees, you know that it can be tricky – and frustrating – to try to keep track of your data usage. Often, we don’t realise that mobile apps have been consuming data in the background, or that one app has been steadily eating up most of your data allowance.

Mobile companies know that customers are frustrated with data limitations, and they’re coming up with disruptive ways to solve this challenge, from unlimited data plans to data tracking apps. Take the “Data Clock” app from 2degrees, for example, which aims to give customers precise control over their cellular activity. With Data Clock, customers have the option to buy unlimited data by the minute, hour or day, so they can stream freely without worrying about their monthly data allowance.

Data Clock is just one example. Triangle, a new data-saving app from Google, offers customers an overview of their data consumption by application, information they can use to specify the data usage for each app in increments like “10 minutes at a time,” or “Always.”

>See also: Top 3 telecom trends for 2017

And global operators like Etisalat, with its “cliQ” app in Sri Lanka, have also rolled out time-based data purchasing that allows customers to buy exactly as much data as they want.

Giving customers more control over their mobile experience not only gives them a sense of agency, enabling them to make smarter data usage decisions, but it also offers a business opportunity.

Operators are facing a conundrum as more users and devices connect to their networks to engage with over the top (OTT) digital services, which are in-turn driving legacy telco services out of fashion.

To break this cycle of self-sabotage, operators must take action, leveraging the data they have to create better customer experiences.

Telcos are most successful when customers feel like their operator truly knows them, gives them control, engages with them on the channel of their choice, and adapts quickly to their unique circumstances. Fortunately, operators have access to years of customer behaviour data, through mobile data usage habits, that gives them insight about how to deliver on these needs.

The wealth of data that telcos have collected could be used to improve sales, marketing and service options, as well as improve business outcomes. How else can telcos leverage their massive supply of customer data?

Create highly personalised offers

A recent survey of 2,000 mobile data users in the US and the UK found that while 55 percent of mobile data customers are eager to receive more personalised alerts and offers – such as receiving a text when they aren’t taking advantage of certain parts of their plan, or being notified when they are using a lot of data in areas where public Wi-Fi is available – only 13 percent report ever having experienced that kind of communication from their carrier.

>See also: The role of telcos in smart cities

Telcos are sitting on a mountain of data about their customers, from call and SMS history to usage and location-based data. Analysing that data gives telcos the unique opportunity to create highly personalised offers that address customers’ specific needs, or solve individual challenges.

Consider the example of a customer who, according to data usage trends, uses Spotify more than any other app. But, the trends also show that this customer is dangerously close to reaching her data cap.

A telco could use this information, gleaned from data analysis, to send her an offer for a data package that includes unlimited Spotify streaming. This type of offering is likely to be well-received. In fact, the previously mentioned survey also found that 75 percent of mobile data customers are eager to receive an alert when a new, relevant data plan becomes available.

Offer personalisation based on the digital services used by customers also provides a novel way to monetise telco assets cross-industry. The telco data used for accessing specific digital service or app, e.g. for banking services, could be offered to be sponsored by the service provider, in this case a bank.

Cross-industry sponsored data is a win-win-win model, where customers don’t have to worry about data usage of the app, other industry service providers improve their customer experience and telcos unlock a new kind of revenue stream.

The role of artificial intelligence

Customer usage data is the lifeblood of personalisation, as it provides insight into each customer’s experience with their operator. But, analysing all the data and finding useful trends can be a daunting task, especially when you’re trying to understand a customer’s “right now” – the current state of their personal mobile ecosystem. Timely data analysis can help telcos determine the best way to address customer needs, in the right context.

>See also: How APIs are driving a telecoms revolution

Artificial intelligence now enables telcos to automate and quickly learn from and take action on this information. Think back to the example of a customer who could receive a personalised Spotify data offer. Artificial intelligence enables this type of engagement, by allowing operators to analyse real-time usage and customer behaviour, and automating actions. AI then automates actions (i.e., an offer) to happen in the right moment, in the right context.

AI’s immediacy enables instant gratification that operators can’t offer through manual campaigns. It also allows operators to draw more value from existing customer data, driving contextually relevant engagements.

In the context of sponsored data, AI and analysis can recommend the digital services that would benefit the most from being sponsored and estimate the business benefit for the specific service provider.

Through AI and other means of analysis, using data effectively gives telcos the ability to target the right customer, through the right channel, with the right offer – greatly improving customer experience, retention and monetisation of their assets in the process.


Sourced by Niilo Fredrikson, executive vice president, Intelligent Data, Comptel


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...