What will it take for the telecoms industry to step into the big data revolution?

Everyone is talking about big data. It spans all industries and exists in vast quantities. But whether it is the evolution of Management Information, Business Intelligence, or even a revolution, the real benefit of big data remains to be seen.

All industries have and are investing in big data, none more so than the telecoms industry. Ten years ago, the key focus was on having accurate data to make decisions. Five years ago, it changed, and real time decision-making took centre stage. Today everyone is talking about predictive analytics. So, what will come next?

> See also: The era of big data won’t materialise without fast data

The key, if we are to see a ‘revolution’, is the move to monetise the vast amounts of data at our disposal. Not only by using that data for internal operations, but selling that (anonymised) insight to others. Internal big data exploitation includes better future value and propensity modeling with the inclusion of social network influencer scoring and advanced network fault predictions with root cause analysis. 

However, it appears that the investment to date has been in the technology and only the technology. Every operator has invested in their Hadoop platform and is working hard to try to fill it. However, there are two major problems with this approach, which operators must be aware of.

Firstly, the end goal is rarely clear. Without a clear goal or vision it is very hard to make decisions that enable you to achieve what you set out to do. This is not a short project but a programme of change, so there needs to be a clear direction of travel or you will end up going off course. In addition, as with any change programme, the people need a vision, something to believe in. Not only do they need to know the destination but also the ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Secondly, there is a lack of data governance. Having spoken about vision, talking about data governance may be perceived as being dull, but it is about truly managing data as an asset. Discussions about data ‘ownership’ can often lead to unproductive and over-emotional conversations, so what we as an industry should actually be talking about is data stewardship.

This is about looking after the data for the business and ensuring that it is available in an accurate and timely way. While data governance does rely a lot on process and technology, operators must ensure that they focus on people above all else. Getting people to work together in a cross-functional way will the biggest benefit to any of these businesses.

> See also: Big data: not a magic pill, but an antidote

In short, the major challenge the telecoms industry faces is the exploitation of the big data insight into action. Today, not enough is being done with the ‘small data’ insight developed – not enough insight is being developed and not enough action is being taken. If this continues, there is a risk that big data will, at best, distract businesses from generating actionable insight and, at worst, generate more insights that will not be acted upon. Operators are incredibly busy and there is always a queue of things not being done – big data could just make that queue longer.

Sourced from Simon Williams, Head of Telco Media at NTT DATA

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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