Unlocking the Power of Big Data to Become a Next-generation Service Provider (Part 1 of 2)

As I travel around the world, I hear a consistent set of questions from Telecom clients:

  1. With the exponential growth in customer data, how can I engage with my customers across an increasing number of new channels and engagement models—websites, blogs, mobile, call centers, and social sites like Facebook and Twitter?
  2. How can I harness that “big data” about my customers, products, and operations and make it actionable and monetize it?
  3. How can I reduce customer churn, retain customers, raise customer satisfaction and deliver the right products to market at the right time and place?

Leveraging Big Data to become a next-generation service provider is such a hot topic that I am dividing it into two blogs. This first blog provides an overview of the business issues and trends with real-world case study. The second blog will wrap up with a second case study and an update regarding EMC’s commitment to Big Data.

These two blogs are excerpts from my business associate and my presentation at the Next Generation Telecom Conference in March, 2012.  Please contact me for additional details.

An interesting thing is happening in telecommunications companies today: 90% of the network traffic is generating only 10% of revenue.

With all the new devices out there, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that it’s not about the device. It’s the data that matters.

And the opportunity is there, if providers move up the value chain from just offering Communication Services to offering Value-added Services.

I’d like to start by sharing how big data analytics offer the largest opportunity for new competitive advantage today. Big data is:

  • A new source for economic value
  • A company’s single most important strategic asset
  • The clearest path to competitive advantage
  • The ultimate manifestation of fact-based decision making
  • The new catalyst for business innovation and workplace evolution
  • The driving force of a new paradigm—data computing

The network has a vast amount of valuable information about users. It offers the opportunity to monetize the value of real-time information and user profile/history through individual, behavioral and predictive real-time analytics.

Case Study 1 – The Power of Big Data

The business problem: create a churn model to provide early detection of customers who are going to end their contracts. We used EMC’s Greenplum platform to load available customer data, primarily call detail records (CDRs). We used actual records to determine if a customer left a carrier in a 4-month period. Then, we determined the calling patterns of a customer that left a carrier.  How?

Using Greenplum with custom analytics, we looked at raw call history data (~15 billion rows).  We constructed a social network based on variables (who calls whom/when/how) in-database from raw call history. One key finding was that customers who received many incoming calls from churners were 7 times more likely to churn themselves!

Once we were confident that the base analytics were sound, we implemented SQL code for speed – so that customer scoring was able to be performed on 0.5 million rows in a minute—blazing speed that is necessary these days.

The central value proposition this case study answers is this:  If we had known two customers’ calling networks that left a carrier – Could the carrier (using the analytics described above) have prevented four more from leaving? … by constructing a ‘special offer’ and/or proactively reached out to customers that had developed a propensity to churn.

We have the tools – carriers have the data – and our tools can operate on the data fast enough to enable carriers to proactively ‘save’ churners.

Next Up:  Part 2 – Adding Social Media Feeds to Analytics

I hope you will join me and will pass on the link to your friends and networks. Please subscribe, send me feedback, and check back next week for the next installment. If nothing else, I promise the international travel tips will be extremely useful!

Today’s International Travel Tip:   Travel is good for your brain!

Business Traveler Magazine recently published an article on this topic – subtitled “This is your brain… This is your brain on travel”.  The essence of the story is that medical research has proven that “travel is good for your brain”.  (www.businesstravelerusa.com, March, 2012 – Talking Point)

Surely, you must be thinking – has Laddie lost his mind as a result of 2 million actual flight miles on United alone?  How can this be possible?

Dr. Matthew Edlund, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine and author of the book, The Power of Rest, that conclusively presents the case.

“Travel stimulates the brain and promotes the growth of new synapses, heightens creativity and may even resist Alzheimer’s disease”, Dr. Edlund says. “Your brain, like the rest of your body, rebuilds itself constantly, but it needs to be given the regular opportunity to do so. Taking frequent leisure trips at regular intervals continually rests and rejuvenates you, increasing your productivity and sense of satisfaction”.

Not only do I fully agree – I actually believe the good doctor’s findings apply to business as well as leisure trips.

Now you’re saying to yourself, Laddie’s really suffering the effects of Business Travel Syndrome or BTS (sort of a “Stockholm Syndrome” for business travelers).

Here is my case supporting this amazing finding, centered on how the brain rebuilds itself:

  1. Sure, leisure travel helps build new synapses, not just by “rest.” In fact, I believe the brain builds new synapses when you leave familiar surroundings and travel to a foreign environment, either for business or for pleasure.
  2. In particular, travel of any kind to foreign countries (especially where the local language is not your native language) immerses your brain in a new environment to such a level that it also stimulates the creation of new synapses. Everything – language, sounds, visual images, temperature, other environmental factors – create new stimuli.
  3. Finally, as the article in Business Traveler points out, when you travel to a locale that you have been to before, memories are triggered. These memories can be triggered by the same environmental stimuli as noted above. The very act of returning to a city street or beach can trigger a tsunami of pleasant memories of the past. These are synapses that were once dormant but are now reconnected to your current thinking.

In summary, the next time you are preparing for a business trip, be positive and say to yourself: “Here is a chance to help keep my brain active and delay the potential onset of Alzheimer’s.”

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.