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Datameer provides tips on how telecom operators can take advantage of big data to boost customer experience

22 Feb

Data is king. Companies like Google and Facebook operate on this basis and virtually every business decision stems from what data says about their customers and how they interact with their products and services.

Leveraging data to win against competitors and skyrocket revenues should not just be reserved for the Google’s of the world. Telecommunications companies generate enormous amounts of data each year – both structured and unstructured – on customer behaviors, preferences, payment histories, consumption levels, user patterns, customer experiences and more. And with analytics this data is a gold mine for those who know how to monetize it.

Telco’s data gold rush

Telecom service providers previously only had access to aggregated, metered data and even when data types exploded, they lacked the technology to harness it and find meaningful insights into valuable customer usage patterns. Today, data is generated from each customer touch point – calls, text messages, roaming, video downloads, mobile commerce, custom relationship management systems, service calls and so on. Analyzing, this data has the potential to differentiate services, boost customer experiences and, ultimately, increase revenue.

A recent McKinsey & Company study showed data-driven companies have a 50% chance of having sales well above competitors compared to customer analytics laggards. And according to McKinsey & Company benchmarking research, “high-margin telecommunication companies tend to outperform their peers when it comes to data mining and otherwise gaining insights from collected customer information.”

3 ways to mine big data for better customer experiences

Already we’re seeing telecom providers combine and analyze to better serve their customer base. In fact, big data analytics company, Guavus, released the findings of a global survey pointing to proactive customer care as the biggest single driver of big data analytics uptake among telcos.

Here are three examples of what can be achieved:

Improved customer retention
For every customer who complains, even more remain silent. As such, customer feedback is gold and with data analytics companies can make use of it and exploit it. Telcos can combine call center information, charging data records and CRM data to understand the biggest customer pain points. By analyzing customer complaints related to networks issues, such as dropped calls and slow connections, and correlating it with CRM data to see which customers have left, companies can better understand which network problems have the most impact on their customers. Armed with this information customer service teams can prioritize addressing hot issues and reduce churn.

Proactive customer care and reduced truck rolls
Analyzing big data can reduce unnecessary in-person appointments, service calls or truck rolls – which can cost several hundred dollars each – by resolving customer issues on the first call. To do this companies must be able to accurately predict which kinds of customer issues tend to result in the unnecessary truck rolls and develop a system for handling them more effectively through their call centers. With data analytics and visualizations, companies can generate custom reporting, interactive “what-if” scenarios and visualizations complete with clustering and a geographic heat map for network traffic. This allows providers to see where issues may arise and allocate resources accordingly.

Consistent service experiences with accurate demand forecasts
As mobile broadband usage, high-definition television consumption, over-the-top and other services consume more network bandwidth, it’s more important than ever to accurately plan for network capacity. To determine exactly where to lay the new infrastructure it is almost mandatory to take a data-driven approach by identifying concurrency in customer data regarding player sessions, peak usage times and dates, and then clustering this data to identify usage patterns. These patterns would help to forecast future growth and network demands. By analyzing terabytes of session data across a vast carrier network and generating a predictive trend analysis of customer video viewing behavior patterns, it is possible to have a new level of insight into customer behavior trends, which improves the ability to forecast for future demand and plan network investments.

Data analytics gives companies a whole new level of insight into customer behavior trends. More importantly, it opens up endless opportunities to improve customer experiences and keep customers happy.



Enriching customer experience

4 Aug

The global telecommunications arena has been redefined by the Internet. To grow and sustain revenues, telecommunications companies must now learn to respond to customer behavior at a niche and sector-specific level, with increasingly media and functionally-rich experience.

 At the same time as creating new value for customers and stakeholders, all telecommunications companies must continually find new ways to streamline back-office operations and drive out IT costs.


The Atos proposition for telecommunications companies fully addresses both areas, helping create new client value and drive operational efficiency. New business opportunities are particularly focused on:


  • Smart mobility and new media
  • Machine-to-machine
  • OSS and BSS optimization and management
  • Loyalty and monetization
  • ERP consolidation and harmonization

As a back office and IT partner, we are well-positioned too: for the last two consecutive years, Atos was ranked the world’s #1 provider of IT outsourcing services to the telecommunications sector by Datamonitor.

Transforming telecommunications performance


LTE Asia: transition from technology to value… or die

27 Sep


I am just back from LTE Asia in Singapore, where I chaired the track on Network Optimization. The show was well attended with over 900 people by Informa’s estimate.

Once again, I am a bit surprised and disappointed by the gap between operators and vendors’ discourse.

By and large, operators who came (SK, KDDI, KT, Chungwha, HKCSL, Telkomsel, Indosat to name but a few) had excellent presentations on their past successes and current challenges, highlighting the need for new revenue models, a new content (particularly video) value chain and better customer engagement.

Vendors of all stripes seem to consistently miss the message and try to push technology when their customer need value. I appreciate that the transition is difficult and as I was reflecting with a vendor’s executive at the show, selling technology feels somewhat safer and easier than value.
But, as many operators are finding out in their home turf, their consumers do not care much about technology any more. It is about brand, service, image and value that OTT service providers are winning consumers mind share. Here lies the risk and opportunity. Operators need help to evolve and re invent the mobile value chain.

The value proposition of vendors must evolve towards solutions such as intelligent roaming, 2-way business models with content providers, service type prioritization (messaging, social, video, entertainment, sports…), bundling and charging…

At the heart of this necessary revolution is something that makes many uneasy. DPI and traffic classification, relying on ports and protocols is the basis of today’s traffic management and is becoming rapidly obsolete. A new generation of traffic management engines is needed. The ability to recognize content and service types at a granular level is key. How can the mobile industry can evolve in the OTT world if operators are not able to recognize a content that is user-generated vs. Hollywood? How can operators monetize video if they cannot detect, recognize, prioritize, assure advertising content?

Operators have some key assets, though. Last mile delivery, accurate customer demographics, billing relationship and location must be leveraged. YouTube knows whether you are on iPad or laptop but not necessarily whether your cellular interface is 3G, HSPA, LTE… they certainly can’t see whether a user’s poor connection is the result of network congestion, spectrum interference, distance from the cell tower or throttling because the user exceeds its data allowance… There is value there, if operators are ready to transform themselves and their organization to harvest and sell value, not access…

Opportunities are many. Vendors who continue to sell SIP, IMS, VoLTE, Diameter and their next generation hip equivalent LTE Adavanced, 5G, cloud, NFV… will miss the point. None of these are of interest for the consumer. Even if the operator insist on buying or talking about technology, services and value will be key to success… unless you are planning to be an M2M operator, but that is a story for another time.

Phone Cards meant for International Calls are affordable

27 Dec


There were a lot of times when millions of people could only dream about making long distance international calls due to the heavy calling charges associated with them and thus not everybody can afford to make international calls in the past. But in today’s modern era, with the advent of technology which has brought about a revolution in the lives of people indeed with the introduction of the telephone card. You can not only make international calls but in fact enjoy very long distance long phone conversations with your loved ones overseas at very extremely low calling rates. This dream has come into reality with the help of the international calling cards that enable you to make as many international calls as you wish to and at the same time saving a lot of money in the form of your phone bills.

Now the question arises why you should use…

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Calling time on dissatisfaction – Mobile operators need to take a closer look at customer experience if they are to prevent churning.

5 Dec

Customer retention is a top priority concern for companies operating under today’s fiercely competitive and difficult market conditions. More so in the saturated telecoms industry, in particular the pre-paid market where customer churn rates stand at around 40%.

Customers are always on the lookout for better deals and with an array of service providers to choose from, who can blame them. In an industry where it is cheaper to retain your existing customers than to acquire new ones, offering a simple integrated and intuitive customer experience is the key to success. While a better deal elsewhere is always going to disrupt the market, there is no escaping the link between customer experience and loyalty.

However loyalty can become severely tested when customers are faced with issues such as poor network service. A recent study conducted by Teradata with a market-leading, European mobile network operator, examined the relationship between network failures and customer churn. It showed an extremely high percentage of customers who experienced a network problem regularly over an extended period of time would move to another provider. Understandably, this trend was especially marked when failures occurred at the customer’s home or office.

Through a better understanding of the customer’s experience, telco operators can make a much stronger case to deal with such situations proactively. However currently, most telecoms companies rely solely on call detail records (CDRs) to do this. At the same time, network information gathered has been typically used by network operations for the purpose of network performance optimisation, capacity planning and rollouts. In reality carriers need to be using all available information to address issues around customer experience and churn. Active data warehousing helps them do just that, combining operational support system (OSS) and business support system (BSS) data to better serve and retain high-value customers.

By integrating network information into an enterprise data warehouse (EDW), organisations can get a single, integrated view of their business. This single view will enable better management of the customer’s experience at all touch points from the edge of the network right through to customer care. Telcos need to collect, correlate and examine all network usage and signalling data at an individual customer and household level, including failed and disconnected calls, software and device issues. Only then will they be able to address customer dissatisfaction proactively before it reaches a crisis point.

For example, a customer who has poor network coverage at home may decide to use their landline; perhaps the first step to switching providers. By examining the network data for that customer, including dropped calls, unsuccessful call attempts, and bouncing between 3G down to 2G, they can identify and address the root cause of the problem. This may be easily solved by offering the customer a femtocell.  If the mobile operator has a good understanding of this customer’s value, they can vary how much they charge for this on a sliding scale, perhaps providing it free for high-margin customers.

To sell femtocells, mobile operators first targeted whole areas where network coverage was poor. However, this approach was unsuccessful. Some people preferred to use their fixed line anyway; others lived on higher ground and found the coverage was good enough for what they needed.  There is a wide expectation gap between those who only use their mobile phone socially and occasionally, and business users who see a consistent service as mission-critical.  When network data is used to identify those most likely to need better coverage, the conversion rates for femtocells skyrocket.

Until recently, mobile operators were reluctant to invest in the technology infrastructure needed to deal with the high volumes of data they hold.  However, this view is changing as they begin to appreciate that offering a simple, integrated and intuitive customer experience is the key to succeed as a next-generation carrier and utilising such data will enable them to invest their funds most effectively. The evolving technology from WiMax 4G/LTE, VOIP and smart devices means it is now fundamental that operators understand their customer behaviours across all uses so they can stay ahead of the subscriber demands and deliver superior service.

Active data warehousing will enable carriers to leverage the network experience data for better CEM. It focuses on the missing dimensions, providing insight on the customer experience related to device, location, the last-mile connection and new 3G services. The combination of data and powerful analytics at their fingertips can bring big benefits. Eventually, telecoms best practice will see insights gained from network data integrated with all customer data, including that from new less-structured sources, such as social media sites. When this is achieved, the industry will know when a customer is dissatisfied with a service before the situation reaches crisis point and they decide to move on to a competitor.


What will next-generation smartphones look like?

25 Nov

Future smartphones

Cheap international roaming, better accommodation for business users, wireless charging and other new features will define a coming generation of even smarter smartphones.

Apple’s iPhone arguably led the pack for the last smartphone generation, but with Samsung taking some of Cupertino’s momentum away in recent months, leadership isn’t so defined this year. In many ways, we’re back to where we were before the iPhone, when Palm, RIM and Microsoft fought for leadership of the market, before Apple and Google stormed in to split it up. I think we are ready for another clear leader. But this will take a company with vision and the willingness to step away from the pack.

There are three features I think will define the next-generation phone.

One phone, two personalities, iron-clad walls between

A lot of folks carry two phones today, and they long to return to a time when they had to carry just one. They need a single phone that can contain two numbers and have a completely separate personal and business personalities they can switch between, with one interface, and security to keep each side separate. In other words, your boss shouldn’t be able to pry into what you’re doing on your time, and apps you install on your own shouldn’t be able to violate company security policies.

Whether this means the phone will need two SIMs, or a virtual SIM that has two personalities, is still unclear. But it’s clear the market wants a single phone that can handle two roles, and that phone hasn’t arrived yet.

Cheap international roaming

A huge number of smartphone users travel outside of the country, but they either have to suffer through massive roaming charges, or bring a separate phone with a native SIM to make inexpensive calls from inside the country. Roaming on the phone can cost upwards of $9 a minute, with a megabyte of data costing even more. Rates like that can make talking or downloading one of the biggest expenses of a vacation or business trip.

The next-generation phone will have the ability to dynamically load the equivalent of a local SIM and incur charges at local rates, either billed or prepaid, to keep the costs down and make traveling with one phone and all of your features affordable.

Virtual PBX

A PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is what companies have used for years to connect employees, but they are mostly on their last legs or completely obsolete. Companies are paying for multiple lines and multiple numbers, and often have to use “follow me” services to first ring the employee office phone and then route it to their cell phone, even though a call to the cell phone would be more certain because the employee carries it.

Being able to link a smartphone with full forwarding and response capability to a virtual or physical VoIP PBX is not only possible, it is a feature in shipping VoIP PBXs… but it isn’t yet elegantly integrated into the smartphone experience. I think the next generation smartphone will have this capability.

Hardware advancements

Along with everything above, the next-generation smartphone will sport some hardware advancements we’ve seen before that never quite went mainstream. For instance, wireless charging is a given, since the biggest complaint with current-generation phones is lousy battery life. Better security would be number two, since passwords are inadequate and the information on a phone can be used to gain access to secure company resources and steal information. More balanced cameras with anti-shake technology and better lenses should also eliminate the difference between that point-and-shoot camera you are always leaving at home and your smartphone.

That’s my list of next generation smartphone features. What’s yours? Who do you think might be first to market with a phone that could revolutionize today’s market, like the iPhone did last generation?


Car, Cloud, And Smartphones: The Future Looks Smart

10 Nov

It is not too far away the day when you will tap your smartphone and, within seconds, your car will be right at your doorstep. Or maybe your smart phone will start buzzing whenever someone comes warily close to your car, especially when you are busy shopping or sipping coffee with your friends. No, this is not a scene from the latest 007 flick, but it is reality. Nissan’s NSC-2015, the harbinger of that fusion between fiction and fact, is an electronic car which is going to step in the market in 2015. The car will be connected to your phone via cloud computing; hence, it can be easily monitored via smartphones. But don’t think it’s only another robotic car stuffed with features like auto-pilot, auto-sensor, or anti-burglar alarm.

Here is a list of tasks this NSC-2015 can do with and without the help of cloud computing.

1. You tap a button on your smartphone and the car will drive towards you. So there will be no need for you to worry about spotting your car in the parking lot.

2. You are somewhere away from your car and a person comes very close to your vehicle. You will immediately receive a notification about it and your car will prompt you to view a real-time video recording. Upon your consent, the exterior camera in the car will start capturing a 360-degree video that you can watch on your smartphone. If you cannot recognize the person, your smartphone will automatically switch the alarm on.

3. Be it slipping into reverse, moving forward, or making a perfect U-turn, NSC 2015 can do that for you, on its own, but it cannot drive you to your destination without your input; at least its first few generations will lack that auto-driving skill.

However, NSC 2015 will not be able to park itself among other non-robotic cars as it depends not on GPRS but long term evolution cellular and sensors to create an accurate map of the cars parked around. So until it is completely surrounded by similar cars, it will not be able to decipher the picture.

NSC 2015 indicates a future where cloud computing, smartphones, and automobiles will work together to make your driving experience easier and more pleasant.

By Durba Sengupta


Instagram CEO: The speed of the product dictates how often it’s used

8 Nov


At Roadmap 2012, Instagram (s fb) CEO and co-founder Kevin Systrom let us in on what makes Instagram popular beyond the product itself: speed.

He believes that increased speed—both of the mobile broadband and the software itself— not only improves the user experience but also makes people want to use the product more. In the case of Instagram, it makes users want to take and share more photos. “We’re getting to a point where we’re understanding how to allow people to produce more content every single day,” Systrom said.

While wireless broadband and LTE are demonstrating increasingly faster speeds, for now app makers are having to compensate on the back end. Instagram moves its process along by uploading photos in the background before while users caption them.

“If you simply cut the [waiting] time in half, if you shave off a second from that time, you actually get increased…

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Report: North American Internet Data Usage Up 120% In The Last Year, Netflix Still Responsible For 33% Of Peak Traffic

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