Securing a return on information

Big data holds enormous promise for communications services providers and transforming massive quantities of raw data into insightful information needs to be their key priority.

Big data is tipped to reach eight zettabytes by 2015 following an upsurge in structured data from traditional databases, unstructured data including images, videos, emails and texts, and semi-structured data from sensors and machines.

It is a trend which is having a huge impact on Communications Services Providers (CSPs) who are responsible for delivering premium content in an increasingly complex information landscape.

A comprehensive and contextual insight into subscribers’ needs enables CSPs to create new products and targeted marketing offers that are designed to improve subscriber satisfaction and retention rates.  On top of that, they will be able to differentiate from competitors while improving scalability by incorporating network and IT services into cloud offerings.

Transforming massive quantities of raw data into insightful information is fast becoming a key priority for CSPs as they strive to improve services and gain a competitive advantage.  By turning information into real-time network conditions, CSPs will gain unparalleled insights into the behaviours and preferences of people and the means to achieve maximum return on information.

Strong consumer focus

Delivering excellent customer experience is a common strategic goal, particularly in consumer-centric industries like telcos. This is equally relevant in both high-growth and maturing markets.

There are clear bottom-line reasons. A September 2011 study by Bain & Company found that a five percentage point shift in customer retention consistently results in 25–100 per cent profit swings.

To realise this strategic goal CSPs have to develop a well-defined, holistic plan of action. They have a wealth of information about their subscribers, including their preferences, habits and mobile activities, but they need to be able to use this data to generate new offerings and drive growth.

Traditional business intelligence and reporting solutions require structured data and typically have a degree of latency before the results are available. The results must be analysed and then interpreted into operational actions. However, with customer information increasingly stored in unstructured forms, such as social networks, there is greater demand for organisations to be agile enough to understand and react to customers in real time.

Achieving deep customer insight therefore requires a blend of traditional and next-generation analytics. By transforming data collected from a variety of sources into real intelligence CSPs can gain a comprehensive and contextual insight into consumer needs and preferences.

The intelligence can be used to develop new revenue streams and business ventures with content providers and other third parties. For CSPs, it’s an opportunity to partner more effectively with content providers to initiate the creation of new products and targeted promotions to improve consumer satisfaction and retention rates.

Agility in hybrid cloud

New competition and lower margins are forcing CSPs to quickly transform and expand their traditional business models in order to stay ahead. CSPs that succeed by offering subscribers premium applications such as video, audio, messaging and business process services are changing the landscape of the communications industry.

But to gain full control over their data they must first migrate existing services to next-generation networks and modernise their infrastructures.

Faced with mounting competitive pressure, hybrid cloud solutions are emerging as a rapid and cost effective option for CSPs.

A hybrid delivery model involves a mix of on-premise and off-premise services that leverage the best of traditional IT with private, managed and public cloud to drive agility and speed innovation while lowering costs. The shift to cloud is being viewed by many organisations as a prime business strategy to achieve unconstrained access to IT services – infrastructure, applications and information.

The key is understanding the availability, cost, performance and regulatory requirements of each service in the organisation’s portfolio and then addressing service level agreements in the most efficient and cost effective way.

Options to consider before moving to public cloud include:

• Pay-as-you-go models that allow users to deploy and customise compute instances on demand

• Storage solutions that enable users to easily move data from one compute instance to another, to public beta

• A platform as a service so that enterprises, developers and independent software vendors can focus on application development. The goal is to support a multi-application infrastructure along with instant provisioning and deployment

• A migration service that helps users assess, plan and migrate existing production workloads to the public cloud without user disruption

Turning data into real business value

Return on information is the value that organisations generate from investments in information solutions and services by gaining insight from their data to make better and quicker decisions.

By leveraging hybrid cloud technologies, CSPs can tackle issues such as information optimisation, social intelligence and big data to drive new business and growth. A fully-linked intelligence environment with real-time advanced analytics capable of converting massive amounts of data into real business value can be part of a broader enterprise-level system.

The goal is seamless, secure and context-aware services in an increasingly connected, information-driven economy.

Sean Girvin, Vice President - Communications, Media and Entertainment & Application Business, HP South Pacific.