Getting the most out of data: a how-to for CSPs

Data is the most valuable commodity in today’s digital-first world. Consumer tech giants like Amazon and Google have been winning admirers for the ways they collect and apply the vast reams of data they hold – but they’re not the only ones well placed to take advantage of this new reality. Communication Service Providers (CSPs), with their global footprints, regular mergers and acquisitions, and data-centric day-to-day operations, have been collecting huge volumes of data on customers for years.

If data is the new oil, then the benefits of unlocking it are huge for CSPs. However, many have struggled to gain any real value from it to date. Yet, as the telco industry becomes increasingly commoditised, CSPs have been scrambling to find new ways of generating revenue – and unlocking the data they hold could be the key to doing so.


Big data opportunities

Managing huge volumes of data is a big ask for CSPs, but if CSPs can make use of customer and network data, for example, they can make better-informed decisions – building their positions in the market through cross-industry offerings. ‘Monetising’ the data they hold not only helps CSPs get meaningful insights, it creates revenue opportunities, too. In particular:

  • Boosting the ARPU rate through better customer experience: With a monetisation platform, CSPs can use real-time analytics to provide dynamic customer data. Information such as geo-location analytics, user preferences, viewing patterns, and even spend analysis, can give CSPs a better understanding of users. This allows CSPs to create new opportunities to cross sell/up sell, and map their customer journeys to offer personalised services; improving the customer experience, and by extension, the average revenue per use (ARPU)r.
  • Trimming the CapEx/OpEx budget: Through data monetisation, CSPs can optimise their CapEx/OpEx budgets through efficient network management, better network planning and traffic prioritisation, and predictive maintenance. This data-driven method gives CSPs a better picture of network usage and available capacity, helping them decide whether to either onboard new customers, or offer new products and services on the same network.
  • Boosting top-line revenues: The data CSPs hold isn’t just valuable to CSPs themselves, it’s useful across all manner of different industries. Data can be integrated with cross-vertical industries through various digital ecosystems or third-party platforms. With the vast amount of customer data they hold, CSPs can build a platform for other organisations to offer their own products and services to their customers.


Getting it right

This may all sound easier said than done – and it’s true that if it were simple, every CSP would be doing it. Poorly managed big data projects can spin out of control, leading to excessive resource consumption and rising costs. If CSPs are committed to making the most of their data, then control will be crucial. The key points of any strategy should include:

  • Alignment: If the benefits discussed above are to be realised, having an organisational data strategy in place is vital. Organisations need to know what their aims are, how they want to achieve them, and above all, where the data they’ll need is held.
  • The ‘data lake’: Building a data lake from which to draw insights demands that CSPs aggregate the data they hold across the organisation, whether structured or unstructured. This process must factor in data integrity, quality, frequency, and correlation, to effectively draw these insights. From there, CSPs need to expose relevant APIs to suppliers, partners, customers and employees, allowing them to build services on top of their data.
  • Monetisation: Monetisation also calls for third-party involvement. Working alongside partner channels, CSPs need to allow for cross-vertical integration with third-party platforms, which helps to align their products and services to the customer’s needs.
  • Security: Everything that concerns data also concerns security. Since real-time customer data is remarkably sensitive, third-party integration brings with it concerns that the CSP might be in breach of privacy regulations. It’s therefore crucial for CSPs to consider whether any data monetisation platform they issue meets local regulatory requirements, alongside considerations of how the data itself will be protected.

Data will play a vital role in the digital transformation process, and by extension, a vital role on the agendas of CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs. Recognising this, a number of CSPs have already started their own data monetisation activities, and we can expect to see many more follow suit over the next 12 months. Those that fail to do so will risk missing out on a significant revenue opportunity.


The article was originally published on The C-Suite and is reposted here by permission.

Ravi Kumar Palepu

Senior Director - Global Telco Solutions, Virtusa. In his role, Ravi has led technology council for Telco across locations and drove consistent standards, best practices as well as domain and technical competency across the Telco accounts. He was also part of the Global Technology Office leadership and has bridged the gap between the GTO and the global Telco accounts. Prior to joining Virtusa, Ravi served as Principal Consultant with Tech Mahindra from July 2002 to Nov 2010. He has been responsible for managing the CRM Centre of Excellence and helped Tech Mahindra deliver green field implementation in Europe and Asia region. He has over 17 years of experience in Telecommunication, managing large complex transformation programmes and innovating industry solutions. Ravi graduated from Delhi University with Bachelors in Commerce, earned his Master in Computer Application from NCC UK, and earned his Master's in Business Administration from Cass Business School, London.

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