Big Data: Mountain of Differentiation
There have been many discussions on the topic of Big Data over the past couple of years. Is it being over-hyped? The Gartner Group thinks so.
Big Data has become the generic term for the massive amounts of data businesses have accumulated during the course of their operations. There are ongoing discussions on how useful it might be and how it can be used. By applying the right analytics software to the data, most believe it can lead to new efficiencies, improved business processes, lower costs, higher profits, improved customer experiences, services and loyalties.
Communication Service Providers (CSP) have an absolute mountain of Big Data within their domain that is clearly untapped – or at the very least under-utilized. Is this a missed opportunity for differentiation? Let’s take a closer look at their current business model and assess if there are new possibilities.
Mobile CSP’s revenue streams are based on service usage and their major costs are subscriber churn, device subsidiaries and keeping their networks current. To differentiate themselves from their competitors, they focus on devices, price plans and network. The problem:
- They all have the same or similar devices and price plans.
- They all claim the fastest 4G/LTE network.
Within their domains, they have available both real-time and “static” or near real-time data. A small subset of available real-time data includes:
- Currently active identity and device(s)
- Current location, presence, availability
- Active content
- Charging preferences, prepaid balance
- Minutes and data usage
A small subset of “static” or near real-time data includes:
- Real Name and Billing address
- Number of devices
- Web-sites accessed, searches made
- Friends and Family, Business associates
- Defined preferences
- Content and genre purchased and downloaded
For CSP’s that also offer wireline, broadband and video services, this list can grow to include number of devices in the home, devices active, channels watched, time of day, days of the week and many more data items.
Each service provider also has multiple third-party partners that augment their services. These partners are also going to have more information about subscribers relevant to what, how and when services and content are accessed and utilized.
With 10, 20 or even 100 million plus subscribers initiating a combined millions of transactions each day, all of which gets distilled into data records, that is a massive amount of data that can be used to establish insights and intelligence about subscribers and understand their preferences.
Identity and Master Data
All of the above data items are tied together by the mobile number/account number which acts as the common Identity or primary key of the subscriber. By using master data management techniques such as centralization, virtualization and federation, CSP’s can establish a single, universal view of the individual subscribers.
With ongoing advances in analytics software, CSP’s have at their finger-tips the means to truly understand how their services are used and by whom. They can also define, redefine and fine-tune market segments, demographics and buying characteristics. As a result, it doesn’t take much imagination to brainstorm a list of ideas for service providers to:
- Personalize the service experience
- Develop enhanced loyalty management programs
- Enable targeted advertising specific to the individual’s preferences
Are there opportunities for service providers to differentiate themselves beyond just price plans and devices? Absolutely. There is a mountain of Big Data available to make it happen. With just a subset of the available data, there is much more that a service provider can do to enhance the experience of their subscribers. The category of personalization alone can create a whole new set of ideas and innovation.
Corner Office Wisdom:
In order to think outside the box when it comes to finding new opportunities and enhancing your business, sometimes you just need to look inside the box.
I Want To Be Iron Man! Don’t You?
In seeing the Iron Man heads up display for the first time, I thought – “Wow! That’s awesome!”
Google is planning to release a cool piece of new technology called Google Glass. If you haven’t heard of it, it is a pair of glasses to be worn by a person providing them a heads up display – very similar in concept to the Iron Man graphics.
With a simple tap of the finger or using voice commands, the wearer will be able to access and use Google Maps, Google+, Gmail, take photos and videos and share them with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Google Glass is an open platform allowing third-party developers to create applications for it. Check out this demo by TechCrunch. Now Google will not only have your finger-tips but also your eyeballs.
Through mobile devices and social media, retailers and advertisers have been able to accumulate massive amounts of data about their customers. By analyzing this information (big data), they have been able to gain deeper insights into the buying habits of customers such as where and when customers made their purchase. Was it done online, or was it at a retail store and which location, time of day and day of the week? Retailers also have more detailed customer feedback, such as, did customers “tweet” about it, give it a “like” or not, was it easy to use or wear, was the service good when customer service was called and was it recommended to others.
The goal of every advertiser is to grab your attention. With a display just an inch away from your eyes, advertisers and retailers all over are salivating at how they can take advantage of this technology. Combined with all of the information they now have available, it is a given they plan to use it to further build and reinforce their brands. Loyalty marketers will be anxious to draw you back into their stores with “we are just around the corner” notifications.
It will be interesting to see if there will be any new value-added services that become available with Google Glass or if this will only be a new platform with a new rendering for existing applications. It will also be interesting to see if there is any adjustment in market share between Google, Apple and the other major vendors of mobile devices.
From a technology perspective I can’t wait to try it out. From a cost perspective, it’s pretty steep at $1,500 each although the price is expected to drop to $299. While it’s not a full Tony Stark/Iron Man experience, it’s easy to see how it can get there.
It appears that Google Glass does have some challenges ahead as the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport is putting together “Don’t Glass and Drive” legislation. Perhaps with Glass 2.0, Google will also market arc-reactor powered jet boots along with it.
Corner Office Wisdom:
It’s not for everyone at the initial starting price of $1,500.