The telecoms industry is one of the richest in terms of data, but many are struggling to realise its true value and potential.
The very nature of the telecoms industry means that it is a data-rich environment. It, more than almost any other, has a huge amount of regular data streams, often containing valuable data.
Understanding what this data is, where it sits and how it can be used intelligently, in-line with regulations and customer’s expectations, is going to be absolutely key for the industry over the next few years.
Not seeing the wood for the trees
The amount of data collected every day is remarkable. For example, an operator serving 8 million prepaid mobile subscribers generates around 30 million call data records daily, equalling 11 billion records annually. If that operator also provides post-paid and fixed-line services then the data increases exponentially.
Undoubtedly, the potential of this data is huge. Adding to this, payment and contract details, trends in usage, mobile data, insurance, app downloads, Geo locations and on and on, it is easy to see how this data has the potential to add to a company’s knowledge of its own customers and allow it to take data-driven decisions around customer communication and the reduction of churn.
The collection, storage and dissemination of data are in most cases, already built into the everyday operations of most telecoms companies. However, gaining an understanding and getting a grip on the sheer amount of data that telecoms companies handle is one of the major areas of frustration for them.
Growth through acquisition adds to this. The reality is that systems will not have been merged or consolidated so that the data is coming through one system in the same format. So now you have huge amounts of data coming through in potentially different formats in different systems. If identifying the most accurate, useful data was a challenge before, it is a near impossible task now.
What challenges can data help telcos overcome?
The fact that the data telcos hold can add huge value to companies is nothing new. Understanding that data can help with the consistent challenge of customer churn is also widely recognised.
Roughly 75 percent of the 17 to 20 million subscribers signing up with a new wireless carrier every year are coming from another wireless provider and are therefore already churners. This is a huge amount of money and people, so retaining just a small percentage of these customers using data that you already have just makes sense.
Much of this churn is a result of poor customer experience. The latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index from January 2020 is at its lowest levels since 2015. The Telecommunications and Media sector is rated at 74.8 placing it in the bottom four sectors (along with local public services, utilities and transport).
Therefore, improving customer service is absolutely key to reducing churn, keep customers happy and retain that income. The old adage of it costing five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one remains true.
This competitive landscape is not getting any easier. The established telco companies across the sector are being challenged by smaller, more agile, new firms that are able to offer the customer experience expected by consumers immediately. They are not weighed down by legacy systems or poorly integrated infrastructure from acquired companies.
Competitive landscapes have also seen prices squeezed like never before, adding more pressure on telco companies. Margins are minimal which brings its own challenge, but again is one that can be helped by a better understanding of the data that resides within companies.
More telco companies are turning to data maturity assessments in order to find out where data is being held, how it is being used and by who. This full picture is the crucial first step in using the data more intelligently. Without this companies can never have a clear understanding of what data is available to them and how they can use it.
What challenges does data itself present telcos?
The sheer volume of data, as has been discussed, is in itself causing a real issue. It is not just the data collected by the telecoms company itself. Many have to interface with supply chains and suppliers such as BT Openreach. Therefore, the data is coming from multiple places, not just in-house systems.
Alongside this, when data is collected, stored and managed by different business units within the organisation there can be real confusion.
More often than not each business unit is storing and using the data in different formats, most of which cannot communicate with each other. Add to this the third-party data and other systems incorporated via acquisition, the picture is one of data confusion.
The other issue confronting telecom companies is one of an increasingly complex regulatory landscape.
In order to secure adherence, and more importantly, remaining secure, telecoms companies have to ensure that they understand where their data is coming from, how it is used and where it is stored. Without this information, companies are risking laying themselves open to possible breaches.
Overcoming the challenges and making data a key asset by understanding your data maturity
Identifying and understanding your organisations data maturity can be overwhelming.
However, telcos are turning to data maturity models designed to help businesses along the way. Turning to third party solutions takes away the resource pressure of beginning to tackle the huge amount of data held by telecom companies.
The automated process means large amounts of data can be analysed, giving companies an understanding of how their data is collected.
It can gather data across the entire company, from disparate systems and formats. This gives an indication as to where the valuable data is held and how it can be used to allow companies to make informed decisions as to future strategy.
Data undoubtedly continues to cause issues for telecom companies, but the benefits of leveraging it are huge. This has been recognised by many in the industry for years, but now is the time for companies to act.
Data maturity assessments play an important role in taking the first step for a better understanding of the data held within companies. Without this first step, most companies are unable to gain the insight they need to start to address the key issues impacting the sector.
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