Arguably the most disruptive telco in the UK market today, Three UK is looking to leverage insights generated from its vast troves of network data in a bid to improve customer satisfaction and how the business caters to segmented customer needs, as well as derive incremental value from existing customers.
Stefan Grew, data management & information service manager enterprise information CIO tells Business Cloud News that the company is at the outset of a challenging yet rewarding journey that will ultimately keep Three ahead of other large UK telcos.
At over 8 million subscribers Three isn’t quite the size of Vodaphone or O2 in the UK mobile market, but it’s a very respectable and sizeable chunk nevertheless – and one acquired in part as a result of its very favourable data pricing policies. It’s the only telco in the UK to offer uncapped data tariffs at competitive prices. And as a telco, regardless of its size relative to incumbents, Three is one of the few types of companies genuinely facing a big data problem.
Grew says that two years the company agreed that it wanted to move away from being a price-led company.
“We wanted to focus more on customer enjoyment, give the customer something they wanted. What was obvious was that customers wanted to use a lot of data on their devices. But moving from there it became about how we enrich the experience and give them new capabilities,” Grew says.
“The only problem with that is we didn’t really know enough about our customers, we didn’t have a consolidated view of that. The key question is, how we can deliver some value and pull together a 360-degree view of the customer?”
Grew, who is tasked with developing the data roadmap for Three and making sure processes and infrastructure is in place to support that, says that the company has already done a lot of work at the data warehouse level by integrating network data and customer / pricing data from its business support systems (BSS). That integration is essential for developing this comprehensive view of the customer.
It’s the first step in a long process that will initially see Three roll out business analytics to its various business units.
“I think part of the challenge comes back to good integration between operational support systems, business support systems and the data warehouse. I think we have latent problems there,” Grew says.
“As we mature and as we start to develop out new BSS capabilities, we need to have thought about that in advance rather than waiting for it to come and then dealing with the data side of it after, which we haven’t necessarily done so well in the past.”
But he says Three, the youngest telco in the UK market (beyond EE, which was really a marriage of incumbents), has done a lot of work to adapt its approach as it endeavours to build out not just an analytics platform, but a sustainable infrastructure that will support its big data initiatives in the future – which includes ensuring strong integration between BSS and the data warehouse.
“We understand the changes we need to make. If we do that all in the right way, and capture the data at the start and think about how we want to use that data from the outset, we’ll be able to demonstrate our successes more effectively,” he says. “The challenge for us is to make sure we understand how the business wants to use that data.”
With business intelligence analytics being extended to new regions throughout organisations a very different approach to standard business analysis is needed, Grew says. Business leaders need information more quickly, and at the same time don’t always know what data they need in order to satisfy key business questions.
“Climate capture is still vital, so when you’re doing big structured deliveries you still need to have that very structured climate capture capability, but we need to complement that with something more agile. I think moving into an environment where from the data perspective we’re viewing it more transiently, working more iteratively, allowing users to prototype for themselves. The more we empower them to do that, the better.”
In June, Three launched the first internal pilot for its analytics and data visualisation platform. The company invited employees to bring one business question with them and, given certain data sets –service usage patterns, purchasing trends and network stats – the team was able to answer some of these questions fairly quickly.
Grew says the process reinforced business users’ ability to use the platform, which is often half the battle, and helped them think about how to connect the data the company has with potential business outcomes and actions. Self-service data analytics is where Three is heading, and the company hopes to be able to empower its users to direct these platforms towards other areas of the business in a bid to generate more incremental value from its existing customers.
“We already have the base data for usage, so bringing that up into that same mechanism so that we’ve got that additional flavour so customers start to generate incremental value to us. We think we understand what that really means in terms of how they’re using our services, and I think over the next 6 months or so we need to look at getting a good prototyping capability in place so that we don’t spend so much time building strategically only to find that we’ve not met what the business needs.”
“As we look at better ways of handling our vast amounts of network data, we’ll start to try and think about how we collect our customer sentiment information, how we interact with third parties around marketing and segmentation, use this information tonreduce churn and so forth. I’d really like to provide some of these things, but it takes time to get to step one”
“We’re really right at the beginning of our big data journey,” he says.
Infrastructure giant Ericsson forecasts total mobile data traffic growth will increase ten-fold between now and 2019, on the back of smartphone subscription growth that is expected to grow at four times the rate of total mobile subscriptions, and total global LTE subscriptions that are forecasted to grow 13-fold.
The company presented the findings from its latest Mobility Report at an event in central London Tuesday. Key themes of the report were the rapid growth in global smartphone penetration and LTE network coverage and the consequent jump in global mobile data traffic.
In 2013 global LTE subscriptions stood at around 200 million, according to Ericsson, and that number is forecasted to hit 2.6 billion. China is expected to account for an increasing proportion of global LTE subscriptions, with is total forecasted to hit 700 million by 2019, meaning it will account for over a quarter of the global total.
Speaking exclusively to Telecoms.com, Patrik Cerwall, the head of strategic marketing and intelligence at Ericsson, added further colour on China’s increasing dominance of the global mobile market. “The total amount of data generated by LTE subscriptions in China in 2019 will be greater than the global total is today,” he said. Cerwall also highlighted that, in common with many other technologies, the appetite for bandwidth is unlikely to ever be satisfied, with video streaming continuing to dominate mobile data use.
One of the major drivers behind China’s mobile growth has been the rapid uptake of smartphones by the country over the past couple of years. With much of the world’s technology manufacture happening on their doorstep, Chinese consumers have been quick to snap up cheap Android smartphones that cost little more, if at all, than the feature phone equivalent. Chinese smartphone penetration is already up at the same levels as many western markets so, given its massive population, it’s safe to assume China will continue to dominate the global mobile market for the foreseeable future.
US API developer Apigee this week secured a further $ 60m in funding, bringing its total raised to date to $ 171m for big data analytics development.
Pine River Capital Management and Wellington Management Company participated as new investors in this round, along with current Apigee investors Norwest Venture Partners, Bay Partners, Third Point, SAP Ventures, and funds managed by BlackRock, Focus Ventures, and Accenture.
Earlier this month the company upgraded its big data analytics platform, claiming to enable enterprises to increase customer satisfaction and revenue by predicting and immediately adapting to the needs of individual customers at scale.
Apigee Insights lets businesses apply sophisticated predictive analytics on fine-grained data and then proactively act on those insights in real time, delivering individualised services through predictive apps.
Analyst house Ovum recently flagged the company as one to watch for organisations embarking on digital transformation initiatives. “The combination of API/application infrastructure, analytics, and strategy services offered by Apigee is well suited to enterprise API initiatives focusing on driving business growth via digital supply chains,” said Saurabh Sharma, senior analyst at Ovum. “Enterprises should look to engage with Apigee as a strategic partner for digital transformation initiatives, and not as a typical API management solution/infrastructure provider, to realize more value from their investment.”
Two weeks ago Apigee was contracted by Telecom Digital Ventures New Zealand, a division of Telecom New Zealand, to power Qrious, a big data and analytics platform designed to deliver a better way for organisations to tap into data insights and combine them with other available data in the ecosystem.
Apigee has a strong presence in telco API initiatives. In 2012 the company was tapped by Telefónica to lay the technical foundations for an API platform that allows third-party applications to hook into the Telefónica network. The two companies have worked together in the past on Telefónica’s BlueVia application development platform.
Flytxt Partners with VoltDB for Real-time Streaming Analysis of Mobile Communication Service Provider Data
Flytxt Partners with VoltDB for Real-time Streaming Analysis of Mobile Communication Service Provider Data
VoltDB’s High Velocity Operational Database Further Enhances Flytxt’s Real-time Analytics and Contextual Marketing Capabilities to Monetize Data Faster and More Efficiently
BEDFORD, Mass., April 14, 2014 – VoltDB today announced a technology partnership with Flytxt, a leading Big Data analytics solution provider to Communication Service Providers (CSPs). Flytxt has successfully integrated VoltDB’s in-memory operational database with its real-time analytics platform, already being used in customer deployments to extract actionable intelligence from billions of events streaming each day from more than 200 million mobile subscribers.
“The partnership with VoltDB enhances our platforms’ capability to act upon insights derived from subscriber actions in real time,” said Prateek Kapadia, CTO, Flytxt. “This is another step towards realizing our vision to transform high volume, high variety, high velocity network, usage, billing and other data streams to generate measurable economic value for our CSP customers.”
Flytxt’s Big Data analytics solutions enable more than 50 CSPs across 32 countries to increase revenues, reduce churn, drive data adoption and growth, optimize margins and generate new revenue streams through advanced analytical capabilities. Flytxt’s platforms and applications are built around its patent pending technologies that interpret, infer, discover and predict KPIs, insights, recommendations and actions from large volumes of subscriber data available with CSPs. Leveraging VoltDB’s technology, Flytxt platforms can now generate behavioral, threshold and transactional triggers faster.
“Mobile service providers are striving to be able to analyze and interact with customer data as it arrives in real time,” said Bruce Reading, VoltDB CEO. “Flytxt is leading that charge by demonstrating how service providers can act on real-time triggers to respond to customer needs and actions instantaneously. VoltDB delivers the in-memory analytics and massive scalability for Flytxt platforms to enable CSPs to engage with customers faster and seize opportunities to enhance revenue and the customer experience.”
Flytxt is a leading provider of Big Data Analytics solutions that enable CSPs to derive measurable economic value from subscriber data. The company offers Customer Experience & Revenue Management and Data Monetization Solutions as well as consultancy services to enable operators to run campaigns for increasing revenue, reducing churn, enhancing loyalty and creating new revenue streams. Flytxt’s closed loop integrated real-time marketing platform has been selected by leading CSPs across APAC and EMEA, serving more than 500 million subscribers and has generated over $ 350 million incremental revenue for them till now.
The company has won many industry awards like NASSCOM Emerge 50 league of 10, Aegis Graham Bell Award for innovation in Mobile Advertising, BID International Quality Summit Award, Red Herring Asia 100 and IEEE Cloud Computing Challenge. With its headquarters in the Netherlands, corporate office in Dubai and global delivery centers at Trivandrum and Mumbai in India, the company has presence in New Delhi, Lagos, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur and London. For more information about Flytxt, visit www.flytxt.com.
VoltDB provides the world’s fastest operational database, delivering high-speed data processing and real-time, in-memory analytics in a single database system. VoltDB is a relational database that gives organizations an unprecedented ability to build ultra-fast applications that can extract insights from massive volumes of dynamic data and enable real-time decision-making. Organizations in markets including mobile, financial services, energy, advertising and gaming use VoltDB to maximize the business value of data at every interaction. VoltDB is privately held with offices in Bedford, Mass. and Santa Clara, Calif.
The world’s fastest applications run on VoltDB.
Davies Murphy Group, Inc.
US smartphone users are open to using sponsored data plans driven by fear of exceeding their mobile data limit, according to research published today.
Sponsored data plans have become a hot topic in the US telecoms market in recent months after AT&T launched an initiative in January that allows businesses to cover the transmission cost of content they provide to consumers. The Sponsored Data service enables customers to view sponsored content and use apps over the operator’s HSPA+ and LTE networks without that data usage coming out of their monthly plan.
The operator said at the time that it envisions use cases for potential sponsors including the promotion of movie trailers or games, providing healthcare support to patients, encouraging customers to browse mobile shopping sites and allowing firms with a “bring your own device” policy to cover the cost for employees to use business related services.
However, the move caught the attention of US authorities keen to maintain the ‘openess’ of the internet. Anna Eshoo, a ranking member of the US Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said in a statement that AT&T’s announcement “puts it in the business of picking winners and losers on the internet, threatening the open internet, competition and consumer choice.
Now, research firm Wakefield Research conducted a survey of 1,000 US adult smartphone users on behalf of business software firm Citrix and found that fear of exceeding data charges and incurring overage charges is causing subscribers to open up to the idea of using sponsored data services.
The research found younger users are the most fearful about exceeding their monthly mobile data limit, while adults with children were the group most likely to exceed their limit. It also found that 82 per cent of respondents avoid using specific smartphone apps through fear of exceeding their limit. iPhone users said they were more concerned about overage fees (66 per cent) than Android users (48 per cent). Two-thirds (67 per cent) of users who watch at least one mobile video per month said they have exceeded their mobile data limit, while 36 per cent of subscribers who watch fewer than one video per month reported exceeding their limit. 72 per cent of adults with children also reported exceeding their limit, compared with 46 per cent of adults without children.
As a result, US subscribers are inclined to use data services if they are sponsored by a content provider, Citrix reported. 71 per cent of men and 62 per cent of women said that they would use sponsored data plans if they were available and reported that they would do so to access bank account information (39 per cent), watch educational videos (33 per cent), advertisements (28 per cent), hold a teleconference (21 per cent) or file an insurance claim (18 per cent).
The firm also reported that younger users are more open to sponsored data plans than older adults, although parents showed more interest in sponsored data plans compared with adults without children. 77 per cent of parents reported that they were likely to carry out the tasks listed in the survey if the data usage was sponsored. 58 per cent of adults without children reported the same.
“Sponsored data plans are likely to be a growing source of revenue for mobile operators. The findings of this survey suggest that although subscribers are keen to consume data, they are also worried about exceeding data limits,” said Chris Koopmans, VP and GM for service provider platforms at Citrix.
“Sponsored data plans are one way in which content providers can engage with their target audience. This research is a first in terms of assessing the subscriber’s desire to receive these plans.”