Big data is not about big data – it is about what you do with it

The shift that was apparent in the Big Data ‘market’ on the first day of the TM Forum’s Big Data in Focus conference was more than confirmed on Day Two. The change has been quick too.

A year ago the impression was that big data was too big to address, the successes were few and far between and these were generally Guerilla type operations. It seemed the hype was big and reality beckoned.

Now the issue is about business solutions and benefits and not about big data itself. Everyone has big data, everyone wants to see what they can get out of it. And the examples are stacking up.

Telefonica in Germany is using analytics to help them determine where investment is best targeted on the network. By calculating which switches are becoming overloaded and which switches support high value customers, decisions can be made about the timing and amount of investment. Many decisions about LTE are being made using similar models.

Orange in Israel used analytics to track down internal fraudsters. Probably the most common type of fraud, the key to discovering the perpetrators was not necessarily being able to analyse vast amounts of data but being able to analyse a wide variety of data and much of it unstructured. For instance, the social networks of employees was monitored, as well as sites known to sell ‘second hand’ phones.

Bahamas Telecommunications had a problem and an opportunity. The high value roamers who go to the islands on holiday were switching their data off before they arrived because of the high cost of roaming. By understanding who they were and by negotiating with their home network operators, they are now able to offer these high value customers good deals on data. As a result, everyone benefits. Customers are happy with a good deal on data, BTC is happy because they get some data revenue and the home networks are happy because they too got some data revenue.

Many use cases were presented and they were solid and varied. We are clearly beginning to see the value of analyzing the huge volume of data that flows through our businesses. But, as Dean Walters, CIO of Liberty Global said, he is sick of ‘big data vendors’ pitching empty boxes. He needs solutions not storage.

Although we are going in the right direction, there are still challenges. According to research conducted by the TM Forum and presented by Rob Rich, Managing Director of the Insights Research group at the Forum, the two biggest barriers to big data analysis projects continue to be data quality, followed by lack of top management support.

Maybe next year, amongst the ever growing list of analytics success stories there will be a presentation from a CEO who can articulate the value of analytics to his overall business strategy.

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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