The similarities between ‘Big Data’ projects and large transformations are becoming clear. According to customer experience research house Fifth Quadrant, while the vast majority of large businesses are completely convinced of the benefits of mining big data to improve the customer experience, only 12 percent of companies actually believed their efforts were ‘extremely successful.’ Meanwhile over half admitted to getting it wrong.
Some of their findings are particularly relevant to the telecoms world. To a large degree success comes with maturity. In mature organisations, leadership and energy for data analytics projects comes from senior management. In less mature organisations – in customer service terms – the initiative tends to come from line managers and as such do not have the impetus that the top level can bring to bear.
A pattern for successful projects includes the use of multiple data sets. It also points to the use of both external and internal data, including social media channels. And not only do the successful organisations report better customer experience statistics as a result, but many will point to increased profits, better financial control, better targeted products and a reduction in fraud levels.
The less mature organisations blamed lack of skills, lack of the right technology solution and badly integrated IT as the scapegoats for the failures.
Leaving aside the debate about whether telecoms companies would be in the ‘very good at customer service’ category or not, the problem – as usual – is the business case. In the world of annual accounts and quarterly reviews by Wall Street, signing off multi-million, multi year projects is never going to be easy.
This explains why – at the excellent TM Forum Big Data event at the beginning of this year – the success stories came from Guerilla IT projects and small scale experiments that proved their worth and slowly got the right attention. In other words, success right now is going from the bottom upwards, hardly ever from the top down. As one manager put it, “desire goes from the top down, belief goes from the bottom up.”
While the patterns in big data slowly become recognisable as common sense, but on a huge scale, one thing is clear. If telecoms is ever to get into the ‘mature’ category in customer service then they must look to other industries for their ideas, examples and inspiration.