By Greg Owens, Senior Director Customer Experience Solutions Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent
The rise of big data is causing service providers to ask some big questions: How should we store our data? How long should we keep it? What parts of it are relevant to our business? Most importantly, how do we get value from it? To turn big data into a big deal, service providers need to extract insights that can help them make smart business decisions and improve the customer experience.
The value of big data is all in what useful and actionable information it can provide. I find it exciting to see how service providers use big data analytics to gain new insights and solve complex problems. With this post, I’ll look at some new research by industry analysts and three key opportunities that big data analytics presents to service providers.
Improve the customer experience
Across the industry, big data analytics is viewed as a means for providers to see, understand and improve the customer experience. New reports by European Communications and TM Forum show customer experience improvement as a top-three driver for analytics initiatives. They also show that service providers are looking beyond customer support and thinking about how analytics can help them address the entire customer life cycle across all customer touchpoints.
This is happening because service providers want to become the caretakers of the customer experience. In analytics, they see opportunities to develop new capabilities, solve problems and improve quality of experience (QoE). Service providers know the pressure is on: If they can’t deliver on QoE, customers will turn to someone else. Lost customers mean lost revenue, lower customer lifetime value (CLV) and fewer opportunities to monetize service portfolios.
For me, these reports reaffirmed that service providers need QoE-focused analytics solutions. Providers can benefit from data-driven insights that help them anticipate, understand and react to what’s happening in the network and at every customer touchpoint. These insights can help them prioritize issues and offer proactive support that improves the customer experience while reducing customers’ propensity to churn.
Differentiate with QoE
A recent CEM-focused survey by Alcatel-Lucent and Heavy Reading identified big data analytics as a key differentiator for service providers. In fact, “support for big data” topped a list of critical functions for customer experience-driven differentiation.
Why do service providers see big data as a differentiator? Because it’s getting tougher to differentiate with networks, device portfolios and product offerings. For many service providers, the new priorities are to keep the customers they have, extract more value from them and, if possible, lure customers away from competitors. Insights from big data analytics can help providers deliver a superior QoE, one that satisfies customers, sells more services and earns more customer recommendations.
Achieve operational excellence
Service providers believe that big data analytics can help streamline network and service management process and increase operational efficiency. Providers have spent much of the last decade making operations leaner and reducing costs. Analytics offers opportunities to cut costs through reduced cycle times and faster problem resolution.
Increasing complexity and growing customer expectations keep pushing service costs up. To reverse this trend, service providers need a complete picture of what customers are experiencing at any given moment. This calls for analytics platforms that can visualize real-time customer experience levels, derive personalized customer insights and support proactive customer interactions. These platforms must support applications across multiple lines of business, including network operations, engineering, marketing and customer care.
Turn data into action
Service providers are sitting on a gold mine of data about customers, networks, operations and services. With big data analytics, they can start to use this data proactively and turn it into actions that improve the customer experience, increase customer satisfaction and promote operational excellence. In doing so, they can turn data into the big deal it promises to be.
- Big data: Big volume, big payback and big challenge, TM Forum Insights Research, September 2012
- Conquering big data challenges, How CSPs can use analytics to monetize their data, TM Forum Insights Research, September 2012
- CEM Study with Heavy Reading, Results for Big Data/Analytics, Alcatel-Lucent & Heavy Reading, September 2012
- Special Report: Big Data, European Communications, October 2012
- The Big Revenue from ‘Big Data’, Analysis Mason, October 2012