The Disruptive Power of Business Intelligence

By: Jesse Cryderman

The ability to peer into the future has always captured the imagination of humanity. Religious texts recount the stories of prophets and prophecy. In medieval lore, powerful kings relied on soothsayers and tea leaf readers to provide a purported window into the future. Unsolved Mysteries, one of my favorite shows as a teen, often featured a story about a claimed clairvoyant who saved a town from calamity. Today, palm readers, crystal ball gazers, and tarot card interpreters are prevalent. And yet, most of humanity's problems haven't changed, and no one has ever claimed James Randi's million-dollar-prize for proving any psychic ability. 

We know that basing future decisions on this type of pseudo-science is unwise at best, as well as potentially financially damaging. No one, to my knowledge, has ever won the lottery or predicted the outcome of a horse race based on tea leaves. Certainly no business would stake any sort of decision making on this brand of prognostication. However, modern day data science and analysis has provided us with a powerful alternative in the form of Business Intelligence (BI). From customer acquisition, to resource planning, to fraud reduction, business intelligence is a powerful suite of tools that can enable communications service providers (CSPs) to be more competitive and even disrupt the markets in which they operate.

Business intelligence to the rescue

There are many functional areas within a CSP in which BI can have a profound impact on the organization. Here are a few:

Sales Forecasting: Business Intelligence can have a dramatic effect on the front-end of the customer lifecycle, beginning with demand and sales forecasting, market analysis, and sales trend analysis by customer segment (identifying  customer segments with similar sales pattern,  segments with declining sales, segments with sales growth etc.). These insights can be further leveraged for short-term and long-term forecasting of product sales. Once campaigns are initiated, BI enables the operator to evaluate the effectiveness of promotional campaigns, and determine the impact of marketing events (coupons, discounts, special promotions, advertisement, etc.) on sales, customer retention, and customer acquisition. Ultimately this enables operators to discover the drivers of product sales, the quantifying impact of each driver, and provides actionable intelligence on how to act in order to increase sales. BI also reveals the best cross-selling and up-selling decisions, and in particular, how to deliver the right offer to the right customer segment in a right time.

Customer Experience Management: Once a customer is onboarded, BI plays important role. In this capacity, BI toolsets improve customer profiling, segmentation, and clustering with the usage of demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioral variables and historical business information. This results in data enrichment in the CRM and improves marketing ROI by targeting specific customer segments with personalized campaigns.  Armed with this enriched data, operators can predict customer profitability, loyalty, and likelihood to churn, as well as identify early adopters who might be prime for an upsell or new service offering. At the same time, BI reveals under-served customers who could benefit from outreach, and the optimal ways in which to allocate marketing funds. The final outcome: BI helps operators develop lifelong relationships with the most profitable customers and improves the overall customer experience. 


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