Data-driven Service Providers: Still a Myth?

By: Srinivas Padmanabharao

Almost everyone who has been sailing and are interested in poetry will recall Samuel Coleridge’s, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in which he wrote “Water, Water everywhere; not a drop to drink.”.  To businesses swimming in oceans of data in today’s world, they can relate to that feeling as, “Data, data everywhere, not a byte I can use.”

It is near impossible these days for anybody in the business world to not be overwhelmed with all the claims around the impact of big data and related analytics. Big data-related topics usually find themselves at or near the peak of the Gartner hype cycle around emerging technologies. That, however, need not be the case. By adopting a structured approach to big data, organizations can achieve tangible business benefits and competitive advantages.

While service providers have always had access to oceans of data on their customers, they have not traditionally been known for leveraging this information in the most efficient way. In the digital world, the entire concept of “communications” is being rapidly redefined. New age competitors like Facebook, WhatsApp and other over-the-top (OTT) applications are fast taking the lead in establishing a much closer relationship with the end user. This is not a sustainable situation for service providers who want to remain competitive. Therefore, they need to find ways of exploiting these oceans of data to fight back.

Professor Gary King of Harvard University once said, “Big Data is not about the data.” Rather, he argues that it is about being able to identify the right sources and analyze it to drive the business forward. By extracting and analyzing data from customer experience, revenue management and network systems, service providers can have the power to generate meaningful insights to deliver an improved customer experience that is contextual and personalized, optimize the network and operations and make data-driven decisions across the business.

Leveraging data for customer experience

In the digital world, winning the battle for customer experience is the only sustainable advantage that service providers can rely upon. This is why digital innovation is so important. It ensures they can make informed, real-time decisions that are based on data and insights. As customers traverse their customer journey, they leave a digital footprint. But in order to truly understand the customer, this information needs to be combined with the customer profile. Then, by leveraging insights derived from customer demographics, service information, usage and buying patterns, social and location information, as well as third-party sources such online browsing, the service provider can better identify the customer’s intent and proactively engage them in real time with a highly-personalized and contextual experience.

Building a foundation

Edwards Deming, the famous statistician, once said, “In God we trust. All others must bring data.”


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