Light Reading

Big-Data's Not So Big Without CEM

Sarah Thomas

It's no surprise the big-data market is attracting new entrants, consolidation, and operator attention. It's largely because there's ample opportunity to make money, but any player would be remiss to focus only on that money-making part of the big-data equation.

Rather, big-data should be part of a larger customer experience management (CEM) program within the operator. It's hard to say whether this imperative falls to the operator, the big-data vendor, or, most likely, both. Most of the vendors I've spoken with note that their analytics tools can be used to help the operators do most any type of customer care, CEM or network-related upgrades, but it seems the operators are stuck on the how to make money from their analytics capabilities. (See: Big Data Attracts Big Dollars, New Faces.)

Heavy Reading senior analyst Ari Banerjee tells us there is a lot of opportunity for new entrants in the big-data space that have a robust technology platform and can work with operators with innovative business models. But a focus that goes beyond data monetization to a broader CEM strategy is a must. According to Heavy Reading's projections, CEM-centric activities, as well as network intelligence and analytics, will play a much greater role in the big-data market.

This will result in the use of big-data analytics to improve the customer experience at a network, billing, and services layer. It also entails breaking down silos to get a much broader, more detailed view of a subscriber. A triple-play provider is better able to help a customer if it has visibility into all the services used by that customer, especially if all those services are consolidated onto one bill. That may present upsell opportunities, but that's secondary to the basic CEM considerations.

That may seem like an obvious move, but it's not yet a common approach. The disparate operations at major carriers work within their own silos, and the view they have of their customers relates only to the services provided by that particular division. This hurts the customer service experience but also represents a big CEM opportunity.

Part of the issue could be that the operators don't yet have the help they need to ingest, understand, and act on big-data. And they are not alone: According to McKinsey & Co. , the US could face "a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions."

But there is some evidence that operators are starting to look for help. Heavy Reading senior analyst Caroline Chappell has noticed there are numerous openings for PhD students who want to study data mining as part of their post-graduate studies.

Many operators such as Verizon Wireless , Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) have created divisions to focus on utilizing big-data capabilities, but it could be that they don't have the expertise to make it part of a bigger strategy yet. (See: JDSU Urges Ops to Sell Their Location Data, AT&T Eyes Big Data Revenues, and Telefónica Battles Big Data Hype.)

Identifying new business opportunities (and potential cost savings) from big-data is a real opportunity, but it's not one that should be pursued in isolation. It's just one part of a larger CEM strategy -- and that's where the real opportunities lie.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
10/15/2013 | 3:28:18 PM
Re: The NSA Paradigm
Very good point, ping. All the vendors are working on that, although they have different methods. It's a lot to take in and understand, especially working within silos. I'll be looking for more concrete examples of it done well, and I'm sure the operators will look for examples of it tied to revenue generation. That's the kind of data they'll care about.
sam masud
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/15/2013 | 3:24:29 PM
The NSA Paradigm
Quite possibly nobody has more "big  data" than the National Security Agency, and in my humble opinion I don't think it's helping them all that much, relatively speaking, in going after the baddies. It seems to me that it makes little sense to suck up all the data for analysis--perhaps the challenge of big data will be in identifying data that truly is of value. I guess vendors that do that well will be the ones that succeed.
User Rank: Blogger
10/11/2013 | 11:55:15 AM
Re: multi-vendor CEM
I like that quote, Liz! Makes sense. It's no small task when we're talking getting that granular. And, McKinsey isn't the only one predicting a shortage in big-data experts. I think that's why so many vendors are pitching products for analytics that are plug-in-play so that anyone can understand. But, I wonder if those go far enough?
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/11/2013 | 10:39:03 AM
Re: multi-vendor CEM
We've got a number of Catalysts at Digital Disruption on this very topic--the two go hand in hand. Customer engagement/experience can't be improved until businesses start capturing, analyzing and understanding data over a period of time rather than just one interaction. One of my favorite quotes from our CEM guru here at the Forum is: "If you run your business with averages, you will run an average business."
User Rank: Blogger
10/11/2013 | 10:21:55 AM
multi-vendor CEM
It's becoming clear that operators are using multiple vendors for big-data analytics alone, not to mention their wider CEM strategies. For example, Zettics works with the big four operators, and Guavus has said Sprint is a customer, maybe even AT&T. I imagine the big four use their big vendor partners a la ALU, Ericsson, NSN, etc in the back office too. It'll be interesting to see how that shakes out and all fits together to create their larger CEM strategy.
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