Analytics/Big Data

BT Goes Crime-Fighting With Big Data

When it comes to innovation, BT Group plc is willing to look in some unusual places for inspiration, including its own internal lawyers and the UK police force.

When the quad-play provider wanted to figure out how to how meet the needs of the legal sector, Alan Beaumont, head of enterprise architecture at BT, says it looked to its own internal lawyers for their expertise.

When it wanted to catch criminals, however, it turned to Big Data instead.

Beaumont says that cable theft is a huge problem in the UK. Using the data it has on hand, the company has been able to correlate the time a customer calls about a service being down with police information on cables stolen. It can then determine if there's a break in the network. If that break is near a manhole cover and ducts, within five minutes a police officer can show up to catch the crook at work dragging the copper out.

"It's quite sophisticated data matching and responsivity," he says. It's one example of an operator actually putting its analytics capabilities to use -- with real results.

A lot of operators have bemoaned the lack of viable, complete vendor solutions for Big Data, but Beaumont is of the mindset that homegrown solutions are the best. Speaking at the recent Management World event in Nice, he said that no single vendor has a one-shot solution to plug in for Big Data that just works. BT has had to piece together parts -- the data gathering, the organizing, and the analytics pieces -- on its own.

The company isn't dead set on being a lone wolf though. He admitted there's a significant need to find partners to deliver digital end-to-end services to new vertical markets, such as the pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

That's why BT isn't limiting itself to how it innovates. For example, it recently launched a new over-the-top calling service for its customers with fixed plans. That came from its mainstream unit. On the other hand, it also has an innovation research unit that works with major corporations to try new ideas.

"The pharmaceutical sector wanted to improve how to get drugs to market. If things like that look like they'll be viable with a mass market, we'll move them into our mainstream business," Beaumont explains. He adds, "It's a mix and match depending on scale of opportunity and where it is in the client sector."

"We try to bring innovation from around the world. The challenge is not coming up with the ideas, but getting them to the point where they make sense in the market place and growing and scaling them."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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