AMSTERDAM -- Big Data in Focus -- It's still early days for communications service providers (CSPs) wrestling with the development of a big data strategy -- and everyone needs one, right? -- but there's no doubt they're making significant progress, shifting from a reactive to a proactive stance.
A year ago I attended the TM Forum 's Big Data Analytics Summit here in the Dutch capital. At that time, only a few operators were making headway in terms of building and managing data warehouses and analyzing that data to produce actionable results, and there was only talk of making money from data. In addition, there was still some skepticism about some of the potential use cases, applications and technologies associated with big data (the collection and storage of large volumes of data from multiple sources) and the associated analytics systems. (See The Big Data Challenge: 10 Tips for Telcos and Telefónica Battles Big Data Hype.)
Now, though, the industry has moved on (thank goodness). CSPs have invested time and money in their data analytics strategies and have moved beyond looking at how to store and analyze the masses of information they can harvest from their networks, OSS/BSS systems and external platforms (such as social media) to now focus on how best to extract value from that data and how to break down the cultural and operational silos that still exist.
This year, at the follow-up event, operators such as BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), Orange (NYSE: FTE), Telefónica Deutschland GmbH , and VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) (and others) have outlined their various experiences, from how they developed their strategies and overcame challenges to how they are applying analytics tools to tackle problems, enhance their services, cut costs and innovate.
That's a big change from last year and a sign that the CSPs, well known and derided for their slow reaction times and lengthy processes, are starting to become more agile -- perhaps even more like their IT and web services cousins. As a result, there's a real sense of achievement and (dare I say it) avenues of innovation within these operators.
One thing, though, is constant. As Stefan Spaar, director of OSS at Cricket Communications Inc. noted a year ago, once you start down the data analytics road, there's no end to it. "You are never done," he noted.
And by all accounts, he was right.
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading