April 12, 2016

The Big Challenge for Big Data in CEM

A better customer experience requires service providers to knock down internal silos and become experts at using contextual data.

Telecom service providers are not in the agricultural business, but they have an unrivaled tradition of building silos that last for decades and seem to reach all the way to the sky.

We talk a lot about the marvels of big data and advanced analytics and their potential for dramatically improving the experience of service provider customers. The more data and contextual information that service providers can harvest and use, the better opportunity they’ll have to deliver high-value services to their customers, based on location, preferences, transaction history, and so on.

One of the biggest challenges to the successful use of big data and advanced analytics in customer experience management (CEM) is the organizational structure of service providers. For each new digital service, there’s a temptation to create a separate silo of systems, making it tougher to get good data from one unified source.

ICT Intuition and Coleman Parkes Research reached out to 115 network operators around the world recently to ask about various decisions they’ve made in the process of becoming digital service providers. When asked how OSS and BSS are being implemented for new digital services, 25 percent said “in a new silo.”

But silos are the enemies of change for traditional network operators that want to become digital service providers. In the context of CEM, silos prevent service providers from getting all of the benefits of big data and advanced analytics. I said as much when interviewed recently by Telecom Asia about big data and the impact on CEM:


Telecom operators’ organizational silos hinder big data analytics projects, as different departments within operators are wary of sharing their data across departmental boundaries. However, big data used effectively has the potential to revolutionize the way telecom operators build, run, and market their services.


This is a fundamental challenge for service providers and perhaps the most difficult to overcome. Behavioral habits are hard to break. That’s true for people and for companies with long-established corporate cultures and business processes. So it won’t be easy, but it’s time to dismantle the old legacy silos.

Big data is “big” because it gathers data from many diverse sources. For service providers, a big data engine needs to tap into a variety of internal data such as network performance statistics, customer call records, billing details, service plans, customer location – such internal data is referred to as structured data. If the structured data is housed across many different, hardened silos, then it will be costly and time-consuming to collect.

Along with structured data for CEM purposes, various unstructured data is also collected from outside the service provider. These include such things as Twitter feeds or Facebook updates – basically, any external source where customers indicate whether they like or dislike their services or whether there is a problem.

As I explained to Telecom Asia:


Big data and advanced analytics brings together a combination of structured and unstructured data coming from text, social media, video, etc., in large volumes to unearth actionable insight. As such, real-time streaming technology and complex event processing technologies are part and parcel of big data solutions.


Most service providers today use offline data analysis for reporting, planning, and CEM purposes. Their current analytics infrastructure does not provide them with the kind of real-time analytics capabilities that can help them continuously monitor and respond to high-value VIP customer issues in real time, engage in personalized marketing in real time, conduct sophisticated network planning, and proactively detect and prevent fraud.


Indeed, siloed systems need to be centralized in order to tap into big data and real-time analytics for CEM. When service providers have a holistic view of their customers across all the services they use, then advanced analytics can perform wonders and produce new insights into what customers and partners actually experience, how products are perceived, and how services and the network perform.

Without the impediments of silos, service providers can have a complete view of their customers’ experience – and the insights generated from big data analytics will only improve the view.


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