Telcos could do more with biz intelligence

Telecoms operators in the region are not doing enough with business analytics, and could take a leaf from the retail industry, says Frost & Sullivan analyst.

SINGAPORE--Telecoms operators are not doing enough analytics on customer data, unlike other verticals such as retail, according to a Frost & Sullivan analyst.

Karl Whitelock, senior consulting analyst, operations support systems/business support systems (OSS/BSS) global competitive strategies at Frost & Sullivan's Stratecast Division, said operators have been "remiss in using the large amounts of [customer] data they have collected".

Speaking to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the Frost & Sullivan OSS/BSS Asia-Pacific summit, Whitelock said operators are sitting on a "goldmine" of technological capability such as business intelligence (BI) that could be used to crunch data and deliver deeper insight into customer service, but are not doing enough with it.

This is especially so compared to other verticals such as retail, which are employing BI to "tailor-make" services for customers. "We haven't seen this happening in telecoms," said Whitelock.

He explained that "retail has always recognized the value of the customer", while operators have traditionally diverted most resources to maintaining the quality of their networks. "It's only been in the past three years that operators started being more customer-centric," he noted.

According to a recent Stratecast survey, more telecom players are looking to BI and business analytics implementations. Compared to past years' results, focus on billing systems have gone down because it has moved into the implementation stage for many operators, Whitelock said.

"This is a direct result of many [operators] having either completed or will soon be completing many essential billing system upgrades," he said.

The survey also showed that for many organizations, BI is driven by sales and marketing and product management divisions. "It doesn't always have to be this way. A lot can be gleaned from the data" for use understanding customers better, he said.

Fellow Stratecast analyst, Susan McNeice, program manager, OSS/BSS global competitive strategies, thinks more operators are sitting up and paying attention to BI. "Operators around the world...are using the techniques in play at major retailers to understand buying behaviors as a key input to promotional campaigns and new product development."

Prakash Sadagopan, director, product strategic, Asia-Pacific at Convergys, offered examples of what operators could do with the information: Rather than offer free SMS text messaging credits to its entire customer base, an operator could offer free ringtones to a user who downloads a lot of ringtones as an incentive to stay on as a subscriber, he said.

"[These measures] would help increase stickiness in customers. The best part is, all this can be automated," he added.

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