Pitney Bowes has telco providers in its location analytics sights

The software firm wants to see telecommunications providers latch onto the concept of location analytics to get a better overall picture of their networks and reduce customer churn.

Organisations are collecting unprecedented amounts of data, but according to Nigel Lester, managing director for Pitney Bowes Software in Australia and New Zealand, one of the features of that data not fully capitalised on is its location.

Speaking with ZDNet, Lester said that one of the big challenges organisations are currently facing is how they can actually make a difference to business operations by using location analytics.

Approximately 80 percent of all data is geographically referenced, and holds information such as addresses, postal or ZIP codes, and cities, he added.

"But not all businesses are leveraging that data to solve problems," Lester said.

"What we've seen over the last couple of years internationally -- and now really heating up in Australia -- is a real interest of how organisations can use location to really create actionable insight out of big data."

According to Lester, the telecommunications industry is a great example of how an organisation can combine location intelligence and big data -- in particular network data -- to provide a real-time understanding of the network quality and coverage.

As billions of data pieces are being recorded at the network level, Lester said that being able to model that and get updates frequently has been challenging for telcos.

Historically, coverage maps have been created using modelled signal strength data with limited technical testing data and samples of user data, Lester explained. With knowledge of location analytics, telcos have access to a coverage map with a full set of real users' usage data and potentially a full view of its network.

While that practice has been acceptable in the past, Lester said, it causes a number of challenges around accuracy and how granular or detailed that data is due to the infrequency of updates.

Lester said the concept assists telcos in many ways, but it is the concept of accurate network mapping to provide a real-time coverage snapshot and retaining customers as a result that he feels is of key importance.

"It's really imperative for telcos to be able to improve network coverage, quality, also the continuing of connection -- avoiding dropouts," he said.

Telcos in particular undergo a large amount of churn with their customer base, Lester said, highlighting that the industry runs at an approximate 30 percent churn-rate when it comes to customer base -- based on poor network coverage the majority of the time.

"It's really a customer-centric view at big data," Lester added.

While Lester said that analysing data for data's sake is great for a data scientist, a business should be focused on how to create a better experience for its customers and use the information to make faster, more insightful business decisions.

This kind of analytics is not just a pipe dream, Lester explained. Pitney Bowes has already implemented the technology -- the Spectrum Spatial Lake -- in a number of locations internationally and has been talking with organisations in Australia about how they can leverage their existing data.