Although very different events in their make-up, one thing that struck us about both events was the focus they had on data – both how much of it consumers use these days, and how much of it the operators collect about those consumers.
Of course, we particularly liked hearing views from operators and vendors that closely chimed with our own approach to the market, and the services we are developing.
For example, Vasyl Latsanych the Marketing VP of Russian operator MTS spoke about the explosion of data usage among consumers but pointed out that operators did not drive this growth or create the services that underpin the usage.
“It was the Apps and the App companies,” he said. “And that’s why operators need to build partnerships with the App companies, so that they too can help drive demand and create revenues.”
We think Vasyl might have read our Northstream research into this very topic. Working with Northstream we identified a potential revenue windfall of €2.2bn in Western Europe alone if operators took advantage of collaboration opportunities with the OTT and App companies.
One of the factors that Vasyl identified as being central to unlocking this opportunity was that: “The operators know far more about their customers than any OTT player.”
We have to agree again and of course, more recently undertook a survey of operators to see how ready they were to use that customer data – and we found out that they perceived themselves as being at least two years behind the large Internet players.
Speaking at the GTB event, Tim Moran, a telco analytics specialist at IBM also said that the European operators were behind in this area, and highlighted that privacy legislation was partly responsible. But Tim had a clear idea of which way to look for guidance: “The operators in the Far East are well in the lead in this field – gathering, viewing, analyzing and actioning behavior-based customer data.”
At the Next Gen BSS conference, our own Akil Chomoko outlined to delegates a snapshot of the way we, both in our home Chinese market and now internationally, are addressing the issue of developing new services and promotions based on the overwhelming amount of data that operators now collect.
As Akil said: “It’s about matching formulas with flexibility. Operators need systems that can take a formula-based approach to identifying the data patterns that reveal revenue opportunities; and then they need the flexibility within their systems to make the right consumer offers and promotions in real time.”
For mobile operators, we can expect data to dominate the agenda for quite some time now. Whether that’s building 5G networks to cope with huge data volumes, or building the systems to monetize data usage and customer insights. We can certainly help with the latter.