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‘Big Data’ Is Getting Smarter

Europe is rapidly adopting 4G (LTE). Mobile operators have deployed LTE networks in pockets of rural Germany, SFR in France plans to rollout LTE services in November and the UK’s largest operator, EE, will launch the country’s first LTE network at the end of October. The UK, in particular, was a trailblazer of 3G mobile services more than a decade ago, but it has fallen behind other markets with the take-up of 4G.

It’s widely acknowledged that mobile operators are sat on a potential goldmine of personal data based on presence, location and preference. Operators can mine data that reveals what websites subscribers visit, which applications they use, and what products they buy. Now that mobile broadband has taken hold on wireless networks subscribers use their mobile device as their window to the world, revealing countless details about their daily lives. With the emergence of 4G the sheer volume of data attributed to individuals is always increasing.

The information now applicable to each subscriber relates to their interactions with the services, and applications, they use and the network that delivers them. Operators have always had to contend with ‘big data’ – a cross section of information stored in disparate silos and data warehouses – but the more data subscribers generate, the greater the complexity. This complicates the process of data mining the network information that operators have at their disposal.

Businesses in the digital age strive to adopt a one-to-one approach with their customers but have struggled on the mobile front, which arguably can provide some of the greatest insights into consumer behaviour. With mobile operators holding the key to this prized information, not only are they now in the position to get closer to their customers, but also to provide a key service to third party companies by brokering anonymous data; allowing them to develop closer ties with their customers. Data that is intrinsic to the smooth running of the network, such as usage patterns and the geo-location of devices, is also of immense value to any number of brands and organisations.

By its very nature this information collected from smartphones and tablets, comprised of a history of online activity and the interaction with applications and social media sites, is two-way. The end-user is no longer passively receiving content and information, they are actively engaging with it; registering with new websites, regularly downloading applications, videos and games, and then responding by uploading visuals and text. This two-way interaction between the user and the network is equivalent to a conversation, and the data stream is growing. Considering this information is being collected in real-time, and is a direct representation of the end-user’s behaviour, the mobile carriers probably have a better insight into the lifestyle of individuals than Google or Amazon.

Operators now face two key challenges in relation to ‘big data’. Firstly, carriers need to get a handle on this two-way data stream and the implications this has on improving how they interact with customers, which includes more intelligent marketing. Secondly, they need to find out how they can guarantee the accuracy, security and the quality, of these complex new data sets so that it can be used internally and shared externally with third party organizations. Although this sounds like a relatively straightforward process, ‘big data’ will continue to get smarter and the two-way model will provide operators with even more complexities to deal with.

Operators can keep pace with the evolving two-way data stream by deploying agnostic service assurance and monitoring solutions that mine data across multiple network, and technology domains. Revealing what subscribers are doing, when they’re doing it and why. This will not only enable operators to improve their understanding of customer experience and activity across their network, but will also provide the opportunity to adopt a true one-to-one approach to marketing.

With this complete end-to-end view of their network, operators will be able begin an interactive dialogue with their customers. Mobile operators can manage sustained 4G usage, encourage subscribers to spend more time on their phone, accessing sophisticated data services and applications, and develop alternative offerings based on an understanding of subscriber behaviour, and usage trends. Operators will be able to communicate with their customers based on real-time user behaviour. Not only will operators have new upsell and cross-sell opportunities at the customer level, they will also be in a position to broker anonymous data, for marketing purposes, to third party organisations without contravening privacy and data protection legislation.