Telecommunication providers have become major proponents of utilizing big data to enhance their service offerings and customer relations. These companies are leveraging large quantities of information gathered from a variety of sources to improve the experiences of subscribers, build and maintain a smarter network, and generate new streams of revenue. However, due to the sensitivity of much of this data, telecoms must also put strong protection measures in place for optimal data safety.
The trend of telecommunication companies utilizing big data is growing within the current market and is forecasted to continue its spread throughout the industry. Experts predict that the big data telecom analytics market will increase by almost 50 percent between 2014 and 2019. Additionally, the market will comprise $5.4 billion in annual revenue by 2019.
Furthermore, a recent IBM study showed that 85 percent of survey participants currently use information and analytics as a way to compete in today’s market. This is a 124 percent increase of big data usage within this industry in the last two years.
Multitude of big data from several sources
Today’s telecommunication companies are processing more data than ever before. Customer demands now call for an increase in data-intensive services like streaming music, high definition video, online gaming and social media, as well as radio and video.
Furthermore, the primary origins telecoms utilize to collect big data are internal sources, including information from phone calls, financial transactions, call center communications and call records.
Additionally, these organizations are also using transaction records associated with users’ smartphones as a means to collect big data. Information in these files includes purchasing and downloading history, prepaid account recharges, and mobile payment data. This information has been used by telecoms to enhance the customer experience, offer better solutions to meet customer needs as well as assisting in the prediction of up-selling or cross selling products and services.
Much of telecoms’ big data also comes from social media sources; 46 percent of respondents stated they used Twitter, Facebook and other websites to extract information for analytics. Additionally, 45 percent of service providers said they also used customers’ location data to improve marketing campaigns, identify fraud and boost network quality.
By analyzing the data collected from this variety of sources, telecommunication providers are able to determine what additional products and services customers may want, and improve advertising efforts to target subscribers based on location and preferences. In this way, they are not only improving the end-user experience, but are using these efforts to enhance their overall business and boost profits.
Although collecting and transmitting the multitude of information available today puts a strain on telecom networks, communication expert Robert Fox said these organizations are working to improve their services by leveraging big data.
“Mindful of protecting customers’ privacy and preserving their trust, many of the carriers are annonymizing their data, or offering opt-in programs as they start to embrace and leverage advanced analytics for competitive advantage,” Fox said.
In addition to shielding the identity of customer data, telecoms must take extra steps to ensure their security while maintaining the ability to leverage this information for improved profits and customer service. In order to protect the large amount of data within the network, telecoms should utilize a software layered security approach, which offers protections on multiple levels against hackers seeking to steal this data. An approach of this kind can include applications whitelisting software, which only allow approved programs to run on the network. These types of solutions can also be supplemented with data-centric solutions like encryption. This way, if one layer of defense becomes compromised, the information is still not viewable to unauthorized users.