As telecoms operators look to optimise networks and create new revenue streams, advanced data warehousing and analytics solutions present the answers, says Ayanda Dlamini, business development manager at LGR Telecommunications.
Telecom operators around the world are grappling with declining voice revenues and growing competition. The trend is the same across Africa, where telcos are confronted with the challenges of optimising their networks, maximising the potential of the data boom, and realising revenue growth in an environment where voice revenues are declining.
Data traffic is clearly the next growth opportunity for operators. Data is also companies’ biggest strategic asset. And to maximise its potential, telcos – and other major enterprises – need to revisit their data management, data warehousing and analytics capabilities.
Some telcos in Africa are projecting that in three years, around 20% of their revenue will come from data. Mobile data traffic has doubled from 2011, and was 25% up in Q4 2012 alone. At the same time, voice revenues are dropping worldwide. There will be more focus going forward on ensuring that revenue growth from data is sustained. Value added services will be the next big revenue generator for operators.
Across Africa, consumers are cashing in on data bundles at very low prices as telecom operators grow increasingly competitive. But there is a limit to how low the cost of data bundles can go.
To ensure that data traffic brings revenue growth, operators need a clearer understanding of usage patterns and their own network performance, in order to tailor bundles and pricing as well as to optimise their networks to ensure optimal performance and cost efficiency. This understanding will come from more efficient use of the data residing in the telcos’ data warehouses.
To effectively monetise data, the data network supporting infrastructure must accommodate the rapidly growing volumes of data passing through and being stored in the network.
It must not only accommodate it, the infrastructure must also make this asset available to deliver insights in near real time. When advanced analytics is applied to the data residing in the data warehouse, it enables the telco to get a clearer understanding of customer behaviour, improve billing, reduce fraud, and drive both customer acquisition and retention.
The telco might also improve its capacity management and performance monitoring to optimise limited spectrum available to it. It could better support cross-time zone billing, or plan data call routing and backhaul for greater efficiencies. Better use of data can also enable more effective long term strategies – both from an operational and a product perspective.
Without data warehousing solutions and strategies designed to support new demands, finding relevant insights amid vast volumes of data would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
A data management overhaul may seem to be a major undertaking and significant investment. However, its returns will be customer retention and revenue growth, cross selling opportunities and new potential revenue streams. It’s about survival. Now, companies need to see data as more of an asset than ever before, and it needs to be shared in a more transparent, visual way. They need to ask “are we looking at everything that there is?”
They need instant answers to difficult questions, like ‘What impact will the new version of a mobile web browser have on my networks?’ There is always room to better understand, analyse and project, in order to improve business.
In future, those who realise that data is a valuable asset that needs to be managed and more visible than ever before, and who thus maximise it, will be the ones that survive.