CSPs can convert insights to revenue in the big data age

By Gordon Rawling, Director of EMEA Marketing, Oracle Communications

Three UK recently revealed its plans to transition from a “pricing-led” to “customer enjoyment-led” business model, adding that as part of this shift it will offer new data analysis services to its corporate customers to help them address some of the questions they may have about their business. For example, they may want to know how much time their employees spend on their mobiles or what applications they prefer to work with each day.

While these services are still in the development phase, CSPs are beginning to ask themselves what value-added services they can develop for businesses that will allow them to effectively monetise the data they collect.

One of operators’ most valuable assets is the large volume of customer and network data they collect daily. In the big data age, information is becoming an increasingly valuable resource, which is why CSPs are beginning to explore innovative ways to monetise their data and carve out new revenue streams for themselves in an embryonic segment of the market.

CSPs as “data brokers”

One option for CSPs is to dive into their network data themselves to find the answers to business customers’ questions. As the gatekeepers for this information, operators can carve out a role as “data brokers” in the mobile market; this will require them to dedicate time and resources to unlocking insight from network and OSS/BSS data that stands to have wide performance and cost-saving implications for the businesses they serve.

Three UK tested a similar approach, inviting members of its staff to come up with questions about Three’s own business and asking other employees to analyse network data to answer the questions. The results were reportedly promising. Looking forward, it’s not hard to imagine CSPs opening up lucrative subscription services through which businesses can turn to them for valuable insights they would struggle to uncover on their own.

Opening the door to insight

Of course, part of why there is so much buzz around big data analysis is that it allows companies to explore less structured information in addition to well-defined questions. Much of the value of data analysis lies in the “known unknowns” – revelations that have yet to be uncovered and remain hidden in the links between mobile network data and other information the business records.

Some companies will want to discover this space for themselves, and will turn to CSPs for access to the data they need. Operators can capitalise on this by opening up their network and OSS/BSS data to businesses through a controlled API environment, an approach that opens the door to innovation much in the same vein as we’ve seen in the applications space.  Naturally, given the sensitive nature of this information operators will need to balance their plans to monetise access with strategies to ensure their data channels remain secure and confidential.

Three’s CIO, Stefan Grew, hinted that the operator is in fact moving towards some form of self-service analytics. With relatively low up-front costs and the potential for long-term customer relationships ahead, we can expect more CSPs to follow a similar path.

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