The future of telecoms depends on data accessibility
For telecoms companies, it’s never been more important to take care of customer data. Thanks to privacy regulations such as GDPR, companies have legal obligations when using and storing personally identifiable information (PII). But this has led to outdated processes that result in data being locked down not just within an organisation, but siloed within individual departments. In the coming years, unlocking the business value of this data will be fundamental to the success of the industry.
The telecom sector often functions like a central nervous system for other businesses, transmitting data between devices. But without being able to manage, collect and analyse data within their networks, telcos miss out on opportunities to increase their own revenue and drive enhanced experiences for end users. Unlocking the value of their data will not only allow them to adopt a data-first approach, which can create new business streams, but also manage network complexity, reduce costs and improve maintenance.
How data clean rooms can help telcos
Around the world, multiple industries rely on telecom companies as the backbone of their operations. In retail, point-of-sale machines run through a telecoms company network, and in transport, the scheduling of commuter buses and trains relies on the very same technology. Yet, despite the importance of telco for society and in connecting industries, network operators are not yet fully embracing the value of the data they have at their fingertips.
Data privacy and increased regulations have prevented telcos from connecting and sharing their data with other organisations due to fears around leaking PII. However, data clean room technology is fast emerging to help companies effortlessly share data both internally and with third-parties in a secure and governed environment. Data clean rooms prevent specific identifiable information from showing to other companies when sharing data through a clean room. PII is protected, processed, and managed in a compliant way. This means that companies, or divisions of a single company, are empowered to bring data together for joint analysis under defined guidelines and restrictions.
In retail, for example, telecoms companies can collaborate with retailers confidently and safely through a data clean room using governed analytics. This typically revolves on the user’s cellular number, which can help the telco and the retailer access to valuable data such as location details, shopping baskets and product purchases. By tapping into this data, retailers can focus on improving personalisation services for their customers and also in-store and virtual experiences.
Understanding data, improving networks
Being able to understand individual usage of a network can help networks improve their services more broadly, as seen in the success of increased next gen network roll-outs. These networks are the first of their kind to effectively ‘slice’ the network, providing different service level agreements to consumers. When you know who is accessing services and what they are doing on the network, prioritising value and experiences over utilisation to deliver the best service for them at that given moment.
Yet, the inability to tap into customer data is preventing many network providers from taking advantage of this. By better understanding network data, telcos can decommission legacy networks, which can be more expensive to maintain, with faster connection and download speeds of 5G networks.
Putting the customer first
Understanding customer data is just the first step to unlocking its value. Using this data with emerging technologies, such as digital twins (where a network is displayed as a visible ‘twin’ overlaid with data such as customer experience and mobility data) offers telco companies insights which enable a more customer-centric approach including personalised experiences. This dramatically improves customer satisfaction and can drive profitability. For telecom companies looking to sustain and increase their growth, the next step for many is to go from being a telco to adopting a ‘TechCo’ model, becoming a data-driven technology company. The key to this is mastering data.
Looking to the future, making the most of customer data will no longer be a luxury for telcos. Organisations which fail to do so will remain shackled to the past – while those that unlock the value of their data will be able to shift towards becoming fully fledged technology companies, leaving their competitors behind.
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