Friday, 11 May 2012 11:38 | Gordon Rawling, Oracle
The adoption of Smartphone and tablet technology across the world – from developed through to developing nations – has generated a global phenomenon of data-hungry customers. As the thirst for digital content drives a data boom, communication service providers (CSPs) must grapple for more fibre in the ground and white space in the sky, to carry the vast volumes of data. But it’s not just about the transmission, CSPs must also put the systems in place to process the volume and complexity of the data, while balancing the investment against the opportunity to profit from the data-addicted consumer.
A smart future for data
The trend to shift from using feature phones to Smartphones will continue, with Credit Suisse recently reporting that sales across the globe for Smartphones will grow by 46 per cent in 2012, and by 2014 annual unit sales of Smartphones will hit 1.05 billion. These predicted sales volumes aren’t confined to the developed nations; IDC predicts that China will take over the USA this year to become the largest Smartphone market in the world, and by 2016, India and Brazil will be part of the top five largest global Smartphone markets. With the BRIC economies thriving and many of these nations having nimbly galloped ahead with the deployment of 3G – and in some cases even 4G networks thanks to having less entrenched legacy systems – BRIC CSPs are primed to capitalise on this data explosion.
A recent study conducted by Oracle, titled ‘Oracle Next Generation Data Centre Index, Cycle 2’, found that the telecoms industry is making good progress in preparing for the data boom. We’re seeing CSPs take the necessary steps to implement datacentres capable of accommodating the existing demand and future growth of data and to help overcome challenges, such as the need to place information analysis at the heart of their company in order to compete with over the top service providers. The Oracle research revealed that 39.4 per cent of CSPs have aligned their IT with business priorities, and 28.68 per cent have visibility of future workload requirements. In contrast, only 6.38 per cent of financial services companies have aligned their IT with business priorities, and fewer than 14 per cent have visibility of future workload requirements.
But is having pipes in the ground, a home to house the data, and a customer base addicted to using data enough to profit from the boom? Without a doubt, these are factors for success, but an optimised network will be pivotal in ensuring these factors weave seamlessly together to make the CSP a profit, and not a loss.
Challenging the customer and network status quo
Through network optimisation, CSPs will be able to encourage their customers to be more efficient with the bundles they have, and to consume what they need at a time and price which is right for them. So, if a customer wants to download data-heavy content at a time when the network is likely to be very busy, CSPs need to have a system in place to notify the user that if they download the content later in the day, for example, they could do so at a cheaper price and faster speed. By optimising the network, CSPs will reduce the strain placed on it, creating new opportunities to effectively monetise services and products delivered over the network.
CSPs will have access to an increasing volume of real-time customer data if they effectively optimise their networks. As such, they must deploy analytics technology, which will help them better understand their network and customer behaviour, so that they can adapt and create products and services in effectively existing and new revenue streams.
CSPs must also optimise their networks to make them more efficient and secure. Inefficiencies in the network can be removed by having the capacity in place to manage the pressures of customer demand, regardless of time and location. In turn, this ensures coverage levels are maintained during peak times. Additionally, CSPs must ensure their own security systems are able to accommodate the growing volume and velocity of customer data to remain compliant and trusted by customers, helping ease any concerns in that area.
The biggest problem for CSPs is that data hungry services are not necessarily yielding additional revenues yet, but this problem can be eased through network optimisation.
Network optimisation through technology investment
To successfully optimise their networks and profitably accommodate the growth in data and customer demand, CSPs should look to implement a series of technologies and processes. For example, a network policy management solution could help CSPs to better manage customer demand, as they will be able to control the networks by expanding or contracting bandwidth as appropriate, based on customer subscriptions and personalised services in the form of service aware policies.
Additionally, because CSPs will be distributing bandwidth based on personalised services, they can then tailor offerings based on customer preferences, such as social media and video streaming plans, to maximise current and new revenue streams. Such deep customer insight will help CSPs quickly identify relevant products and services which can be offered to customers to meet their individual needs, enabling them to generate new revenue streams and differentiate their services from competitors.
CSPs in emerging markets could also benefit from installing a network intelligence solution, which could allow them to rapidly and efficiently plan for the network capacity required to deliver customer services over a combination of network devices. Furthermore, an effective network integrity application, which ensures optimum data accuracy by discovering and reconciling information from network devices, can enable better network optimisation. The increased insight into data on the network could help CSPs to reduce capital expenditure through accurate and optimised network investment plans, by resolving network faults faster and increasing user confidence in the decision-making processes.
With global data use set to grow significantly over the coming years, it is critical that CSPs in developing markets act now so they are better prepared to cope, as well as to optimise and maximise revenue streams. What’s more, the growing volume of customer data offers the opportunity for far deeper customer insight, allowing CSPs to differentiate their plans beyond pricing and through personalisation and relevance in order to satisfy customer demand further.
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