Data-Driven Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion un­der­way

Voice&Data - - SPECIAL REPORT -

The In­dian econ­omy has been in the lime­light for many rea­sons re­cently. Based on the data from Oc­to­ber 2016, Forbes re­ported that for the first time in more than 100 years, eco­nomic growth in In­dia had sur­passed that of the UK. Now of course such an out­come is in­flu­enced by the neg­a­tive im­pact of Brexit on the UK but it also high­lights how much In­dia is pow­er­ing for­ward. With the de­mon­e­ti­za­tion drive herald­ing a new era in the In­dian econ­omy, ex­pec­ta­tions are high on the coun­try’s abil­ity to turn the chal­lenges into op­por­tu­ni­ties. The prospects around a cash­less econ­omy in In­dia and the mas­sive op­por­tu­nity it brings to dif­fer­ent in­dus­try sec­tors have ig­nited a series of dis­cus­sions and busi­ness ini­tia­tives tar­get­ing In­dia.

Tele­com, the eco­nomic growth cat­a­lyst

By pro­vid­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work, the tele­com in­dus­try acts as the back­bone of an econ­omy, and ser­vice providers (SPs) play a cen­tral role in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. By act­ing as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor of ser­vices like e-com­merce, tele­work­ing, e-learn­ing, e-health, e-gov­er­nance and more, tele­com has acted as a cat­a­lyst of the eco­nomic growth of the coun­try. Ser­vices like mo­bile bank­ing (m-bank­ing) and mo­bile money have cre­ated rev­o­lu­tions across pay­ment chan­nels, with tele­com providers also di­rectly ben­e­fit­ting from th­ese ser­vices. For ex­am­ple, TRAI says in May 2016, around 37 lakh mo­bile bank­ing trans­ac­tion at­tempts oc­curred over USSD chan­nel.

No doubt the tele­com sec­tor, which con­trib­utes to around 2% of In­dia’s GDP, will be a ma­jor ben­e­fi­ciary of the dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion that the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia has em­barked on. With data be­com­ing the new cur­rency, Ser­vice Providers (SPs) fo­cus in the com­ing days will be on how to lever­age the power of data to im­prove customer ex­pe­ri­ence and iden­tify new op­por­tu­ni­ties in the mar­ket.

Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, al­ter­ing the DNA of In­dian tele­com

As per the lat­est re­port from TRAI, ad­justed gross rev­enue (AGR) of the tele­com sec­tor for the quar­ter end­ing June 2016 stands at Rs 53,383 crore, grow­ing at 10.34 per­cent over the pre­vi­ous quar­ter. While the rev­enue fig­ures il­lus­trate a ro­bust mar­ket sce­nario, the per­for­mance bench­mark re­port shows there is a large gap in ser­vice pro­vi­sion­ing and meet­ing Qual­ity of Ser­vice (QoS) re­quire­ments. Ser­vice Providers in In­dia lag be­hind in de­liv­er­ing ser­vices quickly or ad­dress­ing customer com­plaints (Ref: Ta­ble 4.7 of TRAI re­port). This is a huge op­por­tu­nity for tele­com play­ers to cap­i­tal­ize on and ac­cel­er­ate their dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney and ad­dress is­sues re­lated to QoS.

While tele­com com­pa­nies in key mar­kets like the US have al­ready im­ple­mented strate­gies to dig­i­tize their key pro­cesses and mon­e­tize data re­sources, tele­com com­pa­nies in In­dia are now look­ing to dig­i­tally trans­form. How­ever, Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion doesn’t come easy. Tele­com op­er­a­tors in APAC are ex­e­cut­ing dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion projects, 85% are still con­duct­ing them as stand-

alone ini­tia­tives with­out align­ment to a broader tech­nol­ogy roadmap or busi­ness strat­egy, says a sur­vey con­ducted by IDC. Like any ma­jor busi­ness ini­tia­tive, dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion re­quires changes in process, peo­ple, skills, and tech­nol­ogy. The only way to re­al­ize the ben­e­fits of dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is to bet­ter ac­cess, in­te­grate, and an­a­lyze your data to cre­ate in­sights that em­power dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. Tele­com op­er­a­tors must shift their think­ing from fo­cus­ing on the tra­di­tional IT stack to en­abling dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion through data. In fact, McKin­sey says a tele­com ser­vice provider in Asia was able to re­duce the num­ber of customer calls by a mil­lion a month by pro­vid­ing on­line “self-care” through ser­vices such as Twit­ter and Face­book.

In short, the trans­for­ma­tion de­mands chang­ing the DNA of the op­er­a­tors to cre­ate a new op­er­a­tional model with customer po­si­tioned at the cen­tre and ac­quire the skills to ac­cel­er­ate their jour­ney to be­come new-age ser­vice providers. Go­ing for­ward, tele­com ser­vice providers’ fo­cus should be to bring dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion at the core to:

Im­prove customer ex­pe­ri­ence and build loy­alty

De­vise new busi­ness mod­els and gen­er­ate rev­enues

Bring op­er­a­tional trans­for­ma­tion for bet­ter opex sav­ings

The evolv­ing cus­tomers and their data

Al­most all in­dus­tries have re­al­ized the need to an­a­lyze customer data across mul­ti­ple chan­nels, which are pri­mar­ily gov­erned by tele­com net­works, to im­prove customer ex­pe­ri­ence, re­duce churn and de­vise en­tirely new rev­enue streams; how­ever, SPs in In­dia have not been able to sim­i­larly use them for their own op­er­a­tional im­prove­ments or mon­e­ti­za­tion in­no­va­tions.

With customer data an­a­lyt­ics, op­er­a­tors could iden­tify customer be­hav­iour at var­i­ous touch points, iden­tify loop­holes in busi­ness mod­els and de­vise strate­gies to build customer loy­alty. Call drop anal­y­sis, for ex­am­ple, is one of the best ways to iden­tify pit­falls in ser­vice de­liv­ery and net­work cov­er­age. By dig­ging deeper into net­work, ser­vice and de­vice data, ser­vice providers could iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties in net­work op­ti­miza­tion and capex sav­ings. Data gath­ered from sales and mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing those from billing and pay­ment records, could be used to iden­tify customer be­hav­iour and man­age churn.

In ad­di­tion, SPs could utilize the data to build new en­ter­prise busi­ness mod­els by part­ner­ing with dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions. Tele­com com­pa­nies, which own the largest chunk of customer data in the world, could help other or­ga­ni­za­tions use the data con­struc­tively for var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties. Gov­ern­ment agen­cies, for ex­am­ple, could tap the data sup­plied by SPs to im­prove de­ci­sion mak­ing. Lo­ca­tion based in­for­ma­tion has largely been used to tap cus­tomers with­out vi­o­lat­ing their pri­vacy. Glob­ally, SPs have al­ready started build­ing new busi­ness mod­els around data. Verizon’s Pre­ci­sion Mar­ket In­sights and Tele­fon­ica Dy­namic In­sights are two trend­set­ters, with other lead­ers likely to fol­low suit in the com­ing months.

IoT, clos­ing the gap be­tween fact and fan­tasy

IoT is an­other emerg­ing op­por­tu­nity for op­er­a­tors in In­dia look­ing to cash in on data. Glob­ally, SPs have al­ready stepped into mul­ti­ple in­dus­try seg­ments to help ac­cel­er­ate IoT adop­tion. Verizon Telem­at­ics, for ex­am­ple, pro­vides con­nec­tiv­ity and telem­at­ics ca­pa­bil­i­ties to some of the world’s top man­u­fac­tur­ers to help man­age large ve­hi­cle fleets more ef­fi­ciently.

While the growth of IoT in In­dia will de­pend on the avail­abil­ity of ubiq­ui­tous con­nec­tiv­ity, there is a huge mar­ket op­por­tu­nity that lies ahead for SPs. Ini­tia­tives such as Dig­i­tal In­dia and 100 Smart Cities have given a great im­pe­tus to it. By ex­tract­ing the vast amount of data flow­ing across IoT net­works, SPs can sup­port a wide spec­trum of ser­vices like smart cities, health­care, fi­nan­cial ser­vices, in­surance, and more.

How­ever, to be com­pet­i­tive in data col­lab­o­ra­tion ef­forts, SPs need to ac­quire tech­nolo­gies that en­able them to de­liver data in­sight in real time. The data cen­tre, the in­for­ma­tion hub for SPs, is at the cen-

The trans­for­ma­tion de­mands chang­ing the DNA of the op­er­a­tors to cre­ate a new op­er­a­tional model with customer po­si­tioned at the cen­tre and ac­quire the skills to ac­cel­er­ate their jour­ney to be­come new-age ser­vice providers.

tre of this tran­si­tion, so the evo­lu­tion of the ser­vice provider net­work needs to be done with the aim of mar­ry­ing an­a­lyt­ics and net­work cov­er­age. In all like­li­hood this im­plies build­ing more data cen­tre like ca­pa­bil­ity to the edge of the ser­vice provider net­work.

Tech­nol­ogy trends in tele­com data-cen­tric in­no­va­tions

Op­por­tu­ni­ties sur­round­ing the data are large, and so are the chal­lenges. The data ly­ing in dis­parate ap­pli­ca­tions needs to be ex­tracted, gov­erned, com­plied and ac­cessed. In fact, re­cent IDC re­search in­di­cates that 53 per­cent of or­ga­ni­za­tions in APAC re­gion con­sider big data and an­a­lyt­ics (BDA) im­por­tant, and so have ei­ther adopted or plan to adopt it in the near fu­ture. How­ever, IDC also re­veals that one in three or­ga­ni­za­tions in the re­gion find it dif­fi­cult to build busi­ness case or mea­sure ROI while lever­ag­ing BDA so­lu­tions. For­tu­nately, with the help of big data an­a­lyt­ics tech­nolo­gies, SPs can ad­dress th­ese chal­lenges and build cus­tom busi­ness cases around data.

The fol­low­ing are the emerg­ing trends around data an­a­lyt­ics:

Cen­tral­ized data hub for bet­ter gov­er­nance of data:

Hi­tachi whitepa­per sug­gests that to mon­e­tize data in­ter­nally or ex­ter­nally, SPs need to in­vest in dig­i­tal plat­forms that de­liver com­pre­hen­sive data man­age­ment and an­a­lyt­ics ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Or­ga­ni­za­tions need to cor­re­late and merge data from dif­fer­ent chan­nels and en­sure its gov­er­nance and ac­ces­si­bil­ity. A cen­tral­ized data hub gains rel­e­vance in this con­text as it al­lows them to in­gest data from dif­fer­ent sources, store and scale it be­yond the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of tra­di­tional stor­age and pro­vide search and gov­er­nance across dif­fer­ent chan­nels in­clud­ing pub­lic cloud, pri­vate cloud and mo­bile de­vices.

Stor­age mov­ing from Capex to Opex:

With dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion be­com­ing a strate­gic fo­cus, there is less fo­cus on “tech­nol­ogy”; in­stead they buy op­ti­mized out­comes where the ven­dor shares the as­so­ci­ated risks. This Stor­age-as-Ser­vice model al­lows them to move away from the tra­di­tional build­ing block ap­proach to a fully flex­i­ble ser­vices model. Here, the client and ven­dor work to­gether to de­vise cus­tom so­lu­tions to meet the chang­ing busi­ness re­quire­ments, giv­ing am­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­per­i­ment­ing new tech­nolo­gies and fresh strate­gies.

One plat­form for all data:

The uni­fied com­put­ing ap­proach is gain­ing wider pop­u­lar­ity among SPs thanks to the abil­ity of the plat­form to han­dle data from mul­ti­ple phys­i­cal servers from dif­fer­ent ven­dors. The con­cept brings the lat­est ad­vance­ments in Block, File and Ob­ject Stor­age un­der a sin­gle um­brella on a ca­pac­ity-based model to sim­plify data man­age­ment and ac­cel­er­ate ser­vice de­liv­ery. This fully man­aged ser­vices model also helps ser­vice providers un­lock the po­ten­tial of their ex­ist­ing tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ments.

In­te­gra­tion of OT with IT to build IoT data repos­i­tory

With IoT emerg­ing as a new busi­ness op­por­tu­nity for In­dian op­er­a­tors, a lot of work needs to be done to un­lock the value of data cap­tured from con­nected de­vices. Crit­i­cal el­e­ments need to be brought to­gether to cre­ate a com­plete IoT plat­form that can in­te­grate op­er­a­tional tech­nol­ogy (OT) data (data from sen­sors) with data from core pro­cesses to gain a com­plete un­der­stand­ing of the events. As IoT data vol­ume in­creases, there will be in­creased in­vest­ment from SPs in an­a­lytic plat­forms to sup­port the dy­namic IoT re­quire­ments. A flex­i­ble IoT core plat­form that can ac­com­mo­date and in­te­grate the di­verse ar­ray of emerg­ing data plat­forms such as Hadoop, Spark, and NoSQL will be the best al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional IoT plat­forms that are pur­pose built based on spe­cific us­age cases.

Open-source tech­nolo­gies to broaden IoT ecosys­tem

Hi­tachi In­sight Group has shown that the de­mand for flex­i­ble and fu­ture-proof IoT plat­forms has also brought new open source tech­nolo­gies to the front of IoT an­a­lyt­ics. In ad­di­tion to the cost ben­e­fits, the open-source plat­forms help SPs build a flex­i­ble and mod­u­lar model that can fu­ture-proof the IoT net­work and build an ac­tive part­ner ecosys­tem. The open frame­work and the flex­i­ble IoT core can sup­port a vast ar­ray of data types and help build dif­fer­ent busi­ness cases.

In sum­mary, the abil­ity to in­flu­ence and en­hance customer ex­pe­ri­ence will give a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage to tele­com providers in In­dia. With the help of dis­rup­tive dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, SPs can build a ser­vice-ori­ented ar­chi­tec­ture, which yields them long-term ben­e­fits by fos­ter­ing growth and earn­ing customer loy­alty. Other or­gan­i­sa­tions have been able to ex­ploit the data car­ried by Tel­cos to the bet­ter­ment of their busi­nesses. There is no rea­son why Telco’s them­selves should not be able to see the same or even su­pe­rior ben­e­fits as they carry an ag­gre­gate of this data. This data rep­re­sents a po­ten­tial gold mine once cor­ralled and an­a­lysed. Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion of­fers the op­por­tu­nity for tel­cos to fi­nally mon­e­tize their net­works in a way that over the top busi­nesses have been do­ing for years, an ex­cit­ing prospect for a sec­tor that rep­re­sents the back­bone of In­dian busi­ness growth.

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