Communication service providers (CSPs) have long talked about achieving better “business synergy” through greater cross-departmental coordination and sharing of data. Unfortunately “synergy” never seems to get a high enough priority. Historically, different departments in a CSP—finance, billing, marketing, network engineering—have built or bought their own systems, with little thought as to how to share data and make it truly useful across the organization.
However, CSPs today are realizing that they cannot continue to operate this way, as it puts them in danger of falling behind at a time when the telecom business is changing so radically. Not only are telecom margins getting thinner and the list of competitors growing, but the sheer number of services and the way those services are being offered has exploded. Plus, many of the services, such as content, are off-net services that the CSP neither owns nor controls. In short, it’s much tougher to understand the bottom line impact of decisions on purchasing, third party partnering, prices, discounts, offers, network build-outs—even customer support policies.
Now telecom departments certainly know that greater coordination and better data exchange would help, but each is saddled with its legacy data and processes. What they lack is an internal data currency and mechanism for monitoring business performance.
Yes, they can roll up performance data at a macro level to produce a quarterly report for stockholders, but as they say, “the devil is in the details”. The most valuable intelligence here is not the macro intelligence provided by existing DW/BI systems, but actionable intelligence—the ability, for instance, to look at the revenues and costs associated with individual subscribers, business customers, or products. Without that low level of detail, business decisions about the prices, offers, and markets for a niche telecom product or service are mostly guesswork. Why? Because no granular data exists to base an informed decision on.
Not only is the kind of intelligence important here, but also the timeliness of it. Because DW/BI systems typically run in an offline mode for analysis and reporting purposes, they are not meant to provide intelligence in an operational time frame. CSPs are finding that expecting this of their existing DW/BI infrastructure is like asking an elephant to dance—they’re just not built for that purpose.