Big data never sleeps

Takeaways from the TM Forum Big Data Analytics summit

SysMech Sales Director, Terry Harding, reflects on his attendance at the recentTM Forum Big Data Analytics Summit in Amsterdam and the key points emerging.

Big data is in itself is not a new phenomenon in the Telco management domain; the volumes of potential data available have always been extensive. It is now that tools, techniques and approaches have become available to fully harness the potential value in this data.

This was an inaugural event for the TMF and the high attendance reflects the importance of big data to the management of networks and services. A good mixture of Operators, Suppliers and Industry experts were present, clearly showing the emerging interest across the Telco sector.  An informative and varied set of sessions presented a range of views on how big data can be used by Operators to benefit their business from a range of perspectives – operational, customer management, product marketing and financial. Coupled with some good feedback from the attendees, there was much to discuss and debate.

The Customer Experience

Customer experience was a key focus and covered by a number of sessions at the summit. There was general agreement that average KPIs/KQIs were not enough to adequately reflect the experience as seen by the customer. Instead, there was a need to exploit the atomic value of the data available for maximum benefit to build a more complete picture of the end-to-end service experienced by the customer over time, in essence a complete insight into their experience.

One of the key drivers was to change customer service using analytics in real–time to facilitate a proactive model for customer management, and help in driving down the cost to the business. It was recognised that unhappy customers are much more ‘vocal’ than happy ones. The need to address this in an ever increasingly connected world, with the rapid flow of ‘bad news’ on social channels, is a concern.

Technology Today and Tomorrow

The use of different solution technologies to collect, analyse and visualise the information from big data was covered by a number of sessions. Some interesting and conflicting views were exchanged with some solutions featuring dedicated product offerings and others the use of Open Source offering such as Hadoop and associated tools such as Hive. However, there was general recognition that Open Source doesn’t necessarily mean low cost.

Effective, performant and scalable mediation to many different sources of data (FM, PM, Logs, CDRs, etc.) across many siloed systems was recognised as essential. Real-time processing and analysis of data featured heavily. The opportunity to exploit data in streaming real–time is a recognised benefit compared to older legacy technologies using post processing. Correlation across the different data sources, especially between network and customer data, was seen as essential.

An interesting view around Relational Databases and SQL was also suggested, with the view these are far from dead and will mature to scale and meet the need of handling much larger volumes of data.

People Power

One of the key takeaways from the event was the human role in all of this. It was refreshing to see that nobody was advocating technology alone was all that was required for big data solutions. Instead, it was recognised people and processes are essential and need to be a core part of any big data initiative

Empowerment of the individual was recognised to be all important. By providing effective training, solutions and tools could be used across organisations. This would ensure people felt they were part of the initiative and could really help them in their daily tasks without requiring constant IT department support.

Proof of concept and small incremental projects were a common theme. Keep risk low, both for the individuals involved and for their companies. There is an additional benefit that solutions can be assessed quickly, their role in the organisation verified, and people using them can feedback quickly to shape their evolution.

In summary, a very interesting event and we look forward to future ones on the topic of big data.

To find out more about the presentations at the summit, review the agenda and download the presentations here.