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Interview: Big Data for the telecom industry

T.C. Seow | June 17, 2014
In an exclusive email interview, the CTO for Telecommunications Solutions at Pivotal Inc. talks about what telecom companies are doing to harness the power of Big Data, and what they should be doing to move quickly ahead.

We often hear of the lack of relevant skills in data analytics. Is this an issue that can be resolved internally through training within an organisation, or should organisations look for such skills from external sources? What kind of people are we looking for?

When we look at the world of data analytics, we need to be careful not to conflate different disciplines.

Pivotal is a strong advocate of the relevance of Data Science in the context of Big Data. We need Data Scientists to look at the available sources of data and build models and algorithms that can interpret those sources to derive new value. This is a new skill profile and not simply the re-classification of existing IT or BI skills. Data Science needs an understanding of the business objectives but is primarily a mathematic analysis.

Pivotal advocates the idea that Big Data and Analytics are the tools used by Data Scientists to create the raw materials that business can assemble into new products and services. As not all businesses have significant investment in raw material acquisition, not all companies will need data scientists on the payroll. Access to data science, as an accelerator, for some will be a temporary requirement. Once algorithms and data sources are secured they become an overhead.

For data rich enterprises, like Cellular Network Service Providers, it is very relevant to have Data Scientists in residence as the potential opportunities from mining the rich data sources will very rapidly establish as new revenue sources.

Smarter Network Service Providers are already investing in collaboration with universities to both provide insights for students to work on, and to build sources of skill supply for the future.

What's your vision for C-level executives and IT leaders of telcos in Singapore and the region in 2020? 

The market for fixed and mobile voice and data services in the Singapore and the region is already intensively competitive. Leadership teams have been working to sweat their network assets harder to squeeze more value from the capital asset. Pivotal believes that in the next 6 years it will be essential for service providers to sweat their data assets to the same level of intensity.

Consumers are increasingly unwilling to accept perceived poor quality of service. How network service providers manage their relationships with customers will differentiate. There is a continuing need to invest significant capital in the network asset, however that investment needs to be more aligned to clear and predictable returns.

Customer acquisition and retention costs are resolutely high. Without significant new service quality management approaches it is difficult to see how these can reduce.

Pivotal believes that we are delivering now the tools that the C-Suite needs to quantify and qualify the data asset value and also providing the skills needed to accelerate the exploitation of the data inventory. We are also helping customer to expose the service provider data asset to potential enterprise customers, providing much needed new, high value revenue streams for the service provider.


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