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SAP to crunch and sell carriers' data on mobile use

Stephen Lawson | May 22, 2013
The anonymised data will help enterprises craft marketing campaigns and better target consumers

Mobile operators collect huge amounts of data about how their subscribers use mobile data, and that information is starting to go on sale as targeted intelligence that enterprises can use to better reach consumers.

SAP will introduce a cloud-based service at this week's CTIA Wireless trade show that will collect information from carriers about what mobile sites and apps their customers use, and even where they are when they use them. Using its own HANA in-memory computing technology, SAP will crunch the big data in near real time and sell it for marketing use. Carriers are already talking to SAP about the service, called SAP Consumer Insight 365, and enterprises may begin using the data within about three months, said John Sims, president of SAP mobile services.

The data won't tell SAP what specific user did what and where, but the company will be able to break down the information by demographic measures such as country, neighborhood, gender and age group, plus time measures down to the time of day, Sims said. As for location data, it will be up the carriers how specific it gets.

With HANA, SAP's data centers can work through billions of rows of data per second, Sims said. That's important because an average medium-sized operator may generate one terabyte per day of information about subscribers' mobile activity, he said. The most current data will reside in HANA, while the rest will move to a more persistent environment such as a Hadoop cluster or SAP's SybaseIQ database.

Because consumers now do so many things on smartphones, detailed knowledge about that activity can be very valuable to companies that want to reach them, according to Guy Rolfe, head of the mobile practice for Kantar, a consulting arm of international advertising company WPP. Kantar is an SAP customer and advised it on the creation of the service.

Until now, carriers have only sold their mobile usage data as a whole, through overpriced licenses that few companies would buy, he said. SAP will be able to slice that data into pieces that are of interest to specific customers, making the information more relevant and a better value, Rolfe said.

For example, if a company bought a Super Bowl ad, SAP Mobile Services could tell the company what Super Bowl viewers did on their mobile devices during ad breaks, such as visiting its site or those of other advertisers. Another example would be telling a big-box retailer how many shoppers in its brick-and-mortar store visited a competitor's website while there. (For privacy reasons, it couldn't report where consumers went on a site beyond the top-level domain.)

SAP already provides interconnection services to about 1,000 mobile carriers around the world, directly or indirectly, according to Sims. The company processes SMS messages and some IP (Internet Protocol) services, such as data roaming, through its processing hubs. With Consumer Insight 365, it plans to partner with the carriers and share revenue from its sales of the data.

 

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