CSPs face a monetisation minefield in their use of big data
Communications service providers (CSPs) have some of the richest, and largest, sources of customer data in the world, but understanding how to use it internally to benefit the business can be challenge, never mind navigating the opportunities available in monetising it, writes Małgorzata Siwiec, the marketing director for the Telecommunications Business Unit at Comarch.
Data protection regulation varies from country-to-country and it’s constantly being adapted to meet the changing technological and privacy landscapes. Anonymised CSP data can be used by third parties in many different ways. Whether it is to help authorities predict the movement of people in a crisis to plan resources or for a retailer to evaluate where to build a new store based on footfall, CSPs are in a prime position to make the most of what they have. But they need to follow the various regulations carefully.
While monetising anonymised and aggregated data removing all personal identifiers to third parties is an option in many countries, the introduction of updated GDPR in the EU means CSPs have to allow their customers to control their own personal data. Data protection regulation also featured in the UK’s Queen’s Speech, signalling the focus on privacy in the UK.
In spite of the regulatory quagmire, research Comarch commissioned from Heavy Reading shows that many CSPs are examining how they can monetise customer data.
How CSPs are planning to monetise customer data
Most respondents (28%) planned to use customer data to shape marketing and advertising campaigns. By identifying how and when customers want to receive offers CSPs can significantly improve the effectiveness of upsell campaigns. However, 26% weren’t planning to monetise the data at all – and instead use it to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. Once they understand how to use the wealth of data they have internally, CSPs may then look at other opportunities to increase revenues.
Using customer data to create location-based services was another popular investment, with 20% of respondents planning to develop these offerings. Just 11% of telcos surveyed planned to sell reports on user behaviour on to third parties, with the same percentage planning to sell anonymised customer data.
What of the impact of data protection regulation?
CSPs operating in the EU and UK will need to factor local regulation into their plans. For example, under GDPR, individuals will have far greater rights to access and manage the data organisations hold about them. Provable permission will be vital. While location-based services can be seen as beneficial to the customer, as can using customer data to tailor a unique service offering, customers may be less inclined to sign-off on selling their data to third parties, even if it is anonymised and aggregated. CSPs will need to work out how they can create an exchange that benefits the customer if they want permission to use the data they hold.
What services are CSPs planning to prioritise based on customer data?
Given the right permissions, our research has shown that CSPs have a clear idea of how they can use customer data to provide better services for their customers. The majority of respondents plan to use the insights gleaned from customer data to create personalised offers and advanced self-service apps – and so enhancing the experience of individual customers.
Using the data to develop omnichannel sales strategies and to improve the quality of customer care is also a major priority for operators. The telecoms industry is facing increasing competition from VoIP and OTT providers, but by using customer data to create a stronger connection with its customers, an operator can help to set its service apart from this competition.
Enhancing social media customer service and creating innovations in self-service are lower priorities for the CSPs in our research, as the majority of their focus is on getting to know their customers as individuals. However, these could become greater priorities down the line as operators become more confident in analysing big data and using its insights to augment the services they provide.
Monetising customer data is a long-term proposition with only a few use cases available currently, and it looks like operators are choosing to focus on customer satisfaction, with its long-term rewards, rather than use the data to increase revenues.
Customers are becoming used to free services – where we used to make international calls, we Skype, where we used to text, we WhatsApp – and CSPs aren’t going to change this trend. What they can do is use the advantages they have – access to considerable data and a direct relationship with the customer – to enhance the services they provide.