How data analytics can help telcos navigate a post-COVID world
Each and every aspect of life and business as we previously knew it has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As Stefan Schwarz, partner business consulting, Teradata says, many behaviours and customer expectations in this “new normal” now changed permanently as a result.
Global social distancing measures have seen people forced to stay at home, with shops, public transport and meeting rooms laying empty whilst people work and interact remotely via technology. Naturally, this had a significant impact on the telecoms industry, with streaming services, video conferencing and gaming all experiencing an extraordinary increase in usage and data consumption. Furthermore, according to industry research, 24% of consumers will increase long-term use of digital channels due to COVID-19.
As a telco business, understanding these shifts in societal behaviours – including how the new ways in which people are using tech and consuming data translates to your customer base – is vital to ensure you are remaining competitive and aligning with what is expected of you post-pandemic. This is where data analytics can help.
Give them what they want
Knowing exactly how people are using your network and being able to increase resiliency and reliability for them where they need it is key. By helping telcos analyse their customer base and understanding the ways in which this new demand is materialising, data analytics can help companies ensure they are making informed data-driven decisions and responding to behavioural changes in real-time. With increased home working and video calls to loved ones comes an unprecedented need for reliable connectivity and call quality, and companies need to prioritise agility and speed, pivot where needed and swiftly react to this new capacity-hungry way of life.
People are relying on networking services more than ever, with many telcos having already adapted their offering to suit these changing expectations and needs throughout the pandemic. Whether it’s through offering complimentary networking tools or call minutes to those who need it, responding quickly boosts customer satisfaction and retention.
Predict and prepare for the future
Though 5G was steadily gaining momentum prior to the onset of COVID-19, the pandemic has shone a light on the vital importance of speed, increased reliability, network slicing and SLA based response times. With the majority of these capabilities only available through advanced technologies like 5G, companies need to seriously consider the benefits this implementation will bring; customers are expecting faster and more reliable networks more than ever before and will demand guaranteed technology that can keep up, wherever they are connecting from.
Investing in network roll-outs is extremely costly, and something you can’t afford to get wrong. As telcos continue to plan for the somewhat unknown future, data analytics can help you visualise what’s working and predict where your business needs to go as we come out of the pandemic. It can also help justify long term investments of new and essential technologies – namely 5G – with data-driven insight.
It’s also imperative for telecoms businesses to identify where they need to roll-out the network and where they need to build base stations. There is huge amounts of data involved in just planning where to roll out the network and also to determine where to decommission legacy networks like 2G and 3G. Data analytics can help analyse and provide actionable insight into the extensive customer and network data involved to inform these decisions.
It’s not one size fits all
Although all telco companies can benefit from a comprehensive data analytics strategy, the ways in which individual businesses will react to the changing behavioural trends and how they will use the specific insight delivered will vary depending on the sector they are in.
For example, telcos following a utility business model and competing mainly on price will use data to determine where and how costs can remain competitive and how to manoeuvre around financial hardship resulting of the pandemic, hopefully reducing price driven customer churn and fraudulent activity as a result. Telcos more involved in the entertainment space, however, would perhaps look at the types of bundles most attractive to their customer base spending more time at home and how to effectively target them depending on their interests, age group, etc.
Furthermore, telcos in the business-to-business (B2B) technology space may be more interested in becoming a “one stop shop”, perhaps even reselling analytical products and services using the insight to enhance and expand their offering where needed, and giving customers a comprehensive package, which includes connectivity and data analytics.
Whilst it’s fair to say that the behaviours of customers one month into lockdown is likely to be different to that of those six months out of it, the importance of remaining agile and open to making necessary changes can’t be underestimated. Whatever your customer base is going through, data analytics can provide real time, actionable insights into how to best suit their circumstances. With telecommunications arguably one of the most important services available as we continue to navigate the pandemic across the globe, it’s more vital than ever to ensure you’re listening.
The author is Stefan Schwarz, partner business consulting, Teradata.