Data enrichment: The value proposition for telcos
The position of telecommunications companies (telcos) has transformed over time, as the use of customer data has shifted globally. With the increased adoption of location-aware mobile devices, telcos are no longer simply a channel for the delivery of information, but are now a key source of data and generate unparalleled quantities of it. By 2050, they will be gathering data from 95% of the world’s population thanks to mobile devices, wearable tech and wireless information, says Robert Cruz, vice president telco at data integrity specialist, Precisely.
When this data has maximum accuracy, consistency and context, it can power important improvements to a whole host of business operations, from customer service and marketing tactics to anticipating the behaviour of customers across industries. Knowing that the value of trustworthy data is only going to increase further in the years to come, telcos are turning to data enrichment to boost their data integrity and to enhance their own capacity for extracting tangible business value from their data.
Enriched data provides context
Many business users would say that their first-party data is one of their most valuable assets. However, this data is limited without being enriched by data from other sources. Data enrichment refers to merging third-party data from external, authoritative sources with an existing database of customer information that an organisation has gathered itself. Together, the data from disparate sources provides a richer and more complete picture of a company’s customers, market area, competitors, and product domain. Ultimately, enrichment adds context; and in doing so, it creates new opportunities to generate business value.
For telcos, by learning key demographic factors such as age, salary, and lifestyle preferences, companies can more accurately target customers for upselling opportunities and reach prospects with the right messages at the right time.
For example, data enrichment can help telcos identify the life events that may trigger an opportunity, such as a child going to university. When these important life events arise, customers or prospects might be more open to purchasing a new service, or it could indicate a higher likelihood of dropping existing services. Data enrichment provides a more complete picture that can guide telcos in making the right investments for customer retention and new customer acquisition.
Know your customer
For telcos, ‘knowing your customer’ can be much more complex compared to other industries because each customer may subscribe to several services on multiple devices. For example, a small business owner may have numerous employees who each require a mobile device with internet connectivity, and she may have four children who need mobile phones too. At the very least that amounts to two customers: one for the business and one at home. If the business pays for its employees’ mobile use on a reimbursement basis, things quickly become more complicated because there will be more customers. Each of those customers has a direct relationship with the true bill payer but that link is not visible to the service provider.
Similarly, if the children have their own distinct mobile accounts, how would a company identify the true connection of multiple customers to a single individual? Even if these children lived at the same address but in a large multiple-unit building, it can be hard to spot the connection.
Enriched data can help businesses to understand the factors at play in customer relationships like these. It can clarify the relationships between employees and employers, parents and children, such that complex webs of customer interactions are simplified and understood.
By making these connections, businesses can proactively identify potential buying triggers and contact customers at the right time. For instance, a family which has children approaching their teenage years may be in the market for a family mobile plan.
When companies know their customers well, they are better able to provide interesting, relevant offers at the correct moment, which is more useful to the customer. By understanding the factors that motivate customers to move to a new provider, telecoms companies can anticipate disruptive events and adapt to maintain customer loyalty.
Optimising networks with geospatial intelligence
Geospatial intelligence location and the contextual information it carries with it is another way in which telcos can enrich their data effectively. It allows telcos to better understand where customers and potential customers are located, and where network coverage needs to be improved to serve those customers.
When telcos enrich data with accurate, up-to-date information about populations and mobility, they add a human dimension to an otherwise flat geographical map. For example, they can gain a better understanding of which areas have a larger population during the day compared to in the evening or at weekends, representing where customers live, work and spend their leisure time. This may, in turn, affect market requirements. By overlaying this information with a company’s infrastructure and their competitors’ reach in a geospatial context, telcos can more easily identify untapped areas which they can target.
Data enrichment can therefore add significant value when it comes to planning long-term infrastructure and predicting the future needs of existing and prospective customers.
Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of telecom resources, including call centre personnel and field service technicians, is a third way in which data enrichment can add significant value.
With the help of combining location intelligence tools with incident management and field service dispatching, telcos can deploy resources around a holistic model that prioritises and directs activities to optimise efficiency.
Predictive analytics can be used to help determine where problems are likely to occur before they take place. This means that pre-emptive corrective action can be taken to prevent larger-scale issues. Field service technicians can also be deployed efficiently using geospatial data and tools. Telecommunications companies can therefore decrease the risk of adverse events and save on associated costs.
While data analytics is not a new concept, the capabilities of AI, machine learning and predictive analytics are yet to be fully explored. Savvy business leaders understand the value proposition of data analytics and are poised to take full advantage of it. After all, much of the data that is driving location-based marketing, retail site selection, and advanced customer profiling is powered by data that is gathered and monetised by the telecom industry. Ultimately, data enrichment is a two-way street: telcos have as much to gain from consuming enriched data as they do from monetising it.
While these use cases demonstrate several real-world examples of how data enrichment can be used to generate tangible business value for telcos, there are endless opportunities to improve business operations and customer relationships by enriching data. The telecommunications industry lives at the edge of technology change and, by combining their existing data with accurate and up-to-date data from external sources, innovative telecommunications businesses will undoubtedly find new ways to generate value.
The author is Robert Cruz, vice president telco at data integrity specialist, Precisely