Telecoms: What’s the Big Deal about Big Data?


3 minutes read


Big data is one of those phrases that ranks right up there with cloud computing. It is a novel concept, but most people just can’t wrap their minds around it. We know that 90 percent of all data was created within the last two years. Yet companies have been compiling and utilizing data for decades. What’s the difference between data and big data? Also, how can companies evolve to a higher level of data analysis – including the ability to act upon real data insights?

Meeting the Players

In a recent SAP Gamechangers radio episode focusing on the state of big data, 3 experts weighed in. Justin Van Der Land is a principal analyst at Analysys Mason, a leading telecommunications and media research firm. Sanjay Kumar heads up Horton Works’ global telecom practice. Christina Giraud is a chief solution expert and the global lead for big data in telecommunications at SAP.

Big Data is Omnipresent

Data is created everywhere we turn, from social media and websites, to apps and databases. Data is found throughout your business network. It also encompasses your users’ patterns and exchanges, such as the time they spend on a website to the way they react in a customer service call. The goal with big data is to sort out the information that can be useful from all the noise and static.

Telecommunications Companies in Data Business for Decades

Telecommunication (Telcos) companies have been compiling consumer data for years. Yet, it hasn’t been until recently that Telcos have evolved into big data procurers. Rather than just offering traditional communications services to customers telecommunications companies now offer IP-based services including hosting. They offer mobile advertising, banking and cloud-based services. During this transition it’s become increasingly difficult to define a Telco other than the fact that they are in the overall communications business.

Van Der Land points out that telecoms have been into big data for a long while, even before it was given this title. Telco’s have long been gathering and storing data in order to conduct their business. He points out that while Telcos have indeed been doing this, they have been processing and analyzing it for specific uses. Every piece of gathered data, to Telco’s, was processed with an [narrow] end goal in mind. In contrast to the historic Telco use case, big data aims to look for patterns that correlate into larger, more strategic means.

 A Drag in Data Analysis

Whereas Telcos would gather data, such as billing information and addresses, for a particular purpose, historically they’ve failed to take into account other user-related data. For instance, telecoms didn’t care about why you wanted to purchase their internet service or data plan. They weren’t concerned at what types of websites you were looking at with the internet service. As a result these types of data were ignored entirely. Yet big data takes these into account in order to compile a realistic image of usage among customers.

For example, let’s say a customer is using their internet service to work from home.  We could know this by the types of web pages and software they were downloading via said internet service. The opportunity to create and deliver personalized new services is an opportunity that telcos will embrace with big data.

Furthermore, the cost of storing all this data was previously prohibitive. Not the case today thanks to big data storage products. Telcos can reassemble their data gathering and storage options enabling the ability to look at data over a long term. They are able to look at more than simple data from billing. They can stretch into the realm of social media as they scout out data about their consumers. This is big data.

The Reality for Telecoms

Telcos have had a lot of customer data for years. Now, they are finally able to realize the full potential of all that information. The data volume is growing exponentially. A single Telco operator is easily generating 300 million handovers a day. This encompasses 700 million web page views and millions of events every second. As such this data includes terabytes of data coming in every day. Multiply that by 365 for some extraordinary figures, and that’s just for one operator. This massive data repository is in the prime position for generating and monetizing innovative customer insights.

To hear more, listen to the replay of the Gamechangers radio session.




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