InterComms :: International Communications Project
  Intercomms Issue 22
Issue 22 Articles

TM Forum logoBig and Small Data
Offers Huge Benefits

Rob Rich, Managing Director, Insights Research, TM Forum,
talks to Annie Turner about customers, net promoter scores and big data analytics

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AT| We’ve talked a lot about improving customer experience, so why does progress seem slow?
RR| Progress has been slow, because, firstly, some service providers have struggled to cope with the expanding breadth and complexity of the market. Secondly, the urgency has only become apparent as markets have matured; margins and revenues have fallen; and device, app and web companies have distanced service providers from customers. Finally, organizational and cultural issues have certainly come into play, particularly for some ‘traditional’ service providers.

AT| Has your view of customer experience changed in the last five years?
RR| The fundamentals have changed little. For the customer, it’s still about usefulness, convenience and trust. But nowadays the diversity of devices, channels and services, and the volume of usage have exploded, so customers are more in control.

AT| Should there be more focus on providing excellent coverage and connectivity – and the agile IT infrastructure to enable it – rather than net promoter scores (NPS)?
RR| I would argue that fundamentals like coverage and service performance heavily influence NPS. If your service performance is poor is that useful? Convenient? Does that increase trust? The best way to increase NPS is to do the basics well – determine what’s really important to your customers, prioritize that and your NPS will likely improve.

AT| What are we trying to achieve with big data analytics?
RR|There are many areas where ‘big’ and ‘small’ data can help, and service providers have a huge opportunity to improve customer experience, develop attractive products and offers, and lower costs.

AT| What are the most important areas big data could help service providers with?
RR| Several service providers are using network and customer data to learn the habits of their most valuable customers, for example which locations they favor. They also use network data to determine overall usage in those locations. By comparing the two, they can drive network investment to improve performance and customer satisfaction. Another example might include improving recommendation engine performance by adding unstructured and semi-structured data to the analytical mix. Another might be social network analysis to identify influential users’ propensity to churn. It all depends on what the service provider views as most pressing.

AT| When will big data analytics deliver in the communications industry?
RR| Big data analytics is still in its infancy and will continue to develop over at least the next decade or two. For service providers approaching it with the right strategies and resources, it’s delivering value right now!

Annie Turner is Editorial Director at TM Forum. She has been researching and writing about the communications industry since the 1980s, editing magazines dedicated to the subject including titles published by Thomson International and The Economist Group. This article is excerpted from TM Forum’s Perspectives publication which is available free at Topics such as customer experience, analytics, digital services and IT transformation are the focus of TM Forum Live!, June 2-5 in Nice, France. InterComms readers can take advantage of $200 off the price of an All-Access Gold pass using the code PQV4VX. Register today at

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