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From TV to taxis – how effective use of big data will provide the foundation for digital service providers

By November 8, 2016 No Comments

Radical, monumental, new chapter, reinvention, historic. No we’re not talking about election coverage. These are just examples of some of the language used by the mainstream media to describe how two of the world’s main mobile service providers are changing. Unless you’ve been living on the moon, then you’ll know about the $85bn AT&T Time Warner deal. It, quite rightly, got a lot of media coverage.

Here’s an extract of how the Washington Post reported the breaking news:

“A merger between AT&T and Time Warner would be a historic deal. For starters, it could suddenly give AT&T control over a massive number of the world’s most valuable media brands. It would complete the transformation by the wireless carrier — already the nation’s second-largest — into a fully fledged entertainment powerhouse, launching an entirely new chapter in the history of the telecommunications giant. And it would be no less monumental for the rest of the communications industry, a rapidly consolidating area of business in which Internet providers are increasingly playing a central role in how consumers work and play”. (Washington Post, 21st October, 2016).

Receiving less coverage that the AT&T, Time Warner deal, was the Vimpelcom announcement that they were changing from being a telco to focus on mobile internet services. In the UK, the Daily Mail report said:

“Vimpelcom is undertaking the telecom industry’s most radical overhaul to date, weaning itself from declining revenues from voice and data to focus instead on mobile Internet services such as banking, taxis and messaging, its executives said.

The reinvention by one of the world’s top ten mobile operators is the clearest example yet of a major telecom company deciding to join the tech sector rather than trying to beat it and may put pressure on others to follow.

It will mean a shift for Vimpelcom from selling data and voice calls to offering a single, app-based platform where users can communicate for free. Vimpelcom plans to revenue share through partnerships with recognised Internet names, such as Uber.” (Daily Mail, 6th November, 2016).

The message is clear – how telcos do business is radically changing. In fact they’re not even telcos any more – they’re digital service providers. This is a vague enough term, but the fact is that different service providers may well focus on providing different services. Some will focus on being media providers, some will re-invent themselves mobile internet services companies providing everything from taxis to insurance to advertising. 

In the Daily Mail article about Vimpelcom, they described how business intelligence and data will be key: “Vimpelcom wants to mine client data to target new services, such as offering a customer a taxi booking on a busy Friday night, based on anticipating how busy a neighbourhood is and knowing where potential customers are located. For Internet partners, such insights can help differentiate them in a crowded field”.

Digital service providers have a huge amount of customer data. Effective management of big data with real-time, automated systems can mean all the difference between being another ‘me too’ provider to one that is differentiated and delivers the services and experience that each individual customer wants. This will be especially true in TV and video services, where consumers have more choice about what they watch and how they watch it than ever before.

At present many TV companies don’t have an accurate picture of what their customers are watching. Several are still using old statistical modelling techniques to get an understanding of what people are watching. Throw in the different TV and video data sources – set top boxes, tablets, gaming consoles, smartphones and many of them have, at best, a partial view of the TV and video viewing behavior of a household. If TV and video is playing such an important role in changing telcos into digital service providers, then collecting and managing TV and video viewing data to get a complete and real-time viewing of who’s watching what and enriching this real-time data with customer intelligence could be data foundation on which to build this new business.


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