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Telcos discuss whether there is gold in their customer data

Posted on: Wednesday 28th of April 2010

Great day out at an event run by the helpful people at Telco2.0. The key issue under discussion were the future business models for the telco industry and one of the main themes was customer data.

The core of that discussion was that Telcos collect a lot of customer data and the issue was how that could be exploited?! Hmm not a great starting point. However the presentation from Phil Laidler, a Telco2.0 director and analyst, that followed certainly caused discussion. The presentation was based on a group discussion of about 40 people organised by Telco2.0 on behalf of a customer and held at MIT. The conclusion of that group was that telcos have to

  • stop seeing the data as theirs – it is the customers
  • stop thinking about selling the data and start thinking about how to provide insight or analysis of that data
  • stop creating raw APIs and start producing more refined APIs or services (sort of “personalised”)
  • stop being held back by legal compliance and start thinking about value of the data to the customer
  • stop thinking about being an operator and start becoming custodians or brokers
  • stop having a one-sized view on privacy and start offering configured privacy – so that the benefit of giving data up is obvious.

All powerful stuff that confirms that the power is shifting.

Another (slightly scary) part of the day was some data presented about just how much pressure is on (mobile) operators to change. Forward projections look as though traffic will rise about ten fold over the next five years yet revenues, at best seem like they may double. Not only that but it looks as though capacity of the mobile networks will struggle to cope with that increase; there’s going to be a 100-fold need to increase base stations and the like and so there is need for large scale capital investment.

It’s great to hear that new business models are likely to feature highly in trying to square that circle but even better to hear fellow analysts tell the industry that the answer is not to sell customer data.

If you want to know more about Telco2.0, do sign up for their newsletter or get in touch with them – Dan Collins is your man.