Reshaping Telecoms: Rise of OTT, IoT and Big Data

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An Interaction with Ram Prasad Mamidi, CIO, Tata Teleservices | TelecomDrive.com

Today’s telecom landscape is reshaping fast – with the help of new age OTT players, deployment of IoT driven solutions and implementation of big data applications and solutions.

Ram Prasad Mamidi, CIO, Tata Teleservices Limited interacts with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s IT vision and the changing role of a CIO today.

How do you look at the changing role of the new age CIO today?

CIO roles are evolving to proactively adopt newer technologies for growth. According to IDC, a CIO’s job has become difficult in the digital era with pressure to lower costs, maintain consistent infrastructure and innovate. Many CIO’s are integrating innovations rather than driving them.

Over 40% of LOB (Line of Business) executives view CIO’s as innovation officers responsible for leading delivery services. Today, in most progressive organizations including TTSL (Tata Teleservices), IT drives business results with CIO’s partaking in strategy initiatives alongside C-suite executives.

They’re responsible for customer experience, analytics leveraging, and driving innovations. Especially in high-tech, service-dominated industries such as telecom, CIO roles enable market differentiation and competitiveness. This means they work closely with the business, understand its priorities, and ensure IT readiness, rather than being reactive and trying to hold it all together.

Despite technology advancements CIO’s successes will be defined by their vision and risks they are willing to take for their company. Some prerequisites include collaboration across business functions, being “security-aware”, strong communication, and of course, tech-savviness. The new-age CIO has hence moved beyond traditional roles of technologist, project executor and cost manager. We may also soon see more business managers becoming CIO’s and CIO’s becoming CEO’s.

What are some of the big IT trends that are reshaping the telecommunications sector?

Continuous technical transformation and information waves have driven high growth in the telecom industry and we are seeing the following trends that are reshaping the industry.

  • Rise of over-the-top players: Over-the-top (OTT) players, which offer apps and streaming content directly to consumers through the Internet, have increased their dominance, even in core communication services such as messaging and voice. WhatsApp, Viber, Skype etc. represent more than a huge percent of all messaging and international voice traffic
  • Internet of Things: One the major trends that has been impacted the telecom industry is the explosion of connected devices. This is adding billions of new connected data sources and the upswing of all of these devices is seeing an astronomical growth in data volumes; we will quickly push through exabyte volumes and enter the world of zettabytes per year
  • 5G: While the technology has not yet been fully defined, the promise of 5G more speed, greater efficiency, and less latency will be essential to supporting connected things in the future
  • Big Data: On its own, big data has gained a firmer foothold with telecom operators as hyper-competition drives them to strengthen their data management and analytics capabilities to drill deep and wide, gaining better insights to enhance customer experience at every stage of interaction.
  • Security: In the wake of several high-profile data breaches, it’s become more important for telcos to consolidate and strengthen their security systems. As custodians of the networks, operators play a pivotal role in fighting the new threats that are emerging. Customers will begin to expect, then demand, more proactive protection from the entire internet value chain, and they will be expected to support these expectations with a range of technical and operational innovations.

 

What is the role of Big data applications in delivering personalised telecommunications services for consumers as well as businesses?

Big data applications can help in acquiring a deeper understanding of users and in improving their experience at every touchpoint. Telecom operators can use the application of big data on customer and network data to generate a real-time view of customer preferences and network efficiency enabling targeted and customized delivery. Some of the ways big data can help:

  • Optimizing routing and quality of service by analyzing network traffic in real time
  • Analyzing call data records in real time to identify fraudulent behavior immediately
  • Allowing call center reps to flexibly and profitably modify subscriber calling plans immediately
  • Tailoring marketing campaigns to individual customers using location-based and social networking technologies
  • Using insights into customer behavior and usage to develop new products and services Big data can even open new sources of revenue, such as selling insights about customers to third parties

Tata Teleservices has been using big data for a while now, emphasis while using it has been on the end to end customer experience management strongly. It has been helping us to define systems to measure stage-wise experience parameters for a given customer and correlate them for personalized delivery, not to forget the predictive tools and robust data warehousing which are in place. While these solutions enable us to leverage structured data, we are also looking at available options for effective mining of unstructured data. Using the Hadoop framework, we have leveraged Big Data for more effective Vigilance Tracking and Monitoring.

Today there is an increasing importance of data centres with the explosion of data services. In such a scenario, what should be the best model that CSPs can take in order to do more with less?

Data centers have transformed into important stockades of valuable data, containing crucial insights for companies, enabling them to reach business goals with relative ease. Cloud and software-defined datacenters and help CSPs to open a range of opportunities by unlocking evolutionary levels of insight, flexibility and scale. Typically, CSPs should take a top-down approach by focusing on specific business problems that big data might solve, and then gathering the data needed to solve them.

However, there can be two challenges in this strategy: First, the business problem often exceeds the capacity of the available data to solve it, and second, the process of gathering the right data to help solve the problem is not adequately understood by many companies. To circumvent this problem, companies should begin with the inverse approach, viewing the opportunity from the bottom up – examine the data currently available, and only then determine the business problems the data might help solve, with the help of any additional structured or unstructured data that might be needed. The best way to get started with this approach is through pilot programs.

Keeping initial expectations reasonable, a dedicated team gathers all available data, analyzes it to allow new and unexpected opportunities to reveal themselves, and then tests the efficacy of the results in solving one or more real business problems. This tactic offers telecom operators and others a concrete strategy, a more realistic assessment of the benefits of big data, and a better understanding of what is needed to achieve those benefits in the long term.

By virtue of the above approach data multiplicity is reduced to a large extent and data consolidation is achieved to meet disparate requirements from various functions while maintaining single source of truth and efficiently using infrastructure at the same time reducing TCO.

What are some of the big technology challenges that you see today? How do you want to overcome these tech challenges?

India is gearing to have full tele-density by 2020 and the target seems to be fully achievable with telecom service operators who are expanding their reach every quarter and with renewed focus on rural areas. As India is steadily on-boarding the digital bandwagon and expansion in rural and suburban areas has become critical.

However, these untapped areas not only lack basic infrastructure but also face scarcity of trained personnel, which further creates obstacles in deployment of services in these areas. Tata teleservices has been constantly focusing on expanding and strengthening services in semi urban towns and cities.