Harnessing the Power of Analytics for Telecoms – Part I

0

Spotlight on Power of Analytics | TelecomDrive.com

When it comes to implementing successful operations for telecoms – analytics has played a big role and in today’s 5G era telecom operators are utilizing the power of analytics in order to deliver great user experiences and do more with their network infrastructure.

Evolution of Analytics         

Speaking about the evolution of analytics, Stephen Spellicy, Senior VP of Marketing & Products, Guavus (a Thales company) says that operators’ use of big data analytics has evolved over the last decade from periodically collecting and storing data from their networks to getting analytics on much richer data sources used to influence their telecom business in real time.

“This shift has resulted in the transformation of data to information. At the same time, operators have evolved their initial requirements from a decade ago when their perspective was simply to utilize big data analytics for diagnostics to much more advanced analytics approaches such as predictive and prescriptive analytics,” he adds.

 

Araceli del Río Sastre, Head of Portfolio Development, Digital Insights, Software Business at Nokia says that CSPs have invested for years in point analytics tools, for different purposes and different departments, based on different and narrow data sets. “Nowadays, there is an increasing trend towards more holistic, enterprise-wide intelligence systems. This is driven by CSPs’ need to get more value out of their data. CSPs have a lot of pressure to improve their productivity with more data-driven automation. They need to delight new digital natives with more personalized, “in-the-moment” experiences.  And in the short term, CSPs’ need to learn how to best support and monetize 5G rollouts.

All this requires lots of different data, insights and actions to come together. Old point tools with narrow data sets are not able to address these market requirements, and they have become a limitation,” she explains.

Amir Kotler, CEO, Veego explains that for ISPs, the concept of deriving data from the connected home is quite new. In fact, only very recently, with the advancement of AI and other innovative technologies, can data from the connected home be generated in sufficient quantities and quality to be of use to ISPs for the purposes of analytics.

“Technologically, 2019 marks the breakthrough and ISPs are only now realizing the potential of gathering device, service, usage, quality of experience (QoE) and other data to better understand their subscriber base. We look for a hockey-stick increase in the use of analytics in the connected home industry. We at Veego are intimately involved in the connected home which takes its place as an important business unit for telecoms who are also Internet Service Providers (ISPs),” he adds on

Importance of Analytics

As far as Analytics is concerned, it is quite critical for running successful operations in telecoms in today’s competitive market landscape.

“Analytics have become essential to operators for not only improving their operations, for purposes such as core operational disciplines related to network operations for detecting failures, service degradation and problem resolution, but also to better understand the behavior of the network and its impact on their subscribers’ experiences (e.g., customer experience related to quality of experience/service),” explains, Stephen Spellicy from Guavus.

Araceli del Río Sastre from Nokia confirms that CSPs are conducting digital transformation projects to increase efficiency, improve customer experience and drive new revenue streams. “These objectives require current processes to be more data driven, more automated, predictive and capable of leveraging data across CSP’s functions. The application of AI and ML brings intelligent insights that are more precise than those produced by current processes and systems, and will enable the CSP to predict and react fast and dynamically to changes,” she adds.

Pointing out the importance of analytics in today’s context, Amir Kotler from Veego says that the connected home is growing by leaps and bounds. Approaching 30 devices per home, it has become a staple part of human activity. “The recent Corona pandemic has added thrusters to this inevitable trend. As such, the connected home is increasing in importance for ISPs. To run a successful home-internet operation, ISPs must absolutely learn to profile their gigantic subscriber communities. They must gather the new types of data that show them what smart devices people are using in their homes and for what services. Armed with this knowledge, ISPs can begin to understand what sort of digital experience people want and how successful it’s going for them. With so much competition and ease of churn, this understanding is critical to maintaining the customer base,” he explains.

Speaking about the ongoing trends on future-proofing a network, Stephen Spellicy from Guavus says that the most obvious trend in telecom today is the timely focus on 5G and the ultimate desire to architect and deploy self-optimizing / self-healing networks (SON).  “Telecom operators are seeking ways to reduce dependency on human resources and to offload more real time decisioning through automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI),” he explains.

Talking about the most important trends for telecoms, Araceli del Río Sastre from Nokia says that there is a trend on moving towards a more standardized, enterprise-wide intelligence: This will bring more a holistic approach to data collection, analysis and consumption. ”CSPs want to produce reliable, robust and scalable insights, based on more diverse data sets. They want these insights to be shared across the organization, to bring greater consistency between the decision-making processes.

There is a move towards customer centric operations across functions (network and business teams) and processes. This will build on a real-time AI-driven intelligence system that will enable predictive decision making, embedded deeply into business processes. It will offer a new paradigm for openness and data democracy, with all complex network & business data consumable by any user or machine within the CSP’s ecosystem.

We are also experiencing trend on 5G roll-outs driving operational process automation, ML based, that will include established and new processes that are specifically for 5G. And then there is a trend on delivery shifting to SaaS to support large on-demand applications and to IaaS for big data infrastructure. There is also a move towards open API driven platforms, with ability to leverage existing ecosystem SW capabilities and flexibility to scale new data sources and insights.

At Nokia, our Customer Experience Analytics and Network Analytics offerings are addressing these market trends and demands, and help CSPs to optimize personalized, on-the-move and home experiences,” she explains.

Expressing his thoughts on current trends, Amir Kotler from Veego says that from Veego’s perspective, the trend is clearly much more reliance on internet connections for work, entertainment, education and virtually everything else we all are now doing from home.

“The analytics emanating from the data captured from the connected home will power decisions in almost every facet of life including smart cities, distance learning, work, and everything else you can think of. So, we wouldn’t say “relevant” and “important”, but “vital” and “crucial”,” he informs.

Impact of COVID-19

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has revolutionized the way telecom networks are used and keeping in mind the present scenario of ‘Work from Home’, ‘School from Home’ – network is quite central to everything-connected today.

Speaking on the current situation, Stephen Spellicy from Guavus says that with the emergence of COVID-19, the telecom market experienced a massive amount of change in a very short period of time as the pandemic escalated across the globe. One of the obvious impacts is how the network was utilized before and now is transforming from a more or less loosely centralized (from 9-5 / 5 days a week) to a hyper-distributed subscriber network (24/7).

“Overnight, pretty much across the globe, countries have asked citizens to stay home and, thus, companies have asked employees to work from home and students to study from home. This massive shift related to how and where networks are accessed has literally changed the center of gravity — from a highly concentrated set of larger corporate or enterprise-oriented networks to wholly residential.  This has not only challenged businesses of all types as to how they will continue operations in this mode, but also it has turned many upside-down.

Operators are now being faced with a host of new traffic patterns and new levels of network utilization with the emergence of new voice and video applications. To assist their subscribers in this time of need, operators have been lifting network caps and allowing unlimited access to reserved bandwidth.  Many are struggling with the new capacity demands, as capacity is often incrementally planned and deployed with gradual growth in the telecom business. In good times, MNOs would welcome millions of new subscribers (and their traffic) but, in this case, this has caught many by surprise,” he explained.

Araceli del Río Sastre from Nokia says that under the shadow of COVID-19, CSPs have become more relevant than ever, ensuring that people can continue communicating during lockdowns, working remotely or enjoying their favorite applications.

For a fixed CSP, streaming traffic increased by 300% in the first week of the quarantine, mainly driven by YouTube and Netflix, and causing an overall 200% increase in traffic.

“Applications needed to work remotely such as Webex or Skype for business also experienced a huge increase in traffic, 1000% and 600% respectively. And gaming traffic increased by 600%, with the number of subscribers gradually increasing for family games and people playing all day with the same level of usage until late in the night.

For mobile CSPs in developing countries, mobile traffic also increased since quarantines began by an average of 20% to 50% as people without a fixed internet connection at home were depending on their mobiles for connectivity.

Thanks to AI & analytics, CSPs can predict and prevent issues before they happen, reducing critical events and improving the lives of support teams. With modern network analytics tools, service operations analysts can leverage long-term big data and machine learning to identify patterns and anomalies which equip them to act proactively by predicting issues before they happen. They analyze KPIs which have a direct impact on the remote work experience, the gaming experience or the doctor visit experience, both from the network perspective and the connectivity to the application provider.

Big app players like PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox and Webex are already optimizing their apps to cope with the increased traffic, but this is not the case for some smaller players. If the service operations team identifies degradations in app server response times, especially if it impacts the experience of high value customers, the CSP can work with the app provider to optimize the end-to-end experience. Identifying these degradations allows care teams to respond informatively to customers and avoids focusing resolution efforts internally when the problem originates externally,” she adds on.

Power of Analytics

Commenting on this situation, Amir Kotler from Veego says that, “We have studied the affects of COVID-19 on the connected home and we have published our findings. Through extensive use of analytics, we have determined that COVID-19 has accelerated the use of the internet in the home – more than 25% in terms of time spent. The internet is now the center of attention for work, school, entertainment, and more. Based on what we see, this phenomenon is becoming a permanent fixture of our lives – we aren’t going back. Therefore, the role of analytics for understanding the customer experience in the home is suddenly more important than ever.”

Market Size | Growth Prospects

As more and more operators and ISPs look for better ways to engage with their customers and offer them better experience that are meaningful to their needs – they are increasingly getting their answers from deploying better and intelligent analytics solutions. And this market is only going to grow ahead the coming months.

Talking about the present market scenario and its growth prospects, Stephen Spellicy from Guavus says that the business intelligence and analytics market is extremely large, estimated at approxately $20B+ USD, however, this represents a multi-vertical/industry, multi-use case and it includes data visualization, which is not analytics per se.

“When you zero in on the telecom vertical, the global market segment today for telecom analytics is estimated at roughly $1B USD by 2023.  This segment covers analytics for network monitoring and analysis related to predicting service outages, performance issues, fault isolation and tracking subscriber behavior,” he informs.

 Araceli del Río Sastre from Nokia says, ”Analysys Mason forecasts revenue increase at a 5.2% CAGR (2018-2023) for AI & Analytics, mainly driven by network analytics and 5G roll-outs over the next years. The next generations of network upgrades are looking to analytics and AI technologies to automate operational aspects of 5G. AI will help CSPs to cope with increased complexity, and will be used to support CSPs’ unique business requirements into optimization of the 5G resources and help to improve customer experiences.”

Amir Kotler from Veego explains that the global internet market, since its inception some 25 years ago, already serves more than half of the world’s population.

“The connected home devices market alone is forecast to expand at a CAGR of 12%, reaching US$157 billion by 2027. Services, apps and more are on top of that making the connected home one of the biggest enterprises on the planet. Internet service is the name of the game for telecoms. As we said earlier, data from the connected home is in its infancy and thus analytics as well. Due to the connected home’s stunning growth and ISPs’ crucial role in it, we can expect telecoms to devote very, very heavy resources to analytics.

Veego is a startup and we began operation only at the beginning of 2019. We dedicated our resources to developing cutting-edge technologies that would enable ISPs to perfect the internet experience of every user in every connected home. In nearly all of our sales calls with telecoms, we discovered that they are as eager for data for their analytics as they are for our ability to automatically detect, analyze and fix problems. Veego’s technology gives ISPs the ability to maintain very good customer experience (CX) in millions of homes. ISPs want to know a lot more about that – how we can measure the QoE of every internet session, how we can predict churn based on user and session behavior, and a lot more. You need petabytes of data and spectacular analytics capabilities to do that,” he explains.


Zia Askari
Zia Askari works as the Editor for TelecomDrive.com and carries over 18 years of experience in technology writing, branding, communications and digital marketing. Over these years, Zia has worked with Cyber Media and Grey Head on the content side and RAD Data Communications, Huawei Telecommunications and Shyam Networks on the branding and marketing side.