The Telecom Industry Needs Big Data To Thrive In The 21st Century

The telecom industry needs big data to succeed in a modern era of constant inter-connectedness. Here's what to know about how the industry has evolved.

September 6, 2018
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The telecommunications industry is a large, amorphous utility industry. By most people’s standards, the industry is very slow-changing and excessively bureacratic. There is a lot of truth to this stereotype, but that is gradually changing. The growing number of telecom companies using big data is one of the biggest reasons for the turnaround.

The Telecom Industry Was Slow to Embrace Big Data

Alexander Graham Bell shouldn’t get all the credit for inventing the telecommunications industry. You might think the telecommunications industry is something relatively new, perhaps birthed in the early 1800s, but it actually dates back to the first use of smoke signals.

Of course, it wasn’t until closer to the mid-19th-century that the first electrical telecommunication systems came about. The electric telephone was invented in the late 1870s, and today, we have technology few even dreamed of at the time from smartphones to the Internet, while new trends continue to shape and change the telecommunications industry of the future. Former CEO of Polycom, Andrew Miller, for example, gave a great keynote on telecommunications that touches on changes in the industry at TIA Now in 2012, providing a glimpse of what we might expect in the coming years.

Since the industry is so old and slow to adapt, it seemed to miss some of the important changes big data created. They are realizing they can no longer be so reluctant to embrace change.

How Big Data is Changing Telecom Forever

Big data is having a profound impact on the industry  in a number of ways. Here are some things to be aware of:

  • Telecom companies are taking advantage of predictive analytics, a revolutionary field that was born from the surge in big data. Ian Gertler published an insightful article on the IBM Big Data and Analytics Hub on this very topic.
  • Big data is paving the way for the future of 5G technology. This technology will allow telecom companies to offer their services much more scalably.
  • Machine learning is slowly becoming a fascinating frontier for the future of telecom. Telecom companies that use machine learning are finding that is helping them minimize their incredibly costly infrastructure and reduce customer turnover.
  • Big data is essential for improving threat detection.

Here is an overview of some of the biggest changes.

The Race for 5G Technology

Many telecommunications companies across the globe have already developed 5G architecture and have begun initiating field tests, with this year bringing the first wave of commercial offerings. It represents a paradigm shift in wireless infrastructure, 100 times faster than current networks, enabling some unprecedented advances. Think Smart Cities, virtual reality platforms, Internet of Things technology and a whole lot more – there are practically an endless list of possibilities with 5G. Recent research published in The Lost Economy estimated that deployment of 5G networks in the U.S. could generate an additional $1.2 trillion in consumer benefits. There is interest outside the traditional telco market as well, in transportation, agribusiness and energy.

Security Has Become More Critical Than Ever

All telecommunication companies must take measures to ensure the protection of the personal data of their customers. Data breaches, compromised networks and the like seemed to be almost continuously in the headlines in 2017, which is why telcos understand they need to do a lot more then just secure data transferred through their systems. Holistic network security is become more essential than ever, which is why we can expect to see more companies rolling out business-wide encryption. Service providers will continue to consolidate offerings and take steps to ensure networks are ready and able to accommodate the increasing technological advancements.

Digital Customer Support

Expect big advances when it comes to digitized customer support, with e-care said to be the future of customer service, which includes meeting customer needs via digital channels such as text messaging, social media, online chats and email. A survey conducted by McKinsey and Company found that by digitizing customer service, customer satisfaction can be increased by 33%, while cutting costs by as much as 35%. Providing messenger support is one of the biggest changes in the industry, becoming the default form of digital communication. Apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp now have over 1.3 billion users each, and more than half of consumers now say they prefer messaging channels for support.

Big Data is Shaking the Foundation of the Telecom Industry in a Great Way

Telecom companies are becoming more focused on using big data to boost efficiency and adaptability than ever before. This is necessary to maintain their competitive edge as the barriers to entry in this once oligopolic industry are slowly breaking down and allowing more competitors to enter the scene. Big data could be the very thing they need to stay relevant and boost net margins to keep shareholders happy.