Mobile Network Operators need the capability to exploit their network data effectively and efficiently in order to support their digital transformation goals, make insightful business decisions and capitalise on the 5G opportunity. This will help drive innovation, create new revenue streams, optimise the customer experience, build loyalty, reduce costs and much more.
However, getting quality actionable data as and when required can be challenging, extremely costly and very time consuming. The raw network data is usually inadequate for business intelligence purposes and very complex – distributed within the network, in various formats, from multiple system vendors, constantly changing, vast and ever growing with the advent of 5G and IoT.
Business units need the data to be consolidated, transformed, enriched and adequately formatted for various analytics platforms – without compromising the integrity of the data and without undue delays or disruptions. This enables the insights required to be obtained when and as required to support the decision-making process.
The quality of the data is of utmost importance, as erroneous decisions made from bad data can be extremely costly. According to IBM, the US economy loses $3.1 trillion annually due to poor data quality. Considering the particular complexity, volume and velocity of mobile network data, this issue is exacerbated for MNOs looking to capitalise on mobile network data.
Inflexible Legacy Solutions
Some of the solutions mobile operators have implemented to enable data intelligence are often inflexible, requiring for example an extensive reconfiguration of the operator’s environment to make changes or add a new analytics solution; this can be very costly, excessively time consuming and risky.
Operators have also complained about not being able to get the quality of data they need. All of this hinders innovation and results in mobile network operators missing out on opportunities to monetise mobile network data and optimise the business.
The Three Pillars of Effective Data Enablement
1 – Transforming Raw Network Data into Quality Actionable Data
MNOs need a powerful data ingestion, governance and management capability that enables complex raw network data from distributed sources and in various formats to be easily collated and manipulated in order to provide actionable data as and when needed. The solution should be able to:
- Extract the data from the various silos, feeds and networks (5G, 4G, 3G, 2G) spread across the ecosystem
- Ingest, transform, correlate and enrich the data as required, making all the information usable for both streaming and storage for future use. Predictive analytics, for example, rely on historical data to predict trends – the longer the history, the better the predictability
- Filter and format billions of records per day into the correct format for each application and protect them from downstream changes going forward
- Maintain the integrity and quality of the data throughout the transformation process
- Support data governance with privacy, security and compliance functions
2 – Delivering Fast Time to Actionable Data, Cost-Effectively
More than ever, MNOs need to be more agile, able to respond to changing situations promptly, seize market opportunities and innovate rapidly in order to thrive in a very competitive market. Relying on huge and complex systems to use and analyse network data hinders innovation and time to market.
What is required are data enablement solutions that are extremely flexible and easy to integrate, giving MNOs the freedom to make changes and introduce new analytics/OSS solutions rapidly and effectively, without creating chaos and unreasonable costs:
- Cloud ready, able to be delivered as a software service within a cloud (public or private) infrastructure. This equates to faster deployment times, ease of scalability and high availability.
- Cloud native, with established interconnectivity with public cloud service providers such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon AWS. This ensures that large volumes of data can be transferred efficiently (and hence cost-effectively) into cloud infrastructures.
- Able to work alongside existing solutions and not requiring a complete re-architecting of an MNO’s environment.
- Non-proprietary, an open software platform that is compliant with industry standards (e.g. 3GPP, TM Forum, OSSii).
- Independent of network equipment vendors, OSS vendors and analytics solutions.
- Enabling changes to be managed within the solution, not on the MNO’s analytics/application layer, which makes it invisible to the application users and ensures business continuity.
- Highly scalable, able to support the exponential growth of network data driven by 5G and IoT (IDC estimates that the number of IoT devices will reach 41.6 billion by 2025).
Such agility will help MNOs to accelerate insights-driven business decisions, innovate and create new revenue streams with minimum disruption, risk and cost.
3 – Providing Accurate Mobile Location Intelligence
Location is one of the most valuable types of network data that is highly coveted by all. It is used by operators internally for geo marketing and commercial purposes, but it is also extremely desirable for external businesses and governmental agencies. Smart cities, for instance, rely on location information to analyse population movement patterns for planning purposes, in order to optimise infrastructures and minimise the impact on the environment. Advertisers want location insights to launch their ad campaigns in the right place at the right time to maximise impact. Governments also need location information to enable emergency services and law enforcement.
5G brings the potential for higher accuracy location faster, which can power many innovative use cases. Nevertheless, obtaining accurate and fast mobile location consistently remains a challenge on all networks and MNOs need the right technologies and expertise to help:
- The capacity to deliver high accuracy location reliably and fast to enable more use cases. Typically, cell level of accuracy ranges from 200–500m in urban environments to 1–10km in rural areas – which may be enough in some cases, but would be inadequate for many commercial, emergency services and law enforcement requirements. For example, much higher accuracy is required to gain location insights around a billboard or to distinguish between a customer coming into a mall or one driving along a nearby motorway.
- A flexible, adaptable solution with full passive and active capabilities that can deliver real-time, historical and mass location intelligence for both commercial and regulatory purposes.
- A reliable network-based solution that enables MNOs to profit from their network location data by providing accurate and non-intrusive location intelligence, with nothing needing to be installed on the device.
- A solution that works on any network technology (5G, 4G, 3G, 2G) and their MVNOs, for any mobile phone (not just smartphones) and IoT devices, anytime and anywhere – even in dense urban environments, indoors or outdoors, in-country or overseas.
With the right solution, MNOs will be able to leverage network location data to differentiate and further take advantage of 5G, which can support higher levels of accuracy.
By meeting the requirements for effective, agile data enablement, mobile network operators will be able to turn raw, complex and distributed data into usable, profitable assets – fast. This will lay the foundation for mobile network data monetisation in the 5G era. Some operators have already risen to the challenge and are forging ahead.
Article originally published on Telecoms.com, 31 January 2022
Author: Corine Suscens, VP Global Marketing, Creativity Software – With 18 years in Technology/Telecom marketing, Corine Suscens has been developing leading edge thought leadership content for the industry. During her career, Corine has helped leading companies to explain their technical offerings in order to maximise industry understanding. She has written several whitepapers tackling key business challenges that operators have been facing. Corine currently leads the marketing department at Creativity Software, supporting the company’s growth and developing thought leadership marketing globally. Corine holds a Masters in Management from Grenoble Ecole de Management.