MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Big Data Making the Connection

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 16, 2014

With all the buzz about big data, the primary assumption is that it will help companies better understand their customers. This is not wrong, but is is just one aspect of what big data can do. In his recent conversation at HP Discover, Brian Kraznich CEO of Intel, spoke about how big data can help us uncover "known unknowns and the unknown unknowns". For example, we know we can uncover data that will help us understand consumer preferences. It's just a matter of aggregating and analyzing the data from multiple sources. But, what about making the connection between various data points that reveals something we never imagined?

Industries from financial services to oil & gas to telecommunications & media are all using big data to improve their businesses. How big is Big Data?  It's big enough that there is now a data visualization award at this week's Cannes Lions event - the "Oscars" of the advertising industry.  It's important enough that data scientists are paid more than business analysts at financial services firms.

We've all read about Netflix's use of its subscriber data to influence its production of the hit series "House of Cards". However, Netflix is also using data to identify the impact of Quality of Experience (QoE) on the subscriber behavior. For example, what is the rebuffer rate? What is the bitrate? What is the network capacity? One benefit in correlating this data is that it allows Netflix to make smarter decisions about where and when to cache content, usually near the "edge" of the network, to better server their customers.

Netflix is not alone in its focus on the network. Cable operators and telecommunications providers have long been monitoring and measuring network performance. They capture data from across their networks in order to provide a better a subscriber experience, but also to reduce their operational costs. They have adopted big data analytics solutions to address concerns such as extracting data from call data records and comparing it to network alerts with the goal of  improving customer service. The analysis may reveal that a small number of network nodes are responsible for the majority of customer issues. The service provider can then pursue options such as providing online self-service tips, performing proactive network maintenance or performing network equipment upgrades. The results include reductions in the volume of calls to the call center as well as reduced on-site visits, improved customer service margins and happier customers.

A benefit for all service providers is the ability of big data analytics to unify systems for network monitoring, management and troubleshooting. With a variety of hardware and software in the network and at the subscriber premises,  aggregating disparate data is a challenge. Big data solutions enable capture, aggregation and analysis to:

     - measure network usage

     - reduce network equipment costs

     - perform fraud analysis

     - uncover bandwidth issues

Getting ahead of the curve on these issues will allow cable operators, telecommunications providers, wireless carriers and OTT Players to manage their networks more efficiently, which ultimately allows them to serve their subscribers more effectively. Big data provides the insight to prepare them for the increasing demands on the network to provide connectivity, deliver high bandwidth video and enable interactivity.

What's your perspective?