9 JULY 2015

Below is an interview with Dave Corley, Vice President of Innovation at TEOCO. In this interview, Dave shares his ideas about the power of big data, the value of analytics, and how even with the best laid plans and expectations, the actual results are often quite surprising.

Q: Dave, can you provide us with a little bit of the history of data analytics and TEOCO?
TEOCO, at its core, is an Optimization Company. What that means is that we provide different organizations within a service provider with the tools and services they need in order to optimize their business, and our analytics solution SONAR is a key tool that we use to help do this.

Q: Have there been any surprising findings over the years?
When we begin an analytics engagement it’s usually because our customer is concerned about a certain area of their business and they are engaging with us to find areas of cost savings, but they generally have an idea of what they are looking for. However, while we might find areas to optimize in the expected places, it’s often the case that the most significant and surprising findings are the ones that arise from the data itself. Our experience has shown that the power of big data will trump even the best laid plans and expectations.

For example, when we began analyzing a service provider’s network data, we found that they were not billing any of their subscribers when they were roaming in a specific country. In another instance, when we started analyzing our Client’s billing data, we found that on the same night every week, for months on end, they had not billed for any data traffic related to video downloads. In both cases, the service provider didn’t know these errors existed, but they were causing significant amounts of lost revenue. And this would have been much worse had they gone undetected and been allowed to continue for weeks, months, or even years on end.

We have also uncovered all sorts of surprising fraud and abuse cases– including abuses of regulatory policies and end user agreements, which have saved our customers millions of dollars. These aren’t the types of findings that will appear on an aggregated report that’s being run every day, but they are the types of things that occur when we bring all of the customers’ data into one place, correlate it, and make it easily accessible and easy to analyze for the subject matter experts in various departments. Optimization is a very ‘holistic’ process that requires a broad view across the entire business. The broader the view, or in other words, the more data we can get access to within the organization, the better the results.

Q: What return on investment can a service provider expect to achieve from an analytics project?

I can only speak for TEOCO, but our Clients regularly achieve an ROI in the neighborhood of 5 to 1, and as I mentioned earlier, we often get the highest rates of return for our customers in areas that were not originally the ones we were brought in to analyze. We find the most interesting and valuable findings are the ones that arise later, once all of the subject matter experts have easy access to all of the data in one place, fully correlated. That’s when we find the majority of the value.

Q: What is the typical driver or motivation behind an analytics engagement?
We primarily specialize in financial and network analytics – anything related to the bottom line and network quality, which are two key areas that all service providers are interested in. For example, CSP’s have a finite amount of money to spend every year on capital expenses related to building out their network, and they are always looking for ways to optimize this spend. There is only so much money to go around and a lot of ways to spend it, and service providers need help identifying which areas will provide the most ‘bang for the buck’. One way that TEOCO is helping them achieve this is by using data to help prioritize where their CapEx spend should go. We then like to take it a few steps further – not only defining where the investment should go, but also how to best fix the issue, and then we measure the results.

As an example, most CSPs tend to only analyze their network data when they have coverage or capacity issues that they are looking to fix. But when you combine network data with financial and subscriber data, and then correlate and analyze all this information together, this gives you the ability to actually identify which of those coverage issues are affecting the most valuable customers, allowing the CSP to prioritize their CapEx spend based on margins. Then, once prioritized, you can actually analyze the data and determine how to best resolve those network issues. In today’s world, that might mean trying to decide where to deploy a small cell or a macro cell so that it improves network quality for high value customers. And then finally, analytics allows CSPs to close the loop. Once those network changes have been made and implemented, we can use analytics to identify whether or not those changes had the desired effect, and if the results showed up in the bottom line or prevented those high value customers from churning.

Q: Can you tell us about the tools TEOCO uses to analyze all this data?
SONAR is TEOCO’s solution for Big Data analytics. We receive large volumes of data from as many as 100 different sources – both inside and outside of the CSP, such as social media data, credit history information and demographic data, along with usage and billing data that the operator has in its own systems. SONAR takes in all this data, which equates to billions of event and data records; then the system correlates and organizes it and presents it in such a way that allows data scientists, and non-data scientists alike, to be able to find optimization opportunities within their business.

SONAR also provides solutions for all areas of a CSP. For example, for the Finance department, we can analyze margins for their partner agreements or even on a per-subscriber level. On the network side, we help troubleshoot and monitor network problems and then help them identify and resolve those issues. In the Customer Care area, we provide metrics and scoring around customer experience and we also provide tools for preventing bill shock. For the Marketing department, we provide analysis for customer segmentation and churn analysis, and we also assist in supporting pricing decisions. When we have access to the right data, we are able to make a huge impact in almost every department within a service provider.

This interview is available to watch in a 2-part video. Click here to watch the first part and click here to watch the second part.

For more information on TEOCO’s analytics solutions, click here.