Analytics year in review: Top 6 communications industry stories of 2015

Analytics Community Manager, IBM

What an incredible year 2015 turned out to be! Our IBM Analytics team executed and delivered a tremendous body of work this year, and we’re so proud of all the individuals on our team, as well as our partners and clients who have all worked tirelessly in pursuit of a smarter, more sustainable, more connected, data-driven future.

We focused on delivering solutions that not only help improve the lives of individuals, but also help solve humanity’s greatest challenges. In 2015, leaders in the insight economy truly embrace the full potential of today’s most powerful analytics solutions to uncover fascinating trends, discover hidden patterns, seize opportunities and create exciting new markets that have transformed the communications industry.

Let’s look at some of the highlights:

Real-time insight helped Wimbledon break news first

In 2014, IBM collected 3.2 million data points from the Wimbledon courtside, which enabled us to accurately deliver all the statistics for every point recorded within one second of each point’s finishing. In 2015, that data was pushed into Wimbledon’s real-time notifications system. In milliseconds, the data passed through analytics running in IBM InfoSphere Streams hosted on the IBM SoftLayer public cloud. Wimbledon was able to instantaneously identify milestones, deviations in play and various records. Then the most noteworthy events were pushed out as notifications and instantaneously displayed on the Wimbledon Command Centre, ready for Wimbledon’s Digital and Content team to share.

Thanks to this real-time analysis, Wimbledon was able break news fast. Within seconds, they were able to share the news of the third-fastest serve in Wimbledon history, Lleyton Hewitt hitting the 1,500th winner of his Wimbledon career, Andy Murray hitting his 600th ace at Wimbledon and so much more exciting news. Watson at Wimbledon has the knowledge of the entire history of the championships, enabling it to retrieve these facts immediately.

Wimbledon shared unique insights and stories in real time, always staying one step ahead and rising above the noise. This model engaged fans onsite and around the world with compelling content shared through Twitter and on, all supported by incredibly quick, real-time insights.

Advanced analytics helped keep the energy and utilities sector out of the dark

Our best predictions from the International Energy Agency tell us that global energy demand is set to rise by 37 percent by 2040. Energy companies must ramp up to meet demands while delivering safer, more reliable, more affordable and (perhaps most important) more sustainable energy.

The path to this sustainable future must begin with increased asset productivity and reliability, greater operational efficiency and improved safety. This is achieved by leveraging big data and analytics to identify and apply key information and insights across your organization.

This year, a global grid operator used predictive modeling to achieve a 23 percent reduction in operating costs by utilizing our Analytics Driven Operational Efficiency Solutions. Bharat Light & Power analyzed network and turbine data to predict failures and boost and optimize performance, which enabled it to make clean energy widely available and affordable by creating more wind farms and maximizing plant load factor. Israel Electric Corporation generates a massive 95 percent of Israel’s electricity; with smarter maintenance it increased ROI for turbines and met peak demand by allowing turbines to run at full capacity. In 2016, we will continue our mission to help operations teams in the energy and utilities sector move beyond predictive maintenance to full-grid awareness and responsive management.

Millennials demanded wider, deeper, more personalized experiences

Today’s Internet, laptop, TV, smartphone, tablet and video game-driven consumer has presented a massive challenge for media and entertainment companies. As millennials grow up, they know their data is valuable, they believe relevance is key and they are demanding more personalized media and entertainment experiences. Providing these highly relevant, tailored experiences that cater to all the devices they have on hand at any given time is a huge big data and analytics challenge.

Millennials will soon want a share in the revenue generated by their personal data, or a say in how their data is used and who gets their hands on it. Look no further than the rise of ad blockers to see the beginnings of this trend. Millennials are already expecting to receive a much better experience in exchange for their data; they want it on their terms and on their devices, and they want to tell the world all about it.

They know you’re watching them watching you, and it’s up to you to deliver the sustainable consumer experience they require. In 2016 the question is: What do you want them to say about your content?

Customer experience was king on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday online sales have been growing rapidly over the past few years; in 2014, they were up 8.7 percent from sales in 2013. In 2015, online sales for Cyber Monday increased 17.8 percent over the same day in 2014.

In October of this year, the Loyalty One service company surveyed 1,019 American consumers nationwide; their results showed that 47 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers expressed reluctance to make an in-store holiday season purchase from a retailer whose online store provided a less-than-satisfactory Cyber Monday shopping experience. In other words, customers have become so connected to Internet retail that a bad shopping experience online will keep them out of the physical store as well. And today, with smartphones driving 28.5 percent of online shopping traffic on Cyber Monday, communications service providers (CSPs) and retailers must take action.

In 2015, advanced analytics made huge impacts on telecommunications customer network activity across locations, devices and applications by allowing retailers and CSPs to cut down on churn and avoid expensive customer service calls. The resulting data-driven insights helped retailers enhance the customer experience and, together with their CSPs, attract new customers and retain them. Powerful Customer Experience Analytics and Proactive Care Solutions will continue allowing these companies to uncover and deliver incredibly valuable consumer insights as we move into 2016.

Telecommunications led the way in the insight economy

We are experiencing an explosion of telemetry. Telecom providers, the backbone of the Internet, are leading the way to a data-driven future in which we all thrive in a data-rich ecosystem. Our partners and clients have utilized our Telecommunications Solutions to make huge strides this year.

By enabling near-real-time analytics, Celcom was able to improve customer loyalty, reduce new campaign launch time (by 80 percent), drive customer engagement and gain market leadership.

NTT Communications is now analyzing data derived from network equipment alerts and past support tickets to predict recovery times in real time, reporting the most critical issues to the operations team for timely fixes and enabling both call center and network maintenance teams to provide information to customers.

XO Communications reduced revenue erosion by 142 percent and saved more than $10 million this year using IBM Proactive Customer Care.

Telecom providers are transforming how we use big data analytics, building an insight-driven culture and disrupting the entire marketplace by reshaping the boundaries of what is possible.

In 2015, we were introduced to the Cognitive Era

In October, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty announced the formation of the IBM Cognitive Business Solutions Group to build cognitive innovations across industries, and she discussed IBM’s vision for the Cognitive Computing Era. We are creating an astounding amount of information, and 80 percent of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data we produce every day is unstructured, making it virtually invisible to current technology. The programmable computers of the past can’t make sense of it all, but IBM Watson can. Watson is cognitive, designed to understand, reason, learn and, in a sense, to think. 

2015 was an amazing year for analytics, delivering transformations the communications industry would have once believed were impossible, and we can't wait to see what 2016 has in store.