Predicting our journey: The untapped potential of mining customer profiles

Industry Marketing Manager - Communications, IBM

On a crisp, fall weekend, my wife and I decided to take advantage of our local fruits and drive up to the wine country. Winding through bucolic Napa Valley, California, my wife voiced disappointment in our telecommunications provider’s lack of providing offers that match our customer profiles.

“I wish we knew that Castle winery had a two-for-one wine tasting,” she said. “We drove past it 20 minutes ago.”

“But what about privacy?” I asked.

She wasn’t budging. “If the phone company can predict that we will be in Napa based on our route and give us the best offers when we ask for them, I would love that.”

Missed predictive location offer opportunities

My wife’s desire reflects a larger missed opportunity for telecommunications providers: just 12 percent of operators deliver predictive location offers to their subscribers, according to a survey report by telecommunications industry analyst Heavy Reading that was conducted on behalf of IBM.

The survey collected data from global operators including AT&T, Bell Canada, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, Rogers, Singtel, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor, Telstra, Telus, Verizon, Virgin Media and Vodafone. It focused on understanding strategy and plans for data monetization for internal campaigns—for example, top-up, device or plan upgrade and so on—and for third-party offers such as those from restaurants, wineries or shopping coupons.

Respondents came from various departments ranging from corporate management (15 percent) and commercial teams (15 percent) to network engineering (19 percent), networking planning and operations (30 percent) and research and development (R&D) and technical strategy roles (17 percent). These results weren’t surprising. Network teams and the office of the CTO are increasingly charged with monetization of network data as one of their core objectives.

Download the survey

Telecommunications survey findings

Here are some of the most interesting findings from the survey related to internal campaigns and third-party offers: 

  • Nearly 52 percent of the operators continue to deliver offers based on subscribers’ home or office locations.
  • Only 43 percent of telecommunications operators deliver internal campaign promotions based on real-time location of the subscriber, while just 36 percent of the operators deliver third-party offers such as restaurant and shopping coupons based on subscribers’ real-time locations. 

Looking at the survey, we dug deeper and asked the respondents about their top challenges with monetizing customer data. Besides data privacy and low subscriber opt-in rate, these top three barriers were cited: 

  • A lack of real-time and predictive analytics capabilities was cited by 55 percent of operators 
  • An incomplete view of the customer was cited by half of telecommunications operators  
  • Challenges with inadequate tools for collecting and analyzing data were cited by 49 percent of the operators 

One key issue that emerged from the survey was the lack of central stewardship of subscriber data, most specifically detailed customer profiles with demographic, social, mobility—that is, location—and interest and preference data. We asked the respondents about the part of their organization that had the main responsibility for customer profiling initiatives:  

  • More than 38 percent of operators have sales and marketing departments that lead creation and maintenance of customer profiles.
  • Among telecommunications operators, 18 percent of have put customer care teams in charge of profiling.
  • And 20 percent of operators have trusted the responsibility with their product and service management group.
  • Just 19 percent—about one in five operators—have a customer experience management team creating unified subscriber profiles across all their departments, from network operations to care, marketing and product and service offering teams. 

The survey spanned a variety of areas, including top business initiatives driving corporate strategy, current activities and plans for collecting various types of customer data and customer profiles built and managed by operators to measure and improve subscriber experience.

Further exploration

For additional insights from this survey, and client case studies to help you tune your own data monetization strategy and plan, register for IBM Insight at World of Watson 2016, 24–27 October 2016, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Explore IBM solutions for telecommunications