Utilizing business intelligence

John Wanamaker, widely considered to be the father of modern advertising, once said, "I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half."

In many ways this statement summarizes the challenge that many communications service providers (CSP) have today.  CSPs constantly seek to identify and maximize value from their most valuable and loyal customers, which products and services do they want and need and how do they optimize resources needed to achieve this?

The detailed information on customer profile, service preferences, usage and payment behavior residing in a CSP's billing and customer care systems represents a hugely important asset that can help a CSP answer these key strategic questions. The good news is that in the form of business intelligence (BI), the technology exists to enable, not only the access, but also the storage and analysis of this invaluable data.

Put simply, the role of BI is to translate complex database language and structures into a language and format that business users can work via dashboards and presentation applications.  The challenge for the CSP is to be able to respond and act on these insights in the most appropriate and effective way. This is where billing comes in.

Credit scoring and churn management are two of the most common applications of BI in telecoms. The process of assigning a score to a potential customer, based on their credit worthiness, can provide CSPs an early indicator of the value and risk associated with the customer. However, it is the billing system capabilities that determine what options can be offered to the customer.

For example, is a customer receiving a low credit simply offered a prepaid option?  Perhaps a post-paid contract with controlled credit limits or real-time cost control provides the customer the opportunity to establish a good credit history, while at the same time reducing the CSP's perceived risk.

Recent research suggests that consumers remain skeptical about mobile advertising, regarding the concept as being intrusive, disturbing or even irrelevant.  But if CSPs and advertisers are able to provide the consumer with control, immediate value and most of all context, mobile advertising can be transformed into a positive experience perceived as being informative, entertaining, convenient or even pleasantly surprising. By applying BI to customer profile and usage data to establish user preferences and combining this with other data such as with location based criteria, the required level of relevance and context can be provided, thus transforming  mobile advertising into a compelling experience, leading to increasing receptiveness and acceptance.

Optimizing the experience
But delivering the optimum next-generation communications experience is not simply about being able to interpret customer data.  It's about consistent and aligned application of these business insights throughout the entire customer lifecycle. 

After all,  there's no point in applying BI to advanced credit scoring, customer retention or marketing optimization strategies in an effort to provide your high-value customers with the optimum experience, only to send them an overly aggressive warning letter when they are just few days past due.

Crucially, it also dependent on the ability of the CSP's billing system to deliver the precise products and services that the newly found data says that customers want and when they want it.

Chris Yeadon is director of product marketing at LHS