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Big Data And The Double-Edged Sword Of Digital Transformation

December 16, 2015   |   3:50 PM
Big Data Analytics
Teradata Articles

by Sundara Raman, Teradata

Yes, I know it sounds like the latest in a long line of George Lucas blockbusters but there he stood, clearly, in a tight spot.

He, was a senior retail distribution executive – the Indiana Jones of multinational telecommunication (minus leather jacket, bullwhip, and satchel) – admitting that his Telco’s end-to-end business process and accompanying systems were done for.

“Online’s not integrated with CRM, CRM’s not talking to ERP, ERP’s not…”. His presentation was laden with impending doom as if a giant boulder was about to flatten his fedora (okay, I made that bit up but you get the picture).


The danger is that this kind of fragmented process can lead to commercial disaster. What if a customer places an online order for the latest smartphone and is quoted same-day delivery? Unless the service provider has the necessary, accurate, inventory data and delivery logistics from its distribution partner, there’s no way they can honour their same-day promise. Then what?

Data integration across the value chain is critically important. And the digital transformation needed to achieve full integration puts Big Data at the very heart of commercial strategy.  

Beyond omni-channel marketing

For me, digitalisation is about making the most of the Big Data generated by the broadband networks and connected smart devices that now reach over seven billion people worldwide. Why? Put simply, to communicate with business partners, employees, and customers, better than the competition – mixing and matching the newer digital tools (online portals, online chat, social media, etc.) with the tools they currently use (e.g. SMS, MMS, e-mail). Big Data analytics play a key part in enabling this transformation and re-engineering business processes.

Getting all your bills in a row

For instance, cutting channel costs by reducing retail outlets, or call centre seats, often leads to the creation of low-cost, online channels such as self-service bill payment. Which is fine, but when rolled out without consideration for customer preferences or interrelated business processes, it can be counterproductive.

In case reviews, we found that even if customers were paying online they called their agent anyway, lumbering the call centre with extra costs. Contact notes showed that these customers were anxious and wanted confirmation that the service was not being disconnected. So, armed with this new insight, the service provider sent an automatic notification from their service engineering department which reduced calls to the agents, while improving customer experience and satisfaction.

Mind the gap

Customers who reject online offers erode the effectiveness of that channel. Integrated location analytics overcome these limitations by separating customers who frequently visit bricks-and-mortar stores from those who don’t, and by working out which stores are good at selling a particular offer and resolving problems. This allows retailers to bridge the online-offline gap by directing online browsers to a nearby retail store (where appropriate).

All very well, but you can’t make an email into an airplane, can you?

In Australia, one of the state government organisations has successfully transformed their vehicle transport industry from a paper-based system into a full, end-to-end, digital process (including the insurers, vehicle-safety-inspection service stations, payment processors, and drivers).

Previously, registered drivers received snail-mail documents from three different organisations each year:

  • Green Slip (insurance renewal) from insurers.
  • Registration renewal notice from the road transport authorities (Rego renewal).
  • Pink Slip (road worthiness) from the service stations who perform vehicle safety checks.

Once the authority received confirmation of the insurance and safety-check payments, they posted a new registration sticker to the driver, who stuck it on his windscreen. Any violation notices were, again, sent by snail mail.

The paperless process

Now, in the digitally-transformed process, drivers receive an email renewal reminder from insurers and the road transport authorities. The insurance company sends a digital confirmation of online payments to the road transport authority. Service stations also email confirmation of vehicle-safety-check completion to the authorities.

In turn, the road transport authorities update the digital driver-registration details (which can be accessed, securely, by the driver), doing away with the registration sticker. Compliance is monitored by police officers using portable wireless scanners to scan number plates.

Big data – the sword of transformation

So, the government organisation creates time and cost savings, as well as operational efficiencies. Along the way, Big Data is layered with things like unstructured data derived from partner-network email communication, image data from number plate scanners, and so on. And the analytics performed on this layered data create new insights which trigger further process improvements.

And that’s a rolling boulder even Indy could see the benefit of.

Also see: http://www.forbes.com/sites/teradata/2015/10/21/the-big-data-gold-rush-rich-pickings-for-telcos/ – gaining a competitive advantage by integrating digital with traditional data.