What can telecom operators learn from e-commerce?
French start-up Ezako, has roots in the world of e-commerce and is a Big Data specialist in the telecom industry. Here, the company shares five key ways that telecom operators can learn from e-commerce.
1. Understanding end users to refine their offering and anticipate failures
In e-commerce: E-tailers use analytics tools to track their end users anonymously, and in real time: where they click, what pages they visit, how long they spend on each various page, what is their purchase funnel, etc. Tools like Google Analytics and Piwik are very widespread, and enable websites to track their audience.
In telecoms: A few agencies, Médiamétrie in France for instance, are able to recover audience data from a representative sample of the population. But today, we can do much better. If well managed, Big Data could already enable operators to know the number of people connected within one household, the channels they watch, the time they spend channel-surfing, OTT and VOD consumptions, and even analyse the quality of the service provided by monitoring the WiFi connectivity ratios, or macroblock issues for example. The operators would not only be able to have a detailed view of the use of their network, but also of its condition. In addition, the Big Data collected may be used to predict future outages, and thus help save on maintenance and customer service costs.
2. Making more effort over the last mile: the last interaction that is the closest to end users
In e-commerce: Major efforts are made to improve the compatibility of e-commerce website display with all the browsers on the market, as well as the various devices: PC, Mac, tablets and smartphones. Technologies such as HTML5 and responsive design techniques have been invented.
In telecoms: For the operators, the last mile has always been a grey area and the source of many network problems. They install gateway and set-top boxes in end users' homes to enable internet connection (ADSL, VDSL, fibre, cable, WiFi), VoIP telephony and television (mainly IPTV or DVB) services. The brands and generations of this equipment are very diverse and difficult to maintain remotely. This material diversity may cause end-user frustration when using these services. Operators need to be able to track the problems and understand how to solve them. A last-mile monitoring tool can turn out to be very useful for this.
3. Upgrading end user interfaces to improve the customer experience
In e-commerce: The interface and design of e-commerce websites change regularly. It is usual to analyse the data to study the customer's visiting path in order to constantly improve it, offering a better experience and quicker browsing. Thanks to this data, we know that the acceptable display time for a web page is between one and two seconds maximum. Any longer, and the visitor goes elsewhere. If Google's display time is longer than half a second, it has 20% less traffic.
In telecoms: Telecom operators could do the same by measuring the activity of end users and understanding how they use telecommunications. They could change the interfaces of their set-top boxes to make browsing easier, for example, to avoid too much clicking or to choose the best positions for the menus and redesign remote control short-cuts.
4. Implementing recommendation tools to increase loyalty
In e-commerce: What could be better than a service that predicts what you want? Recommendation algorithms has been used by e-tailers for several years. 30 percent of Amazon's turnover is generated by recommendations. 75 percent of Netflix's traffic is generated by recommendations. Furthermore, Netflix invests a significant amount of funds in predictive technologies: $150 million per year! It is now the leader on the SVOD market, available in 190 countries.
In telecoms: Despite the fact that some players have started to show interest in recommendations, they are still few and far between. This tool is a real conversion lever, one which makes consumers' lives easier and which operators would be wrong to ignore. There are numerous possibilities: whether it be to offer a selection of films in VOD, to counter the Netflix effect, or OTT services. The margin of progression and possible earnings for operators is very high, as recommendations are a way to keep the end user interested in the services offered and improve their loyalty.
5. Pushing 're-targeted' advertising
In e-commerce: You have recently surfed online to find offers of holidays in Bora Bora. What do you see a few days later? Ads for holidays in Tahiti... These retargeting techniques are more or less well-accepted by consumers. If well-targeted and not overly intrusive, they will help catching consumers who would have left without buying and help to double or even triple the conversion rates.
In telecoms: Operators could also offer customised advertising on their boxes depending on the tastes of each customer, their media consumption, the films they watch and how they channel-hop. They could use this to better target advertising, offer new economic models and to ultimately offer a better service by increasing the conversion rates of their advertisers.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”