Telcos: The untapped promise of big data

Now that subscribers constantly connect to their networks through voice, text, and other smartphone interactions, telecom companies have access to huge quantities of data. Yet relatively few of those that have adopted big data architectures and analytics technologies have pushed aggressively enough to profit from them significantly, our research suggests. Interestingly enough, however, a small group has achieved outsized benefits from such investments, in a performance pattern that resembles a “power curve” distribution.We reached these conclusions after surveying executives from 273 global telecom companies representing nearly a quarter of industry revenues.1 Nearly half of the respondents say that their companies are considering investments in big data and analytics, while 30 percent of companies surveyed have actually made them. To find out whether such efforts improved overall performance, we estimated big data’s contribution to earnings in two ways: by asking survey respondents and by conducting a statistical analysis that correlated the profits of companies with their capital and labor investment and their use of big data. The first approach was possible for the 80 companies in our sample that reported making big data investments. The results of the other approach, using external data available for 47 of the companies, were similar.

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