Extracting insights from BI
Rani Goel, Director of Telecom
Marketing, Business Objects, talks to Kumar Dawada
about the growth, benefits and trends of Business Intelligence
in the Indian telecom sector
What are the ways in which telecom companies are using
BI for business benefits?
Getting trustworthy and believable data is the major issue faced by many service
providers. This was also mentioned by the Yankee group. If you want to deploy
a BI project, a lot of time and effort is spent on understanding and defining
what the customer and the user want to capture. Currently, data integrity and
quality are the major issues.
In both telecom and finance, BI is used to answer business related questions
and provide greater insight into business issues and pains faced by a vertical.
However, the business pains of the telecom and financial sectors are going to
In both telecom and finance, BI is used to answer business-related
questions and provide greater insight into business issues and pains faced
by a vertical. However, the business pains of the telecom and financial
sectors are going to be different
The telecom sector in the emerging markets uses less of BI
because the operators there are still getting their systems in place. They are
more likely to focus on operational systems. The first thing a communications
operator thinks about is how he can sign up customers, provide services and
bill them. He is more worried about having the proper network to provide the
right services. A new financial services operator thinks in the same way.
As the business matures, the operator or company focusses on improving the quality.
They now look at what customers they have acquired, what are they buying from
the company and what more can the company sell to them, to which customer can
it sell more often and which customers are likely to respond to advertisements,
marketing campaigns or offers. This is where BI comes in.
What are the limitations of BI in telecom?
BI is not an operational application. It is an information management application.
Human intervention is necessary to take proper decisions. As BI evolves, operational
BI will help the user not only in making proper decisions in real-time but also
helps detect trends.
Presently, BI provides for intelligent questioning where you can ask questions
to gain insights. Even when it provides an insight, a human being is required
to take proper decisions. As things move towards operational BI, apt decisions
will be taken in real-time.
Are there any common mistakes that telcos make while adopting
The value of BI depends on what can you do with the
information you have put in the data warehouse.
It is about how you can provide the business users and decision-makers with proper intelligence so that they
can make better decisions and run their operations efficiently
According to a study done by the McKinsey, a lot of energy,
resources and focus was spent on constructing and implementing a data warehouse
but getting information out of the data warehouse was almost an afterthought.
The strategy was more about putting the data in the warehouse and not about
getting it out.
The value of BI depends on what can you do with the information you have put
in the data warehouse. It is about how you can provide the business users and
decision-makers with proper intelligence so that they can make better decisions
and run their operations efficiently.
There is a need for the overall BI strategy. For example, issues such as the
tools and technology to be used have to be considered early on and not after
getting the data warehouse.
How do telcos measure return on investment (RoI) made in
a BI solution?
Not all results and returns are tangible. The best way to measure RoI is not
to measure the size of a deployment or see how many reports the user is getting.
Measurement should be based on how the BI is helping a person run his business
If a company has a goal to retain two percent more of high-value customers,
then use BI to find out who these customers are. What is the movement of such
customers? This can be based on the amount spent or the number of products and
services used by them.
BI implementations are successful only if they help a company grow and understand
the profile of high-value customers. It must help in increasing percentage of
them. The measurement of BI must be aligned with the business value and the
Can metrics help make BI solutions more successful?
The goal of a BI implementation must be decided well ahead. What you are trying
to do with a BI application and what your long term goals are must be aligned
with the corporate goals.
If a company deploys BI at the departmental level then it is aligned with one
business unit. But trouble arises when the corporate wants that information
and you want to implement BI at the company level. There may be issues related
to scalability, lack of proprietary technology and platform compatibility.
In such a case, the company may be forced to throw away what is already done
for one particular area and that is not a good use of its resources or investment.
If the company lacks an overall strategy for BI implementation, then it alienates
the users because they have to do the work all over again which is not productive.
How will BI evolve in the years to come?
BI is a nascent technology even though it has been around for 15 years. From
the penetration point of view, we are still at the beginning of the curve. The
IT budget of the communication service providers for BI is still less than 5
percent. There is a lot of growth in BI market but it is not saturated or mature
by any means. Considerable focus has been on the reporting aspect in the past
but not on high value BI or analytics.
The focus should be on complex questions which allow executives and senior level
management to answer business questions and take proper decisions on a regular
basis. Currently, the executive gets information whether his revenue fell or
grew a month or even a week before or which service is more popular. Such information
helps in changing the future but do not allow him to change what he is doing
From the BI perspective, we are going to see higher penetration as well as real
time usage of BI. BI means access to information by people who need the information
whenever and wherever, so that they can make right decisions. All pieces like
ETO, data warehouse, metadata layer, reporting are part of the stack. The future
will be dominated by higher value BI like analytics.