Report: How to deliver a comprehensive big data analytics framework to communication service providers

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How to deliver a comprehensive big data analytics framework to communication service providers by William McKnight:
The communications service provider (CSP) industry has undergone a dramatic shift in recent years. The traditional model of competing on subscription plans is no longer an adequate business strategy. Since most internal systems were built with this model in mind, these environments, with non-enriched, non-integrated, and latent data, fit for after-the-fact reporting, are struggling to keep up with the changes.
This research report will explain how CSPs establish a framework for their analytics as well as review the business drivers for telcos and the key benefits that big data analytics provide. It will also address the impact of the business drivers and the advantages of streaming analytics, combined with the ability to harness big data to meet several CSP competitive requirements. It will conclude by summarizing this comprehensive big data analytics framework for CSPs.

To read the full report, click here.

Mobile Strategy and ROI Calculation

When it comes to developing a successful mobile strategy, and building a long-lasting relationship with customers, a CMO is often faced with difficult considerations around the best way to measure success.
The process of creating an app and investing significant amounts of money acquiring users is no longer enough to remain on the ‘first screen’ of any given mobile device — which is where any organization ultimately needs to be. It’s become necessary for teams to focus their efforts on techniques and campaigns that won’t only secure installs, but will maintain loyal relationships with mobile users.
There has been ample research conducted on determining ROI on the vast amounts that businesses invest in acquisition. Now though, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the same attention should be given to money spent post-install as well.
Features of an engagement strategy such as push notification campaigns, in-app messaging, user-experience A/B testing, are all techniques you’ll need to invest in to help deliver successful mobile relationships. Now all you need to do is demonstrate that there is a greater need for money spent here rather than elsewhere…

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So, if you’re the CMO in this situation, how do you prove this effectiveness and need?
Well, after adopting some form of mobile marketing platform to handle this task, you would hope that your mobile analytics will change. You may see improvement in your engagement, retention, and ultimately, your revenue numbers. Perhaps obviously, this is the first and easiest way to consider ROI.
Once you get a grasp on it, and you begin to see these numbers change, calculating ROI is relatively easy. Think of it this way — if we grow a metric like average revenue per user (ARPU) from $5 to $10 using a marketing automation program, and we have 1 million monthly active users, then we can put $5 million per month into the credit column. If the total monthly spend on the program amounts to $100,000, then that will result in a very (very!) satisfactory 900% ROI.
Granted it won’t always be ARPU that we’re measuring, but in the vast majority of cases, there will be metrics with which we will measure mobile success, and once we add a quantifiable value to these, we’ll be able to establish decent ROI estimates.

The Campaign Level

Another, perhaps more reliable, way to measure ROI is to focus specifically on individual campaigns. Doing this will allow you to measure the effect of any changes within specific campaigns and sum them to provide a total benefit.
Assuming that you’re using a good marketing automation platform, you should get clear results from each individual campaign, against whichever metrics you choose to use, and compared to the control group in order to isolate for other variables. By combining these multiple campaigns, we have a cumulative benefit that can be used to calculate ROI on the overall spend. Of course this approach won’t necessarily enable you to take account of some benefits, such as the effect an overall improved experience can have on word-of-mouth – but it’s probably better to be conservative when calculating ROI anyway.
One thing that is vital to remember: don’t go looking for evidence of ‘good results’ after you’ve ran the campaign. Human nature being what it is, you’ll probably find some. The key is to first identify the metrics that you want to have an impact on, and the effect that you hope to have before you implement the campaign.

Learning from health care

Whether to utopian or dystopian ends (e.g., a new survey finds 69% of healthcare professionals believe the Affordable Care Act increases or significantly increases risk to patient security and privacy), Obamacare and other healthcare regulation in the U.S. are forcing healthcare IT investment to unprecedented levels. From this Petri dish of experimentation are emerging clues for other industry sectors as to how sufficient levels of automation enable more applications and utility from the data and networks that have been formed.

Regulation forces and encourages IT investment

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which was part of the 2009 stimulus bill, offers incentives through 2015 for adopting ‘meaningful use’ of electronic health records. After 2015, those incentives change to penalties for failure to adopt ‘meaningful use’—although those requirements are still being tweaked. And there’s more coming. Just this month, the FCC announced the formation of the Connect2Health Task Force to encourage wifi use in healthcare. As FCC chairman Tom Wheeler explained, “We must leverage all available technologies to ensure that advanced healthcare solutions are readily available to all Americans, from rural and remote areas to underserved inner cities. By identifying regulatory barriers and incentives and building stronger partnerships with stakeholders in the areas of telehealth, mobile applications, and telemedicine, we can expedite this vital shift.”

Patterns in the impact of heavy investment

Recent announcements in a range of areas demonstrate how healthcare is becoming a bellwether of next-stage technology applications:

  • Since its launch just over a year ago, the CommonWell Health Alliance, a health information exchange among a growing number of health IT providers has found burgeoning demand. CommonWell started a rollout to initial healthcare providers in December; and by one report, nearly half of the physicians groups planned to join an HIE. Somewhat akin to the associations that banks have long had to support credit card networks, healthcare providers are finding business and consumer benefit to the coordinated sharing of certain patient data.
  • A new meaningful use requirement to automate laboratory findings of notifiable diseases to public health authorities will go into effect in 2015, with a predicted, immediate doubling of cases reported. Thus, regulatory compliance can be expanded, becoming more pervasive and absolute, once certain levels of automation are common or required within an industry.
  • Increased video consultations and other new means for patients to access the healthcare system. One healthcare IT study predicts a 25-fold increase patient use of in-home video consultations with their doctors in the next four years. Last week, an industry group in Australia called upon the Australian government to adopt a formal teleheath strategy. After its IPO this week, Castlight Health, which offers an enterprise cloud healthcare cost tracking and savings solution for employees, saw its already generous $16 offering price soar to $40, bringing a company with $13 million in 2013 revenues to a $3 billion valuation. We can marvel at social media today, but the surface has barely been scratched on the levels of communication and data analysis that will become commonplace for customers of all types.
  • A Rhode Island hospital is experimenting with the use of Google Glass in emergency rooms, and a new study shows that ER doctors with access to such information—and therefore a better understanding of the patient’s situation—are 30% less likely to admit them for presumably unneeded hospitalization. Already the cost savings in this informed reduction of caution have worked out to an overall savings of approximately $20 per emergency room visit. The implications of expanded levels of employee access to information are still emerging.
  • Epic, a major IT provider to large healthcare providers, has enabled its customers to share access to their systems via their Community Connect program. (E.g., the Singing River Health System’s offering.) A study finds mixed results for those smaller, indirect customers who gain new technical capabilities leading to more regional sharing of patient data, but also lose critical control over some system-imposed processes as well. This model was also pioneered by banks in the early days of automated bank operations, and it became a precursor to subsequent, massive bank consolidation. Additional rounds of efficiency and, yes, consolidation, may be expected in other industries as their business becomes more technology based.
  • The challenge in measuring value as ROI. Not only is quality treatment a challenge to measure, but a healthcare IT consultancy that tracks value according to how advanced a provider is on the eight-step EMR Adoption Model finds that significant quality improvement does not occur until the sixth step is reached. Thus, IT ROI must be considered more broadly than it has typically been calculated in the past, and many benefits of automation will only emerge once a critical mass has been achieved. Yet, the ongoing cost of such broadly implemented systems may itself fuel mergers and consolidation.

CIOs and CTOs should be leading their firms’ anticipation and understanding of both incremental and disruptive patterns of technology-driven change. (As much, of course, as such change can be foreseen.) Patterns of adoption tend to see-saw between industries for specific applications, but new applications emerge from systems implemented for more limited purposes—and many companies can find likely examples of coming change in other sectors.

“The biggest hindrance to corporate growth”

IT departments are “the biggest hindrance to corporate growth”, and they need to learn from the “shadow IT” workaround of other divisions bringing SaaS solutions in directly. That’s what David Linthicum, the curator of Gigaom Research’s cloud coverage, sees in his role as an SVP at Cloud Technology Partners, a cloud consulting and implementation firm.

In his view, IT departments on one hand get in trouble by violating IT principles in their approach to the cloud. But on the other hand their lack of responsiveness is the cause for line-of-business managers bringing in SaaS products in a way that may violate the compliance, security and integration requirements of the organization.  Too often, firms know what they want and need to meet customer demand, but IT is too slow in delivering on it.

Cloud computing is the technology that enables companies to break that cycle, but it takes great skill to leverage the agility of cloud solutions within increasingly complex hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

IT department mistakes with cloud

Among the mistakes David sees IT departments make with cloud are

  1. Bypassing traditional prototype and pilot approaches, with the resulting data points factored into ROI projections—and thus ending up with unworkable solutions by the time they call in external assistance, and
  2. Not factoring in the dynamics and cost of staffing with the skill set needed to manage a cloud environment.

Sticker shock

The cost and difficulty of staffing with the needed skill set may be what most takes IT departments by surprise. Although some employees can be retrained effectively for the requirements of cloud—and cloud vendors are happy to train them on their products—David says many staffers are simply not suited for challenging cloud jobs. For both implementation and operation, new employees must either be hired or contracted for with a service provider.

A service provider may be an easy choice for the temporary role of implementations, but even operational staff can be difficult to hire. In smaller cities in the U.S., they may be difficult to find, while in larger tech centers such as Silicon Valley, Boston, or Washington, DC, they can be found but are very expensive. For those shops in markets where they are scarce, contracting with a service provider may be the way to go. Either way, the sticker shock of salary costs can confound companies that haven’t factored it into their business case.

Recommendations for “shadow IT”

With  SaaS, sales, marketing, HR or other departments can go around a slow IT department to bring the applications they need into an organization more quickly. But such side-door technology purchases can lead to breaches in legal, regulatory and security requirements. David advises departmental executives tempted to bring in their own SaaS solutions to follow these minimum rules:

  1. Tell the IT department about what is being brought in, so security and compliance concerns, at least, can be addressed;
  2. Work with the IT departments as well as possible; and
  3. Don’t hide it!

How the smart IT departments learn

David believes that smart IT departments learn from shadow IT initiatives by learning the priorities, needs, preferences and preferred delivery for technology in line-of-business departments. Proactive IT executives are enabling their non-IT peers to continue to take the lead in such decisions, while also assuring that such purchases meet the security, compliance and integration requirements of the firm.

Cloud computing is not cost efficient without some planning

If cloud computing is to make sense, it must provide cost efficiencies that we typically can’t find within enterprise data centers. In order for this to occur, we have to put some thinking behind how we define, design, and deploy these cloud-based systems. A bit of planning results in some huge cost savings down the road.

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