The good news – we have more data than ever. The bad news – we have more data than ever.
Data, and more importantly, how you harness it to create real business value, is a topic that crops up time and again in my conversations with the telecoms companies I work with. The challenge they’re facing is how to master and govern their escalating
data volumes: how do they ensure they have a data driven business, but that the insights they drive action from are based on the right information. How can they be confident that their data is clean, up to date and accurate, and given the sheer volumes
in question, how do they master and control their data going forward so that investments to establish the right data environment have longevity?
In the digital economy, the power of data is there for all to see. To many companies created over the last 15 years, data is not just in their DNA, it often forms their currency. Whilst we may view Amazon as a digital pioneer in the retail and logistics
market, and Uber as similar in transport, the fact is that they are data driven through every part of their business. They offer a digital customer experience that sets the standard to which other organisations now aspire, and they form their entire
business around the use of data.
The challenge within the telco environment is primarily that data; such as customer data, product data, etc, is in so many different systems, and often in multiple formats. A customer entity may exist multiple times, and without structured data hierarchies
or unique identifiers, it’s hard to deduce what is the ‘truth’ and how should it be mastered. Even if you can get all you data in one place, which is difficult enough, you then have to make it usable and ultimately valuable. And
often the value in unstructured data is simply overlooked.
Getting this data issue solved is not just an ambition, but a necessity. It forms the bedrock of digital transformations in customer experience and process automation. In my previous blog I focussed on intelligent automation, but this will only materially
occur when there is high confidence in the data. Enabling robotic process automation on questionable data is not where you want to be. Data, drives Insight, drives Action – but you have to trust the data if you are to make the right decision
and get the right outcome.
Seeing the bigger B2B picture
Telcos really have made great strides in transforming their businesses over the last few years, and I’ve witnessed this especially in B2B. Cloud computing and increased IT agility has underpinned the move towards a more data driven approach. Suddenly,
better quality data is starting to emerge as a result of system migrations and associated data cleansing activities, and a continued focus on data stewardship and resulting data quality. The next stage in this evolution though is to establish a scalable
and lasting solution, and this is where a focus on Master Data Management (MDM) is key. Whether a data registry model or a data hub approach has been opted for, there are still issues around achieving a single version of truth, whilst avoiding repeated
manual data cleansing processes.
Because telcos and other large enterprises capture, store, share, secure and analyse millions of data records day in, day out, in too many cases, projects introducing or upgrading MDM capabilities to solve ongoing data challenges, or to meet new regulatory
requirements, have, and continue to fail. It’s time to look to a different way to turn enterprise data assets into competitive advantage and make those projects deliver on their promise.
A new approach
MarkLogic (a Sopra Steria partner) advocates a new approach (its heliocentric solution) to getting on top of disconnected data silos. What it refers to as its ‘schema-agnostic platform’ allows data to be stored in its original form and enriched
as necessary. Instead of a big-bang approach required by traditional MDM – which demands all data be mapped before the system is useful, a schema-agnostic approach is more flexible and responsive. Iterative transformation of data after ingest
allows businesses to focus on high value tasks first, testing each change for correctness, and being able to respond to business changes quickly.
That’s just one aspect of this heliocentric approach. At the same time, semantics, a new database technology, provides a new approach to modelling data that focuses on relationships and context, making it easier for data to be understood, searched,
and shared. Using semantics, it becomes possible to integrate disparate data faster and easier, and to build smarter applications with richer analytic capabilities.
In-line with Telcos digital strategies, and the underlying need for increased agility, the opportunity to address the “data challenge” in an agile way, tackling high value areas and accelerating business value is now a reality. Several years,
and many millions of investment that struggles to solve the issue, could now be a thing of the past.<
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Authored by Jason Butcher