Telecoms are the connecting tissue of the modern economy. They run everything from transportation, digital banking, utilities/energy smart meters, IoT devices, gaming services, and more. In today’s world, telecoms are as important as electricity, and their importance is only growing with the advent of 5G and 6G hyperconnectivity.
Last month the world’s largest telecom conference, Mobile World Congress, was held in Barcelona, and the event was back to its full strength since the pandemic. There were more than 88,500 attendees and 56% of them came from outside the core telecom sector. This makes you wonder what those non-telco people were doing at the largest telecom conference?
The key themes for the conference included 5G acceleration, the move toward 6G, sustainability, fintech, digital everything, and more. Essential to delivering on all of these is partnerships and data collaboration across the entire business ecosystem.
Around the world, multiple industries rely on telecom companies as the backbone of their operations. In retail, point-of-sale machines run through a telecom company network, and in transportation the scheduling of commuter buses and trains relies on the very same technology. Yet, despite the importance of telecommunications for society and in connecting industries, network operators are not yet fully embracing the value of the data they have at their fingertips.
Telecom industry association TM Forum analyzed 33 telecom operators and their revenue breakdown, revealing that B2C revenues have stagnated while B2B revenues are still waiting for their big liftoff. One outlier in this research is Spark New Zealand, which drives more than 52% of its revenue through B2B services. Spark New Zealand runs its advertising business on top of Snowflake. “We’ve really become a data-led business across all aspects of the organization,” says Peter Langham, Domain Chapter Lead for Data Engineering. For Spark, this includes improving operational efficiency, creating new revenue streams, and optimizing their mobile network.
Data clean rooms enable safer collaboration
Data privacy concerns and increased regulations have deterred telecoms from connecting and sharing their data with other organizations due to fears of leaking personally identifiable information (PII). However, data clean room technology is fast emerging to help companies effortlessly share and run queries on data, both internally and with third parties, in a secure and governed environment without exposing PII. This allows PII to be protected, processed, and managed in a compliant way. What this means is that companies, or multiple divisions of a single company, are empowered to bring data together for joint analysis under defined guidelines and restrictions.
Augmenting telecom location data with retail data
In retail, for example, telecom companies can collaborate with retailers confidently and safely through a data clean room using governed analytics. Typically, a user’s cellular number is the central data point used, which can help the telecom service provider and the retailer access valuable data such as location, shopping baskets, and product purchases. By tapping into this data, retailers can focus on improving personalization services for their customers as well as in-store and virtual experiences.
Benefits of data collaboration in the Telecom Data Cloud
To enable telecom customers to make better use of data and build better data partnerships in their ecosystem, Snowflake launched the Telecom Data Cloud at Mobile World Congress.
The Snowflake Data Cloud has more than 7,800 enterprises building their data infrastructure in the cloud as of January 31, 2023, with a number of telecom service providers already in Snowflake. When two organizations are in the Snowflake ecosystem, the data sharing or collaboration is done without any copies. So even if you have to share hundreds of terabytes of data, the sharing is done in under a second. This is one of the fundamental advantages of Snowflake data collaboration.
Imagine your ecosystem is structured like the diagram below. Your key suppliers are on the left and the potential data consumers are on the right. When all of the ecosystem players exist in the Snowflake Data Cloud, the possibilities for how data can be used grows exponentially.
Let’s look more closely at one of the value chains. The core telecom network is served by different network providers, who in turn rely on device manufacturers and other hardware providers. Infrastructure providers can share the network telemetry information back to the telecom providers, who can use that information to enrich their capabilities, such as digital twins and for building different types of AI and ML applications. The right side of the diagram below illustrates how the location and mobility data from telecoms can be used to augment data with other consumer industries to enhance loyalty programs, better target customers, and offer different location-based services.
Going forward, telecoms will begin to capitalize on new and emerging technologies, such as digital twins. Building a digital twin through their network serves as a visualization tool to replicate what is happening in the real world. This enables continuous prototyping, testing, and self-optimization of the network.
Overlaying this digital twin with data such as customer experience and mobility data enables networks to be much more customer-centric, ensuring network providers can personalize customer experiences to meet their precise demands. This will help increase customer satisfaction and improve loyalty, ultimately driving improved profitability.
Adopting a new business model
Telecom companies that understand the key to greater profitability and competitiveness is mastering and unlocking data rapidly can pivot their business to become more of a TechCo model.
From a data point of view, 5G and 6G connectivity across the ecosystems means there will be even more data and even more connectivity. If we don’t harness the data properly, then the challenges will only increase.
We have officially entered “the second half of the chessboard,” which means that from this point onward every digital innovation will likely result in a dramatic technological shift. If anyone thought that Moore’s Law was slowing down in the tech industry, remember that Intel has promised to deliver 1 trillion transistors in a single device by 2030. To put this in context, the Apple iPhone 14 only has 15 billion transistors. Imagine the volume of data generated in just a few years when the compute resources available to large enterprises in the cloud today will be available at the edge.
In the long term, effectively managing and using data is no longer a “nice to have.” Those businesses that do it well will be able to more easily differentiate themselves from their competitors. The best time to build data partnerships is now.
To learn how Snowflake can drive revenue and innovation for telecoms, read more about the Telecom Data Cloud.