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Analytical marketing key to telco competitiveness

Operators need to leverage big data analytics to tap customers, says AT Kearney

Analytical marketing key to telco competitiveness
Fadel: Analytical marketing involvse extracting commercially exploitable insights from every available data set.

Operators in the region need to adopt more analytical marketing techniques if they are to continue to attract new customers and increase revenues, according to Strategy&, formerly Booz & Company.

The analyst company said that operators are facing a tough market, due to a number of factors, including decreasing numbers of new subscribers with lower ARPU levels, requiring operators to increase their acquisition costs; price reductions that are cannibalizing existing revenues, with current customers becoming more dynamic in switching to the most attractive plans; and natural erosion of traditional telecom services (messaging and voice) by over-the-top services.

At the same time, traditional marketing, which treats all consumers the same, is failing to yield result and pricing is become less useful to stimulate top-line growth. There is still demand to be tapped in a number of niche segments however, and operators can increase profitability by mining and understanding these segments, according to Hilal Halaoui, Partner with Strategy&.

"Following the lead of mature markets, regional telecom operators should smarten their marketing approach by adopting analytical marketing techniques, identifying pockets of value and generating maximum possible returns from these small areas," Halaoui said.

"We refer to the process of mining and analyzing Big Data for such commercial purposes as analytical marketing," added Hicham Fadel, Principal with Strategy&. "Such activities involve extracting commercially exploitable insights from every data set in order to improve understanding of individual customers and their behaviour, as well as the general dynamics of the market and its micro-segments."

Operators are sitting on a wealth of customer data, including spending and usage patterns, which, when combined with other customer information through sources such as social networks and online shopping, give the operator a holisitic view of the customer which can be analysed and mined to create marketing efforts that are specifically tailored to the individual and which can reduce the overal cost of serving the customer.

"Incorporating analytical marketing into the organization entails making data mining a priority - a major shift in operators' marketing practices", added Fadel. "Only when information is mined out of aggregated data does it become invaluable in helping operators to stamp out inaccurate assumptions about customer behavior and market trends."

Strategy& recommends that operators should embark on a major change program for marketing, revolving around five key capabilities:

First, operators must build their data management capabilities - data collection and cleansing, storage and ease of access to provide comprehensive, reliable data assets that are amenable to analysis. This phase also includes creating the right linkages between different data sets and accordingly coming up with a comprehensive history at customer level.

Second, operators should strengthen the analytical prowess of the organization by improving micro-segmentation and profiling capabilities.

"Indeed, the marketing function as a whole must undergo a process of commercialization, becoming more nimble and responsive to customer needs," explained Mahmoud Makki, Principal with Strategy&. "New ideas must be encouraged and then disseminated quickly, resulting in a more efficient decision-making process where the commercial concepts with the highest potential are seized upon without delay."

Fourth, better product design capabilities are necessary to accelerate the marketing cycle. Marketers should be trained in all areas of design - innovation sourcing, pricing, economic analysis, product prototyping, testing - and encouraged to introduce innovations throughout the product/service delivery chain. Such innovation can be made possible only by flexible network and IT platforms that allow complex products to be rolled out quickly.

Lastly, operators should foster adaptive learning capabilities, with more accurate measurement of the effectiveness of marketing activities by means of performance tracking and efficient feedback, and through strengthening the ROI mind-set within the marketing function.

"This transformation program may at first seem complex", said Halaoui. "However, operators often fail to realize that they already possess most of these capabilities - they simply need to be refined and unleashed. Success will eventually hinge on the interaction between three core enablers- people, systems, and processes - across all capabilities."

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