How to Tap into Big “Communications” Data to Gain Once-Hidden Insights

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Digital transformation rests on insights gleaned from your version of “big data” at your firm. But don’t forget insights from your communications data, too.

One important by-product of today’s ongoing enterprise digital transformation is the creation and collection of large amounts of digital data. Dubbed “Big Data,” it’s no surprise that this topic continues to be buzz-worthy amongst most disciplines across the enterprise.  After all, organizations have solved many challenges using the insights lurking within the vast amounts of data they already own.  In the past few years, these same approaches have been applied to a previously ignored subset of big data – communications data.

It’s widely agreed upon that 90% of the worlds digital data was created in just the last two years. Communications data has been a leading source of this explosion. The rapid influx of new device innovations like tablets, smartphones, and sensors has increased the avenues to consume audio, visual, and text information using unified communications platforms.  As the number of innovations continued to grow, so has the data sets that they created.

See also: Are you ready for the dangers of “cloud sprawl?”

Enterprises have discovered that the data created isn’t just white noise. It can provide a picture or a story once users unlock the information. Taking this one step further, organizations have started to use these stories to make decisions and to project future outcomes. It is now evident that sifting through this amassed big “communications” data, provides unprecedented insights that can help drive businesses forward.

While some types of communications data have been quicker to yield obvious value from the stories they tell, other types have remained locked in their source systems. The lack of full adoption is often due to a variety of reasons including, some industries didn’t experience the same pressure from consumers or users, some companies felt current processes were not broken and didn’t require an update, and others still, couldn’t see the ROI of adding more steps to their process.  Regardless of the reason, the lack of seeking a data strategy to discover both the obvious and less obvious stories leads to missed opportunities. 

Like grain, insights are often stored — hidden — in silos

Many enterprises have communications data residing in silos across their organizations. Their struggle is two-fold: how to find the right key to unlock it and how to pull it together to make sense of the data. Even though they may have large volumes of raw data in their hands, pulling out meaningful information to make strategic decisions has been historically difficult, or required expensive resources to analyze. 

Forward-thinking organizations have solved how to tap into the full spectrum of insights previously hidden within these siloed communication data sets. This shift is being largely driven by tapping into data that’s managed by the telecom expense management (TEM) industry.

TEM helps companies manage their fixed and wireless expenses so they can identify and carve out excesses in their telecom spend, make smarter purchase decisions, uncover billing errors, as well as optimize their communications budget. Regardless of whether TEM is managed in-house or by an outside provider, it’s a critical continuous process to control costs, streamline operations, improve compliance, and provide a strong basis for strategic planning.

Recently (think: the last two years), the technology front of TEM has encountered innovations. Enterprises now have access to real-time data discovery and data visualization tools, which has fundamentally transformed the power of TEM.

This new application of analytic solutions is taking things up a notch and giving TEM a turbo charge. Now, telecom managers and executives alike can get their hands on near real-time data and do most anything – from looking at costs, configurations, interrelationships, geography, and ownership – the options are endless. It puts knowledge into the right hands to encourage and enable evidence-based decision-making.

The keys to unlocking the value in this data are to create a unified communications data architecture, implement a business intelligence tool(s), and arm end users with the ability to extract and make sense of the insight.

Below are considerations and takeaways for companies looking to glean insight from the data derived from communication channels:

  • Creating Transparency: Interactive data exploration and diagnostic analytics empower telecom and mobility analysts by enabling them to focus on the current version of the truth as well as to execute a root-cause analysis of why it’s happening.
  • Eliminate the Data Silos: Pulling multiple communication data sources together is a big plus for creating transparency across an enterprise.  Think about looking at fixed-line tele right next to mobile, unified communications and then even cloud data.
  • Self-Service is not Self-Sufficient:  Self-service analytics are great unless you get stuck spending all your time developing reports instead of discovering value-added insights.  Guided analytics, or pre-developed analytic sets that are designed to help “guide” end users to tangible insights, can be leveraged as a best practice within enterprises that don’t want to spend resource or budget on trying to re-create the wheel in report design. 
  • Communications Optimization:  There is an opportunity to uncover new insights from current and evolving communications vectors, including Unified Communications usage. Gaining new cost insights is the most obvious, but other opportunities include identifying patterns of usage (including overage and adoption of new functions), identifying compliance issues, managing dispute resolution and managing contract negotiation.

These practices can help organizations develop the most precise picture from the big “communications” data goldmine. And, as a result, organizations will have the insights to make better business decisions, and to optimize usage and processes.

Larry Foster

About Larry Foster

Larry Foster, EVP, Product and Strategic Vision at Calero Software, integrates market knowledge, strategic insight, and a strong user focus to help our organization create cutting-edge products that deliver exceptional value for our customers. He also oversees our customer product advisory function. Larry held previous technology leadership positions as IT Director, Business Consultant, VP of Operations and VP GM of PAETEC Software Corp.

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