Tapping into the wealth of telco subscriber data
Known as a land rich in minerals, Africa has a new source of economic growth and wealth to mine: mobile customer data.
This is according to a new Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council Report, in partnership with Huawei, entitled ‘Exploring Mobile Ingenuity in Africa’s Dynamic Community.’
The report is based on a CMO Council survey of marketing leaders at communication service providers (CSPs), mobile network operators (MNOs) and digital media companies in Africa, as well as from in-depth interviews with executives from MTN, Telkom SA, Vodafone, Cell C, Accenture and AT Kearney.
It looks at how CSPs are poised to leverage the wealth of mobile consumer data in their possession.
A key finding from the report is that over half of telco marketing executives in Africa believe that real-time customer and operational data are essential to boosting performance through personalisation – and telco subscriber data has the unique ability to portray a person’s digital life, both personal and at work.
“Moreover MNOs have a big opportunity to unearth device user insights and deliver innovative data services that can advance socio-economic value, democratic participation, and entrepreneurial vitality among a vast population of one billion consumers in the region,” the CMO Council states.
For telcos, whose current revenue streams are drying up in light of disruptive over-the-top services, the ability to offer new, life-enhancing data services will seem like an oasis in the arid Sub-Saharan desert, it adds.
However, research shows that transforming data into lucrative data services won’t be easy for telcos.
Challenges for CSPs
The report highlights some of the challenges CSPs face across the multi-cultural landscape, including diverse markets, limited digital infrastructures, and disparate technical terrain of Africa.
It advises operators to seek inspiration that sparks a big idea in customer value and experience delivery.
“This will be difficult for a regulated and monopolistic industry not known for innovation. It will likely mean striking up partnerships with valued data sources and service providers in education, healthcare, agriculture, entertainment, sports, retail, financial services, media, and other sectors,” the report suggests.
Even more daunting, the big idea should appeal to an incredibly diverse market.
“Africa as a whole is rising,” said Mmathebe Zvobwo, Executive of Enterprise & Supplier Development at Telkom SA. “But you must also have an innovation that somehow solves a common, or pervasive problem in all 54 distinctly different countries.”
It also advises businesses to sift, sort and select data assets to prioritise. “This is the proverbial elephant in the room. Telcos must navigate a maze of cross-border data complexity, availability, accessibility, quality, timeliness, incompatibility, etc.”
Grace Mothusi, Senior Marketing Leader, Enterprise Segment at MTN, said, “The challenge is accessing and unifying that data, because we have multiple systems that do not talk to one another. For clean, in-depth data, we require a system that can cater for both Mobile and ICT and a CRM tool that can be used by both sales and marketing.”
“Today in Africa there is very little customer loyalty as it relates to telcos,” said Accenture CEO Vukani Mngxati. “It’s not uncommon to find a person with SIM cards of three different wireless network operators in one country.”
Telcos should take the last piece of advice to heart, given competitive pressures on their business. Nearly half of the survey respondents in the CMO Council study cited as top threats the proliferation of mobile applications, streaming content and digital services, followed by complexity and multi-dimensionality of today’s digital ecosystem.
Donovan Neale-May, executive director of The CMO Council, says, “Between the proliferation of mobile applications and the decline of communications as a revenue driver, along with digital natives leapfrogging innovation, telcos realize they must look outside of their core business strategies to create value.”