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Telecom asks… What do you do with Big Data?

Wed 18 Dec 2013
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Big data investments in 2013 continue to rise, with 64 percent of organisations investing or planning to invest in big data technology according to Gartner.

However, less than 8 percent of organisations have actually deployed.

Aaron McDonald, Business Development Manager, Telecom Digital Ventures, describes how to move to “smart data” and explains why it could become the most profitable way for you to unlock the value held in your data assets.

Big data is a powerful tool, but it’s a big undertaking and isn’t a universal remedy to the challenges businesses face in building relationships with consumers. Data is only useful if used in a smart way. And the biggest trend in big data is smart data.

Smart data will revolutionise the way we serve customers, capture market opportunities, make business decisions and even prevent reputational damage.

So what is smart data? According to Econsultancy, if big data is the technological foundation for data driven business decision making, smart data is the analytics we use to get the insights that help make better and more informed decisions.

The aim of smart data is to make your data actionable by allowing applications to easily consume the insights and to imbed smart data thinking throughout your business.

Smart data can extract relevant information and insights from big data to enable organisations to personalise their marketing and sales strategies and offers, transform a customer’s experience, increase engagement and brand loyalty and increase revenues.

So how do you execute a smart data strategy? You’ll need to take a three-pronged approach, combining technology, processes and top-notch analytic talent.


Organisations often start by analysing their own proprietary datasets generated from their own digital assets to inform their sales and marketing activities.

Amazon is a great example of a brand that has grown its business using a recommendation service to track behaviour to identify items to cross-sell to customers.

However, a proprietary approach only gets you part of the way. It does not explain the activity that led the consumer to engage with the company in the first place, nor the other products and services the consumer is using.

Smart data means accessing and aggregating other related external datasets, including digital activity across multiple devices, to obtain a more comprehensive picture of your customers’ offline and online lives, not just activities related to your organisation. It will include credit card payments, location fixes, newsletter sign-ups, tweets, likes and web searches.

And to obtain, import and process all of this, you will require skills and technologies spanning data ingestion, data privacy and data management and governance.


Big data is very diverse and complex, and most of it will be irrelevant to understanding consumer behaviour. Efficient search and filtering technology is necessary in smart data to make it easy to identify the relevant data.

More importantly, the analytics must find insight that is actionable. If you can’t take action against it, it’s not useful. That requires access to skilled analysts and thinkers needed to analyse big data and make decisions, ranging from data discovery and data mash-up analysts and scientists, through to marketing scientists, ethnographers and qualitative researchers.


Smart data application development and advisory services help you to leverage your growing information assets and actually act on the information. APIs can distribute the intelligence into all channels across the business to help transform frontline operations. It’s only by using the data to make decisions that you can improve and enhance customer experience in real-time.

Smart uses of smart data

With smart data, retailers can access the locations of customers via their mobile provider, recent purchases via payment providers and preferences from their online activity. These insights can be used in real-time to change and improve campaigns.

Banks already use vast swathes of data for cross-selling, risk and fraud detection activities. Smart data can provide additional behavioural triggers. If a customer exhibits any change in habits, for example, visiting real estate websites, it can be an indicator of future activity and the bank can market additional services, such as mortgages, to the customer.

A good use case for smart data in action is combatting fraud. When customers make overseas purchases, banks sometimes call the customer to verify the purchase.

Smart data can eliminate any service interruptions by providing the customer’s mobile device location to confirm the validity of the transaction.

Accessing smart data

In future, you’ll have access to smart data exchanges that help you enrich your own data, learn from industry use cases and generate new revenue streams.

They will provide cloud-based access to a variety of external datasets that can be aggregated and analysed to provide a total picture of consumer activity. They will also provide the expertise to tailor and seamlessly integrate your datasets with existing systems and applications.

Although big data is a powerful tool to advance our knowledge of customer behaviour, its smart data that will help you make smarter decisions, help you imbed data-driven decisions in your business and help you to make that data actionable.

By Aaron McDonald, Business Development Manager, Telecom Digital Ventures

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