Big data analytics is one of the most potent tools in any organization’s customer engagement arsenal: Prasad Mamidi

In today’s customer-centric environment, personalization has become the most important brand attribute when it comes to fostering customer loyalty. Given the urgent need for personalization, big data analytics is emerging as one of the most cost-effective and powerful tools in any organization’s customer engagement strategy, asserts Ram Prasad Mamidi, Head-IT & CIO, Tata Teleservices. In an exclusive interview with Dataquest, he talks about the factors driving the demand for big data solutions and the key advantages of adopting analytics driven decision making. Excerpts:

In your perspective, what is driving the demand for big data solutions? What are the major challenges in the deployment?

Businesses, whether small or large, are churning huge amounts of data at an unprecedented rate. This data can originate from a multitude of sources—posts to social media sites, application downloads, digital pictures and video uploads, mobile GPS signals, etc. The ability to integrate all the different sources of data and shape it in a way that allows business leaders to make informed decisions is at the heart of big data. The more data available, the more accurate the analyses, the better the business.

Superior customer experience, cost effectiveness, and growth are the key priorities for businesses across the world. Big data solutions allow companies to meet these needs by optimizing usage of existing resources to create an intelligent and responsive enterprise that understands its customers and provides real-time, insight-driven services and support.

Awareness about big data and its impact on businesses has just started seeping into the fundamental workings of companies. Several businesses enter into the big data space without a thorough understanding of business requirements, goals, and data policies. This often leads to wastage of resources and the insights procured fail to add much value to the company. There is a need for more big data specialists to help effectively run and manage implementation across functions.

Other barriers are the same as one would expect with the adoption of any new transformational technology. These range from determining ownership within the organization to building a business case for recommended implementations. There is also the worry that the current database is too unstructured for effective automated analysis. The fact is, this is not a limitation for big data analytics at all.

What are the merits of adopting big data analytics solutions and what difference can it make?

A recent academic research found that companies that have incorporated data and analytics into their operations show productivity rates 5 to 6% higher than those of their peers. The reason is simple: The more information a brand has regarding its consumers, the better it is able to predict their buying behavior and customize its offerings, fostering customer trust and leading to an increased chance of sale. Another recent survey of 50 CMOs at companies large and small found that offering personalized customer experiences was their highest business priority. Mass personalization has become the most important brand attribute when it comes to fostering customer loyalty. Additionally, personalization helps companies differentiate their products/services from those of their competitors at a time when the Internet is rapidly making it easier for customers to compare offerings and make purchases at the click of a button.

Given the urgent need for customization, big data analytics is one of the most cost-effective and potent tools in any organization’s customer engagement arsenal. Never has data on user behavior been as readily available as it is today. The sheer volume of it is staggering. To use that information for determining segments and micro-segments of customers and predicate product and service innovation on those insights is the way to business success in the near future.

Please share a use case of how Tata Teleservices is leveraging the power of big data to serve its customers?

While the previous generation was happy to consume any content or offering by a brand, the millennial generation wants brands to hear their voices and incorporate their opinions before creating anything for them. Keeping this insight in mind, we place solid emphasis on end-to-end customer experience management. Customer analytics is at the heart of understanding who your customers are, what is their behavior/preference, and how to maximize the revenue with both existing and new customers. This requires the integration and analysis of data both inside and outside the business. A real-time algorithm does this task and with the requisite data and the correct analytics, you can get an accurate view of customer usage and how best to offer better value. Tata Docomo’s *123# is a self-help functionality that allows the customer to access customized offers developed based on their usage behavior. The same functionality enables retailers to fetch the best offer for the customers.

Since the offer is made keeping the customers’ requirements in mind, it increases the relevance of the offer helping establish preference and thereby conversion. The customer can either check the offer on his own simply by dialing *123# from his device or go to the retailer who can check the offer for him. The customer can avail any of the available offers anytime, from any of the retail outlets. This service has provided a simplified self-help platform for our consumers, and has now been running successfully for close to two years. The ultimate intent is to get every consumer, before every recharge, to check out his very own personalized ‘not available in market’ offer. The obvious business benefits include better customer retention rates and better uptake of higher value recharges. With the sheer volume of new data being generated today, data trustworthiness is an area of concern.

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