Once upon a time, there was a man named Telly. Telly acquired a piece of land at the center of his village and built a very successful business on top of it. As the needs of the people and understanding of his products grew, so did his business. As a by-product of his business growth, the dependence on his products also grew as more people started using his products. Every time people bought from Telly, he gained more and more information about them. When Telly realised the amount of information he had about his customers, he knew something had to be done about it, so Telly proceeded to using it to sell more of his products. What Telly did not realise, was that he could sell this information to other people to help them sell more of their products, Telly did not realise that he was sitting on gold!
And so as other people proceeded to build products and create large businesses, these businesses started to take a large stake of Telly’s profits. These businesses were dependent on Telly’s business still running which was good for Telly because it meant he would not go out of business. Telly however failed to realise the opportunities that were exploited by some of these businesses who created whole new business models off the back of his business. When Telly realised that this was the case, it was far too late and as the fable goes, Telly was dubbed “The sleeping beast”.
Telly, in the above fable cane be compared to a real life doppelgänger of his, the Telecommunications industry.
Over the years, we have seen a multitude of industries being disrupted and in some cases being wiped off the face of the earth. Although the telecommunications industry has not vanished and in all likelihood, will continue to be a viable business, new age competitors have bitten off large parts of their traditional businesses and the industry has been forced to re-think how they do business and re-imagine how a future might look.
Traditional means of generating revenue like voice and sms, have been on the decline as people increasingly use alternative means of communication. These alternative means of communication have a heavy reliance on the use of data and this has caused the revenue generated through data to increase. This from a distance looks trivial, however, when we start to put emphasis on “data”, an inescapable observation jumps out.
If “data” is the means by which we connect to the inter web, and the telecommunications industry sells us “data” in order for us to be able to connect through their networks, then surely they are able to see how we use this “data”.
It can be argued that telecommunications is a basic need for life in the 21st century to continue, just like water and electricity, except that the water department cannot tell how much water you use from which tap in your household, nor can the electricity department tell how much electricity is consumed by each appliance in your household. Telecommunications companies have a great deal of insight of your usage of their infrastructure though, they can tell what device you’re on, the media that you consume and where you consume it from amongst other things. Everything that you do online, on voice and on SMS passes through their network and guess what, they save it all!
In a time where data is big business, even dubbed as “the new mineral”, and so many technologies exist to mine and convert that data into currency, the telecommunications industry has not been able to exploit this opportunity that has the potential to create a rebirth of their entire industry.
With access to information about you, your device(s), your contacts, your voice and text communications, your location and online behaviour, a world of possibilities arises
With access to such data, the opportunity to do some really cool things using the latest technologies exists. A combination of big data, data sciences and artificial intelligence could unlock massive amounts of value for the telecommunications industry and potentially for the human race as a whole, a game changer!
The question remains however…