Telcos turn to contextual marketing for growth

By Kiran Kumar, SVP-Digital Solutions, ValueLabs

The rise of digital technologies has brought in seamless connectivity, ensuing free exchange of information among people, products and machines. Business today is all about tapping this huge trove of information, which is latent, and turning it into insights on customers’ preferences, experiences and desires to better service their needs.

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are uniquely placed in this game of gaining customer insights. Businesses across industries are trying to anticipate customer behavior by mining the vast sets of data that consumers leave behind in the way they consume a product or service or interface with a machine. Through analytics, this information becomes more meaningful when we understand customers’ actions in the light of the context they are operating in. CSPs, which are closely connected to their customers through real-time networks and devices, have a huge opportunity in monetizing this data and using them for new business generation.

The key here is about catching the customer in the act – REAL TIME– which requires CSPs to reach them with the right content, at the right time, and in the right context. Intense customer focus, a data-centric approach and instant outreach are key success factors for an operator today.

CSPs’ quest for value
CSPs are transforming themselves from providing connectivity as a core value proposition to being core marketing platforms that monetize customer data and offer solutions relevant to them.

They are banking heavily on Big Data and advanced Analytics to offer location-based services, intelligent marketing campaigns, and the next best actions. Imagine what is possible when you are able to handle much more data than ever before, from sources inside and outside the organization that were previously unthinkable, integrated and available for action. It helps CSPs ANTICIPATE and RESPOND FASTER and also creates new revenue streams as they are aware of the context in which their customer segment is operating.

Intelligent contextual marketing systems should be able to geo-fence customers based on the location they are at. The system should be able to take relevant actions to either retain them if they are at a risk for churn, or be able to upsell other value-based services.The core contextual marketing functionalities could include:
• Executing campaigns real time - running contextual advertising offersthe moment a customer enters a shopping mall
• Reaching out to customers with proactive offers for poor customer service
• Sending out personalized offers and maintaining counters, accumulators and clocks to trigger real-time offers
• Detecting when customers change their device from feature phones to smartphones and if customers don’t yet have a data package, make a data offer.

Real-time Contextual Marketing System
A real-time contextual marketing system (RTCM) is a platform that collates data – which is at the center of all this action – from multiple sources and processes it into meaningful information. The system should be able to accept data that is arriving in various formats and at differing frequencies. It should be able to clean, validate and filter this datain real time –be it batch, streaming or one-time.

While CSPs are known to have experimented with fast batch-oriented data, being able to combine analytics on fast-moving data in realtime is a concept still new for many. Today, the software technology stack has evolved and allows for architecting platforms that not only work on a robust, distributed, fault-tolerant framework but are also capable of collecting any type of data.

Some features of such an RTCM platform include:
• An ability to integrate heterogeneous data from complex, multiple sources such as CRM, billing, Cloud, web front-end and network
• A provision to apply an easy, integrated mechanism on this complex data and manage rules for extending offers to customers
• A robust stream processing system and a complex event processing engine providing capabilities to interact with surrounding systems for taking various actions as needed
• The system should have capabilities to self-learn and create new rules for taking an action for the event, produce recommendations and provide insights

Technology is increasingly becoming an integral part of business strategy, calling for agile solutions with a faster time-to-market. A world-class RTCM platform has to be architected through the support of a network of best-in-the-breed partners and future-proofed by leveraging emerging technologies such as analytics and optimization, which are relevant for prepaid and post-paid marketing context.

Such a solution, which is scalable and can be integrated with multiple systems, would be the nerve center of a CSP for acquiring, engaging, managing, retaining and satisfying customers.

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