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September 18, 2015updated 22 Sep 2016 11:55am

Is Big Data just a premium Business Intelligence?

C-level briefing: Sébastien Deletaille, CEO, Real Impact Analytics, talks to CBR about telcos dealing with historical problems, competing with IBM and Accenture and overselling Big Data.

By James Nunns

Telecom companies are typically described as having a ‘gold mine’ of data, but many are struggling to provide value from what they have.

Deletaille, said: "Telcos overall are probably one of the players that historically have the best industry to generate data, but have been completely unable to compete on that, to actually transform their business model to leverage the asset they have."

He believes that they face a number of problems; a lack of agility, historical problems and the people in charge simply not understanding the industry today.

He said: "Telcos are far from being agile and far from being ahead in terms of tech. They claim to be brilliant, they claim to be many things but when you actually look into their kitchen you realise that they are sometimes stuck in legacy.

"There are a lot of historical problems in their business model that they haven’t managed to tackle yet."

The failure to tackle this problem is seeing OTTs and web players step in and take this opportunity away from them bit by bit.

Another major problem they face is that they do not understand the industry.

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"People who are in charge of telecoms today, who are they? They are people who grew up in voice. That’s where they made their careers, so they’re not on top of data, they’re not of web and they’re not on top of multi play. The people who are in charge are not the guys who get the industry today."

Deletaille spoke of the complexity that some of these carriers are creating; he advises that while looking at Big Data from the tech point of view is important, it’s not going to create any value because the last mile is where it hurts.

Making sure that analytics are embedded in the day to day work of your teams is important. Deletaille says that this can be answered with apps, which can be independent or built within the technologies that they have.

However, he says: "Telcos are really bad at building apps.

"They’re great at making big technology road maps, but in using those technologies, using them well to create apps – they’re really not good at that."

Clearly there needs to be a change and to some degree, telcos are working on becoming more agile.

However, Deletaille said: "They don’t realise it is investment driven. If I look in other places in the world, for example telcos across Europe they are very good at having labs with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people where the output is lower analytical value than what has been developed in the US.

"There they are just impossible to start bringing it to market, they’re just too slow, they’re too big.

"For a company like Telefonica to put a product on the market takes three years, by that time the CEO has changed, by that time the head that was in charge has changed.

"The whole project stalls and maybe it will pick up two to three years after because of competitive pressure."

While the importance of Big Data and the need to move ahead with strategies is frequently discussed, Deletaille thinks it is basically a re-named Business Intelligence, just at a higher price.

"As a small start-up I’m very thankful that a lot of vendors have put such a great premium on two words.

"It’s like they’ve managed to replace BI with this very fancy word and increased prices, without really changing a lot of practices and I’m benefiting from that, so in some regard I’m happy.

"For clients I wouldn’t be happy because they haven’t realised that it’s not by buying a big tech stack or by buying the latest IBM, Teradata, or HP hardware that suddenly they are going to get quantitative leadership. That suddenly they’re going to get an analytical culture and suddenly they’re going to realise it’s not about having pockets of quantitative excellence – it’s about having it all across."

Real Impact Analytics compared to the likes of IBM and Accenture, is a small company. However, it is taking on the likes of these two companies head on.

He said: "We’ve been fighting with IBM head on, we’ve been fighting with SAS, Accenture, Deloitte head on and its fun because in our agility and in our size we are able to do things that they have a very hard time doing.

"Maybe as a whole they are smarter than us, but in practice you still need to meet the guy from Accenture that’s going to shake your hand and is going to have to bring that intelligence to you through discussion. Those big organisations have a very hard time making that work."

One of the projects that his company is working on is data monetisation, Data for Good. How data can be used to to improve lives, it is working with the likes of the Gates foundation and the MasterCard foundation in the fight against Ebola, Malaria and alleviating poverty.

Deletaille, said: "Who would say no for their data to be used to say I can improve the traffic system in London? I can actually re-design bus routes, I can quantitatively say, if you change this road you’d have a thousand people that would not have to change busses and wait for the next one in the rain.

"Those are the types of things we are actively investing in."

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