Tuesday, 06 October 2020 15:00

Maintaining Network Resilience In A Post-COVID World

By Ron Tapia, Senior Business Consultant, Teradata Australia: COVID has forced changes in consumer behaviour to comply with mandated lockdowns and self-isolation orders and research indicates that many of these changes will remain ‘the new normal’ even after restrictions are eased.

In recent months, data consumption levels have reached new heights. Social gatherings and in-person meetings have been replaced with video calls, trips to the cinema have been replaced with Netflix binges and visiting a physical store has been replaced with online shopping.

These changes have not only led to a surge in online activity but also accelerated the reliance on data and analytics needed to transform business operations and drive much-needed efficiencies to lessen the commercial impact.

So, as an Australian Telco looking to maintain network resilience and gain a competitive advantage in a post COVID world, where do you start?

The answer – with data.

Stop assuming and start listening 

Knowing exactly how people use a network is crucial to increasing resiliency and improving reliability. Understanding the ways in which this new demand is materialising can help companies ensure they are making informed data-driven decisions and are responding to behavioural changes in real-time.

With increased home working and video calls to loved ones comes an unprecedented need for reliable connectivity and call quality, and companies need to prioritise agility and speed, pivot where needed and swiftly react to this new capacity-hungry way of life.

People are relying on networking services more than ever before.  By listening to customers through data, you will be able to provide a service people want and need, rather than what you think they want, which in turn will lead to an increase customer satisfaction and retention. 

The future is 5G

Though 5G was steadily gaining momentum prior to the onset of Covid-19, the pandemic has shone a light on the vital importance of speed, increased reliability, network slicing and SLA based response times. With the majority of these capabilities only available through advanced technologies like 5G, companies need to seriously consider the benefits this implementation will bring; customers are expecting faster and more reliable networks more than ever before and will demand guaranteed technology that can keep up, wherever they are connecting from.

Investing in network roll-outs is extremely costly, and something you can’t afford to get wrong. As telcos continue to plan for the somewhat unknown future, data analytics can help visualise what’s working and predict where the business needs to head as we come out of the pandemic. It can also help justify long term investments of new and essential technologies – namely 5G – with data-driven insight.

Telco businesses must identify where they need to roll-out new networks and where they need to build base stations. There are huge amounts of data involved in just planning where to roll out the network and also to determine where to decommission legacy networks like 2G and 3G. Data analytics can help analyse and provide actionable insight into the extensive customer and network data involved to inform these decisions.

No two Telco’s are the same

Although all telco companies can benefit from a comprehensive data analytics strategy, the services offered will be different based on the market.

Telcos operating in the business-to-business (B2B) space are likely to evolve and adapt a “one stop shop” mentality to give customers a comprehensive package. This not only involves connectivity but also data analytics packages, helping businesses to remain competitive.

On the other hand, Telco’s operating in the consumer space (B2C) will likely need to adapt and tailor their service offering, and take an approach based on the individual and personal circumstances of a user.

During the pandemic, the Australian Government and telco providers partnered to ensure citizens remained digitally connected – in particular, those financially impacted by business closures and job losses who may be unable to continue paying their bills. Measures included providing payment plans or entering into hardship agreements, ensuring consumers and business were not disconnected, deferring credit recovery actions, providing hibernation options (waiving disconnection, reconnection and contract breaking fees), and prioritising calls seeking hardship support.

At the core of ensuring the right hardship options are presented to the right customers is analytics, in the same way, it helps maximises network availability and predict network faults before they happen. It is also the one thing that can ensure customers continue to experience personalised service and therefore maintain critical market share.

Australian telcos are no strangers to digital disruption, but there can be no doubt Covid-19 has resulted in a ‘perfect storm’ of concurrent business challenges. It is evident that for the foreseeable future remaining agile and open to changes is critical, as is listening to customers through data in order to deliver what just what is needed to weather the storm and thrive in a post pandemic world.

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