Elon Musk’s SpaceX filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 1, 2017 to put nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit– an additional 7,518 satellites on top of a previous application for 4,425 satellites. The primary objective is to beam lightning-fast internet from space. In addition to SpaceX, OneWeb, a venture backed by Virgin, Qualcomm and Airbus, aims to “bring the internet to the 31 percent of the world’s population who don’t have access to 3G connectivity.”
Beyond the satellite networks, the telecommunications industry is taking fire from all angles. For instance, Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) are set to attract 84 percent of global spending in digital advertising, raising fears of a digital duopoly. Google has launched Project Loon, “a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space to extend internet connectivity to people in rural and remote areas worldwide.” Mobile apps like WhatsApp are launching everyday as alternatives to traditional mobile services. The world of telco is ripe for disruption and the old playbooks no longer apply.
Despite the new competitive landscape, telco operators are facing a massive opportunity for growth. As more users, devices, and things get online, mobile networks are the common thread connecting these digital relationships. Every enterprise in the world is struggling to understand their customer relationships across the digital and physical worlds, and mobile is the fabric that ties them together. In addition, emerging technologies such as 5G provide a new digital highway for transmitting more data than ever before. This technology can capture incredible volumes of information about customer interactions. In short, data is the new currency for telco operators.
The problem is, legacy big data infrastructure solutions were not designed to handle the unpredictability of streaming data sources, nor were they designed to utilize data while fresh. Now, telco operators must mine real-time data and instantly analyze it, translating raw data into instant insight that puts them ahead of the competition. In a world where data is the most valuable asset, the emphasis must be on creating a data intelligence layer that enables telcos to easily derive insights across their end-to-end ecosystem. These data insights will shape the customer omnichannel across every industry, from retail to banking to hospitality, with mobile as the core conduit.
We have entered the post-big data era. In this new world, telcos need to translate massive volumes of complex data into digital insight at unparalleled speed, with streaming data analysis, visual foresight, and streamlined machine learning. Without these capabilities, it becomes impossible to maintain business in motion.
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Forbes on 3/13/2018