With millions of mobile, data-hungry customers and networks that must be analyzed and monitored in real-time to ensure optimum performance and reliability, large telecommunications companies are always looking for more tools to gain insights about their network’s performance.
Since its founding in 2006, big data analytics platform provider Guavus has specifically targeted the telco industry. The company says it counts among its customers two of the top three mobile operators and four the top five Internet backbone carriers in the U.S.
A representative of one Guavus telco customer spoke with Data Informed about the vendor’s data analytics platform and how it helped that customer address several operational challenges. (Citing competitive reasons, Guavus and the representative asked that the customer not be identified in this article.)
The telco began working with Guavus in February 2011, initially on a “proof of concept” basis, but signed a deal earlier this year.
Among the top challenges facing the telco, according to the representative, was “inverting our 70-30.”
“We were spending 70 percent of our time gathering data and 30 percent of our time really looking at what was happening with our network and diving into the details of the data,” she says. “We wanted to invert that. We wanted to spend 30 percent of our time gathering data and 70 percent of our time doing deep-dive analytics. Guavus really met that need with their platform.”
That platform was developed based on research by Guavus founder and CEO Anukool Lakhina, a Ph.D. in computer science from Boston University whose dissertation focused on “the theory and algorithms for streaming analytics on high-dimensional data,” according to his bio. Before founding Guavus, which is based in Silicon Valley and has R&D offices in India, Lakhina worked at Intel Research and Sprint Labs.
It’s applying streaming analytics to analyze and improve network performance that drew the telco customer to Guavus, the company’s representative said. “We pull together multiple streams of data to look at network performance,” the telco rep explains. “One example might be looking at our roamers, and identifying where we have heavy roaming, especially if it’s off-network roaming. We want to be able to identify those users and then either get them a different device or identify ways to get them out of that roaming situation.”
The Guavus analytics platform has helped the telco with this process, she says, along with another pressing need common to all huge enterprises: cleaning up the variety of data for analysis, and faster reporting.
“We were looking at data coming in from three or four different teams and two different vendors,” she says. “They have similar attributes, but they all came in a different formats. So we wanted Guavus to help us come up with a way to get all of that data in and cleaned up, and then give us some reports that allow us to do the deep-dive analytics instead of us having to do all that labor.”
She says that Guavus enabled her team to reduce the time it took to process reports for executives looking to improve customer service, to less than five days from her company’s previous processes which took about 30 days.
The Guavus platform is even able to provide the telco with “near real-time” data on how new mobile devices and applications being used on its platform are performing, the rep says, “so that we can identify issues on the front end and then address them sooner than we were previously.”
The company also uses the platform for customer service. “Our front-end customer support teams are able to see what’s happening on the network or what’s happening with a specific application and report that to our customers who call in,” she says.
Analyst Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research says the Guavus platform offers opportunities for telcos in a rapidly changing competitive landscape shaped by mobile and digital technologies.
“Telcos want to be more than a pipe,” Lopez says. “Telcos want to do interesting things around customer care and new services, and they’re looking for someone to help them provide the right insight into that. And that’s where I think Guavus comes in.”
Cultural Challenge to Implementing Analytics
There has been an implementation challenge for the telco using Guavus, the rep says, but it has nothing to do with analytics tools and everything to do with a corporate culture suddenly coping with the requirements of needing to analyze rising and variable data volumes.
“It’s actually been more of a political issue here, having other teams understand why we want their data to feed into the system and what the value is,” she says. “That has been our biggest hurdle.”
But the telco’s various teams are adapting and taking advantage of the ability to customize the Guavus platform.
“Teams have their own dashboards and they’re able to use their own log-in IDs,” the rep says. “The only thing that they have to run through our team is if, for example, they needed a new data source that wasn’t already connected. They have their own views and their own reports based on their needs.”