Analytics a proven edge, but more can be done: CIOs

  • Success stories aplenty, but merely a fraction of what can be achieved
  • Challenges aplenty too, including mindset change and lack of talent
Analytics a proven edge, but more can be done: CIOs

ALTHOUGH companies and organisations are already using analytics – some to such an extent that they can use weather patterns to help improve customers’ overall Internet experience – chief information officers (CIOs) in Malaysia believe more can be done to harness its full potential.
 
That was one of the key takeaways from the final panel discussion at the CIO Leaders Summit 2015, with its theme Utilising Analytics to Drive Customer Engagement, in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (June 25).
 
Telekom Malaysia Bhd’s head of network optimisation and reliability Fakhurrazi Ismail spoke about how his company’s network division is using analytics to help improve customer experience.
 
One area Telekom Malaysia (TM) is working on is improving the restoration cycle time – when a customer’s broadband service is down and he or she submits a trouble ticket, it is the company’s goal to restore services as quickly as possible.
 
“Through analytics, we found out that there is a relationship between the trouble ticket demand and the amount of rainfall,” said Fakhurrazi.
 
More rainfall usually means a heavier storm, which may lead to more lightning strikes that could damage network equipment, he explained.
 
“We built a model to understand which areas were more likely to get hit by lightning, and to thus predict which areas were most likely to issue trouble tickets,” said Fakhurrazi.
 
“With this insight, we could actually plan our manpower and redeploy from one area to another, so that we have enough capacity to attend to demand,” he added.
 
Telecommunications companies in Malaysia are generally regarded as being quite forward-thinking in adopting analytics, so no surprise that Celcom Axiata Bhd had its own tale to tell.
 
Its CIO Kashif Syed Haq, one of the three panellists at the discussion, shared how analytics has helped his company gain customer insights.
 
“One of the things we have been able to do with analytics is understand our customers better, and to get a 360-degree view,” he said.
 
“What that means is that we know the demographics, what plans they are using, the lifecycle, and other data.
 
“By having these insights, we are able to manage customer retention as well as offer customers additional services to uplift the average revenue per user (ARPU) for those customers,” he said, adding that Celcom’s ‘analytics journey’ began about three years ago.
 
The third panellist was DRB Hicom Bhd CIO Simon Cham, who said his company was still in the early phase of implementing analytics.
 
He nevertheless expects the group to put more focus on this area moving forward, since DRB Hicom – which has businesses in the automotive, property development, financial services and hospitality sectors, amongst others – has a lot to gain.
 
Tip of the iceberg
 
Nevertheless, the panellists at the CIO Leaders Summit 2015 in Kuala Lumpur – organised by Media Corp International from June 24-25 – also believed that the success stories above are just a small fraction of what can be achieved with analytics.
 
Kashif said Celcom is in fact looking at taking it to the ‘next level.’
 
“What we hope to evolve in terms of analytics is to have the ability to understand customers, and to be able to make decisions and respond to customers in real time,” he said.
 
“Today, ‘real time’ is the name of game,” he added.
 
His fellow panellist Fakhurrazi acknowledged that TM was still in the early stage of harnessing the full potential of analytics. “There are still a lot of things that can be done.”
 
He said that besides using weather data to predict where and when the next surge of trouble tickets could issue from, the company is also using analytics on its equipment.
 
Some equipment can be lightning-intolerant, so any information TM gathers can be used when it prepares specifications as well, he said.
 
And while TM’s ‘trouble ticket predictive model’ is showing good results, the work there has not stopped either.
 
“We need to continue the effort. As we know, weather and seasonal patterns change from time to time,” said Fakhurrazi.
 
The analytics journey

Analytics a proven edge, but more can be done: CIOs

Celcom’s Kashif said that deploying business intelligence and analytics is an endless journey.
 
“The more data you have, the more questions you have, and the more answers you can get out of the data,” he said.
 
TM’s Fakhurrazi noted that one of the biggest challenges is in collecting the data and processing it.
 
“We use a lot of data – machine-generated data, transactional data, and others. We also have a multitude of data sources, both internal and external.
 
“To aggregate all these, to make sense out of all these, is proving to be quite challenging,” he said.
 
“We need to have the right technology and … luckily, we have the right talent to handle the responsibility,” he said, but added that there was a dearth of analytics talent out there.
 
In trying to make analytics accessible to more people within his organisation, DRB Hicom’s Cham was faced with another challenge: Changing the mindset of users.
 
“Trying to change the mindset of management on the whole new way to get information, to tell them that they now can get all the information themselves via this self-service environment – it can be quite challenging,” he said.
 
Engagement is key
 
The CIOs admitted that it was pointless having analytic tools generate all this useful information, only to fail at execution.
 
TM, for example, would not have been able to improve its customer engagement if its field team did not understand the importance of the findings, or even worse, the importance of customer engagement itself.
 
“Communication and engagement are very important,” said Fakhurrazi. “It cannot be in the form of mathematical formula. It has to be something that they can relate to.
 
“It is constant communication and engagement with the field team. They need to understand how we derived the data [and insights], how it affects them, and why it matters to them,” he added.
 
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