Telefónica faces Big Data with the aim at generating profitable business insight from data

Thursday, July 30, 2015

In today’s interview we speak with Dr. Richard Benjamins, Business Intelligence and Big Data Group Director at Telefónica. Telefónica, one of the world’s largest telecommunications network operators by market capitalisation and number of customers and 2nd European operator in terms of revenue, has a strong presence in Spain, the European Union and Latin America, where it currently concentrates its growth strategy. In December 2014 Telefónica had more than 341M total accesses, with a significant presence in more than 20 countries and employees more than 123.000 people.

Its innovation activity is largely committed to Big Data. Specifically, Telefónica R&D focuses on smart tourism, improvement of customer experience in shops and driving patterns. For example, Bejamins shares that Telefónica has sold to Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (the main public transport operator in the Barcelona metropolitan area) the analysis of the crowd movements via mobile network data, which assisted in metro-related planning. Just as this one, Telefónica packages and sells knowledge to various sectors, such as energy, retail, public sector, transport, etc. The product is called Smart Steps and helps to understand more about consumer behaviour including the “who” (demography segmentation), the “where” (catchment, origin/destination, home/work), the “when” (point in time, seasonal trend), the “why” (frequency, trip purpose) and the “how” (route, mode of transport).

Richard Benjamins explains to us that Telefónica also uses Big Data internally in order to improve their business (analysing data for marketing) as well as to optimise its operations and procurement (looking at usage patterns over geographical location in order to better understand where to deploy 3G and 4G bay stations). Human Resources, in a so large company, also benefits from the analysis of data. 

Telefónica deploys first-class proprietary and open source platforms upon which to build its products and services. Nowadays, as Dr. Benjamin tells, many of their existing vendors are integrating the open source platforms that Telefónica already use, into their products.

Big Data management

As Dr. Benjamins notes, in Telefónica “having too much data is viewed as an opportunity rather than a Big Data management problem”. The Spanish telecom company obtains data from every time a person makes a call or sends a text. “Using traditional data warehousing, it might take a week to process up to 10 billion of these records”, states the Group Director.

However, “the new source of Big Data comes from the network: every time a mobile changes antenna (handover) this is registered in the network, billions of times due to the fact that Telefónica have millions of customers. It may take up to 10 hours to process 80 billion records”

Hardware technology roadmap 

Telefónica welcomes new and faster technologies, but the main problem detected lies in “the ability to generate enough business insight from the data and acting on that insight and presumably, making money from those actions”.

Please, find further information by following these links:
Dr. Richard Benjamins LinkedIn profile
Richard Benjamins Twitter channel @vrbenjamins
Big data seminar 2015: Q&A with Telefonica's Richard Benjamins video by European Communications
EDF2013 - Richard Benjamins: Big Data – Big opportunities – Big risks? And what about Europe? (presentation)
Big Data From Hype to Reality from Richard Benjamins of Telefonica at Big Media by Actuonda (presentation)