Telco pays $7m for data

TelstraClear is moving the competitive battle with Telecom from pricing to the service arena, spending $7 million on a customer information system.

TelstraClear is moving the competitive battle with Telecom from pricing to the service arena, spending $7 million on a customer information system.

TelstraClear customer intelligence manager Stephen Usmar (pictured) says it will use the system to develop more appropriate and targeted business and lifestyle solutions for customers.

“That’s what will make us different. It’s not about coming out with the cheapest plan.”

Usmar says it will make “customer-centric analysis” part of the company culture.

Payback will come in the form of reduced customer churn, improved revenue per user, higher margins, lower operational expenditure, savings on customer acquisition and speedier production of reports.

Technically, TelstraClear is building a data warehousing decision support system, but it’s not a term Usmar uses.

“I’m trying to ban the words data warehouse from my terminology because with a data warehouse everybody seems to be into the goal of building a data repository and filling it up. That’s only a quarter of what we’re doing. The focus is on the whole business process and organisational change.”

Known as Project Vecci (value-enabling customer-centric information), the resulting system will give TelstraClear staff a centralised view of customers for decision support.

Integrating customer details from the two entities — TelstraSaturn and Clear Communications — which combined to form TelstraClear, is a key reason for Vecci. It is the first major IT undertaking of the combined company. Clear had a data warehouse and analytical application since 1999. Mid-way through last year some TelstraClear information was added as an interim solution.

Once the data residing there is transferred to Vecci, Clear’s data warehouse will be switched off.

“It was adequate for what it was built for three-and-a-half years ago. It came out of the billing system, whereas the focus now is on customer centricity rather than trying to pull together accounts information.”

Vecci represents third-generation data warehouse thinking, says Usmar. “While it seems like a lot of effort is going into the technology, the main focus is organisational change and getting acceptance enterprise-wide.”

There are three core sponsor groups — sales and marketing, customer operations and finance, which uses the existing data warehouse. Reporting on customer operations is mostly manual.

“The key thing is to be able to analyse and report from common data. First-generation warehouses were trying to get data out of operational systems but didn’t look much beyond that to a true customer approach. I call this [Vecci] third-generation because it enables true information flow.”

Like the Clear data warehouse, Vecci will run on an Oracle database on Sun hardware. It uses a data model developed by IBM, which has an 85% fit to TelstraClear’s business. Sitting across the top will be Microstrategy OLAP (online analytical processing) tools, which will provide reports for executives through to produce and solution managers wanting to slice and dice data. SAS tools will be used to build models such as “propensity to buy”, customer churn, repricing as well as providing fraud detection.

Usmar estimates that what currently takes customer intelligence analysts several hours will be achieved in a few seconds with Vecci.

It will also enhance the quality of business decisions, he believes.

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