New entrant to the Egyptian mobile market, Etisalat Misr has carved out an enviable slice of the local market through use of a Teradata data analysis solution, explains Dave Reeder.
Entering a new market is never easy, even for a successful regional player like Eitsalat. And, when the market is the increasingly volatile and complex telecom sector, you need a real edge to succeed. According to Mohamed Abdel Rahim Ismaiel, head of enterprise information management at Etisalat Misr, the company’s success since its debut in 2007 is down to one thing: sophisticated analysis of consumer data, based on a solution from data warehousing pioneer Teradata.
Speaking at the recent Teradata Universe conference in Barcelona, in place of scheduled rival Mobilink, he stressed that strategic use of customer data is what has propelled the company to a 25% market share within four years. However, implementation of a solution is not enough: he pointed out that Teradata user Mobilink has not leveraged the system to the same extent. “They followed us after one year and they acquired the same solution, but they are not as matured as we are because they are not getting the complete power to get the information and are not as timely,” he said, stressing that Mobilink takes too long to get the answers to queries which, of course, affects its business.
“Etisalat Misr is a strong believer that information is the blood of the company,” he said. “Therefore we are capitalising on having solutions that are helping the business now and in the future to manage our customer expectations, as well as to retain our subscribers.”
Etisalat Misr was not the first member of the Etisalat group to adopt Teradata, currently in use or under consideration by every telecom provider in the region. Ufone in Pakistan was the first, followed by Etisalat Misr, with Xcelicom (Indonesia), Swan (India) and Etisalat UAE. At present, these operators do not share data and analysis although there are plans to do so. “At the moment we are sharing some resources, sharing some consultancy, with Etisalat Misr helping the others in some issues,” Ismaiel explained.
The Teradata solution was necessary because of the complexity of the Egyptian market. With a population of nearly 90m, Egypt currebntly has one fixed line operator (Telecom Egypt) and three mobile operators (Mobinikl, Vodaphone and Etisalat Misr). 93% of miobile users are on prepaid schemes. “We face a torrent of data,” Ismaiel said. “However, partly because of the sheer volume and partly because of inconsistent decision skills, few managers could see, analyse and understand data relationshipos. The challenge wasd how to deal with information on a single platform.” The volumes are quite daunting – Ismaiel estimates each employee generates 800Mb of data a year, around a third of which is spreadsheets.
“We faced poor quality information and slow delivery of information that we needed for critical business decisions. The answer was a shift to an active warehouse where information is genenrated in real time – a strategic intelligent solution.” Key to success, Ismaiel believes, was the decision not to build a database engine but a solution. “Without vision or a roadmap from day one, we would not have been able to drive the business forward intelligently.”
The solution combines three elements: “We used IBM for data extraction, Teradata for the data warehouse and then Business Objects for the analytical reporting. Now, some 70% of business case decisions are made using data from the warehouse and around half our staff have access to it.”
Typical usage would involve analysing customer usage patterns in order to develop new offers. “For example, if we see you receive a number of long distance calls from a friend using another operator’s service, we can target them with an offer if they look like a good user to us.” However, the issue of industry-wide data sharing raises some concerns. “It is not easy to get the information from competitors but we are considering some poaching of data by analysing the information of our subscribers when they are calling or when they are calling other operators,” said Ismaiel. Etisalat Misr, for example, has a masking programme which prevents the correlation of a mobile number with an address or name. “In Egypt, this is classified confidential information and no one has access to this.”
However, given recent government crackdowns on services in the country, Ismaiel was unwilling or unable to comment on how easy it is for government organisations to access private customer information. “I don’t have an answer for this,” Ismaiel said.