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Service Providers Are Sitting on a Gold Mine of Data

The so-called “data deluge” shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Facebook, for example, has more than 2.5 billion pieces of content and ingests more than 500 terabytes of new content daily.  Mobile devices are driving this growth of data.  The global proliferation of devices estimated to reach 10 billion by 2017—or 1.4 times the number of people on the planet. As a result mobile-data traffic is exploding. The recently released Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI) predicts that global mobile-data traffic will increase 13-fold from 2012 to 2017, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month.

But along with the challenges inherent to this tsunami of data, opportunities abound for monetizing and optimizing information. All of those new mobile consumers—in developed and emerging markets alike—will demand enhanced Connected Life experiences that will be newer, better, and more personalized. Data is the “new oil” that will fuel this opportunity. Networks and the Internet have a critical role to play in the future of Big Data. First, they are the collectors and disseminators of data, gathering it from the millions of Internet-enabled devices, applications, and sensors, then storing it in the right place for analysis and further action. Second, they are creators of critical information on location, presence, device type, application, and more.

Service providers sit on a vast and unique trove of information—all they need to do to profit from this from this new and lucrative advantage is to capture and apply it. Many of these issues will be under discussion at the Mobile World Congress, which I will be attending in Barcelona this month. Here are five relevant trends, challenges, and solutions that I expect will be top of mind for service providers attending the show:

  • Capturing Data in Motion. All of that real-time and near-time information coursing through the network has vast, intrinsic value in creating SP-delivered experiences. When filtered and processed through Big Data analytics, it can become vital intelligence for business-to-business, business-to-consumers, and consumer-to-consumer interactions. For example, data on buying and browsing history, connection and device type, location, and access speed can drive personalized, targeted advertising, a core area of opportunity that is estimated to become an $8 billion industry by 2016.
  • SP Wi-Fi. The rising tide of mobile data may threaten to swamp networks, but many providers are seeing Wi-Fi and licensed small-cells as increasingly viable offload solutions. Since the majority of all mobile-data traffic is generated from fixed locations, much of that traffic can be handled by localized, cost-effective, and carrier-grade Wi-Fi and small-cell architectures. This will also drive an opportunity for business innovation, allowing operators to monetize indoor, location-based services, especially in high-density environments such as shopping malls, stadiums, airports and hotels.
  • Network Virtualization. Cloud-based, virtualized network architectures will form the core of the mobile network. Indeed, advanced mobile-cloud techniques can fundamentally improve operators’ cost models while offering an unprecedented opportunity to target markets based on providing wireless connectivity to the Internet of Everything.
  • Programmability. At times, some may have feared that service providers were in danger of being relegated to the role of “dumb pipes.” To avoid that fate, networks must be programmed to do more. The goal for service providers should be to oversee “elastic” networks that can dynamically adjust to changing needs, demands, and challenges. To achieve this, service providers will need to enhance all aspects of their networks with programmable intelligence Cisco’s mobile next-generation Internet architecture is one way to do this.
  • Intelligent Software/Intelligent Access. Intelligent software, such as Cisco Quantum, can harvest information to enable personalized experiences and services in real time. Clearly, there is a major opportunity for service providers, who are already sitting on a gold mine of raw data. But they will need to take the right steps to capture, refine, and monetize that deluge of information.

As in previous years at the Mobile World Congress, I will blog about the highlights and my key takeaways following the show. And if you are an attendee, please stop by booth 3C54 to say hello and see some of Cisco’s powerful solutions for monetizing mobile data.

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