Pedro Uria-Recio, Chief Analytics & AI Officer, True Digital, Thailand, explores some of the ways telcos can derive income from data.
Thailand's True eyes B2B data monetizing opportunities
Thailand’s dtac and True completed their merger to become True Corporation 1 March. The company, which will combine 33.8 million subscribers from TrueMove H and 21.2 million from dtac, has several ambitions, including the expansion of its 5G service to cover 98% of Thailand’s population by 2026.
Like many telcos, True is looking at ways to further monetize data, as Pedro Uria-Recio, Chief Analytics & AI Officer, True Digital, Thailand, explained during a session on driving value from data at DTW Asia, including how to offer data monetization as an enterprise service.
Telcos’ subscribers generate a wealth of data based on web usage, calls, SMS, billing and location. Yet there is still considerable nervousness in the industry about monetizing it.
As Uria-Recio pointed out “monetizing the data of a telecom operator externally is a new business … in which there is a reputational risk … and obviously telecom operators don't want to put their core business at risk.”
Nonetheless, Uria-Recio sees four principal opportunities where telcos can make money from data provided that they have the right data governance in place: advertising, credit and insurance scoring, customer intelligence and data enrichment of enterprise clients’ databases.
Getting ahead in advertising
When it comes to advertising, which today is the principal means of making money out of customer information, “telcos kind of missed the boat in a lot of ways,” admitted Uria-Recio. However, he pointed to new opportunities, including the recent joint venture between Orange, Vodafone, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom. The alliance is seeking to monetize data for marketing and advertising purposes, using an advertising ID derived from the subscriber's telephone number.
“It is a very bold move,” he said, adding that “in Thailand, we have tried to do something similar.”
Telcos’ data gives them the possibility to build a 360-degree view of the customer and True seeks to create a rich view of a subscriber based on multiple attributes under four key categories of demographics, geography, interests and behavior. However, telcos need more than rich data to build a sustainable business model.
“What is critical is not only the data but having the right third-party external channels. And that's why governance is important because you are sharing with a third party. “
When it comes to providing scoring for credit, insurance or healthcare to external parties, the case is strongest in countries where a large percentage of population is unbanked. “As a telco you can have a share of the book value of the loans, because lenders will want to get your credit score to reach to customers. When the unbanked population is lower, the opportunity is smaller.”
Telcos, he pointed out, can use their payment systems to create a credit score for customers based on their prepaid and postpaid usage. True, for example, originally created a score for internal usage so it could gauge when to extend airtime to customers without credit. Now the company makes loans via its money wallet, working with external parties.
Data enrichment gives enterprises access to information about customers that might previously have been gleaned from cookies. Uria-Recio described it as an emerging area and telcos will need to find ways to share data that are compliant with data privacy rules and regulations.
One option, he explained, is to avoid giving personal identifiable data. Telcos could create a real time map of how many people are in different places and share it with an outdoors advertising company. Another option is to ensure enterprise partners request the explicit consent of the user each time before they share personal identifiable information.
For example, a retailer running a campaign could ask a customer to share information from their telecom operator, by adding a telephone number in exchange for a voucher. Another approach is to enable and telco and a third party to pool data without revealing it to each other. For example, the data could reside and be crunched in a secure server “ and if an administrator tries to get there, what he sees is finally encrypted information,” explained Uria-Recio. “You are getting an output together with another [company], but you're not sharing the information with him or the other way around. This is very early stage, but if you are able to share data in in ways that are compliant with privacy laws and price that data then you are effectively building a data economy.”
Watch the video of Uria-Recio discussing data monetization with Aaron Boasman-Patel, Vice President, AI, Labs & Innovation, TM Forum at DTW Asia.