Long reads

Q&A: David Ingham, IBM

David Ingham

David Ingham

Ahead of IBM’s BusinessConnect – Media & Telco Leaders Day on October 12, David Ingham talks to Stuart Thomson about getting the most out of dark data. David Ingham is IBM’s Associate Partner, M&E, GBS Europe.

What do you mean by ‘dark data’ and what will be the key themes of the forthcoming Unleashing Dark Data event?
Dark data refers to data sources that organisations are collecting today, but don’t fully utilise to gain insights into customer behaviour.  88% of data that is generated is dark or unstructured (blogs, video, audio, comments, etc.) and cannot be analysed with traditional tools. This in turn means that data driven decisions are based on only 12% of the available information. Cognitive solutions enable organisations to expose this ‘dark’ data and use much deeper insights to improve business operations and services. An example could be a music company receiving daily files from the streaming music platforms that contain every activity related to their songs. Which songs were searched for vs. linked to from a playlist, which artists are followed, geographic preferences, etc. However, organisations don’t always utilise all of this data to determine future artist signings, marketing campaigns and tour schedules. Much of this data sits idle due to a variety of reasons related to a lack of skills (data science), business process or technology (analytics tools to sort through large unstructured data). We are increasingly living in a world where content can be found on any platform and any device, and understanding the customer and their data is one of the emerging differentiators. Those organisations that organise themselves around understanding this data will see the business gain a larger share than those who don’t.

What should service providers prioritise in organising and using data to further their business goals?
The explosion of data is not an incremental task that businesses can ‘bolt-on’ to existing operations today…it’s a fundamental shift that will require transformation of many different aspects of the business. A company can invest in a big data platform, but also require the skills to understand these tools to extract useful insights. Should an organisation have both the technology and people, they may lack the process to feed those insights back into product creation or marketing communications that can meet the latent demand of their customers for personalised products and services. Organisations need to reinvent themselves around customer experience and data rather than just add pieces here and there. This is not an easy ask, as legacy skill sets and technology often prevent organisations from realising the true value of their data.

What examples can you point to, of ways in which service providers can use data to improve the consumer experience or their content acquisition strategy?
One classic example is the A/B testing and personalised marketing that Netflix does for the original programming. Netflix does illuminate as much dark data as possible and is able to create a feedback loop into operations to use the data. For example, they use different images to promote different film and television programmes and test which images make people more likely to watch. They have also created targeted marketing for their programmes. They may choose a female lead in the trailer for a female customer, or select more action or comedy in a trailer depending on the consumption preferences of a customer. In this case Netflix has the technology needed to monitor and analyse huge amounts of user data, they have the right resources that understand how to look for hidden trends in the data and then have the culture to take the insights from that data and change future products or marketing communications. Legacy media and entertainment companies are currently on a journey to reinvent their business to accommodate all of these areas to fully illuminate their dark data.

What solutions does IBM provide to enable service providers to make the most of the data available to them?IBM’s cognitive systems understand, reason and learn from data that has previously been hidden or dark. This shifts technologies role from an enabler to an advisor and IBM focuses this capability across two main streams – the agile enterprise and the connected customer. For the Agile Enterprise, IBM Cognitive Solutions include: Digital engagement advisor – a cognitive care platform enabling effective customer self-service; Network Operations – enabling optimisation and efficiency; and, Procurement Intelligence enabling fast and effective understanding of vendors, product, pricing and contractual framework. For the Connected Customer, IBM leverages insights from data to better understand what motivates your customers from social media insights, to behaviour based personality profiles. This enables personalised recommendations across all lines of communication, and the ability for organisation to build a much deeper engagement with their customers.

What will the various participants in BusinessConnect bring to the discussion and what do you expect the event to achieve?
During the session we will examine different kinds of dark data and share some thoughts and experiences about how to shed light on it going forward. We will look at customer data and how behaviour, preferences and sentiment can be extracted from digital ‘breadcrumbs.’ We will also look at the dark data of content itself, and examine how organisations can reduce the cost of content creation or speed up the time from creation to distribution through looking at metadata that was previously difficult to obtain. We will be examining this topic from all angles and have IBM thought leaders and practitioners, clients, business partners and a new media celebrity who will all be talking about ways that data can be used to gain an advantage in the crowded media market today.

Click here to see the agenda and register for IBM’s BusinessConnect – Media & Telco Leaders Day