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Author's profile photo Julie Stoughton

Just How Big is Big Data for Telcos in 2015 and Beyond?

By Christina Giraud, SAP Telecommunications

Telcos around the world are developing a passionate love-(and-hate) relationship with Big Data.

The Digital Revolution – and with it Big Data –  is here, it’s big, and telcos are either wholeheartedly tapping into ways to take advantage of this opportunity, or they’re swimming in a sea of terrabytes trying to figure out what their next step is.

To assist those that are diligently exploring how to master Big Data, we’re going to tackle this challenge head on over the course of the next couple of blogs.

Today, we’re starting the conversation with an overview of just how big this market is. Then, in future blogs, we’re going to discuss how telcos can build new business models that not only embrace Big Data, but make it a core part of their business strategy.

The reality check: Just how big is Big Data?

To provide a sense of the enormity of this market, here’s a quick look at the opportunity that the digital society will present to the telco industry as almost everyone and everything becomes connected.

Let’s start first with a recent article published by McKinsey & Company on Big Data on its Telecom, Media & High Tech extranet that quantified the opportunity for telcos. The article says that telcos are uniquely positioned to use Big Data and advance analytics to capture a potential opportunity worth $300 million by the year 2020.

What’s driving this opportunity? An annual Digital Universe study from IDC notes that the amount of data in the world is set to grow 10-fold in the next six years to 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes.  Another way to look at that is that data is doubling every two years, or growing at approximately 40% a year.

Research on the Internet of Things (IoT) also provides a perspective on how big Big Data is:

•Connected things.According to the IDC study above, there are already nearly 200 billion things computerized, with 20 billion of them wired and communicating via the Internet. And there are more than 50 billion sensors that track, monitor, or feed data to those connected things.

• Connected people. Another massive source of Big Data is, of course, the social networks that are part of the fabric of every connected person’s life.  According to a recent infographic on, Facebook has 1.3 billion monthly active users – and with 382,000 likes happening every minute, while Twitter has 271 million active users per month and 350,000 tweets per minute.

The connected world. A 2014 report from Frost and Sullivan on the world’s top mega trends gives yet another perspective on connected things. One of the mega trends in this report is connectivity and convergence. This mega trend is creating a connected life in home, work, and city environments that represents an ecosystem the research firm says will have a value of $731.70 billion by 2020.

At the very core of all this data: Telcos

What these statistics show from various perspectives is that there is a lot of information that needs to be managed, both here and now, and in the future. And managing every byte of data is an opportunity for telcos as they move up the value chain of Big Data and take on a different role.

With telcos at the very core of this massive amount of data, there is a critical and pressing need for new business models that can turn all this information into smart data the generates while generating revenue to all involved parties. Enabling businesses, organizations, cities, and people with intelligent insights so they can take action on it – in the moment; at the right time, place, and social context – and even predict the future – is what’s next for telcos.

In a survey SAP conducted earlier this year, 71% of telcos recognize that Big Data management is key to their success and 60% have a strategy in place to take advantage of it.

So for those telcos that see the opportunity and are ready to go after it – stay tuned. As mentioned above, the next blogs in this series will help define new business models and strategies turning Big Data into big revenue opportunities.

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      Author's profile photo Harris Veziris
      Harris Veziris

      I guess it is meant $300 billion, not million.