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Will Vodafone become the Apple of Big Data?

Menno van Doorn
October 01, 2012

This is the first day for Jens Schulte-Bockum in his new role as CEO of Vodafone Germany. How does he look at the future? Seven questions on Big Data that could give you an idea of how he looks at technology. 1. Big Data: what does it mean? Big Data is still loosely defined. Compared to other disruptive technologies this is more a gradual shift. You should consider seeing Big Data in the light of response mechanisms that will lead to an acceleration of capabilities. 2. How do you see the future of Big Data? I’m convinced we will see radical new business models in all knowledge sectors. On the one hand this change is quite pronounced, on the other hand it is gradual. And you could even cynically argue that the Big Data is a ghost from the past.  I remember we talked about “The Segment of One” and the work of John Hagel more than ten years ago. The internet would change masses into individuals: the end of the average consumer. Now we’re seeing some of these early promises being materialized. And I’m convinced more of these early promises will be fulfilled. 3. What’s the most difficult for Vodafone? The big business question is “Are we there yet?” Let’s face the fact that the Vodafone revenue coming out of Big Data is less than 1% of its total.  Turning technology into business is all about timing. Are the technologies, customer acceptance, business models and capabilities all in place to justify a push on a Big Data strategy. How long do we need to wait for the materializing of these other promises? I believe we are still in the hay days, but knowing when to accelerate is quite difficult. 4. How and where to start? It is becoming economically feasible to handle huge amounts of data. The opportunity space is exploding. Paradoxically we now begin to see mini showcases as a fire starter for Big Data. Big meets small so to say and I think that’s the right approach. We see a few business initiatives starting to explore traffic flows for retail parties, using mass geographical info. That’s an interesting field. More difficult projects are focused on increasing customer experiences by breaking the traditional stovepipes, for instance cross connect information from customer care centers and online experiences. 5. Will Vodafone be the Apple of Big Data? We have access to an enormous amount of data. Where people move, who their friends are, it’s all in the data. If someone pops up in a store that has been on the net searching for information it shouldn’t be a surprise. But today it still is, because of the information silo’s. Whether Vodafone will be the “Apple” of Big Data? May well be. I think Google has strong cards. But eventually this all will be mined by someone, someday, somehow. 6 Is there a showstopper? The red line for Vodafone is the privacy of our clients. This no-go zone can only be entered by a purposeful dialogue with the individual customer. Probably somewhere along the line we could imagine to see opt-in models driving new business opportunities.

About the author

Director and Trend Analyst VINT | Netherlands
Menno is Director of the Sogeti Research Institute for the Analysis of New Technology (VINT). He mixes personal life experiences with the findings of the 19 years of research done at the VINT Research Institute. Menno has co-authored many books on the impact of new technology on business and society. This is the list of the books and research project he has worked on: Making IT-Governance Work Ope

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