Telecommunications are essential to modern societies and economies. Consumers expect to be connected to an increasing number of devices—smartphones, home equipment and even pet monitors—wherever they are. At the same time, telecommunications also underpin the growth of a range of industries and public services, powering their ability to collect data in an era of connected devices, and enabling them to leverage networks to create new products and services.
With the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G networks, leaders are taking this transformation to the next level, reinventing their operations to gain competitive advantage in the digital age.
Vodafone, one of the world’s leading telecom and technology services companies, is at the forefront of this transformation. Vodafone serves 625 million customers on owned and partner networks in 66 countries. The company’s customer and network reach drive its mission to provide the technology and services to create inclusive digital societies in its countries of operation, while also halving its environmental footprint.
As part of its ‘Digital Vodafone’ transformation program, the company is working with Google Cloud to build a global big data platform spanning a large number of markets. By leveraging real-time analytics from that ocean of data, Vodafone will have the ability to create powerful new products and services based on deeper customer insight, to engage customers (who opt in) with better, more personalized support, and to leverage its anonymized network data to help tackle important societal issues.
Creating a data ocean
The project is complex and multi-faceted. Vodafone’s existing on-premises group data platform is a shared service consisting of eight clusters with more than 600 servers and is used in 11 countries. The platform relies on legacy Hadoop architecture that lacks the agility or scalability to support demands for analytics and an increasing list of innovation projects.
To begin, Vodafone will perform a large-scale migration of its global data into our highly secure public cloud. It will also create a custom platform for data performance that lets disparate data from across the organization be aggregated into one ‘data ocean’ (rather than multiple data lakes), within which analytics and business intelligence can take place. Once complete, the speed with which Vodafone will be able to run queries will enable it to gain real-time insights, providing new levels of agility, scalability and cost-effectiveness.
Rather than lifting and shifting existing workloads into the public cloud environment, Vodafone has integrated Google Cloud tools into its custom ‘Neuron’ platform.
Vodafone built Neuron on Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and is in the process of rolling it out to 11 countries. The insights from Neuron are being used to support a range of applications. For example, Vodafone’s ‘Gigabit Networks’ are increasingly optimized by AI to push capacity to where customers need it most; and real-time analytics enable Vodafone to push personalised commercial offers to customers—such as a data top-up—when they are most likely to buy.
According to Simon Harris, Group Head of Big Data Delivery at Vodafone, Neuron will become the driver for AI and business intelligence for all of Vodafone globally.
“Neuron serves as the foundation for Vodafone’s data ocean and the brains of our business as we transform ourselves into a digital tech company. Not only will we be able to gain real-time analytics capabilities across Vodafone products and services, it will also allow us to arrive at insights faster, which can then be used to offer more personalized product offerings to customers and to raise the bar on service.”
The collaboration with Google Cloud, Harris adds, has been invaluable in shaping the operation. “Many of the leading analytics tools such as TensorFlow have been developed by Google, so having their managed service expertise has helped us to optimize our implementation.”
At the dawn of a new age in connectivity, Vodafone is building the capabilities to be ahead of the curve. We’re proud to be supporting Vodafone on that journey.