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Ufone Uses Advanced Analytics to Study and Capitalize on Customer Behavior


Faisal Khaliq, CIO with Ufone - Photo by Sam Phelp

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Customer: Ufone
Headquarters: Islamabad, Pakistan
Business: Mobile services provider
Challenge: Reduce churn rates and improve customer satisfaction
Solution: Using advanced analytics to parse big data and improve marketing campaign efforts
Hardware: An IBM Power Systems 795
Software: IBM InfoSphere Streams, IBM Unica Campaign Management solution and various IBM WebSphere middleware tools

In the past, marketing often meant fliers jamming mailboxes, unwanted phone calls during dinner and show-stopping television commercials. Unfortunately, these campaigns were targeted in a scattershot approach, at best. If a company could get just a few people to respond from 10,000 contacts, the initiative was considered a success.

That’s changed recently, especially for large organizations in highly competitive industries. By adopting a data-driven and precisely targeted approach to customer outreach, they can increase customer interaction, whether it involves signing up new customers, retaining existing ones or improving overall customer satisfaction.

SIGNIFICANT GROWTH Pakistan is experiencing tremendous growth in the telecom industry, from 1 million subscribers 10 years ago to about 120 million today.

The Pakistan-based mobile-services provider Ufone, for example, is using a combination of big data, software services and enterprise systems to more precisely—almost on a micro, individual level—market special offers to its customers, which has significantly helped reduce its churn rate and improve the perception of the company.

“We have complete visibility and transparency regarding how many customers are targeted, how many were reached, how many of them opted into a campaign and, if they opted in, what their behavior was,” notes Faisal Khaliq, CIO with Ufone. “We’re now in a position to calculate our marketing ROI very quickly.”

Customer Behavior

Ufone is the brand name of Pak Telecom Mobile Limited (PTML), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). When PTCL went private in 2006, it fell under the umbrella of the Emirates Telecommunication Group (Etisalat), which has overall management control of Ufone. In less than a decade, it has amassed some 24 million subscribers, making it one of the largest wireless phone carriers in Pakistan.

As with most companies in highly competitive markets, Ufone had previously experienced a large churn rate, which Khaliq estimates at about 3 percent per month. This is hardly something to overlook, as all wireless carriers compete for savvy and cost-conscious customers. “We’re in a hypercompetitive market, with some 120 million customers in the country, and five operators are competing in this space offering essentially the same products, such as wider coverage and cost-effective packages,” Khaliq says. “As you can imagine, we have to not only compete as far as pricing, but also additional services that will help us keep our existing customers and attract new ones.”

Marketing plays a big part in this effort. But rather than simply relying on generic fliers, phone calls and TV commercials, companies such as Ufone are upping the ante, using high-tech tools, including systems, software and advanced analytics, to more intelligently target specific groups of customers, as well as individual customers.

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.


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