A technology leader with a blend of business and financial knowledge Fawad Qureshi is a Global Field CTO at Snowflake helping telcos all around the world on building net new business models. In an interaction with Shubhendu Parth, he talked about the recently launched Telecom Data Cloud and how its ecosystem of partners can help telcos accelerate digital transformation, enable superior customer experiences, maximise operational efficiency, and monetise new data services. Excerpts:
Telcos are both users and drivers of cloud and data analytics. Where does Snowflake’s Telecom Data Cloud fit in this scenario?
We recently announced the launch of the Telecom Data Cloud, which unites Snowflake’s data platform, Snowflake- and partner-delivered solutions, and industry-specific datasets. It helps telecommunications service providers (TSPs) break down data silos within companies and across the ecosystem, allowing organisations to easily and securely access data in near real-time, enrich it with machine learning (ML) models, and then share and analyse it to drive better decisions. With the Telecom Data Cloud, Snowflake and its ecosystem of partners can help TSPs accelerate digital transformation, enable superior customer experiences, maximise operational efficiency, and monetise new data services.
Mobile devices and broadband connectivity are now part of every aspect of our day-to-day lives. The telecommunication sector remains a driver of growth, innovation, and disruption for all global businesses, especially in rapidly growing industries such as video streaming, the Internet of Things (IoT), and virtual and augmented reality. The revenue shift from traditional products to innovative cross-industry collaboration solutions requires an evolution of the telecommunications business model. To stay ahead, telcos must transition from complex legacy technologies to modernise their networks and deliver value to partners across industries.
The Snowflake Telecom Data Cloud helps the telecom industry break down data silos within companies and across the ecosystem, allowing organisations to easily and securely access data in near real-time, enrich it with ML models, and then share and analyse it to drive better decisions and outcomes. It enables superior customer experiences, maximises operational efficiency, and increases profitability through cost reduction and new data product monetisation with Telecom Data Cloud.
So, how is it different from the existing solutions?
The underlying Snowflake platform is the same. The difference is that we have customised it by adding new partners and new solutions required for the telecom sector. We have telecom data providers who are the best 5G providers in their countries. The telecom-specific data sets enrich the data cloud, which means that if a telecom player wants to use the Snowflake platform, they will get ready-to-use data, assets, apps, and templates that will help in accelerating the journey towards building their data products.
The Telecom Data Cloud helps monetise data and applications by enabling telcos to create more personalised data and application service offerings.
AT&T is using Snowflake’s Data Cloud to enable business partners seamlessly access data to improve customer experience and maximise operational efficiencies.
In technology terms, what new does the Telecom Data Cloud offer?
The Telecom Data Cloud offers a single, fully-managed, secure platform for multi-cloud data consolidation with unified governance and elastic performance that supports virtually any scale of storage, compute, and users. It also helps maximise operational efficiency; with one unified platform, teams across IT, network engineering, data science, network operations, and product management can collaborate using data to improve planning, make faster business decisions, rapidly respond to customer needs, better manage network resources, and reduce time to market on new services.
It adds advanced AI and ML capabilities with Snowflake- and Snowpark-enabled machine-generated data in near-real time using ML models to predict faults, schedule maintenance ahead of time, and reduce operational downtime. The Telecom Data Cloud also helps monetise data and applications by enabling telcos to create more personalised data and application service offerings with Snowflake Marketplace and launch innovative new services, including monetisation around advertising and selling IoT data to any industry.
The Telecom Data Cloud helps telcos leverage an industry-leading network of telecommunications partners, take advantage of a rich partner ecosystem, and their industry-specific, prebuilt templates to build valuable industry solutions faster.
What kind of industry partnerships and ecosystems are you referring to?
Within the Telecom Data Cloud, customers can access industry-specific solutions to leverage best practices, reduce time-to-value, and increase overall impact. Companies announcing new pre-built solutions include applications powered by Snowflake, like the one developed by AMDOCS that allow telcos to modernise their business, including moving to the cloud and 5G monetisation efforts. It also helps simplify business processes around charging, billing, and new digital services.
Snowflake Marketplace partners, like Flywheel, OneWeb, and TransUnion enable live access to a variety of data sources leveraging the company’s privacy-preserving collaboration technology, including satellite, geospatial, or demographic data to unlock new revenue streams and power innovative business solutions.
Consulting and service companies like Amazon Web Services Cognizant, SDG Group, Prodapt Consulting, and Wipro can reduce time-to-value for customers with pre-build partner solutions that help solve top-priority use cases, including integrating OSS and BSS data, maximising operational efficiency, and monetising data to help grow business value. Besides, technology partners like Alteryx, CARTO, DigitalRoute, H2O.AI, Informatica, Sigma Computing, and ThoughtSpot provide integrations and out-of-the-box solutions so customers can attain deeper insights and realise the full power and ease of use of the Telecom Data Cloud.
But, how is it different from what the telecom players are already doing? What difference will the new solution make?
The Snowflake Telecom Data Cloud brings all the solutions together into a single platform. Currently, the telecom industry has to bring solutions and use cases together from different systems. While the cost of bringing this data together is very high, it is also very time-consuming. Therefore, the usual time-to-market becomes very high. Snowflakes help bring all the data into a single consolidated customised view that provides a holistic analysis of the business. That is a big differentiator.
Can it also help in better utilising the AI and ML capabilities and modernising the telecom infrastructure and network?
Absolutely. Let me give an example of our partnership with Capgemini. To make their decarbonisation – path to net zero – programme successful, we are using ML to manage the network, so that some of the network equipment can be put to sleep when there is less load. It stops consuming energy and we can reduce the electricity consumption on the network. So that’s intelligent network management based on AI and ML.
“Telcos must transition from complex legacy technologies to modernise their networks and deliver value to partners across industries.”
One of the key things that telecom players are always going through is asset rollout and decommissioning, from 3G to 4G, and now to 5G. Now, telcos have only a certain number of assets to roll out. So, how can they do it intelligently? Certainly, they will want to make that decision based on data and based on value. That is what some of our customers have been using it for. This is a perfect platform.
Can you give some more examples of usage?
Some of the largest global customers in the telecommunications industry are already using Snowflake’s Telecom Data Cloud to grow revenue and maximise operational efficiency. For example, AT&T is using Snowflake’s Data Cloud to drive a single source of truth for their data across the organisation where business partners can seamlessly access its data to improve their customer experience and maximise operational efficiencies.
OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit or LEO satellite communications company was able to move its data operations over to Snowflake in just six weeks and is leveraging it to harness the power of spatial data for the enhanced performance of its network, as well as to monetise data through new space data services. Similarly, M1, Singapore’s first digital network operator uses Snowflake to combine data from its CRM, billing systems, website, and mobile app to provide a more complete view of the customer experience as it drives transformation and evolution in the local telecommunications landscape.
Is this launch aimed at helping telcos migrate to 5G?
I won’t say that it is particularly targeted at migration to 5G, but it is certainly one of the use cases. We call this the value-driven network rollout. In this instance, I want to decommission my older assets, and I want to roll out new ones.
What about privacy and security? What is Snowflake doing in this front?
There are multiple things that we have about data privacy. The Snowflake platform is fully governed, fully secured, and fully managed, so it provides complete insights, lineage, and metadata into all the processes.
We also have a feature called the Data Clean Rooms, which allows companies to share data in a privacy-compliant manner. So if you have a data point in the telecom sector and you want to compare and combine it with a data point in the airline sector, a Data Clean room is a concept that allows you to combine the data without revealing the full underlying data on both sides. The regulations about data sharing help in building privacy, and compliant data products across the ecosystem. We have got a lot of customers globally, who are making use of data clean rooms around the world.
Global Field CTO, Snowflake