Vocus Communications developed a modern data-analytics platform 75 percent faster by using AWS and engaging Bryte. Vocus is a telecommunications company in Australia, delivering a range of services, including broadband Internet. The company has built an analytics platform that features Amazon S3, Amazon EMR, and Amazon Redshift to deliver real time business insights—designed to improve customer experience, reduce churn, and leverage new business opportunities.
By leveraging the considerable knowledge base and experience of the Bryte team, we have achieved in 3 months what we didn’t believe we would achieve within the first year of our existence within Vocus Group.
– Hamish Morgan – General Manager Analytics
Australia-based Vocus Communications (Vocus) is a telecommunications company. The company owns an extensive infrastructure network of metro and backhaul fiber, and connects both capital and regional cities across Australia. As of its 2016 annual report, Vocus had a market capitalization of AU$3.5 billion (US$2.6 billion) and had increased revenues on the previous year by 455 percent to AU$830.8 million (US$625.9 million).
The Australian government is investing in the country’s digital future with the rollout of nbn—Australia’s new broadband network. The rollout—scheduled for completion by 2020—will mean Internet speeds of up to 100 MB per second across the country. As the network is rolled out, Internet service providers (ISPs) can plug into the nbn network and offer high-speed connectivity to residents.
Vocus saw the value of data analytics for acquiring customers newly connected to the nbn while reducing the rate of churn for existing customers. Vocus wanted to model data on newly connected households and businesses with existing customer information to generate sales leads. At its simplest, the idea was that a newly connected household or business that was an existing Vocus customer would make a strong sales lead for nbn-related services. What is more, Vocus could reduce customer churn by offering existing customers the added value of nbn-related services.
To deliver an analytics platform, Vocus faced several challenges with its on-premises infrastructure. Because Vocus had largely grown through acquisition, the IT infrastructure was an amalgamation of separate, fully utilized platforms. According to Hamish Mogan, general manager of data analytics at Vocus Group, the infrastructure lacked the processing and storage capacity for a high-performance analytics solution. The option to scale the company’s IT infrastructure wasn’t available because of restrictive capital costs and the time it would take to deploy and manage the solution. “It would have taken us at least 12 months to develop the platform internally,” says Mogan.
Vocus looked to the cloud to run its analytics platform and address the challenges it had with its on-premises infrastructure. Mogan had successfully engaged with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in previous jobs and had personal experience working with AWS solutions architects, whom he contacted with his ideas for an analytics platform running in the AWS Cloud. “The AWS team I worked with really helped me demonstrate to key stakeholders at Vocus how secure and highly available our data would be in the AWS Cloud,” says Mogan. “We highlighted that many financial-services companies were already working with AWS, and that gave stakeholders a lot of confidence.”
Vocus engaged Bryte to create the analytics platform. Staff at Vocus Group and Bryte began work on an analytics platform to ingest structured and unstructured business data. The structured and unstructured data comes from multiple systems across Vocus brands as well as the Internet. It gets deposited in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), at which point it is Hadoop/SPARK ready and available for high-volume processing in Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR)—ideal for high volume big data processing. The processed data goes from Amazon S3 into an Amazon Redshift data warehouse for complex and recurring SQL queries by data scientists at Vocus. In the future, Vocus Group intends to add Amazon Kinesis to the platform to pre-process extremely large data sets involving network maintenance information and customer-experience feeds in real time before the data is deposited in Amazon S3.
Says Mogan, “You have to understand the amount of work it takes to build a fully integrated data-analytics platform like ours. But through the great support of Bryte Systems and the modularity of AWS, we have already developed several data models that deliver valuable customer insight to our marketing teams.”
Vocus is successfully modelling data on newly connected households and businesses with existing customer information to generate strong sales leads. Says Mogan, “We have reached a
By moving to AWS, Vocus overcame the lack of processing power and storage capacity available through its old on-premises infrastructure. “The processing and storage capacity of the AWS Cloud make it a great choice for any data-analytics platform,” says Mogan. “Eventually, we expect the platform to be ingesting about 10 TB of data each day, and the cost of doing that with an on-premises solution would be prohibitive.”
The company also avoided the capital costs that were another barrier to creating an on-premises solution for its analytics platform.
By working with Bryte Systems, Vocus was also able to speed up the implementation of its data-analytics platform. “We delivered our data-analytics and customer insights platform in three months by using AWS and Bryte Systems—reducing deployment time by at least 75%.”
Vocus has created a platform to drive nbn market share and deliver further value to all Vocus brands over time. Says Mogan, “We are just putting our customer churn model into production. Looking ahead, as we build on our AWS platform and add real-time customer experience feeds, for example, we’ll be able to enhance our strategies around customer servicing and acquisitions.”