Improving customer retention through more personalized service and boosting the targeting of marketing campaigns have been named among the key areas in which telecoms companies can gain advantage through the use of big data.

The Telecoms.com Intelligence Annual Industry Survey for 2014 asked respondents to rate a variety of potential big data benefits between one and seven, according to their importance. It revealed 55 percent of respondents named customer retention as six or seven on this scale, while among operators, the figure was even higher, at almost 60 percent.

This made it the number one priority overall for companies in the telco sector, just ahead of improving segmentation and targeting, which was rated highly by 52.3 percent of respondents overall.

Managing editor of Telecoms.com James Middleton said: “By using big data to optimize their own processes and improve quality of service, operators will already be building a platform that could enable them to explore new business opportunities.”

Overall, companies will be looking to spend between ten and 20 percent of their annual IT budget on big data analytics tools in 2014, the survey found. Some 37 percent of operators said they expect to devote up to a fifth of their budget to this area, while a further 36 percent said they anticipate allocating up to a tenth of their overall IT spend to data.

Another key initiative for organizations in the telco industry is network planning and optimization, with 49 percent of overall respondents and 46.9 percent of operators naming this as an area big data is expected to help with.

Mr Middleton commented: “This echoes discussions that we had with industry over 2013, in which some players suggested that network complexity rather than bandwidth might fast be becoming the barrier to network growth.”

However, one area that will not be high on the agenda for firms in this sector is the use of third-party advertising and marketing, with less than a third of respondents giving this a high rating for its potential. Mr Middleton suggested this may reflect a greater sense of caution surrounding how sensitive data is shared in the wake of the series of privacy scandals that occurred in 2013.

Kognitio, the leading provider for in-memory analytics has supported British Telecom (BT) for over 10 years.