By Tara Swords
Tourists might journey to the South Pacific islands of Fiji to escape the hustle of modern life, but Fiji—like most other places in the world today—is as modern as any other place when it comes to telecommunications. And Vodafone Fiji, the service provider that has circa 85% of the country’s market share, operates a robust 3G and 4G+ network of mobile voice and data service.
Because 96% of the mobile market in Fiji is prepaid—unlike in the United States, for example, where less than 25% of customers prepay—customers are free from mobile service contracts and always looking to save.
“From a financial modeling perspective, having mostly prepaid customers is not a bad thing because you get your money before customers use your service,” says Ronald Prasad, chief commercial officer of Vodafone Fiji. “But it means that you have to constantly entice your customers, too.”
If Vodafone Fiji wants to maintain its market dominance, it has to keep the deals coming. A lot of science goes into figuring out which deals to offer to which customers at which times, and the company didn’t have the ability to crunch data quickly and make those informed decisions. Data lived in multiple on-premises databases. Complicating the situation was Amalgamated Telecom Holding’s (Vodafone’s shareholder) recent acquisition streak, when it picked up several companies in the nearby markets of Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, and Kiribati—all in a bid to be the dominant market player in the Pacific.
“In 18 months’ time, we increased our data by three fold because of our acquisitions,” Prasad says. “All of those businesses had different types of data sitting in different systems and in different formats. To get all of the data in our systems, which were already constrained by compute power and storage, was a big challenge for us.”
We can now easily extract insights from data collected and analyzed and adjust our promotions to respond to changing market dynamics. Faster access to insights means faster response times.”– Ronald Prasad, Chief Commercial Officer, Vodafone Fiji
Prasad considered increasing the capacity of the company’s on-premises systems. The databases weren’t tuned properly, so they weren’t providing optimal performance. And when Prasad’s team crunched the numbers, they calculated that it would cost about US$2.5 million to upgrade. That’s when Prasad turned to Oracle.
After learning more about the Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse cloud service, Prasad quickly decided it was an ideal solution to address the company’s challenges. Using Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, his team would be able to pull in data from disparate sources and push it to the cloud—and once it was in the cloud, a world of possibility would open up.
First, because the database is self-healing, the company wouldn’t need to hire people with specialized database management skills. Second, the fast performance of Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse—along with Oracle Analytics Cloud—would give Vodafone Fiji the opportunity to process data to quickly uncover business insights for the first time.
Prasad estimates that an on-premises data warehouse upgrade would have taken at least two months to deliver. In contrast, his team set up Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse in just 30 minutes, and within one week, they had implemented the reporting functionality.
Percentage of Vodafone Fiji customers who are prepaid
“We can now easily extract insights from data collected and analyzed and adjust our promotions to respond to changing market dynamics,” Prasad says. “Faster access to insights means faster response times.”
In addition, the business intelligence team at Vodafone Fiji can now take advantage of predictive analytics to target customers who are at risk of churn as well as those who are likely to jump at an offer. Using Oracle solutions, the company’s decision-makers can generate reports on call patterns to make sure customers are signed up for the optimal plan. They can identify customers who use 4G phones but don’t have data plans and target them with free trials that later turn into data subscriptions. They can even run promotional campaigns specific to different cell sites that encourage customers to get online during low utilization periods.
In all, decision-makers can now access more than 50 rich reports in a matter of minutes. In fact, queries are now an average of five times faster than before. A data mining procedure used to take 125 minutes; with Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, it takes 25 minutes. An on-premises aggregation query used to take 294 seconds, but with Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse it takes 5 seconds.
The best part may be the way Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse has democratized data and insight throughout the organization.
“Business users can directly access reports, and it’s like a light is going on over people’s heads,” Prasad says. “They see these reports and then want more—and the great thing about Oracle is they can get it, because you can slice the data any way you want.”
With one big problem solved, Prasad looked to other ways in which Oracle technologies could help. An analysis of inquiries into the customer service contact center revealed that around 10% of calls were trivial or repetitive. Too many agents were spending time responding to questions about account balances, SIM status, and price inquiries. But with company data now in the Oracle system, the IT team was able to deploy a chatbot that could send and receive data to and from Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse.
The chatbot has memory and uses context to learn, so it gets better. Because of the chatbot, we should be able to reduce inbound calls by at least 8% to 10%—and add more value for customers.”– Ronald Prasad, Chief Commercial Officer, Vodafone Fiji
Now, incoming calls and live chat use Oracle data to respond to those trivial, repetitive inquiries. Agents can focus on the more important activity that Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse enables: smart up-selling and cross-selling based on the analysis of specific customer profiles.
“The chatbot has memory and uses context to learn, so it gets better,” Prasad says. “Because of the chatbot, we should be able to reduce inbound calls by at least 8% to 10%—and add more value for customers.”
After initially considering a US$2.5 million investment in a new on-premises solution, Prasad says it’s a relief to have access to a solution such as Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse, which is both powerful and cost-effective. Because the system operates with universal credits, his team can try new things. That leads to innovation.
“It has never before been so easy to design solutions, provision instances, and calculate the financial rationale,” Prasad says. “Having Oracle on the back end helps us to absorb requirements quickly and come up with a value-driven solution that can be easily adopted.”
Photography by James Braund/Getty Images