IBM and The Now Factory: Big Blue’s Mobile Big Data Push

IBM acquires the now factory as it expands its mobile analytics offeringsToday IBM announced the acquisition of The Now Factory, a wireless analytics software company based in Dublin Ireland. While outwardly IBM is pitching this move as one that bolsters its Big Data offerings, the true push behind the deal is a bit more nuanced. The Now Factory creates analytics software that enables communication service providers to monitor network interactions on everything from bandwidth use to end user experience. When taken in this context, The Now Factor acquisition becomes a mobility play to aggregate and analyze mobile activity.

The Now Factory’s solutions are expected to be integrated into IBM’s MobileFirst Analytics offerings and provide Big Blue with interesting opportunities to unite the Big Data needs of telco carriers for the future. Service providers are already under pressure to analyze subscriber behaviors and preferences in context of the ever-increasing flow of network information in real time. The Now Factory bridges the gaps between network analytics and customer service analytics which CSPs (Communications Service Providers) need, which enhances IBM’s Big Data and analytics value proposition for its telco customers. This acquisition will also be a useful as IBM seeks to upsell or upgrade Big Data solutions such as Netezza and System z for CSPs.

IBM is playing catch-up to Oracle, which acquired Tekelec in March of this year to support subscriber data management and network management, although Oracle’s purchase was different in that Tekelec has more existing relationships with CSPs than The Now Factory. As CSPs continue their push to next generation networks like LTE (Long Term Evolution) and as the data usage and bandwidth analytics associated with consumers becomes increasingly complex, this acquisition will allow IBM to deepen its relationships in a core Big Data market.

From a carrier perspective, this acquisition now solidifies IBM’s ability to support LTE-based analytics. The combination of mobility and Big Data provides immediate data on demand for subscribers. This ability to bring real-time insight regarding the usage patterns of next generation mobile users is a multi-billion dollar race, which is why Oracle and IBM needed to establish their Big Data credentials to compete both with established telco analytics vendors such as SAS and startup players such as Guavus and Pivotal that are providing solutions to align operational network data with the marketing and billing data.

For customers, this acquisition reflects the increasing market demands for better and more responsive customer service and marketing efforts in telco.  It is no secret that CSPs rarely represent the epitome of responsive service and part of the challenge is that operational network behavior has traditionally been divorced from the billing and customer data that customer service teams have access to.  By continuing to bring these two disparate forms of data together and combining these telco analytic capabilities with affiliated software and hardware tools, both the mega-vendors and new Big Data startups are creating the toolkits for carriers to continue transforming their own billing, service, and technology departments into an integrated operational organization that can respond quickly and proactively to customer needs.


If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out our other analytics posts including the six biggest challenges facing big data.

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About James Haight

James Haight is a principal analyst at Blue Hill Research focusing on analytics and emerging enterprise technologies. His primary research includes exploring the business case development and solution assessment for data warehousing, data integration, advanced analytics and business intelligence applications. He also hosts Blue Hill's Emerging Tech Roundup Podcast, which features interviews with industry leaders and CEOs on the forefront of a variety of emerging technologies. Prior to Blue Hill Research, James worked in Radford Consulting's Executive and Board of Director Compensation practice, specializing in the high tech and life sciences industries. Currently he serves on the strategic advisory board of the Bentley Microfinance Group, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to community development through funding and consulting entrepreneurs in the Greater Boston area.
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