Voice of Experience: Data Junkies

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-07-08 Print this article Print

Cingular Wireless' Joe Pignatello uses a data warehouse to give 8,000 employees detailed views of customers and call patterns.

Joe Pignatello
Senior Dir., Enterprise Data Services
Cingular Wireless
Atlanta, Ga.

MANAGER'S PROFILE: Responsible for business intelligence systems and software, including the data warehouse infrastructure, at the largest wireless carrier in the U.S. Last year Cingular bought AT&T Wireless, and the combined company has more than 50 million subscribers and generated $34 billion in revenue for 2004.

HIS PROJECT: Pignatello's team maintains about 100 Teradata servers, which provide 8,000 employees with access to subscriber profiles, network usage patterns by geography and other information. Today the data warehouse contains 35 trillion pieces of data, and by the end of the year Pignatello expects that number to triple as Cingular incorporates even more information into the system, including detailed records about every single phone call placed on its networks.

FEED THE BEAST: The data warehouse is packing on the weight because Cingular's business managers see new areas where they can merge and cross-reference data. "As you start growing the data warehouse, people start jumping on the bandwagon—they start finding out how they can use the data," Pignatello says.

HOUSE CALLS: Cingular, for example, compares its own customer database with consumer information provided by Acxiom, a data reseller. The carrier uses the results to tailor promotions to an existing customer's household, such as offering a family-based calling plan. "It's a more cost-effective way to do marketing," Pignatello explains.

CHURN CHOP: Pignatello believes the expanded data warehouse will help Cingular reduce "churn," the rate at which customers cancel their service. For instance, managers can build forecasts for new rate plans and test the effect on churn versus profitability. On the operations side, Cingular can examine whether customers in a particular area may be canceling service because of dropped calls and use that analysis to improve coverage.

FAST ANSWERS: However, Pignatello says, it's critical to maintain the data warehouse's high performance even as Cingular crunches larger chunks of data. "The key to any kind of success with a data warehouse is going to be: How quickly can I get the data in the hands of the people making decisions in the company?" he says. "We're information junkies."


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