How data powers sustainability solutions at Rakuten Symphony

Rakuten Symphony’s Global VP of Product Marketing, Paul Black, discusses digital transformation, data modelling and its ability to improve sustainability

As a global B2B mobile telecommunications provider, Rakuten Symphony focuses on the next generation of cloud-based, international mobile services.

Paul Black is the Global VP of Product Marketing. He tells Mobile Magazine about his early career and the path towards a sustainable future for Rakuten.

The dawn of digital transformation

Black started his role at Rakuten Symphony in April this year. In his early twenties, he knew his career would revolve around the use of technology to transform industries, to be sustainable, efficient and agile.

“I remember one significant moment in my career being a conversation I had with a major airline CIO, who had replaced the industry standard paper flight book with digital alternatives,” says Black. 

Previously, a flight couldn’t leave until every aspect of the flight book had been checked and verified, with the pilot and the purser each keeping a copy. According to Black, this book was large and cumbersome, so changing this out with slick digital devices provided an obvious solution. 

“However, the genuinely transformational aspect of this change was not the digital solution itself. It was an additional benefit, which was only realised once the data of the flights were analysed,” he added. 

“The removal of these bulky yet mandatory books reduced the weight of a flight. Every kilogram is assessed on every flight and, for an airline with hundreds of flights a year, the cost savings were proven to be significant.”

Black revealed that fuel is the single most considerable cost on a flight.

“In fact, in 12 months alone, the cost-saving brought about by this change was estimated to be over a million dollars,” he added.

Technology’s role as an enabler of business outcomes

According to Black, “we cannot refute the use of technology, how far we have come, and its benefits to society”.

However, it is not the use of technology that is important, Black said, but “how we use the data is fundamentally far more important, if we wish to change and address business value.

“Technology is an enabler of business outcomes, data is the lifeblood of an organisation, and its value will exponentially increase every time you analyse it,” he said.

Black recently started his role in Rakuten Symphony because he could see the value that the Symworld platform will have on the telecoms industry.

“Data is the beating heart of the Symworld platform, which is what makes it unique to the telecoms industry, and gives it such a transformative potential”.

The applications, being seamlessly integrated with intelligent operations and customer care, are certainly one element. But, Black remarked that the “innovation and speed with which they can develop use cases that model data, using AI and ML, will change the industry”. 

“Every single transaction and command will be captured and analysed, to determine how we can continually make improvements, deliver effortless operations, and reduce costs across the board”.

Data’s ability to address and determine the best ways to improve sustainability

Now in his early fifties, Black has realised something even more significant and transformational, which is not centred around business value and reducing costs. 

Instead, the key question for Black has become, ‘how can we use data to help the world become a greener and better place?’

“Everything that we do has a knock-on effect on our carbon emissions. Going back to the airline example, the cost savings were impressive but there’s also the environmental value of such high fuel savings.

At Symphony, we are working on how to use the network data we generate to address and determine how we can become a more sustainable telecom provider in Japan. Then, we will work to share this learning with our global customers.

Efficient energy management is one solution that we are currently investigating," said Black. 

Rakuten uses advanced network data analytics and this has enabled them to introduce automation and prediction algorithms, which have reduced visits by over 61%. The resulting effect is not just one of cost-saving, but also a marked reduction in effort, time, fuel costs and emissions.

“Our ongoing work to gain a deeper understanding of our data will significantly improve every aspect of our story, and consistently improve our sustainability. 

Data is the beating heart of the Symworld platform, and the sustainability of our planet is one of our biggest concerns. Rakuten Symphony is on a mission to help the world of telecommunications be more open and agile, with a strong sustainability ethos throughout,” he added.


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