Spanish telecoms group Telefónica is to launch a new global “big data” arm, providing companies and public sector organisations globally with analytical insights enabling them to become more effective.
‘Smart Steps’, Telefónica Dynamic Insights’ first product, will measure footfall for retailers, identifying its customers’ precence in certain locations by tracking their mobile phones.
The company says that this information could help retailers tailor local offerings for existing stores and determine the best locations and most appropriate formats for new ones, and town councils measure how many more people visit their high street after the introduction of free car parking, farmers’ markets, or late night shopping.
Telefónica has entered into a global strategic partnership with GfK, a market research company, who will initially work with Telefónica Dynamic Insights on launching the products in the UK, Germany and Brazil.
A Telefónica Dynamic Insights spokesman told Information Age that while users will not be able to opt out if they want to, the company will not be collecting personal information.
"The product will be the equivalent of a clicker, or somebody who would provide a headcount at a point in time and allow stores to compare statistics,” the spokesman said. “While we will be able to provide gender and age, it will never be possible to identify the customer. The new service is all about measuring and establishing the size of crowds.”
Telefónica said a number of retailers are already providing user feedback. The company says it will develop a range of analytics products and services using different data sets, including machine-to-machine data, with initial product areas focusing on fraud protection and traffic management, in the future.
“Big data is one of the key building blocks of the digital economy,” said Stephen Shurrock, chief commercial officer at Telefónica Digital. “Approached in a smart and responsible way it has the potential to transform every part of business and society – providing economic growth and improving people’s lives.”
“We are in discussions with retailers from all around the country who may want to buy the service, which won’t be launched intil mid-to-late November,” he said.