25th August 2019

Why Network Operators Should Listen To The "Wisdom of the Crowd"

How many jelly beans are in this jar? You’ll probably be familiar with this game – we’ve seen it in many different forms; whether it’s guess the weight, guess the height or guess how many of any given item. It’s more a game of chance than skill, with the winner relying more on luck than knowledge for the prize.

So, can you work out how many beans are in this jar? Individually, it’s very difficult – especially without considerable luck or mathematical calculations - but the crowd can. If you take enough individual guesses, the actual result is surprisingly close to the average. Whilst these estimations may not mean much on their own, their value is hugely increased when used in correlation with many others.

This ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ was reportedly first observed in 1907 by Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin.  He noticed that the average of 787 individual guesses in a ‘guess the weight of the ox’ competition was only a pound off of the animal’s actual weight. This beat every other solo estimation, by both experts and individuals. As long as the crowd aren’t influencing each other, this phenomena has been reproduced many times since as a naturally occurring and consistently accurate form of hive-mind intelligence.

This same principle drives how we help network operators develop increased network intelligence, by aggregating customer estimations on network service from across their territories. Whilst technical data such as OSS KPIs can provide important information on performance, each measurement is only a single data point. It might be an expert guess at the number of beans, but it’s still only one guess.

Through the use of systems such as live service checkers, Metricell can work to implement a continuous feed of subscriber opinions relating to how well the network is performing. This includes problem reports, live status checks, and a range of other queries which may or may not be indicative of service disruption. If a certain number of reports or an unusual volume of checks originate in any given area, we can assume that’s where service is being impacted – it’s where lots of people are guessing the number of jellybeans. In other words, the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ is highlighting a problem which the network itself might not be reporting. This data is valuable not just because of the number of individual reports in each location, but due to the fact that it’s a direct representation of real-world subscriber experience. This, of course, is something that many operators around the world are looking to improve their knowledge of. Thanks to the variety and volume of data from the network, which includes service checks and other crowd-sourcing practice, Metricell can help operators accurately identify and aggregate a wide range of metrics, into an ever-increasing variety of jars.

A live service checker not only helps unlock a new source of experience data, it also provides an autonomous and robust support channel to support 1st line customer network queries. This is especially useful in cases of recent nationwide network outages across the UK in the past six months where affected customers are prone to flood contact centres with queries after failing to find live information on their provider's website. To learn more about this, request our Managing a Major Incident case study!

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