At Vodafone, we want great user experiences across the board, wherever and whenever our customers access their mobile digital services.
Our innovative device and network analytics solution, NetPerform, helps us achieve this by gathering mass customer experience insights from around the world and feeding them into a central data platform, which we then use to identify weak spots, detect and track issue resolution, and verify proper operation of the network after rolling out new features or a new technology generation, anywhere.
NetPerform’s core focus is on collecting network performance data. It gives us real-life measurements in all different scenarios, around the clock. We’ve got tens of millions of customers participating internationally, each activating NetPerform on their MyVodafone apps and sharing their experiences with us. All customers are asked to approve the data collection which enables us to focus our network investments into areas and technical components that benefit our subscribers most.
It’s a fascinating and fruitful crowdsourcing approach that’s incredibly effective – though admittedly, not without its challenges. Transforming this data, with its high variations in quality and significance, into comprehensive and consistent dashboards requires a lot of creativity and innovation, but fortunately, there’s an abundant supply of such skill at Vodafone!
Here’s a look behind the scenes at some of our team members’ roles in NetPerform, and why it’s such an exciting part of Vodafone’s overall performance strategy.
Hi Björn, tell us about your role on the NetPerform team.
Officially I’m a data architect, but I’m also involved in various other activities, like data analytics, where I explore data that is potentially relevant to any other business within Vodafone. We always have an eye on the latest data processing techniques (for example, machine learning).
I also help Vodafone’s internal customers make use of the rich data set which includes answering support questions, running workshops, and explaining latest features. And last but not least, I very much like to ‘connect the dots’ in our team, so I’m always planning team events and social get-togethers.
How would you describe the team culture and environment?
Our team is small and primarily technicians, each a specialist in their domain. Hence, we’re all very passionate about tech and keen to try out new stuff. We’re very collaborative and share knowledge openly so everybody is included in everything. We’re all actually asked to spend 10% of our working time on our own personal growth too, so we’re encouraged to develop our own ideas.
What’s most exciting to you about NetPerform’s impact on Vodafone and its customers?
I’ve seen our NetPerform data used all over Vodafone, across most markets and central, group-wide teams. Our senior leadership teams use NetPerform directly to drive their decision-making. Many times I have had to translate business questions into data queries, and then translate the results back into business language.
The biggest benefit is that the data is instantly available to quickly analyse and resolve issues. I remember one request where it was observed that the mobile network quality was bad in a certain region. We reviewed our data and it turned out that the antennas were pointing in the wrong direction after a heavy storm!
Hi Sydney, tell us about your role on the NetPerform team.
As a Technology graduate, I’m currently on a one-year placement here. My work is mainly focused on analytics and use cases where we extract, transform, and analyse the NetPerform data to provide insights. We create dashboards and presentations to visualise our findings. Some examples are analysis of areas where competitors have better network signal than Vodafone to investigate sharing networks (Grey spot analysis), creating thresholds for Wi-Fi signal levels, and Access Point-centric analysis.
Our data requests come from other areas of Vodafone interested in a specific aspect of the data, such as network speeds, data usage or device attributes, as well as internally within the team.
How have you found the culture on the team itself, and at Vodafone in general?
Vodafone is very inclusive, engaging and progressive. There is a big focus on learning new skills as Vodafone transforms into a Tech Comms company by 2025. In the NetPerform team specifically, I am encouraged to express opinions and ideas and explore concepts without judgement if they do not work.
I think our NetPerform team works in the way Vodafone would like all of its technology teams to work – all development is done within the team and nothing is outsourced, meaning there are more opportunities for innovation and decisions can be carried out faster. This gives the team a challenging yet rewarding energy.
What do you find most exciting about the way NetPerform works for Vodafone?
NetPerform data unquestionably helps Vodafone make more informed business decisions that improve the service it provides. The NetPerform SDK allows us to receive accurate data from our customers’ devices automatically – they don’t need to record or send us results manually – which means we’re getting performance measurements from a very large user base, really quickly and easily.
I also think it’s exciting that the data collected by NetPerform helps Vodafone branch out into multiple services in different countries. Features or services can be rolled out in one place, based on data gathered about its performance from another country.
Hi Julian, tell us about your role on the NetPerform team?
I am a backend architect in the NetPerform team. This means I’m responsible for the software that collects, enriches and cleanses the network experience data we measure on individual customer devices, and provides an integrated Big Data source for analysts, engineers and researchers within Vodafone.
This role is quite varied. I define the overall structure of the backend code, deciding which components should be used off-the-shelf or custom-written. I make sure that performance, maintainability and security are maintained while features are continuously added as business needs change. I still write code myself, but more and more my role is also about sharing my expertise and mentoring new developers, interfacing with other teams, and acting as our technical counterpart in security/privacy reviews and meetings with internal customers.
What do you enjoy most about the team culture?
Everybody is capable and motivated to pursue their goals on their own and has their own area of responsibility, which makes everyone very passionate about their part of the product. At the same time, there are no big egos when it comes to collaboration and a team effort is required.
In general, because of our nature as an end-to-end, fully-responsible single-product team, everybody views NetPerform as their “baby”, takes care of its growth and makes sure it stays safe. I think people are proud of the wide range of areas we can cover: from app and SDK (software-development kit) design and integration, data engineering and science, and running and operating the product, to guiding and consulting the users of the NetPerform data throughout Vodafone.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being involved with NetPerform?
We unravel really crucial data for all the other teams in Vodafone. We are not only the providers, but also the foremost experts on this data, so we engage in providing exemplary use cases, and consult on how to derive value from the data.
We then get to see specific success stories at the workshops we organise regularly, where we bring together users of NetPerform data from all Vodafone markets and let them share their real-world use cases.
Just one example is from our network engineering team, who use our data to optimise placement, alignment or configuration of cell towers to improve network quality, or to save the cost of more manual data gathering methods that were used before NetPerform.