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OVO: Lessons in Leveraging Data for Growth

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UnlockinMatt Jones_OVO.jpgg the true value of data is a strategic focus for almost every business in Australia, and internationally. Despite this, research shows only about one-third of enterprises are successfully using data today.[1]


Optus Wholesale partner OVO, an Australian Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), is bucking this trend. Since launched in 2015, OVO has consistently and effectively leveraged the value of the data at its fingertips to make smarter and faster business decisions.


Optus Spark recently spoke with OVO CEO Matt Jones to discover the importance of data to OVO, how the MVNO acts upon the insights captured, and advice for other enterprises looking to become a data-driven business.


Let’s start with a bit of background on OVO Mobile and why you started the business?


Matt Jones: OVO was born from two undeniable international trends in media: the shift to watching sport on mobile devices, and the rise of over-the-top media and streaming video on demand.  We're seeing sport fans flock to mobile across the world and audiences flocking to content that is available when and where they want it.  


These trends mean telcos are becoming the natural custodians of content. In Australia and internationally, we’re increasingly seeing providers acquire the rights for delivering sport and entertainment content on mobile.


So, while OVO is a provider of telco services, our core business isn’t about selling phones and tablets. It’s about satisfying Australian’s growing desire to watch content on mobile. By making this our core value proposition, we give consumers a reason to choose OVO beyond price.




OVO’s success is testament to your business strategy – tell us the role that  data plays?


Matt Jones: Data is essential to everything we do at OVO. We employ three full-time data scientists who monitor emerging trends and behaviours which inform our business decisions.


Data allows us to innovate, differentiate, and grow.


The type of sports we broadcast are the perfect example of this.


We realised early on, there was no way a start-up like OVO could afford broadcast rights for the top five sports in Australia. Instead, we turned our attention to streaming sports that had sizeable fan bases but weren’t being broadcast, such as 400 Thunder Drag Racing and Water Polo Australia.


Additionally, from the insights our business model has delivered, we’ve been able to refine our products further. For example, we learnt the average age of a gymnastics fan in Australia is 12 and under – so we launched the mobile plans for kids.


Looking to the future, we’re integrating AI and machine learning into OVOPlay to customise content based on a user’s previous engagements. Given increasing demand for personalised services, this capability is critical to our success.


What role is Optus playing in all of this?


Matt Jones: As explained earlier, OVO is about satisfying Australian’s demand for accessing sporting content on the move. This is our key differentiator in market, and our area of expertise.


Using the Optus mobile network means we’re able to maintain our focus on delivering our core objective, while being assured that our customers can access content on a reliable and superfast 4G network.


Is Optus’ focus on sport in competition with OVO?


Matt Jones: The growing investment Optus is making in entertainment is benefitting OVO and is something we welcome. In fact, this shared vision between OVO and Optus is one of the reasons why our partnership is so successful.


This statement might come as a surprise. But the truth is Optus is educating Australians about the convenience of having entertainment on the go and OVO is positioned as one of the providers delivering this service.


Similarly, the investment from Optus to expand and upgrade its 4G network – and the fact it does not differentiate its wholesale offering from that which it delivers to its own customers – means we can provide more Australians with a high-performing, scalable, and evolving service they can trust.


Using data to make smarter business decisions is a strategic focus for nearly every business. What advice do you have for enterprises in their efforts? 


Matt Jones: It’s cliché, but the next disruptive threat really is just around the corner. Organisations must use this as motivation to deliver more value to customers and give them a reason to choose their services beyond just price.


This means:


  • Thinking big – The connected IT systems powering business today present an opportunity to rapidly grow business inside Australia and overseas. In particular, MVNOs can use cloud-hosted applications to launch new services rapidly and cost-effectively and expand into new markets quickly. This reality has levelled the playing field among businesses, providing the same opportunities for digital start-ups and established organisations.


  • Capitalising on next generation networks – The rollout of the 5G network is going to change media consumption forever; and it’s great to see Optus forging ahead in this space. 5G will provide new opportunities, from building data bundles which deliver high-definition content through to virtual and augmented reality gaming platforms.


  • Forming strategic partnerships – Alongside Optus, OVO has partnered with Southern Cross Austereo and acquired Incoming Media Inc. to tailor and expand the reach of our content. We’ve also signed exclusive broadcast agreements with the likes of Australian University eSports League and the Brumbies rugby club. Partnering with organisations on similar growth trajectories ensures these relationships are mutually beneficial.