Graphs Are Eating Telecommunications

Originally posted on, written by Philip Rathle, who will be speaking at TC3 on October 1.

TC3 Speak Peek: Neo Technology – Graphs Are Eating Telecommunications

As the world becomes more connected, so does its data. We at Neo Technology, creators of Neo4j, the world’s leading graph database, have taken it as our mission to develop the tools the world needs to better navigate this connected world. It has become clear that as the number of points being connected grows, the data management tools and techniques of the past are no longer enough to handle the richness and volume of non-uniform, semi-structured and highly interconnected data. Faced with this dilemma, we have seen an emergence of telecommunications companies who instead of struggling to fit everything into the relational or key-value models, have instead embraced the graph data model to steer their teams toward success.

Telecommunications is all about connections, making graph databases a natural fit. Graphs are the most natural expression of a network. The analyst at a whiteboard describing a connected system naturally draws a graph; and the developer building an application that leverages different data sets also, whether she knows it or not, works with them as a graph. Using a database that treats graphs as graphs (rather than tables or blobs) leads to queries that are thousands of times faster, and tens to hundreds of times more compact, which means a faster time to market, and new business possibilities.

Many of the world’s leading telco providers and equipment manufacturers are embracing graphs to enable their next-generation strategic initiatives. The data sets that have been finding the most widespread early graphs adoption are: the network graph (for optimizing and securing the network, correlating alarms, ensuring uptime & efficiency), the customer graph (for new social and collaboration features), the call graph (for churn reduction and network optimization), the master data graph (for managing corporate hierarchy and product line management, among others), and the call center graph (to help customers & reps find the most useful resources). Graph databases are enabling telecommunications companies to become more agile and bring new capabilities to market faster by better leveraging the connections in their data.

Graph databases are increasingly becoming an important part of telecommunications companies’ strategies for handling the spectacular growth the industry is experiencing. According to Cisco, 2013 saw the addition of more than half a billion new connected mobile devices, and an 81 percent global increase in mobile data traffic[1]. And Gartner predicts that there will be nearly 26 billion devices comprising the Internet of Things by 2020[2]. Says Prem Malhotra, Director Enterprise Architecture for Cisco[3], in explaining why Cisco adopted the Neo4j graph database: “Relational databases have a hard time dealing with the complexities of connected data.”

As the pioneers of the world’s first modern graph database, we are looking forward to sharing our latest findings with T3C participants, at this year’s conference. Neo Technology continues to innovate and lead the way for the graph database category. More and more Telcos are turning to Neo4j to help solve some of their most critical data challenges. Examples include:

Telenor Group, one of the top 10 global Telcos, currently use Neo4j for identity management and access control across the customer organizational hierarchy. The ability to model and query complex data such as customer and account structures with high performance has proven critical to Telenor’s ongoing success.

3, one of the world’s largest operators with over 25 million customers, and part of the Hutchison Whampoa Group, has selected Neo4j to deliver its next generation self-service mobile billing portal, paving the way for new capabilities and a growing customer base in the Scandinavian area.

StarHub, Singapore’s first fully integrated info-communications company, provides every person, every home and every business in Singapore with world-class information, communication and entertainment services. StarHub chose Neo4j to support its product line management projects. The graph database has made it easier for StarHub to manage its extensive product line hierarchy.

Forrester Research estimates that over 25 percent of enterprises will use graph databases by 2017[4], and Telcos are no exception. As graph databases are becoming increasingly recognized for their ability to solve a great deal of seemingly intractable problems, the industry has seen rapid adoption by telecommunications companies, for a wide variety of use cases. In fact, Neo4j is ranked as the world’s leading graph database by database monitoring site DB-Engines, who also observe that graph databases are also growing in popularity faster than any other segment in the database space. According to the firm, “When we look at how much various categories of database management systems increased their popularity last year, Graph DBMSs are the clear winner with more than 250 percent increase.”

Learn more at this year’s TC3 event during our presentation on October 1st, 2014 at 10:55 am Pacific Time or by stopping at the Neo Technology table in the demo pavilion. You can also discover the ways in which Telcos are using graph databases by visiting:


You are also invited to GraphConnect – the only conference dedicated to the rapidly growing graph database community, bringing together graph thought leaders, researchers and developers from around the globe. Held this year at on October 22nd at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, the event will feature talks from an impressive list of organizations, including: Neo Technology, eBay, ConocoPhillips, CrunchBase, Elementum, Polyvore, Pitney Bowes, Medium, UBS and Cambridge Intelligence. More information is available by visiting:

Want to learn more about graph databases? Click below to get your free copy of O’Reilly’s Graph Databases ebook and discover how to use graph technologies for your application today.

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