A life in the day of...Sebastien Deletaille, founder and CEO at Real Impact Analytics

02 March 2015 |

A former consultant in the telecoms space at McKinsey & Co, Belgian entrepreneur Sebastien Deletaille founded Real Impact Analytics (RIA) in September 2010, having observed a profitable gap in the market.

Sebastien Deletaille 340pxDeletaille says he noticed that operators were not doing anything with the large amounts of data generated on their networks.

Starting very simply with excel spreadsheets, and a focus on geo-marketing, Deletaille has built RIA into a specialised big data player in the telecoms space, focussed on embedding analytics into the day-to-day lives of its clients’ teams. 

“What we do is look at what a particular user does all day, and from that we work out how we can implement analytics into everything he does in order to ensure he gets the best value out of his data,” Deletaille explains.

RIA differentiates itself from other big data players by targeting emerging markets. One of its present projects is the Data for Good initiative which uses telecoms data to support development agencies in these emerging markets as they attempt to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger and disease.

“Telecoms data is often the richest form of data you can ­find in a country,” Deletaille says. “When you don’t have any government data, having telecoms data that represents mobility, behaviour and social demographics is extremely valuable.”

The Data for Good initiative develops applications that enable these emerging markets to extract and utilise telecoms data for the good of their community; with the Ebola crisis in West Africa providing a timely example. Telecoms data allows country officials to monitor people moving from one city to the next, and therefore estimate how quickly the virus is spreading.

“You can actually obtain a very accurate prediction of how fast the virus will spread, just by looking at the mobility of people,” Deletaille says. “We have also been working with different telcos in these regions to ensure that we are respecting privacy laws when we do this as that is very important.”

Deletaille stresses that the aim is not to target individuals likely to get Ebola, but rather to focus more efficiently on its prevention in areas where the virus is prominent. 

However, despite good working relationships with the UN and the World Health Organisation, Deletaille says that his biggest challenge is working with some governments in emerging markets which are preventing the adoption of big data analytics.

As a result, he spends roughly two weeks every month abroad; working in the field to explain his vision, catching up with teams in his offices worldwide and building the culture he says is “so essential for start-ups”.