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Cable Mines Big Data to Improve Performance

Craig Leddy
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Craig Leddy
4/22/2016
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US cable providers are seeking to move beyond their legacy data capabilities and take advantage of big data analytics (BDA) to improve service performance across a wide range of processes. A new Heavy Reading report, "Cable Mining Its Big Data to Improve Service Performance," identifies five key performance indicator (KPI) areas in which cable providers are exploring BDA capabilities.

For years, cable providers have been saddled with legacy billing systems that have hampered their ability to add services or enhance customer relationships in a meaningful way. While other industries talked of new operations/business support service (OSS/BSS) capabilities, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and data mining, cable has remained in the dark ages of data analysis, the report says.

And yet, cable providers have been collecting a treasure trove of data from billing systems, call centers, delivery infrastructure, daily operations and the millions of set-top box and cable modem activities that Americans engage in every day.

Now, as cable providers migrate their infrastructure to a more cloud-based network, many foresee the benefits of integrating new software solutions and processes to collect, analyze and even monetize data (in compliance with federal privacy restrictions that are specifically for cable operators). Lately, some emerging capabilities have given cable new opportunities to utilize its own big data in new and surprising ways.

The five KPI areas identified by Heavy Reading where cable providers are seeking to apply big data include: network performance; service performance; customer care; predictive modeling; and virtualization. These five categories cover the gamut of cable activities, from network management and service delivery to operations and customer experience.

The report includes real-world use cases taking root in the field in which providers are discovering new ways to combine and utilize their big data. The magic of BDA occurs when data is aggregated from various sources to offer new insights into a situation and identify proactive steps for service improvements.

The two latter areas, predictive modeling and virtualization, are in early stages and perhaps hold the most intrigue. They address emerging trends and capabilities that are taking hold across all communications companies for service delivery: automation, orchestration, cloud, SDN/NFV, cognitive computing and machine-to-machine (M2M) learning.

Big data comes with big promises, but it also comes with big challenges. There are many hurdles to transforming yesterday's cable operations into tomorrow's super-networks. First, cable providers must have the capability to get their arms around all of their data and figure out what it means. Data comes from multiple sources and in different forms, then it must be aggregated and analyzed in actionable and proactive ways.

Cable providers appear to be intrigued by the possibilities of BDA and interested in overcoming the challenges. A crowded field of traditional cable suppliers and newcomers is seeking to help providers to mine their data. The report includes a Supplier Comparison Chart of key data analytics suppliers that are working with US cable providers.

— Craig Leddy, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/24/2016 | 9:08:48 AM
Legacy thinking
Reminds me of Verizon's lack of a patch-management testbed (or, at least, lack of using one) a couple years back -- resulting in a multi-day outage for customers wishing to pay their bills.  All because of an update they didn't test in their multi-vendor environment!

Legacy systems or not, they need to update legacy thinking!
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