Cable Providers Can Use Big Data to Understand Customers

We live in a society dominated by trends. We buy the fashionable winter boots, download hit songs from iTunes, and visit new downtown restaurants. In today’s world of connectivity and devices, and digital word-of-mouth promotion, we are presented with reviews of what other people liked, but are also delivered highly relevant, targeted recommendations on what we will like and want − all according to data. Companies like Amazon, Apple and other service providers have found great value in tapping into the sea of data, which consumers leave behind about trends, tastes and interests.

Cable operators, too, can gain exponential value by understanding trends revealed with Big Data analytics. We, the consumers, are cutting the cord and connecting to the Internet (or satellite) for video entertainment. But not all of us are early adopters and ready to forget about cable. So how can operators know who is ready to switch and who is not? Or know who is worth saving and who is not? In the increasingly competitive cable environment, it is critical that cable companies understand their customers better than anyone else, so they can ultimately serve them better than anyone else can.

To start, cable providers must harness the granular, identifiable information available on subscribers, and create a complete, 360 degree view of each individual. Some information we give to them directly and other information we share freely online (Facebook). Remember, Google receives over 2,000,000 search queries per minute - we create a lot of data. Even the customers are starting to expect cable companies to use this data to make relevant suggestions, and can become upset when it doesn’t happen. For example, how would you feel if you were offered the NFL package when you are clearly a Facebook-posting, Tweeting fan of Game of Thrones?

Once cable providers understand their customers, analytics allows them to get "predictive" and use data to predict how a subscriber will behave, be it cancel service, upgrade service, or for brand new subscribers, purchase service for the first time. Few of us have great loyalty to our cable providers, so as you might think, reducing subscriber "churn" is an important goal. If cable providers use Big Data analytics correctly they could place themselves in front of those subscribers most likely to churn in the next 30 days, and present targeted and relevant retention offers to maintain those relationships. Perhaps even the most valuable subscribers are offered distinct packages, who knows, with a little creativity and business savvy there could be numerous applications.

For the cable companies that think big data is just a trend … think again. Big Data analytics is here to stay, and is much more than hardware and software. It is a framework for the way businesses can successfully operate during this information age, and it is a framework from which subscribers and providers alike can experience benefits, just like the online recommendation engines we so often enjoy.