Faster, deeper and wider is the new mantra for the cable industry’s entry into the lucrative commercial services business as major MSOs and their smaller operator brethren move from small to midsize business markets (SMB) to larger enterprises.
The go-go business services strategy being deployed at MSOs such as Bresnan, Cox, Time Warner and others is now being adopted by a growing list of cable operators, including giant Comcast.
The industry’s bullish approach to the expanding business services market was clearly defined during the "Economic Elixir: Growing Cable’s Business Services Share" session at The Cable Show.
"We must grow faster, and we’ve learned from Cox and Bresnan. We now know enough about this business to make certain assumptions with ROI and go faster," said Jason Welz, regional vice president for Comcast’s business beltway region.
Time Warner, said Denisse Goldberg, vice president of marketing and training for Time Warner Cable’s business class, has grown rapidly in the SOHO (small office home office) market and moved up to the SMB market. "We’ve leveraged fiber-based products into Ethernet and expanded sales channels and wholesale business and alternative channels the past 10 years. From a technology perspective, we’re building on the growth in Ethernet-based services."
For Cox, business services is a key growth engine, albeit with no shortage of challenges. (For more on Cox Business, click here.)
"There is lots of competition, and we’ve used resources from the residential side, and now going faster is the next thing," said Janet Barnard, senior vice president and GM for Cox in Northern Virginia. "But it’s a huge cultural change and is a one-by-one communications process. And the stumbling block is having the right back-office tools to track sales projects on a massive scale."
There are additional speed bumps as well, Goldberg added. "There are tech rookies and tech mavens. The rookies tend to be smaller businesses, so you have to market to them differently than the mavens."
With the acceleration of business services comes a new set of issues as well, maintained John Gibbs, regional vice president of business services for Bresnan.
"As we increase the business deeper and wider, more walkouts are required, so managing that prospect is a challenge," he said. "Commercial is a big piece to our organization, and we’re delivering the margins for cash flow growth."
Others such as Comcast are seeing the same thing. Concluded Welz: "There are lots of small business opportunities close to our network. Now we’re looking at opportunities in the mid-size market to compete with ILECs such as Verizon."
– Craig Kuhl
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