As revenues stagnate across the cable market and competitive threats increase from telecom, satellite and such over-the-top services as Hulu, Apple, YouTube, Google and Netflix, cable providers will need to tap into new streams of revenue to maximize their valuable network reach and investments.

It’s no secret that the business-and-commercial-services market is one such area of focus for cablecos, but, according to a 2010 report by the Yankee Group regarding U.S. cable operators venturing into the mid-tier business market, none of them in the United States currently derive more than 10 percent of their revenues from the business market. Cox derives 10 percent while Comcast, Time Warner Cable and others report anywhere from 3 percent to 6 percent. In contrast, the report also shows telcos say more than one-third of their revenues come from enterprise services.

Serving enterprises presents a number of complexities to the MSO as the market is further segmented into small and medium-sized businesses; the single office/home office business; and seasonal, wholesale, public, government and enterprise corporations.

All of these require varying service-delivery models; one example is the complex service level agreements (SLAs) for those businesses providing emergency or critical-response services. These service-delivery models are complicated further by diverse account or user hierarchies, geographies and complex bundles.

“Cablecos have to be able to compete and differentiate by offering complex and advanced bundles of products and services across voice, video and data.”

To penetrate new business markets, cablecos have to be able to compete and differentiate by offering complex and advanced bundles of products and services across voice, video and data through direct and indirect channels. The client’s contract with SLA versus SLOs, the processing of pre- and post-paid transactions with agility and flexibility, the increasing need for m-commerce, high-speed data services, messaging, calls and video, etc., is more critical and heightened for this business model. In addition, the application of discounts and sharing of usage (such as minutes at any level across any combination of product, service, hierarchy or geography) becomes increasingly important.

To do all this, a cable service provider must have the right business support system (BSS) in place. Here is a quick checklist to see if your system can meet the challenge:

Your BSS needs to be capable of offering sophisticated and personalized bundles while also modeling the complex hierarchies required to capture customers and to process complex order configurations with automation and intelligence.

Your BSS must be able offer real-time and personalized promotions to increase loyalty by maximizing converged-service offerings to the customer. The key to this is real-time convergent charging that enables a service provider to rate and charge across complex hierarchies, products and services, thus allowing revenues to be billed and collected quickly and effectively.

Your BSS must have sophisticated and integrated customer-relationship-management capabilities to effectively manage all customer interactions via not just a single view of the customer but also those uniquely managing the needs of the division, department or end-user of the service across varying geographies. These systems need to be integrated tightly to the product catalog, rating and billing systems to help ensure billing accuracy mapped to hierarchies.

Here’s the bottom line: For cable providers to be truly successful as they move up-market and become preferred providers of the triple- and quad-play services to the enterprise business and commercial clients, their ability to be the winning and chosen service provider will lie in their ability to charge and invoice accurately.

Carl Davies heads global solution marketing for cable, broadband and satellite at Convergys Corporation. Contact him at carl.davies@convergys.com.

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