Cable Operators Say in Survey That Operations ‘Silos’ Are Slowing Deployment of Critical New Services, Marketing Promotions and Trials

Look to New Universal Service Activation Platforms to Unlock Gridlock

VANCOUVER, BC (May 11, 2010) – A recent survey of U.S. cable operators has found that the emergence of new services and marketing models, combined with consolidation of their operations at regional and national levels, has created a critical need for an integrated multi-service activation capability that is difficult, if not impossible, to implement. An integrated multi-service activation capability is difficult due to the continued existence of deeply entrenched internal operational silos. Operators identify several services and promotions they would trial and implement if the silo situation did not exist.

The independent survey of executive management, operational, marketing and engineering executives of Tier I and Tier II U.S. cable operators was conducted by Incognito Software, a global provider of broadband software provisioning and activation solutions since 1992. Few MSOs say they have enough time or resources to complete the job of collapsing everything into “one big back office in the cloud.” Operators say they want to “Wow” their customers with new and exciting marketing promotions and trials, particularly upgrades and special promotions, but believe the process necessary to implement them is too time consuming, labor intensive and expensive under current operational restraints and thus keep them to a minimum or to a very limited scale.

Operator executives interviewed for the survey recognize that traditional methods of service activation have created silos of different operating departments within their companies. This, in turn, has slowed the deployment of new services and initiatives. The resulting operational challenges have become a major burden to efficiency and speed to market. Smaller MSOs are outgrowing outsourced approaches to service activation and larger MSOs are outgrowing the functional capabilities of home-grown OSS platforms.

The operators interviewed stated that a triple-play service activation process requires the manual touching of four or five operations and back-office systems. For greater efficiency and productivity, they seek the ability to put all the processes essential to service activation in play through one point of contact. With the growing emergence of mobile, a consolidated service activation capability has become even more essential.

“Cable operators are looking for efficient ways to activate new tiers, usage-based pricing and packaging models, dynamic marketing incentives and value-add applications that are essential to building ARPU and to retaining and adding subscribers,” said Stephane Bourque, CEO of Incognito Software. “If, for example, a marketing department wants to offer a free week of 50 megabit-per-second high-speed data service to anyone who buys three VOD movies in one week, the complexities tied to coordinating all the moving parts on such an offer shouldn’t get in the way. Operators are frustrated by the current status of their operations support systems.”

Among the services and promotions identified by the cable executives as those they would like to trial and/or implement are:

  • Try-n-Buy
  • Pre-Paid/On-Demand
  • Faster data speeds
  • Credit card/Smart Card payment options
  • Self-Install/Self-Service

Advanced advertising and wireless are services placed on operators’ new service “wish lists”.

Over the past several years, various OSS solutions have been deployed to address the silo situation that have served only to largely preserve the silo framework, especially on the service activation side, due to the intricate and time consuming work required to support a fully integrated operating environment across all network elements. New solutions being introduced to the market, however, now make it possible to achieve operational cohesion sufficient to all the requirements of universal service activation without replacing the existing OSS infrastructure.

Survey results found that in order to automate the deployment and management of every interactive service across all access networks, these new activation platforms must address all the different systems associated with each service category, including:

  • CMTSs and softswitches
  • VOD managers, conditional access systems and other headend components
  • Web and email servers
  • MTAs, set-tops and other user devices
  • CSR, provisioning, billing and other back-office processes

Operators stated that the activation platform must interact with all these systems instantaneously to ensure execution for whatever task is at hand, whether a subscriber order, execution on usage-based policies, presentation and execution of a new offer or something else. They must also be built on a modular architecture that allows operators to continually add new processes tied to new services and applications.

One operator gave the following example in explaining how difficult the current situation is and why promotions are currently kept to a minimum in his company:

“Running a promotion that rewards a high-volume VOD user with free, limited time trials of our highest level of data service is today too time consuming and labor intensive to do. First, the subscriber would have to be removed from the existing broadband service they subscribe to and added to the higher tier. Then, if they decide not to sign up for the higher service after the trial period, the whole process must be reversed.”

About Incognito Software Systems Inc.

Incognito Software Systems provides end-to-end device provisioning, service activation, and resource management solutions for communication service providers. Incognito streamlines every step of the service fulfillment process with a turnkey fiber solution that provides fast entry to the fiber market for greenfield and established operators alike. By simplifying back-office automation and offering a unified service catalog, Incognito enables best-in-class service fulfillment and customer experience assurance. Since 2014, Incognito has been part of Volaris Group, an operating group of software and services provider Constellation Software Inc. More than 160 million subscribers worldwide are currently provisioned by solutions from Incognito.

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