Smart Home initiatives will help cable providers evolve for the digital consumer
Cable providers may still have a monopoly in parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t under the threat of churn. Cord cutters are finding easy ways around the traditional service provider channel to gain access to content.
Wireless operators with 4G/LTE and soon, 5G networks, will be able to provide more than sufficient bandwidth to disintermediate cable companies completely.
The average home has such a broad mix of internet-connected PCs/laptops, tablets and smartphones, allowing content consumption to occur outside the HDTV equipped living room, and provide a similar, if not better and more personalised on demand experience, says Paul Hughes, director, Strategy at Netcracker Technology.
According to a recent Nielsen survey, American consumers are connected with screens throughout the day and engage with media content for more than 60 hours per week. TV still remains at the centre of consumer media consumption.
However, one cannot ignore the fact that digital consumers increasingly take advantage of their mobility and access content via a PC or smart device. In other words, consumers will access content whenever and wherever they want.
For a cable provider, this is a threat to their way of life. In a changing digital world, however, the cable provider still has a unique position…they have the customer base, own the last mile, maintain a broad range of infrastructure and can provide a broad and unique experience centred around connectivity and content delivery.
Thanks to the rapid expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), the digital consumer expects a newly connected world. Everything from a laptop to a fitness monitor becomes connected, and often times, interconnected. Whether through Wi-Fi, or via a new eSIM “card,” these devices become monetisable end points and can play a key role in helping the cable provider bolster their ARPU at a time when sticker shock from traditional services is already an issue.
Making a play for the smart home
So what’s the intrinsic link here? It’s extending reach into the smart home and providing the security that goes along with it. The era of smart devices is not without the added challenges of secure set up, usage and related data management.
Even the simplest of devices can have issues with set up, log in, usage and data transfer and storage. An unsecure link to a smart thermostat or security system could leave a customer vulnerable, and as most customers begin to embrace the technologies, most would welcome the support from their cable providers who have introduced digital TV, higher bandwidth, and wireless connectivity via 5Ghz Wi-Fi into their homes.
A simple search online for “smart wireless door locks” provides a confusing list of Google Alexa linked locks, Android and iOS enabled doorbells with Wi-Fi connected cameras, Z-Wave enabled keypads that replace key locks, and the list goes on and on.
It can be intimidating for even the most tech-savvy of buyers. Wouldn’t it be great to have someone to guide you in your quest for a connected home?
Just as we take our cars to a dedicated dealership or independent mechanic who uses their domain expertise and factory recommended parts to service our cars, such is the opportunity for the cable service provider to become the trusted source for creating a secure, smart home, guiding the digital consumer to the “recommended” options, and playing a critical role in the ongoing connectivity of those devices in the smart home.
A recent Accenture Digital Consumer research study showed that consumers would still lean towards their service provider for connected smart home solutions. The survey showed that of consumers who own or plan to purchase connected home services, 71% would choose their service provider if the operator offered those services, and not surprisingly, 80% of consumers prefer to work with one provider for digital needs.
With last mile access, a set-top box and/or residential gateway already in the home, and broad ranging services, the cable provider can provide convenient support across all digital needs and assure that users only access devices and services that are safe and easy to use.
For cable providers, the time to move is now, whether done as a standalone service or leveraging home automation and security partners. As mentioned earlier, recommending the right portfolio of solutions is the way to go. Having a partner augment the level of trust in the entire smart home equation becomes a no brainer.
And lest we forget, once consumers get used to the stickiness of all the connected devices as well as the increased “intelligence” in the home, the likelihood of them switching to another provider and having to either replace or reconfigure what already is in place, drops dramatically.
In other words, the consumer may actually be willing to overlook the high prices for bundled services because of the increased role the cable provider plays in the home. This is a win-win for the provider and the customer and becomes a “reset” point for customers who simply see their providers as overpriced.
With a broader portfolio, ease of installation of provider recommended devices, and a seamless experience, the new outcome actually be a new level of value, that is both recognised by users and willingly recommended to others.
The author of this blog is Paul Hughes, director, Strategy at Netcracker Technology
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