Big Data Becomes a Bigger Deal for MSOs

Cable-operator networks are rich in data, but some special tools are required to sift through that information tsunami and fine-tune it to provide value to the MSO in the form of pinpointing network issues or detecting trends that can provide critical help to marketers.

The work of storing, grooming and analyzing all of that information — a process that tends to hide behind the catch-all term of “big data” — has become an increasingly important component of the way the cable industry does business.

One company on the forefront of this continuing trend is Guavus, a San Mateo, Calif.- based big data specialist that initially focused on the telecom and wireless sectors before applying more attention to the needs of cable operators about two years ago.


Guavus’s focus with cable started at the call center, where it would absorb and correlate network telemetry data, including outage and alarm information, to help operators determine where on the network issues were occurring, giving them a better fix on where to send field technicians. More broadly, analysis of that data aims to reduce average customer hold times and cut back on unnecessary truck rolls.

Guavus is also helping cable operators with network planning, ensuring that they have enough capacity to stay ahead of demand. That part of Guavus’s cable-facing business by came way of its 2013 acquisition of Pipeline, a product originally developed by Applied Broadband that collects and analyzes IPDR (Internet Protocol Detailed Records) from cable-modem termination systems.

Big-data discussions with MSO partners are now starting to expand into marketing and center on how operators can tap into an information pool that can likewise help them serve customers on a more targeted basis, by putting together offers that can fend off the growing cord-cutting trend, Guavus founder and CEO Anukool Lakhina said.

“The problems are real, the problems are acute and [with big data solutions] you can quickly show real concrete business value,” he said.

Guavus, which claims to process half a trillion records per day, has not identified its individual cable partners, but claims that it works with 80% of the U.S. market, serving 40 million-plus subscribers. Mike LaJoie, the former chief technology officer of Time Warner Cable who now serves as Guavus’s chairman, was a “champion of ours” at TWC, Lakhina said, noting that cable has become the big data vendor’s fastest-growing market segment.


Guavus isn’t the only company tackling how to use big data to drive business decisions. Some operators have their own internal big data operations, or work with firms such as Accenture.

And operators aren’t the only group that sees value in big data strategies. Discovery Communications and Civis Analytics, for example, have forged an exclusive partnership that will explore big data opportunities across Discovery’s global TV-network portfolio. Through that work, Discovery will fine-tune its marketing by tapping into data to track behaviors of its “superfans” on different platforms and in various dayparts.