“Enterprise is the fastest growing segment for Cable Operators,” said Alan Breznick in his opening keynote. “The lack of national footprint is going away” as operators partner and expand their reach with acquisitions. This expanded network opens the opportunity to serve national restaurant chains, broadcasters, multi-location Enterprises and national broadcasters.  The last year has also seen Cable Operators serving more sports teams and arenas.

But, will this growth in Enterprise services make up for Cable’s decline in video services? According to Craig Moffett, Senior Research Analyst at MoffettNathanson Research, “The growth of business services will lessen the impact of cord cutting.”  Even in a no cord world there will always be a need for an Internet Service Provider.

Cable Operators are hyper-focused on customer experience to overcome lingering satisfaction ratings that are not as high as the industry would like. Panelists agreed that customer experience is paramount for both business and consumer. “Every meeting starts with the customer viewpoint. How will they react? Will they be happy?” said one panelist.  “A business customer’s experience with their residential cable service can impact their business buying behavior, so the customer experience is paramount on both sides,” said another.

“Last year we talked about SD-WAN, this year we are doing it and next year will review lessons learned.”

What is hot with Cable Business Services? SD-WAN, virtualization, go-to-market strategy and Fiber Deep architectures that will improve quality of experience for both business and residential users. 

Virtualization is viewed as a competitive advantage, enabling operators to deliver services in a more rapid fashion. The “newness” of this technology has created a level playing field for all competitors, and is a catalyst for allowing cable operators to change how they do business and how they are perceived.

“Last year we talked about SD-WAN, this year we are doing it and next year will review lessons learned,” was a recurring theme.  The “how” was a little different for each operator, but they all see the value of SD-WAN as the wedge to get into a customer and then grow their services footprint.

Glenn Calafati, Global Director, Media, Content and MSO Industry Consulting at Ciena, participated on a panel that explored the challenges of delivering next-gen services. “Business customers will not accept best effort. They require a specific quality of experience that can only be delivered with improved internet services,” he said. “A fiber deep architecture will simplify an operator’s platform and allow for improved quality of experience.”

Cable operators know that to reach enterprise customers, they need to meet them where they buy.  Seventy-five percent of enterprise customers buy via agents, value-added resellers and system integrators. “Channels allow an operator to partner with those who have an ability to influence the buying decision,” said Linda Hutchinson, Ciena North America Channel lead. “Enterprises want to have a relationship with a vendor, but they want to transact through a channel. Determining where you want to go and partnering with those that are closest to the end-user who can deliver an end-to-end solution allows an operator to expand their reach.”

A conference with Cable Operators would not be complete without a discussion of the “F” word, fiber. CTAM shared a recent study that showed how cable’s rising fiber capabilities will transform business communications. “The cable industry has invested billions of dollars to empower businesses with direct, fiber optic networking connections that once were unavailable or unaffordable,” said Todd Essenwein, Senior Director, Business Services, CTAM. “Schools need 10G, remote offices need 10G, small and medium business need 10G, and the cable network passes them all with an unprecedented level of performance,” he said. Investing in the last mile will pay dividends with higher quality of experience that will pull in new business customers.  

Cable operators are taking care of commercial business, investing in new technologies, pushing fiber deeper into their network and always keeping their eye on quality and customer experience. They are redefining quality of experience from the customers perspective with investments that move from delivering carrier grade connectivity to serving enterprises with business grade solutions.

Susan Friedman & Glenn Calafati

Susan Friedman and Glenn Calafati at the Light Reading Future of Cable Business Services event.