Are cablecos leveraging big data better than telcos?

Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon all have their own priorities for big data.

Time Warner Cable got some ink this week in FastCompany for its commendable use of big data to be more competitive and deal with challenges such as over-the-top providers who nibble at its revenue. Are they the exception to the rule in the highly competitive communications and media arena?

In the article, TWC talks about how it blends publicly available data--from sources as diverse as voter registration and real estate with its own customer records and usage data--to enhance marketing and business intelligence. Joan Gillman, president of TWC Media, told FastCompany that it also uses that data to launch custom campaigns tailored to geographies and demographics among its users.

Time Warner Cable Media DMS is a pilot project currently underway in Texas that demonstrates how the company reaches out with targeted marketing through all the channels a customer uses, including mobile devices, iPads and social media. The platform tracks a user's engagement level within an ad campaign on each channel and adjusts offers accordingly. The company uses big data analytics from a variety of third-party vendors such as Nominum.

This is all good and necessary for TWC's businesses, but the big data analytics space is too nascent at this point to say anyone has a clear advantage. Communications service providers of all stripes are leveraging big data. Some are just leveraging it in different ways or being more public about some of the ways they are using it.

Comcast recently launched its Universal Database Initiative, which takes large volumes of data from different systems along a workflow, in different log formats, to drive operational intelligence and improve the experience through troubleshooting and root cause analysis, as well as to track and measure success.

It partnered with a San Francisco-based company called Splunk, which was founded 2004 and today has more than 600 employees, and serves 54 of the Fortune 100 companies with its operational intelligence platform for machine data based on Hadoop.

While cable giant TWC is talking about marketing insights and Comcast is talking about operational excellence, telecom giant Verizon is talking about leveraging big data as a product. InformationWeek covered Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams' keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, in which he focused on health care and said the barriers to innovation in health care are finally coming down.

He talked about research growing, organizations connecting and gaps in under-served communities being filled thanks to the use of IT in the years ahead. and of course, Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) network, which he said can handle among other things bandwidth demand for sending MRIs and CAT scans over the Internet.

He also spoke about working to gain FDA clearance for its mHealth platform--a big data platform that will give patients and physicians tools to manage chronic diseases and a platform for reducing fraud in healthcare

These companies are using big data to compete, but not directly just yet. They are using big data to make them better companies with more innovative products and better performance. And that's a good start.

For more:
- see a review of McAdams' speech on InformationWeek

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