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Big Data Driving Converged Digital Telecommunications & Media

Big Data Evangelist, IBM

Telecommunications providers have evolved into broadband carriers of all types of digitized media and entertainment. Carriers play this pivotal role by dint of their continuing to offer the underlying broadband, cellular, and landline infrastructures on which all digitized media ride.

If, like me, you receive a full bundled package of communications and content services from a single carrier, none of this is news. The telecommunications industry is increasingly indistinguishable from the media and entertainment sector. Nobody has a crystal ball on how exactly this evolution will play out in the telecommunications industry, as incumbents shift their strategies constantly and new carriers and technologies enter the arena. But it's crystal clear that big data will enable the creation of new, more context-aware, and content-rich service offerings in the converged industry. Here's an IBM whitepaper that discusses how big data is reshaping the operating model and subscriber value proposition in the industry, another that discusses the emerging age of interactive TV, and another describing the end of TV as we know it.

Next-generation television is the proving ground for the this new converged all-digital industry order. As we can all plainly see, television is morphing into a very different medium with a very different subscriber experience: digital, online, broadband, interactive, social, mobile, and device-agnostic. To keep pace with this trend, carriers' big-data infrastructures are evolving to support zettabytes of rich streaming media objects, zero-latency multi-streaming media feeds, and zillions of on-demand media streaming options.

Big data is also the pivot of the evolving all-digital television experience. Big data provides an infrastructure that digital content providers and carriers will leverage to drive personalized, anticipatory delivery of content to subscribers. Stored in big-data repositories, digital-TV viewing profiles will incorporate viewers' entire viewing history, their current viewing behaviors across all channels, and their predictive propensities to favor some types of programming over others. Anticipatory content delivery is simply another use case for the longstanding big-data applications of targeted recommendation, next best offer, advertising placement optimization, and experience optimization.

Viewer-profiling prowess will translate directly to the content provider or carrier's bottom line. It will enable digital-TV companies to deliver contextually relevant ads as well as target finely tuned packages of content and adjacent services to subscribers. As converged telecommunications service providers evolve in this direction, they face daunting competition from new entrants who we don't normally think of as carriers. The emerging digital TV providers--Netflix, Google, Apple, Microsoft, etc.--all have growing piles of profile data on consumers, including on this digital-media consumption behaviors.

Big-data profiling will also drive the digital-TV customer experience even when you're not explicitly trying to push revenue-producing content at them. It will drive subscriber loyalty, retention, and attention. For example, by constantly suggesting programming that your subscribers personally might find compelling, digital carriers' big-data profiling engines will effectively be tuning channels and making viewers far less inclined to switch them on their own (or to the competition).

Is big data the new "remote control" in digital TV? What do you think?

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