Comcast, Verizon and the race for digital transformation

Social Business Manager, IBM

Although the likelihood of the Coca-Cola Company taking over PepsiCo or Walmart gobbling up Target may be negligible, corporate mergers are expected to continue. The pace at which products are created, marketed, consumed and whether they succeed or fail calls for corporations to constantly pivot, grow and iterate. If one company buys another company, does the merger bring more value to the market and add to the bottom line, or is it business as usual? Verizon’s nearly $5 billion acquisition of Yahoo’s core assets is an example of the former case, as giants—regardless of industry—make bold moves on the path to digital transformation.

Amid speculation of how consumers will embrace the Verizon-Yahoo pairing—including its impact on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s future—it likely won’t be the last time a media giant makes a play for assets to stay relevant across all channels. Look at Comcast. Love it or hate it, the cable operator might make a possible bid for spectrum to provide cellular service. That’s right—your cable company could soon be selling mobile.

Future service amalgamation

Comcast has expressed interest to participate in an auction later this year for 600 MHz spectrum, which would potentially pit it against the wireless carrier trio: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Such a future isn’t tough to swallow; AT&T, which built its name on landlines, already provides cable service. Verizon needs the oomph of Yahoo’s reported one billion users. Clearly, no company has to be bound by the silhouette of its former self.

“Obviously, the industry is moving,” said Francis Shammo, CFO at Verizon, during an earnings call last fall. “Cable is going to do what they’re going to do, and we’re going to do what we’re going to do.”

Vodafone Group, the New York Yankees—if you will—of the global telecommunications market, understands this evolution. When it closed its $180.95 billion merger with Germany’s Mannesman, it became the world’s largest mobile operator. And now, it’s toying with the idea of expanding its broadband service in the UK by deploying its own fiber-optic cables to compete with competitors BT and Sky.

This move would open up a whole new world of mobile-only or cable-only customers who might warm to the idea of housing all their wireless services from the same company. From the vantage point of all telecommunications providers, large or small, the window for analytics to transform the business is wide open.

Value across all channels

As cable operators and wireless service providers integrate new channels into their business, the ability to import real-time data into a single, holistic view across all platforms will become an imperative function of the organization. Collecting the data is only the first step; what customer service providers do with those insights will truly fuel brand differentiation, and ultimately, brand loyalty.

Using end-to-end customer analytics dashboards, telecommunications organizations are expected to gain transparency into not only just behavior, but also the whole customer experience. This insight enables them to identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, triggers for customer churn and network quality issues. For example, suppose usage spikes on broadband during multiple billing cycles. Do you leave the current plan as is, or propose a paid TV package that allows customers to access the content on their commute to and from work through their cell phone or tablet? The answer is clear; bring value through every channel, every time.

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