Working together to find a common, shared approach to data could have amazing benefits.
For digital disruptors such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FAANG for short), much of their success lies in the ability to gather data and use it effectively. FAANG’s business-making processes are built around data, and as a result, their users are glued to their apps on a daily basis.
All well and good for the tech giants, but the pay-TV industry has hardly reaped the same rewards when it comes to data. In fact, it has been slow to adapt to this increasingly analytical and AI-driven world.
With legacy systems, old ways of thinking, old organisational structures or indeed a combination of all three, few pay-TV operators have been able to collect, implement and use data to gain valuable insights. They have thus failed to improve their pay-TV service and day-to-day business operations.
But why exactly has the pay-TV industry been slow to adapt to this digitally transformed world of data? There are a few factors at play.
The first is old business practices: automation, improving customer service operations, reducing churn, delivering more targeted advertising, personalising content recommendations, helping to optimise the full value and cost of their content portfolio – these actions are all crucial for modern pay-TV operators.
The second, perhaps ironically, isn’t down to a lack of data, but rather an excess of it. With hordes of data siloed away, fragmentation is inevitable – even though individual teams may be performing well. Data needs to be connected end to end and holistically if it is to be useful.
The third sticking point is technology. Operators face a fragmented playing field with technologies and capabilities that are more advanced than ever before, not to mention evolving extremely fast. With this in mind, technological issues are bound to arise.
But if we allow ourselves to dream big for a moment – what if the entire industry was to share its data?
FAANG currently has access to data from the point of content creation to delivery, which is a strong competitive advantage. But what if the industry (studios included) ensured that all data from across the entire value chain merged?
Naturally, you’d have to agree on clear standardisation on how content and ads are sold. But working together to find a common, shared approach to data could have amazing benefits, with greater flexibility in the business models of content, advertising and ultimately subscription.
With this blue-sky thinking in mind, we should first establish five golden rules for pay-TV success in this data-driven world: First, for data, we should prefer quality over quantity. It’s better to have fewer quality data points than lots of rubbish. Overflowing data lakes are the best enemy of business-minded data usage.
Second is to adopt a standard that ensures your different systems can contribute to your overall data effort. Again, data needs to be connected end to end and holistically, if it is to be of any use to an industry interested in collaboration.
Third is to start with the real questions, the tangible business issues that operators want to address. For example, what issue do we want to solve with data? Do we want to address churn? Can we implement predictions and recommendations to address it? What’s the best way to encourage the use of the service? Is it a marketing action? Or is it a recommendation action?
Fourth is to bring the topic back to the top management table. To be successful, this needs to be a transversal endeavour. It cannot be driven by just one department.
Fifth and finally, keep in mind that the output must be real business actions, not just graphs or data sets. Data is all well and good, but it’s what you do with it that counts.
Now, sticking to these golden rules to the letter doesn’t guarantee success for every operator; after all, the goal posts are always moving in the pay-TV world. But with challenging times ahead, they might serve as a handy guide for those bold enough to adapt, grow and navigate the road to success.