10.56 Europe/London, September 23, 2011 By Robert Briel

CTAM EuroSummit ’11. How serious are the various threats to cable and what can the industry to prevent them from being sorry?

During the Keynote Interview session lead by Raymond Snoddy, Michelle Novak, global head of strategy and solutions for cable, Convergys, and Phyllis Harris, general manager communications and media, Microsoft, tried to offer some answers.

The pace of change is so much faster, said Harris, who cited that it took 130 years before 1 billion people were connected to a fixed line. It took just a few years to reach the mark of 5.6 billion mobile phone users.

“We need to cooperate for a bigger pie,” she said, reminding the audience that the new economy we are in produced words such as ‘frenemies’ and ‘coopetition’.

“We didn’t anticipate social networking and over the top is just a consequence. We now have more and more fragmented audiences, six billion people on the planet are connected, there is an explosion of user generated and editorial content. So how do you innovate? We intend to build a cloud which will be a platform for you [the cable industry]”

Novak said that the traditional value chain of cable is being challenged: “Video was the cornerstone, now cable is more a distributor than an originator. The wireline providers are offering IPTV services and they are commoditising the market. And satellite is already competing with cable. So the golden age of video and cable is long gone, but there are opportunities.”

Cable can offer a TV anywhere experience, that is consistent and persistant across all your devices. With the Horizon you bring the in home experience anywhere you go anytime. It all leads to personalisation.”

It is also a time to redefine the relationship with the customer: “Do not call the customer a customer anymore. Take a hint from Disney, they call people that visit the parks guests, they are treated as part of the family. Yes, with cable there is a device, but there is a person behind a it. The more you learn about your customer the more they like you. Cable now has to focus on creating customer intimacy. There is a need to create a bonding experience.”

OTT may not be such a thread, according to Harris, “OTT is a threat, but also a great opportunity if you want to get into the game.” With a platform agnostic device such as the Slingbox people can always see their cable content everywhere. “Are we waiting for the next slingbox or is cable the next slingbox? There are still plenty of opportunities.”