Archive for the ‘Speaker Interviews’ Category

Speaker Interview: Samir Parikh Director, Product Management Gainspeed #CableCongress

Samir parik

Samir Parikh has more than 15 years of product management and engineering experience in the networking and telecommunications industry.

Meet Samir Parikh at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March, The SQUARE, Brussels. 

  1. Tell us more about how you work with content providers and the cable tech community.

Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP solution re-imagines the cable access network, delivering a myriad of benefits to cable operators including the ability to rapidly respond to changing market needs, satisfy exploding capacity requirements, quickly deploy new services, and cost-effectively migrate their HFC networks to a software-driven, all-IP architecture.

We work closely with the cable tech community, including standards bodies, other technology companies, and cable operators themselves to ensure our solution effectively addresses the challenges they are facing.

  1. What are the technology trends driving the sector and your business forward?

There has been a radical shift in how consumers access video entertainment. Streaming Over-the-Top video content such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, as well as IP video from satellite and cable operators, has created a seemingly insatiable demand for bandwidth. There are also bandwidth demands from cloud computing, gaming and other high speed data applications. The existing cable infrastructure is at a breaking point. Cable operators are working aggressively to add capacity to the network to support this demand, but the technologies available cannot keep up.

  1. You were voted most innovative at CableLabs’ Summer Conference Innovation Showcase last July. What innovative products is Gainspeed working on now?

We remain highly focused on building the industry’s first and only complete Virtual CCAP solution. Our solution already enables operators to dynamically and automatically allocate bandwidth, leveraging our Full Spectrum DOCSIS capabilities, and deliver legacy QAM video over digital 10 Gigabit Ethernet. We continue to enhance the system, bringing additional SDN- and NFV-enabled capabilities and services to the cable network.

  1. How are innovations in the cable industry impacting on Gainspeed’s investment decisions?

Cable industry innovations actually align very well with our product investments.

Cable operators are looking for new and exciting ways to engage and interact with their consumer base, and opportunities to broaden offerings and increase service velocity with their business customers. Additionally, the tremendous growth in bandwidth demand has operators seeking better ways to boost network capacity while lowering cost.  Finally, cable operators are trying to “go green” for both environmental and economic reasons.

Gainspeed’s Virtual CCAP enables operators to address all of these objectives by building a highly scalable network, capable of dynamically allocating bandwidth and delivering virtual cloud-based services, at a fraction of the CAPEX and OPEX (space, power and cooling) of competitive solutions.

  1. What does Gainspeed do better than its competition from a marketing and engagement point of view?

It is imperative that we focus our technology and innovation on addressing real problems that cable operators are facing today, and will face in the years to come. To achieve that, we maintain an active dialog with our prospects and customers, and have built technical and business advisory boards comprising industry luminaries to ensure we stay on track and true to our mission.

  1. What strategies does cable need in order to effectively compete for consumer attention in a hyper-connected world?

Consumers want a new consumption and delivery model for content. They want to be able to very specifically choose content they are interested in, not be sold a pre-packaged bundle with 100s of channels they don’t care about. And they want a seamless experience for online and offline content access across any device, anywhere, as well as the ability to interact with the content and others via social networks and platforms to come.

Cable needs to provide the consumers with the flexibility they are looking for, otherwise they are just enabling their competition. A software-driven, All-IP architecture and virtualized network services are key technological innovations that will help cable operators stay competitive.

Meet Samir Parikh at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March, The SQUARE, Brussels. 

Speaker Podcast: Spencer Kelly, BBC World News #CableCongress


We recently sat down with Spencer Kelly, presenter of the BBC’s technology programme Click, broadcast on the BBC World News. Spencer will be moderating a panel with leading CTOs on Day 1 of Cable Congress next week, so we asked for his perspectives on emerging technologies and trends impacting the content business. Highlights from our discussion follow.

What is your take on the latest trends in content consumption?
We’re still going through a transitional period because everything’s up for grabs and everyone’s trying new stuff. Over the last few years we’ve seen experiments with short-form content mainly, stuff you can watch on your device while you’re waiting for a bus or a train. And we’ve seen experiments in viewer participation in dramas, where the viewer can either decide on the outcome of the story because it’s filmed in parts or you can participate in it. We’ve been to film sets on the streets of London where you can just turn up and be in it. So we’re in this kind of transition period where everything’s being tried. I still think compelling content is going to be the answer. There’s a place for long-form entertainment that you’d sit back and watch; there’s a place for short-form, more interactive stuff that you watch as and when. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting old, but I still like the idea that I can watch a 90-minute film uninterrupted.

What do you think the role of technology is in this mix? What are the biggest you’ve seen in the last 12 months or so?
The rise and rise of the phone. I’ve never really been convinced that tablets are the end of the road for the larger screen form factor. They’re nice big screens to enjoy content on but I’m not convinced we’re there with them yet. I think that’s evidenced by the fact that we’re still getting a variety of screen sizes – I’ve got a 12.5 inch goliath of a tablet which is far too big to do much with apart from put it on a table (at which point you’d like a stand and a keyboard and it just becomes a laptop!). You’ve got people wanting 6,7,8-inch screens. So the actual thing you hold in your hand is not decided yet, but I do think that it’s going to be the phone. It’s going to be something that fits in your pocket.

What’s more important is a reliable wireless signal. It’s being able to stream content to your device and of course we’re not there yet – you can’t get a reliable signal. And even when you can you probably don’t have the data to allow you to stream high definition movies. You’d chew up a month’s worth of data in 90 minutes.

And of course there is the rights issues and the studios trying to work out the best way to provide the content whether it’s purchase or rental. We’re getting there with the rise of Netflix and other streaming/downloading services.

What is one futurist technology that you really hope takes off?
There are three possible things that get me excited:

3-D printing can change the world because suddenly you can create anything you need within reason. You probably won’t have a 3-D printer in your own home but we’re definitely looking at a future where there’s a 3-D printer in every town or on every high street. Believe it or not, for me the really exciting thing about 3-D printing is cooker knobs. If you have a 20-year old cooker and the knob breaks and they don’t make that kind of cooker anymore, you don’t have to buy a new cooker. You can just download the plan for a cooker knob that fits, get it printed and stick it on there. It’s everything from that to printing new joints for people to the minefield of copyright that comes with 3-D printing where you can in theory copy anything and print. For example, copy a toy you might ordinarily pay 20 pounds for and pay half the price. Who’s copyright are you infringing and who is going to be able to clamp down on it.

The driverless car is an interesting one because it looks like the technology is almost there. I’ve sat in a car driving through Jerusalem on a motorway that was stopping at traffic lights. It stayed in lane. It didn’t crash. No one died. I’m beginning to be convinced that the technology behind driverless cars is pretty much there. The problem we have is the legislation. If a driverless car has an accident who do you blame – the maker of the car, the maker of the software, the maker of the sensors, the driver that sits behind the steering wheel who didn’t interject at the last minute? I think driverless cars will be a legal minefield.

The other technology that really excites me is drones, which we’re seeing really take off (pardon the pun). I fly drones personally. I’ve seen some amazing things in the air with amazing cameras on them doing amazing stuff. We’ve driven through the desert in Nevada with drones following us autonomously and they actually did a reasonable job. Just like driverless cars, I think we’re almost at a stage where we can trust these things to get from A to B without a human in the loop. The problem with drones is that when they go wrong they tend to fall out of the sky, so there we have a legal issue as well.

These sound like really interesting stories for your programme Click. Tell us about the typical Click viewer?
All are welcome really. If you’re a geek, if you’re not a geek, if you just have a passing interest in technology. I think if you’re more into gardening and less into something with flashing lights then maybe you should try elsewhere. But even so we’d like to tempt you with something that has flashing lights. In fact, just this week we filmed a programme in Boston which has a robotic garden. It has robotic fish and robotic sheep in it. So anyone who has a passing interest in how some of the stuff they use works, that’s the way into our programme. More than that, Click is for anyone who’s interested in where technology is going. We [the tech world] are in a transitional period at the moment where we’re trying lots of new stuff. Some of it will just crash and burn (hopefully not literally!). Some of it may change the world, and it might be the one that we don’t realise because someone comes up with a new idea for using a technology that we haven’t thought of. Suddenly it all makes sense.

What do you think the BBC does better than its competitors?
The Beeb has always been about trust really. It’s always been about having no commercial ties, guaranteed to be completely neutral and big in scope as well. I think people just trust the BBC to do its best, get the facts and deliver a completely objective look at the whole world.

What strategies does the BBC need to compete in such a hyper-connected, anytime/anywhere world?
I think there are a handful of international organisations that provide good content, and for all of us, BBC included, the trick will be staying on top of what’s possible. We have a new digital generation – the Millenials – who are used to using technology in ways that are almost counterintuitive to the generations that have gone before. We have people sharing and consuming content in new forms and new ways. For all of us – whether we are the traditional international and national broadcasters – we just need to be on top of that. It’s becoming less about broadcasting one view and more about making the experience personal. By that I mean providing specialised content for your viewing habits, knowing you, knowing the viewer, knowing the consumer enough to serve up what’s relevant to that person rather than just a big menu of the day’s events.

The other challenge will be competing with organisations and a small number of individuals who can turn around stuff really quickly and put it out there from a news point of view. Take a video recording that was supposedly filmed in a conflict zone and re-broadcast it. That’s going to be the first time that clip is seen, but if you want trust you need to check your facts, check that it’s genuine, authenticate it. So the challenge is balancing being able to keep up with those who can turn around stuff really quickly and making it right.

BBC Click provides a comprehensive guide to innovation and tech, covering all the latest advances, gadgets, apps and tech industry news. It is broadcast weekly around the globe on BBC World News TV on Saturdays at 0630 and 1930 GMT and again on Sundays at 0330 and 1330 GMT.

Viewers can also follow the programme via BBC Click – Google+ or @BBC Click (BBCClick) on Twitter and subscribe to the BBC Click You Tube Channel at or visit the Facebook page BBC Click | Facebook

Meet Spencer Kelly at Cable Congress 2015 – register now

Speaker Interview: Marcus Banks, Executive Director Customer Experience, Virgin Media #CableCongress

Marcus BanksMarcus Banks, Virgin Media’s Executive Director of Customer Experience on innovation, consumer trends and competing for consumer attention

Marcus has been with Virgin Media since early 2007, holding mainly commercial and customer experience roles. Prior to Virgin Media, he spent three years as Strategy Director at Lloyds TSB Group and seven years as a strategy consultant with The Boston Consulting Group. He lives in Hampshire with his wife, four boys and two dogs.

Meet Marcus Banks at Cable Congress 2015 – Register now

What do you think will drive cable’s priorities for marketing as we look at the state of the industry in 2015?

Certainly our biggest priority is to keep growing the business. Virgin Media had a very good year last year and maintaining that momentum is crucial for us. Even better, I believe we are growing in the right way by continuing to build our position in the highly competitive market for new customers while at the same time reducing churn and encouraging our existing customers to stay longer and be more engaged with our products and services. The UK market has probably never been as competitive as it is right now. In terms of broadband, our marketing challenge is all about defining and communicating clearly what our superiority is and how it translates into better ways to meet consumer needs. Our most recent campaign for example is all about Virgin Media being the best for (OTT video) streaming, both because of the speed available and because concurrent broadband consumption in the home is a better experience with us.

What are the big emerging consumer trends?

I’ve already mentioned data consumption. And that won’t be news to anyone in our industry. But the growth rates in data consumption over the last year – and the concentration of that growth in services like Netflix – just stuns me. Data usage on the Virgin Media network is currently growing at a rate of 60% every year which, if this trend continues, will be 10,000% higher in ten years. It’s just so exciting to be part of a business the consumer need for which is growing at that sort of rate.

Device proliferation is another trend. Recent OFCOM data says that 46% of UK consumers now have tablets and 63% have connected smartphones. 60% of Virgin Media customers have three or more devices connected to their home broadband, up from 37% a year ago. And as OEMs get better and better at creating new device categories – and sub-segmenting existing categories (‘phablets’ anyone?) – we will see more and more consumers with multiple devices. This must present our industry with interesting opportunities to bundle devices with traditional services and/or help solve consumer problems around connectivity to local networks, seamless profile management and movement of content and data between devices.

What are your biggest priorities for customer experience at Virgin Media?

For me, great customer experience comes from getting three things right: product, service and value for money. I am pleased to say that for third year running we have just been voted Best Broadband Provider in the UK by consumers and industry experts in the Awards. uSwitch said: “Virgin has hit upon the holy trinity of speed, cost and customer service, year after year winning over broadband users and impressing industry experts.”

There are four things we are focused on to drive our customer experience forward from here. First, we use Net Promoter Score (NPS) across the whole business to keep track of how customers are experiencing us.  All of our employees have some element of their compensation tied directly to NPS. Given that our customers’ experience of us is made up of millions of phone calls, install and service visits, web site visits as well as each time they switch on the TV or use their home network, home phone or mobile, we have to stay focused across all aspects of customer experience delivery, and NPS helps with this.

Secondly, I am firm believer that we need to focus more and more on our customers’ own networks and not just our network, and on our customers’ devices, not just ours. Long gone are the days when cable companies could just drill a few holes in the wall, connect up a few cables to a set top box and modem, and then move on to the next install job. What our customers really care about is a great home network, with reliable WiFi coverage wherever they need it in the home, and simple connectivity to their devices. That means we need to spend more time consulting with customers on how and where they will use connected devices in their home, how to solve coverage issues, and so on.

Third, we continue to focus on our behaviours as a critical driver of customer experience. Through our NPS insight, we realised some time ago that how we behave towards customers is often much more important than whether we actually resolve their issue or concern. So, we put a lot of effort into behavioural training and coaching, and we carefully track customer perceptions of how we are behaving. This sort of thing is not that expensive either, especially compared to upgrading broadband speeds or rolling out new set top boxes. As a Virgin brand I believe we have more permission from customers to be friendly and build rapport with customers, even being a bit cheeky when it’s appropriate. For a few years now we have been running our ‘Random acts of kindness’ programme. This allows our front-line agents to nominate customers for special gifts from us. One of the more famous examples was when an agent had been speaking to a customer and realised that she was lying in the bath while on the phone to us to check her bill! The agent then organised for us to send the customer a Virgin Media rubber duck. It’s a cute programme in its own right, and doesn’t cost much to run. But the biggest benefit to us is that it encourages agents to listen to customers and build rapport with them.

Finally, I am a big believer in the power of marketing to our own customers and not just to sell them more products and services. We now have a programme of communication activities that is focused solely on letting customers know what they are getting for their money and how they could get even more out of them. Again, we use deep NPS insight to guide us on which particular product or service benefits we should promote to customers.

Where are you innovating most on products?

Obviously in broadband. Speed leadership is a crucial part of our market strategy, so we continue to invest and innovate here. The plan is working: our 152Mb broadband product offers twice the speed of any widely available service from any major provider, and our average 152Mb Virgin Media household uses almost double the amount of data as the national average – 112Gb rather than 58Gb. And we are not just innovating on core network stuff but also things like WiFi router development to ensure speed leadership translates into in-home experience leadership. As mentioned above, innovating on the service side will help us to reinforce the superiority of our broadband product too. In TV, innovation is focused on delivering better video on demand mainly to meet consumers’ growing needs for box set viewing.

In your view, is the way you tackle customer experience in the UK unique to that market? How would you describe the typical Virgin Media customer?

No I don’t believe that the way we tackle the customer experience here in the UK is unique. We spend a lot of time with our Liberty Global colleagues discussing many of the same opportunities and challenges.

I really am not sure I could describe the typical Virgin Media customer. We are a mass market player and the UK is pretty diverse place. That’s why I sometimes insist that my job title isn’t ‘Customer Experience’ but ‘Customers’ Experiences’…! Seriously, there is always a temptation in a business like ours for managers to look at problems from their own perspective or the perspective of people like them. Sometimes it’s not until you spend time with customers or our colleagues who help customers day in and day out that you stumble across the insights that can make a difference.

What does Virgin Media do better than its competition from a marketing and engagement standpoint?

Virgin Media is heavily outspent by our biggest competitors – SKY and BT. Despite this we consistently achieve better Awareness and Consideration scores. We do this by following a rigorous communications model that tries to shake passive consumers out of their inertia (for example, by dressing up Usain Bolt in a dress in a recent TV ad) and then following up with clear, benefits-led demonstrations of our products and services. We use online channels to amplify this demonstration. And finally we ensure these campaigns live through the line and are embedded into multiple touch points. I think we are also very good at carefully using big sponsorship opportunities like the V Festivals and our recent lead role in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

What strategies does cable need in order to effectively compete for consumer attention in a hyper-connected world?

I am convinced the market is moving towards us as consumers’ data consumption grows exponentially. So to exploit that, we have to keep shouting that we have the best broadband. And we have to keep our broadband at least two steps ahead of the competition, in terms of raw speed, reliability, service support, etc.

As our stuff – superfast broadband, connected TV – becomes more and more experiential, encouraging positive word of mouth is key to getting attention. My marketing colleagues don’t mind me saying that I would much rather our 5m cable households did our marketing job for us. Just after we launched our TV Anywhere iPad service here, I witnessed my own 5-year old son showing our neighbour (and BT customer) how cool it was, especially how much he enjoyed using it to change the channel on the TV from another room while his younger brother was watching something! That sort of thing is priceless marketing.

Want to hear more from Marcus? Meet Marcus Banks at Cable Congress 2015 – Register now

Twitter Chat: Neil Midgley #Cable Congress

Ahead of Cable Congress 2015, Neil shared his views on great content, programming trends and the changing media landscape.

Read the Twitter Chat here

Want to hear more from Neil?

Neil will be moderating a panel on “The hits business: how programme makers are adapting to (and profiting from) disruptions in viewing habits” at Cable Congress from 11-13 March 2015, The SQUARE, Brussels. For more information and to register, please click here.



Meet the speaker: Shari Swan, CEO, Founder, Streative Branding

Better Beginnings

Shari Swan, Streative Branding’s Founder and CEO on placing the consumer at the heart of a company’s DNA

With over 20 years of branded strategy, product innovation and insight research experience, Shari Swan specializes in transforming insight to action. Shari founded Streative Branding in Amsterdam in 2003 and has developed a proprietary co-creation platform of global information investigators, strategists, designers and industry experts-otherwise known as  ‘Moles’,  ‘Mavens’,  ‘Makers’ and ‘Mavericks’. Streative’s teams of collaborators mine and unpack insights, develop strategic opportunities and concept future innovations for some of the world’s most successful brands; Skype, Unilever, McDonalds, Philips, Estee Lauder, Telefonica/O2, Nike and more. Aside from whispering in to the ears of global senior executives, Shari and her partner own and operate an award winning, boutique manor house in France; Manoir du Moulin.

Meet Shari Swan at Cable Congress 2015 – Register now

1. This is your first time speaking at Cable Congress but you have worked with the cable/telco industry for many years (UPC, Zon, Telefonica and O2 are some of your clients). What have your interactions with the industry taught you about consumers, trends and business models in the digital age?

No matter the industry, it’s important to recognise that we’re living in a world where consumers are increasingly taking control of how, where and when they consume media. I’ve just returned from the Media Insights and Engagement Conference in the US and an executive from Warner Brothers shared a telling consumer insight from their research: ‘I used to be a beggar, now I’m a chooser’. Alternative forms of content, screens and viewing behaviours are challenging the subscription model business as we know it today.

One of the greatest challenges for the cable industry is the changing face of entertainment and the many new formats it can take. Entertainment is no longer a family of four sitting in front of the TV watching a movie in the evening. Entertainment should be considered anything that occupies a user’s time, on any screen – think apps, games, short and long format videos, social networks, chatting, text and more. A great example is the fact that Candy Crush has been downloaded over 1 billion times. These new forms of entertainment are eroding television viewing time and as the pool of entertainment competition grows daily it’s becoming increasingly important for the cable industry to become a more innovative industry.

The power of mobile continues to be an underestimated opportunity for most organisations. There are roughly 7 billion people on earth of which 5.1 billion own a mobile phone. The smartphone is the fastest growing technology to ever hit the market, yet many companies struggle to create a compelling mobile strategy that is keeping pace with the device’s capabilities and user demands.

In order to operate in today’s constantly changing entertainment and digital landscape, organisations need to rapidly innovate their solutions, products and services and think digital. We now have the capability to measure just about anything, but we need to be cautious about all that data we’re collecting. The companies who can work creatively with their data are the ones who will win the game.

2. Can you tell us more about your Creative Value Network and how you approach your work?

The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed a creative talent pool of people in an unprecedented way. In the UK alone, 1 in 20 workers are freelancers while in America one-third of the workforce is now freelance and these numbers continue to grow. A new creative ‘maker’ model has been developing around us and this open-source, co-created entrepreneurialism is a systematic change in the way business is being done. This digital entrepreneurial movement has been called the third industrial revolution because of the volume of work, products, services and design this sector is delivering to the market. Breaking the hobbyist movement stereotype, todays makers are some of the top experts, designers, concepters, directors and content providers out there. Eleven years ago, Streative started tracking this movement and recognised at the time that there was great opportunity to collaborate with these digital natives. We believe that working with Creative Value Networks is not a phase but rather a phenomenon and a foreshadowing of how business will be done in the future. We’ve established a methodology for recruiting and curating these talented individuals to create great collaborative deliverables for Streative clients.

3. Why Mole, Maven, Maker and Maverick, and how does this framework work in practice?

We started out with a pilot project for Nike in Amsterdam in 2004. At the time, we were looking for the best way to get closer to consumer behaviour amongst a particular target group. This led us to recruit a team of local influencers who in the end were able to dig deep and unpack consumer sentiment at a remarkably profound and inspiring level. This first project then grew into a global business over the next 10 years whereby 75 companies have co-created with our teams of Moles, Mavens, Makers and Mavericks. Streative’s Creative Value Network has an insatiable appetite for information, are wired, networked and in tune with technology, retail, media, entertainment, local happenings and global brands. They are our private investigators; our Moles. As Streative’s portfolio of clients and services grew, so too did our group of collaborators and we expanded our global network to include Mavens (‘Ace Authorities’ and strategy experts) , Makers (‘Master Crafters’ and world class design, concept and content talent) and Mavericks (‘Captains of Industry’ and innovation leaders). Our teams are recruited by project, demographic, location, topic and most importantly by client brief.

4. You’re talking about ‘better beginnings’ in your keynote. What does this mean?

I believe there is great opportunity in placing the consumer at the heart of the DNA of a company. While most corporations have this written in their corporate values or business objectives, I think it can be a struggle to make this a reality. We are in the business of culture first and foremost, we are not in the business of sales and this is an important distinction for the management of all companies to address. My session will talk about why and how we can get closer to consumers. It will also talk about the need to distinguish between data and insight in order to capitalise on true market opportunities and game changing products and services for the cable industry.

5. What do you like about cable and its relationship with the consumer?

Television and TV content are not going away. Cable has been one of the first and only mediums to hold a firm position in people’s lives and there is no question consumers are very loyal to cable and all it offers.

Cable is perfectly positioned to lead the entertainment industry of the future, but it is going to require risks, change, partnerships and a rebuilding of the process as we know it today. As an industry cable has an immense opportunity as its services are, in fact, in people’s homes. Cable operators very often have technicians entering customers’ homes – imagine the brands who would love this direct client interaction! Cable’s access to consumers is an untapped opportunity for the industry, but of course this customer interaction needs to be managed carefully to avoid negative experiences.

6. Cable thrives on being always ‘on’, always connected. How do you take offline ‘street level’ insights and apply them to this online, hyper-connected business?

If you speak to any of our Moles they’re pretty much connected via one medium or another 24 hours a day and it’s of little interest to them who is providing that service. Their expectations, however, are that that service is reliable, affordable and delivers on its promises. Street level insights are simply addressing behaviours about one topic or another and the seamless integration of this online and offline experience as consumers go about their daily lives. As service providers our job is to enable consumers lives and make their lives easier, better or more entertaining…being always ‘on’ is merely the status quo today for the industry and its users.

7. What are your biggest predictions for the evolution of the consumer and how important brands will be in the next 5-10 years?

Many of the biggest predictions are already well known and documented and rest right before our very eyes. The challenge comes in how we process and address these evolutions and of course, the time it takes us to do this.

Our lives will become more digitalised as technology continues to progress. Choice will be the greatest advantage for consumers and the greatest challenge for corporations.

Entertainment as we know it today will no longer exist as consumers continue to occupy their time with new and innovative apps, games, social tech and content that are consumed across a multitude of screen styles – both large format and small. Products like driverless cars, Google Glass, Smart Watches, Smart Homes and Smart Clothing will continue to gain momentum, further integrating our online and offline activities and representing an opportunity for new formats for content and collaboration.

Furthermore, the Next Big Thing is Small. Keep your eye on micro companies you’ve never heard of that are trending upwards with dramatic sweeps. And track the young up and coming entrepreneurial talents which are reconstructing the product and services industries as we know them today. This will help you to identify current consumer consumption trends and the players who are enabling or creating those trends. Strive for nimble, agile and efficient processes and organisations which can adopt and implement change quickly. The success of future companies will be dictated by how quickly they can adapt to real-time consumer behaviour, insights and industry trends and then transform their content, marketing and services to address these real-time needs. Above all, take some risks, try something different or at the very least collaborate with those who are doing just that. The future is filled with inspiration and opportunity for both consumers and corporations.

Meet Shari Swan at Cable Congress 2015 – Register now
Twitter: @streativesnacks

Meet the speaker: Dennis Steiger, CTO, NBN Co #CableCongress

Dennis Steiger, NBN Co ‘s CTO talks technology trends and strategies for a hyper-connected world

Mr Steiger is responsible for overseeing NBN Co’s Technology and Security teams. He joined the company in July 2014, with the remit to develop strategies and technologies that enable the secure build and operation of the NBN network so all homes, businesses and communities can have access to high speed broadband.

Mr Steiger brings with him more than 25 years’ global experience in the telecommunication and technology industries with extensive experience working across different access systems technologies. Previously, Mr Steiger was the Chief Technology Officer at Shaw Communications in Calgary Alberta. He also worked as a Senior Engineer with Canadian telecommunication company TELUS.

Meet Dennis Steiger at Cable Congress 2015 – Register now

1. Tell us more about your ambition to roll out a national broadband network in Australia. What are your goals?

Our goal is really very simple, we want to have 8 million happy homes on board the NBN by 2020 and that is what we are working hard on achieving.

We are using a whole range of technologies to achieve that goal in the fastest manner possible and at the lowest possible cost to the tax-payer. The bottom line for us as a company is to make sure that everybody in Australia – no matter if you live at Bondi Beach or as they say here ‘out the back of Bourke’ – meaning in a remote area – then you can access high-quality broadband via the NBN.

2. What technological challenges are you facing in realizing this objective?

Technology is not really a problem for us – all our platforms work fine on that level – the problem we have really is on the scale of the project, Australia is a huge country and we are having to deploy an awful lot of fibre to connect comparatively few people – we are certainly not in the same boat as the likes of Singapore or Hong Kong.

Even deploying our fixed-wireless network – which is going to cover over 500,000 homes – is a massive challenge because all the new base-stations we are building still need to be connected with fibre and that’s a massive job just in itself.

3. In your view, what are the technology trends driving the sector and your business forward?

When we look around the world at what people are doing we are seeing this massive trend towards offering faster and faster speeds across every technology platform – and that’s great for us as we are working with all those technologies.
On GPON you can see HKT in Hong Kong launching 10Gbps residential services, BT in the UK are announcing they will run 500Mbps over G.Fast and on cable we are already seeing folks run 500Mbps over Docsis 3.0 in several markets and there are operators in Asia looking at delivering 1Gbps on Docsis 3.0 – that’s before we even talk about about Docsis 3.1!

The other big trend to note is this whole move towards convergence with so many people now looking to offer quad-play services – that does not just mean more M&A activity it also means that cable operators have to think of new ways to add value such as with Wi-Fi voice-calling and so on.

4. How is cable using technology to differentiate itself in the marketplace?

I am not sure that differentiate is the right word to use – whether you are talking about FTTP, VDSL or HFC the networks are basically there to provide the same thing: high quality connectivity.
The reality is that most folks really are not interested in the technology they get their broadband over, they just want a service that gives them what they need and they want it at a good price.

That being said I guess that one of the biggest innovations we are seeing from cable is the move into Wi-Fi – especially in markets like the US where they have achieved a lot of coverage and that really does change the equation.

5. How are you cooperating with content providers in Australia?

We are a wholesale operator so we don’t have the relationships with content providers that most other network operators have, those relationships are between our Retail Service Providers (RSPs) and the content companies.

That being said we recognise that content is a big part of the value proposition for high-speed broadband because it really allows consumers to get access to all the great OTT content that is out there from all the different providers in the market.

6. Cable is a technology leader, but is there an area where cable must be better and what will it take to do so?

From a cable point of view things are really exciting at the moment – the arrival of Docsis 3.1 will take cable to the next level in terms of performance and we really need to make sure we deliver on that.

We all know that Fiber-to-the-Home is a great product but we need to make sure people understand that cable can deliver an excellent level of performance at far lower cost and in much quicker time than FTTH can.

We really don’t want to see cable positioned as a second-best solution – we need to make sure that people understand cable networks are already delivering great broadband speeds around the world and that we are only going to get better.

7. What strategies does cable need in order to effectively compete for consumer attention in a hyper-connected world?

Again our position at NBN Co is a bit different to most operators but from a personal perspective I guess I would say that – accepting that broadband is really the main game these days – the market really is about content, connectivity and customer service.

Subscribers want access to great content, just like they always have, but they also want access to that content across a whole bunch of different devices and they want access to that content both in their homes and while they are on the move – that’s really important.

In terms of connectivity subscribers don’t just want to be connected to their cable broadband at home, they want to be connected out of the home too – and that’s where Wi-Fi really comes into the equation.

Finally, but perhaps most importantly of all, cable operators need to get their customer service up to really exceptional levels, the competition from OTT players is fierce but the trump card that cable operators hold is that existing relationship they have with their subscribers.

It’s really important to leverage that relationship and look to do things like set up personalised offers for subscribers that really add value – in effect the cable operators need to become digital partners with their subscribers and surprise and delight them with new things as often as possible.

Meet Dennis Steiger at Cable Congress 2015 – Register now

Meet the speaker: Nick Fielibert, Cisco Systems #CableCongress @CSCO_PR

Nick Fielibert CTO SP Video Cisco Systems Ltd

Nick Fielibert
CTO SP Video
Cisco Systems Ltd

Nick Fielibert CTO SP Video at Cisco Systems speaks to us about technology differentiation,  virtualization and Net Neutrality.

As chief technical officer for SP video in the EMEAR for Cisco, Nick Fielibert is responsible for developing and directing the technical roadmap and the systems architectures for Cisco’s video solutions to service providers in the region.

See Nick Fielbert at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March, The SQUARE, Brussels – Register online now.

Q. How is cable using technology to differentiate itself in the marketplace?

Cable operators leveraging DOCSIS 3.0 are the only Service Providers able to provide broadband speeds above 100 Mbps today and even 1 Gbps over 100% of their access networks serving millions of subscribers in Europe. Cable is also the only network that can still leverage very cost effective pure Broadcast with Unicast for personalized and advanced video services. In particular, DOCSIS 3 evolving to DOCSIS 3.1 now makes migration to Unicast video over IP economical, reducing OpEx and CapEx for such new advanced video services.

The adoption of cloud technology is also particularly important for reducing OpEx and time to market associated with new services. When applications are created for the cloud (on- or off-premise), feature development time is greatly reduced and the risk of long lasting error situations is mitigated: new applications and bug-fixes can immediately be propagated to millions of Home Devices. Last but not least we see some Cable operators leveraging the success of selling triple-play services over their plant to upsell mobile and B2B services.

Q. From a technology standpoint, what do you think cable’s priorities are for 2015 and beyond?

We are seeing Cable further investing in keeping the lead on broadband speeds, but also aiming to create the service velocity for TV services similar to OTT (Netflix etc.). We believe they should also prepare the access network for introduction of DOCSIS 3.1 during 2015, with rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 during 2016 and beyond.

Q. What innovative projects is Cisco working on now, for example on cable technology virtualization?

We believe virtualization will help cable in various aspects, both on the access and network side, as well as on the video services side. There is a path for virtualization of CCAP, by building as a foundation a distributed cable access architecture based on Remote PHY. With the move to Remote PHY, cable operators can have distributed PHY elements (chassis or nodes) that connect the access network and are controlled by CCAP Core elements. The CCAP Core elements can run as virtualized software entities in a Data Center. We are also making strong investments on bringing SDN capabilities to our CCAP platforms. We believe that Remote PHY, SDN and NFV are among the top disrupting architecture transitions that the Cable industry will face on the coming years.

For video services, virtualization will make the development of services more scalable and reduce OpEx. For example, adding new channels that can be delivered to any device should be not more than using a simple orchestration console, which launches VMs to create a complete workflow to create streams in any format, servicing any type of device. Increased use of virtualised software-based encoding will also greatly simplify the introduction of new codec technologies such as HEVC, or starting services in 4K resolution. The same principles will also apply to adding subscribers to a system, creating additional business rules and product offers. Cable operators have also understood that User Experience is a key competitive element and business driver for growth. UX is one of the key offerings we have and we continue to invest to make the deployment of the best possible User Experience on all possible screens easier going forward. Last but not least, we keep investing in keeping content secure, so Cable will be able to get the best deals with their content providers

Q. Tell us more about how you work with cable operators and the rest of the cable tech community.

We have a permanent dialog with cable operators and the rest of the cable tech community to make sure that we develop products and solutions that fulfil their business needs. As part of that effort, Cisco is an active contributor to CableLabs and to European cable community entities like the Cable Congress, listening and sharing our thoughts about how the cable technology and business will evolve.

Q. What is Cisco’s take on Net Neutrality and where do you think policymakers need to net out to ensure continued investment in broadband build out?

In general in we think Net Neutrality is a good thing and are supportive of this, but we also believe differentiated services should be possible and that a Service Provider should be allowed to manage traffic on the network to enhance certain services. This will enable better service to be offered to subscribers, and potentially lead to higher revenues. If done well and sensitively, there is no reason that this should be at the expense of general internet access.

Q. Cable is a technology leader, but is there an area where cable must be better and what will it take to do so?

Indeed Cable is often in the forefront of technical innovation. However, we feel there are some areas were faster evolution/development may be required:

  • Accelerate its integration with mobile and B2B offers.
  • Accelerate the transition into video solutions that are fully IP-based, as these solutions allow cable operators to provide seamlessly the same services across HFC or FTTH.
  • Embrace new client SW and Cloud technologies that allow for faster and cheaper introduction of new services. The current development cycle of deploying new Hardware (new STBs) in the field takes too long. There is a risk Cable will start lagging in services innovation against Telco and new OTT competitors.

Meet the speaker: Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System #CableCongress

Stock, Giorgio

Meet Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March , The SQUARE, Brussels

We ask Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System what’s driving the industry today and how Turner stays ahead of the competition.

Giorgio Stock is President of Turner Broadcasting for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He has executive oversight of all entertainment and kids networks and media services; as well as the distribution of CNN’s services and licensing and merchandising activity across the region; leading strategic and operational growth plans for all elements of these businesses.

Meet Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March , The SQUARE, Brussels – register now.


What do you think will drive the entertainment industry’s priorities as we look at where we are today?

In an industry where things evolve at an ever-increasing pace, two things remain remarkably consistent – content and brands. And the simple fact that those who continue to be exceptional in these areas, and maximise the opportunities within the increasingly connected ecosystem, will prosper.

Amidst the rapid pace of developing technologies and platforms – where do audiences find the itinerary for the experiences they crave?

There are many new video entry points for the audience journey, especially online and on the move, but for the foreseeable future linear viewing remains the main touch-point.

Our role as entertainment creators and media owners is to curate our brands through the many and varied paths to our audiences – delivering experiences that essentially look to technology as a partner. Brands will continue to be the signpost and provide a level of expectation, creating an all important relationship based on trust.

The best business model for delivering quality content is one where the technology enhances and facilitates the consumer experience. This supports loyalty and repeat use with powerful brand experiences and storytelling at its core.

Across Turner Broadcasting, we are further increasing our investment in content and brands across all genres and feeding both current and emerging platforms.

What strategies do you see the business adopting, especially in terms of content, network and product innovation, to stay ahead of the competition?

It’s clear that content providers and owners are reacting to the increasing demand for content across all the ever-rising number of platforms. Last year saw a series of key announcements and launches – from Netflix and Amazon’s further expansion to new services such as: HBO Go, CNN go, CN Watch & Play, CBS and ESPN.

We can certainly expect to see a more competitive OTT environment – as we anticipate some reaction to Netflix’s international roll out and the introduction of Amazon Prime’s Instant Video service.

Collaboration remains critical for business growth; and this means an increasing number of strategic ventures between companies with complementary capabilities, especially platforms and content owners.

We can anticipate further consolidation in the market –particularly as pay TV platforms seek scale, but also as communications companies look upon video and TV as an important part of their environment.

And perhaps most importantly, our industry is defined by a culture of innovation – both creatively and technologically. This culture and its resulting pedigree of ideas, products and services is required to maintain competitive and grow.

How is Turner driving innovation forward in content?

Last year was Turner’s best year ever for reach and ratings across all genres; and innovation is a key driver in our accelerated momentum.

Staying true to Ted Turner’s original vision for the company – we represent an environment where standout creativity, experimentation and entrepreneurial and independent thinking can best be expressed.
From the ‘beating heart’ of our company – programming and brands – to the development and growth of our business, products and services – innovation is critical.

There are many examples, but allow me a few on which to focus…..

A recent study named CNN as a #1 international news brand in TV and digital across our region. As the first ever 24 hour news channel – the network continually builds on its global appeal and topnotch editorial coverage through providing fast up-to-the-minute content on every device, and through every window. CNN as a result remains the go to destination for breaking news.

We actively seek and seize opportunities to monetize existing content and create new IP within the nonlinear space, as properties such as Mixels – a global partnership with Lego – can attest, as well as our growing apps business – driving millions of downloads to date.

Cartoon Network’s critically acclaimed– The Amazing World of Gumball – has garnered 25 global awards including 5 BAFTAs. Technologically ground breaking – and highly creative in both style and writing – it provided something completely unseen before; fast becoming a global hit franchise. With five series in production, the show is an important factor in CN winning BAFTA children’s channel of the year.

Elevating our second flagship kids channel – Boomerang – the EMEA business led a global rebrand of the channel which launches imminently; a testament to the growing importance of this channel for our business and our family audiences – as well as our imperative to keep our channels relevant, fresh and contemporary.

truTV launched in the UK last Summer, expanding our portfolio into all UK homes and allowing us to play in the free-to-air space. And TNT is a leading general entertainment channel in Germany and Spain – with a content pipe stronger and more promising than ever, and proof that we can build a general entertainment proposition in addition to our news and kids offer.

What are the biggest expansion opportunities for your brands and franchises?

Now, more than ever, the strength of operating as part of Time Warner has unleashed new opportunities. One example is the development of an aligned kids and family strategy with sister company Warner Bros – an important output of which is the Boomerang re-brand. Our audiences and partners will most certainly benefit from new the opportunities being created by closer collaboration.

Licensing & Merchandising is a significant part of our ambition to grow franchises – aligned with our strategy to keep re-invigorating brands that resonate globally. An exciting re-launch for us is Powerpuff Girls, premiering across the region next year and promising a new and fashion forward consumer products range.

And of course – we must continue to be everywhere our audiences are. Smart insight informs our business development – and we know our audiences crave engagement through many and varied platforms. Our non-linear offering is going to grow significantly and we are continuing to explore gaming, a much-loved pastime of our audiences.

You also lead kids networks at Turner. How is the new generation of consumers interacting with content?

Driven and resourceful – generation Z often known as the ‘igeneration’ – have an entrepreneurial spirit, wanting to create things, collaborate with others and inspire.

They are curious and like feeling empowered by having control of the content they engage with. And of course they are not just watching TV – they’re everywhere; online, on mobile and tablets, playing games and collecting merchandise, watching on demand and interacting through social media. This generation is often taking in content through up to five screens.

As a creator driven channel Cartoon Network in particular is in a prime position to reach this audience as they want inspiring, creative leaders. We lead the charge in enabling a different kind of storytelling through our new generation of artists, for a new generation of kids.

Across both flagship kids channels – Boomerang and Cartoon Network – we produce content for this generation’s preferred platforms – much which is quickly accessible and shareable worldwide within seconds. Every piece we create must be relevant to our audience, but must also reflect the attributes and values of our channels.
We acquire the rights to leverage our brands online and on demand – and will continue to develop shows within these areas as our audience’s appetite and expectation for this increases.

How important is investment in order to maintain cable’s differentiated position?

For any television business, investment in areas that drive profit is vital – in particular for us this is programming, marketing and franchise management. But this can be considered a hygiene factor, essential for us to compete and a vital component of maintaining a healthy market position – as well as a foundation for growth.

The cable industry has its own hygiene factors, including the continuation of investment in infrastructure and building out networks where economically feasible. Furthermore, cable needs to further build on its ability to create compelling product bundles and enhance the in-home user experience.

In terms of differentiation, cable platforms have access to that precious commodity – direct dialogue and relationship with the end-consumer. Investing in better understanding of the household, its preferences and behaviours give cable companies an enviable position – that also comes with considerable responsibility. Investment in analytics opens up a broad range of opportunities from enhanced content discovery platforms to targeted advertising. But, as many have found out from Sony to the US Government, security of data is paramount.

It is vital for the industry to work with content providers to ensure that we build new and innovative ways to tell stories that surprise and delight audiences and, importantly, drive value for all.

Copyright is a hot topic in Europe, with the Commission currently considering an update to the existing legal framework. With digital and online platforms changing how and when consumers access content, what type of (if any) new rules are needed?

Copyright enables continued investment in talent and production – which is extremely important for European audiences. The existing EU copyright regime is generally sound and provides flexibility. As indicated earlier, the industry is defined by its culture of innovation and is evolving at an astonishing pace. Consumers are the beneficiaries of an explosion of high-quality personalised and localised content that is widely and readily available on practically all platforms and devices at home and on the go. In a fast technology-driven environment, the best way forward is to encourage contractual and market-driven solutions anchored in strong exclusive rights.


Meet Giorgio Stock, President, EMEA, Turner Broadcasting System at Cable Congress 2015, 11-13 March , The SQUARE, Brussels – Register now.

EUROPE, A LEADER NOT A LAGGARD by Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman, Cable Europe #CableCongress2015

Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman, Cable Europe

Matthias Kurth,
Executive Chairman,
Cable Europe

Since I joined Cable Europe in 2012 I’ve become accustomed to a particular feeling that the New Year brings. I’m not referring to the promise of change and betterment (though I have made a few of my own resolutions for 2015), but of the excitement and anticipation that builds in the run up to Cable Congress.

Reasons always abound for why Cable Congress is the must-attend event for the industry. In the last few years the cable sector has been in a permanent state of change. Competition with telecommunication companies, infrastructure carriers and content providers has driven a constant reshaping of business models.  We’re seeing M&A activity and continued investor appetite on one side and fast changes in technology and value creation strategies on the other. It’s an exciting mix. Cable Congress is the only place where leading players come together to discuss these trends, how to deal with emerging challenges and how to create new opportunities.

“We’re seeing M&A activity and continued investor appetite on one side and fast changes in technology and value creation strategies on the other.”

I’m particularly excited about Congress coming back to Brussels following a year that has brought many changes to the EU’s political landscape and a strong commitment by the new European Commission to the digital economy. With many policymakers from the European Commission and the European Parliament expected to be in attendance, I look forward to hearing more about plans to realise the Digital Single Market in Europe. Critically though, the digital agenda and further investment in high speed broadband can only be enhanced if we all have trust in a stable and forward-looking policy framework. To do this, we need balanced policy discussions focused on finding smart solutions, which we will kick off with dialogue at the Congress.

“We need balanced policy discussions focused on finding smart solutions.”

While we often hear in Europe that we are playing catch up with the US in the technology space, when I compare the investment climate in Europe with the United States, I am actually rather optimistic about some of the regulatory trends. Take net neutrality. Whereas President Obama has indicated he wants to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications act that stems from the 1930s, I see early indicators of a markedly more rational and fruitful solution in Europe. The European Commission, along with an increasing number of national governments, is convinced there is a win-win solution to be had between upgrading internet access and driving the development of innovative, specialised services such as videoconferencing, telemedicine and M2M communications. This contrasts starkly with President Obama’s message, which came as a shock to investors, and leads to uncertainty about the investment environment in the US.

“I believe Europeans might have the opportunity to lead the way when it comes to investment in broadband and digital infrastructure.”

In fact, I believe Europeans might have the opportunity to lead the way when it comes to investment in broadband and digital infrastructure. While every investor will think carefully about the legal and regulatory infrastructure it interacts with, it is clear that better broadband and private investment can form a cornerstone of Europe’s digital agenda. To be sure, regulation played an important role in opening up former government monopolies, but the landscape has changed dramatically in telecommunication over the last 15 years. A modern way of regulation has to reflect that and leave more and more ground to market forces and innovation. Europe is moving in the right direction.


Cable Congress will be taking place in Brussels from 11-13 March 2015, The SQUARE, Brussels. For more information and to register, please click here.

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