Coordination Key to TWC’s Stern

Author:
Updated:
Original:

So many new products, so great the need to coordinate.

That’s the concept behind Time Warner Cable’s new Product Management Group which, as reported, is under the direction of newly minted executive vice president Peter Stern. He’s tasked with integrating and coordinating the second-biggest U.S. cable company’s residential video, data and phone products.

His group will work alongside the MSO’s marketing organization, which is searching for a chief marketing officer, and Carl Rossetti’s Corporate Development Group. Corporate development gets products developed and launched, with VoIP the most recent example, Stern said.

“When they mature, it passes to the product management function,” Stern said.

As reported (on May 9), Stern reports to chairman and CEO Glenn Britt until the cable company completes its search for a chief operating officer.

PHONE EXAMPLE

Rossetti’s corporate development group gets product developed and launched, with residential phone service the most recent example, Stern said. “When they mature, it passes to the product-management function.

“The complexity in our business is growing exponentially,” Stern said in an interview last week. “We now are pursing seven different business lines — residential video, data, voice, commercial data, video and voice, and over time, wireless. They are all in different states of maturity. We have over 30 different products which we are trying to deploy across 31 different divisions.”

The marketing department executes marketing plans for the various products. “We are a partner to that group,” Stern said — product management sits between marketing and product development.

“Within video and high-speed data, we have over 30 products today,” Stern continued. “We have a wide range of features and functionality. We want to improve what we already offer, introduce new features and communicate to subscribers the benefits we provide.

“Our goal is to grow and retain basic subscribers through value more so than price, and product management helps to make that happen.”

Stern will have seven direct reports. Bob Benya has been named senior vice president, On Demand, responsible for on-demand categories of movies, premium channels, music, advertising, free VOD and local VOD, plus the new Startover service that lets consumers click back to the start of a program.

Julie Simon has been named vice president of video, charged with TV navigation systems and the user interface, HDTV, digital simulcast, switched digital and developing new video packages.

As vice president of consumer devices, Maura Fox’s responsibility includes DVRs, multiroom DVRs, non-DVR set-tops, IPTV, media sharing and portable media.

Interactive-TV veteran Joan Gillman will join the company as vice president of ITV. It’s the first time the cable company has a fully dedicated executive with the ITV title, Stern said, and her purview covers ITV, advanced advertising, voting, tickers, triggers, TV games, ITV ads, TV-based customer-care applications, audience measurement and targeted advertising.

Road Runner will now fall under Stern’s direction, with Steve Cook, vice president of Road Runner, as his direct report. Cook’s responsibilities include the Road Runner web site, high-speed Internet features and functionality, speeds and tiers.

There also is an open position, vice president of broadband services, which will encompass Time Warner’s relationships with America Online, Road Runner on AOL, and EarthLink Inc., as well as home networking and high-speed Internet premium services.

Fred Pappalardo, vice president of product management operations, also will report to Stern. He’ll handle communications, budgets and other operations in the group.

For the time being, the phone group, led by Gerry Campbell, will continue to report to Rossetti, as it completes the launch of VoIP across all Time Warner Cable markets.

Once the phone business matures, it will be moved into the product management group, Stern said, perhaps a year from now when the Adelphia systems will likely be getting integrated.

REPORTS RUN COUNCILS

Stern said each of his seven direct reports will oversee a product management council, which will be made up from people from each of the regions, plus programming and technology representatives.

The reorganization is a blend of centralized functions with regional responsibility. Time Warner “needs a singular product strategy to accelerate time to market and to conserve scare resources from technology, vendors and programmers,” Stern said. “But we stand on the shoulders of giants, the people in the field,” who are responsible for testing new products and implementing rollout strategies, he said.

Stern joined Time Warner Cable a year ago, charged with strategic planning and helping senior management better understand how the industry was likely to evolve. (He had been vice president of strategic initiatives ate Time Warner Inc. three years prior to that.) That year spent developing product strategy became a natural segue to Stern’s new position and formulation of the product management group, he said.

The changes were announced internally May 5.

Related