Software Tracks New Builds


A new Englewood, Colo.-based outfit is developing software tools to help cable operators manage new-build marketing initiatives and handle ad-sales related trafficking issues.

Axiom Solutions assisted one large MSO in implementing its Job Tracking software solution for new-build activity in a large Western U.S. system, according to president Royce Palazzo.

The company is also in discussions with Adlink, the Los Angeles interconnect, about lending some software support to its ad sales operation, he said.

"We are a professional-services firm with focus on information technology for cable," said Palazzo.

Part of Axiom's pitch is that it can help cable operators more efficiently track their new-build marketing activity.

"New builds are very important," Palazzo said, for a number of reasons. "The challenge is, they want to start producing revenue as soon as they can."

For starters, new housing developments pose greenfield opportunities for increasing cable penetration. More important, the amount of housing turnover in the U.S. each year allows direct-broadcast satellite to get a crack at longtime cable subscribers who move into a new development.

Landing those potential customers as soon as they move in is crucial for cable operators, Palazzo said, as each new resident could also be a high-speed data or telephony subscriber.

Axiom's Job Tracking software synthesizes a number of key information points on new builds that cable employees can access across the system.

"It turns maps into business objects to leverage across the company," Palazzo said. "One view is shared across the business line."

First, Axiom adds information on new housing developments based on data from New Homes Trends, including the status of homes being built and when they are ready to be occupied.

"We leverage that to coordinate everybody and get more people working together," he said.

For instance, a cable operator could build plant in a new development months before occupancy, stranding capital that isn't providing revenue and tying up construction crews that could be deployed elsewhere.

Conversely, if a construction unit arrives at a housing development too late, a number of new homeowners may have already signed on for satellite, costing the cable company valuable sales.

Once the plant is built and homeowners begin taking up residence, information has to be transferred from the engineering department to marketing. Too often, Palazzo said, that handoff is inefficient or nonexistent.

Sometimes, addresses for new homes never make it into an MSO's billing system, he said.

Palazzo said an unnamed operator came to Axiom looking to improve and scale a similar in-house system it had created to track new-build activity in one of its Western U.S. systems.

"The cable system had started creating its own systems out of what they had, but they exceeded the capacity of their tools," Palazzo said. "They didn't have scalability. We helped them re-engineer what they had and develop a better architecture."

Axiom's solution is based on a five-part formula, Palazzo said. First, the information must be organized in a highly coordinated and integrated manner. Employees must be trained to follow the work process.

A second key point is that authority for financial approval and the completion of project tasks must be pushed down to the lowest level of the organization.

Third, information on individual projects must be readily available to all participants, Palazzo said.

Fourth, employees must be able to prioritize projects and control capital spending. Finally, workers need to be able to track the progress of new-build activity throughout the entire process.

"There is $10 million to $40 million in play each year in new build revenue and all that information is running around in people's heads," Palazzo said.

Although Job Tracking has been Axiom's primary MSO-related product, the company has helped programmer Crown Media Holdings Inc., parent of Hallmark Channel, to develop a broadcast-management software system.

"We helped them create a better information system," he said.

Axiom is also talking with Adlink, which distributes 32 ad avails each day across 44 ad-supported networks in 100 cable headends. That translates to hundreds of thousands of information tracking points, Palazzo said.