Telcos Turn to AI to Solve Their Biggest Problems


As the industry grows more complex and uncertain, telcos must embrace AI as a strategic tool to tackle challenges, improve decision-making, and transform business.

The telco industry is up against significant challenges. In addition to a tough macroeconomic landscape, they’re battling heightened competition from new entrants, rising costs due to inflation, and a race to find new revenue sources in a crowded market.

Telcos are swiftly adopting AI to overcome obstacles and transform business operations. In fact, a NVIDIA survey found that 95% of telecommunications companies are engaged with AI, and 65% of respondents agreed that AI is important to their company’s success.

By integrating AI into daily operations, telcos have an opportunity to emerge stronger in a competitive market. It’ll allow them to streamline processes, allocate resources more efficiently, and deliver better experiences – leading to revenue growth, improved customer loyalty, and cost savings.

AI’s role in driving business outcomes

AI plays a vital role in enhancing efficiency and operations within telcos, encompassing both internal operations and customer-facing interactions.

From an internal viewpoint, AI streamlines workflows for employees, freeing up time spent on mundane tasks to focus on higher-level work – improving overall job satisfaction, and empowering employees to deliver exceptional service. For instance, AI can automate repetitive tasks, such as managing customer inquiries using chatbots that can respond to customers efficiently and based on previous interactions or overseeing network operations through proactively fixing service issues. By utilizing AI, telcos can automate these processes, driving down cost to serve while making teams more productive.

Moreover, AI can provide valuable insights that inform decision making and operational efficiency. By analyzing a wide range of data, including customer behavior, network performance metrics, market trends, and competitor activities, AI can help identify patterns, predict trends, and offer actionable recommendations. For example, by examining data such as call volumes, internet usage, and service plan preferences, AI can identify trends indicating a growing demand for high-speed internet in a particular geographic area. Based on these insights, telcos can decide to invest in upgrading their network infrastructure in that region to meet anticipated demand. This allows telcos to make informed decisions quickly, optimize resource allocation, and adapt to changing market dynamics, making them more agile and data-driven organizations.

Not only is AI crucial to automating internal processes, but it also exponentially improves customer experiences for telcos. Through personalized and streamlined solutions, telcos can offer faster response times, accurate problem resolution, and improved service customization for customers. For example, a customer might use an AI chatbot to quickly resolve a billing issue. Through an efficient and automated conversation, the customer would receive real-time explanations and even get assistance with payment options, resolving their issue promptly.

AI’s influence doesn’t stop there. It extends across the entire service lifecycle to areas such as network planning and service assurance. In network planning, AI helps optimize infrastructure, improve coverage, and enhance network performance by predicting demand and proactively addressing issues. Similarly, AI-driven platforms streamline service assurance processes, ensuring consistent service delivery and minimizing downtime. This enhances customer satisfaction, reduces mean time to repair (MTTR), and strengthens the overall reliability of telco services.

It’s clear that failure to embrace AI represents a missed opportunity for organizations looking to enhance efficiency, improve customer and employee experiences, and drive better business outcomes.

See also: AI: A Beacon of Hope for the Telecommunications Industry

Best practices for telcos looking to hit the ground running with AI

To be fully successful, telcos must start to prepare their networks, their organizations, and their processes to integrate AI, starting with data quality, security, governance, skills, and culture:

  • Data Quality: Telcos should ensure their data is reliable and useful for AI purposes by regularly checking its accuracy, completeness, consistency, and relevance. They can achieve this by carefully validating data with data quality tools and platforms. Setting clear standards and regularly monitoring data quality is key.
  • Security: Telcos need to protect their data and AI systems from unauthorized access and misuse. They can do this by using encryption, authentication, and other security techniques, as well as employing security tools to keep everything safe.
  • Governance: Telcos must manage their data and AI systems responsibly to stay in line with their business goals, ethical standards, and legal requirements. This means creating clear policies, assigning roles, and using tools to ensure everything runs smoothly. Having governance boards and updating frameworks regularly is important, too.
  • Re-skilling: Telcos should train their employees to work effectively with AI by offering education, training, and certification programs. They can use various learning tools and platforms to support this effort and create career paths and incentives to encourage growth.
  • Culture: Telcos need to foster a culture where innovation and collaboration are encouraged so they can make the most of their data and AI capabilities. This involves promoting data and AI experimentation, welcoming feedback, and celebrating learning to keep the momentum going.

See also: Why AI is the Catalyst in Transforming the Telecom Industry

The role of generative AI in value creation for telcos

AI is immensely valuable to telcos, and the widespread adoption of generative AI will prove to be even more transformative. Generative AI can create additional value for telcos across every aspect of the business by generating novel and diverse outcomes, such as creating personalized and engaging customer experiences, designing and optimizing network architectures and configurations, and troubleshooting complex challenges and outages.

Generative AI can help telcos today through:

  • Network management: Using generative AI, telcos can adjust network models and settings in real-time based on current data and feedback. This approach ensures networks perform well, stay resilient, and can grow as needed. AI-supported network configuration templates further enhance this capability, streamlining the design process, reducing errors, and accelerating time to market.
  • Driving efficiencies in contact centers: Generative AI enables telcos to streamline their contact center operations by using chatbots and voice assistants to handle customer inquiries. These AI-infused channels provide personalized and natural responses, summaries, and next-best-action recommendations, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. By automating routine tasks, telcos can free up agents to focus on more complex customer issues, leading to better overall efficiency and service quality.
  • Delivering proactive support: With generative AI, telcos can quickly identify and resolve customer issues. For example, AI summarization of incident data reduces MTTR and can also help prioritize high-risk incidents. By promptly addressing service issues, telcos provide more proactive support, leading to increased customer satisfaction and stronger relationships.
  • Streamlining service fulfillment: Leveraging generative AI, telcos can dynamically create order tasks for order orchestration, improving time to market while reducing error-prone manual efforts. By automating and optimizing service fulfillment processes, telcos can enhance accuracy, reduce costs, and accelerate order fulfillment, ultimately enhancing the overall customer experience and driving revenue growth.

AI has shifted from being a luxury to a necessity for nearly every industry, including telecom. As the industry grows more complex and uncertain, telcos must embrace AI as a strategic tool to tackle challenges, improve decision-making, and transform business. Telcos that embrace AI will gain a competitive edge. They’ll be able to innovate and deliver new value to customers, partners, and stakeholders while uncovering new business models, driving cost savings, and transforming customer service and operations.

Rohit Batra

About Rohit Batra

Rohit Batra is the General Manager and Vice President, Telecommunications, Media & Technology at ServiceNow. He leads the team in defining the product and solution strategy and roadmap for TMT pertaining to domains such as service management, order management, and customer experience for ServiceNow customers. Rohit also sits on the Technical Advisory Board of MEF, helping drive standards for Telecommunication companies. Prior to ServiceNow, Rohit ran the solutions and product strategy teams at various organizations, including Salesforce, Amdocs, Oracle, and Comverse. He has over 20 years of experience in the TMT industry across the Customer Experience and Service Management domains, running delivery, solutions, and product management functions. Rohit also ran several industry standard initiatives including leading the Customer Experience Lifecycle and Omni-channel best practices for TM Forum.

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