A Telco Turnaround

A Telco Turnaround

AI and BDA – along with IoT, Cloud, 5G, and cybersecurity – are opening up new vistas in several consumer and corporate areas for the telecommunication industry

Big Data Analytics (BDA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are driving new revenue streams for telecommunication companies (telcos). Telcos are well-positioned in the BDA value chain, starting with big data generation and collection. They have access to a plethora of data including subscriber data, mobility data, and usage data that can be used to derive insights and business intelligence. For example, Singtel’s business unit, DataSpark, leverages mobility data from subscribers, road networks, and census data to provide insights for different business use cases – such as the use of transport in Singapore during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AI and BDA, along with IoT, Cloud, 5G, and cybersecurity, are enabling a multitude of telco use cases in several consumer and corporate areas; ranging from personalised services, chatbots, AI and BDA platforms to AI integration to improve business performance and agility. BDA is enabled by the increasing number of real-time data sources, such as call logs, geographic data and consumer purchasing habits.

Diverse Use Cases

BDA and AI are complementary, and several use cases are achieved with both, such as business intelligence platforms and network automation. The BDA value chain enables a stream of processed data inputs into AI platforms and applications. BDA also provides essential inputs into the AI platform enabling the processing of high volumes of data at high speed, with low latency and from different data structures. BDA and AI, along with Cloud and IoT, power Industry 4.0 enabling a multitude of use cases in several consumer and corporate areas, ranging from personalized services to improving business performance and agility.

  • The French multinational telco Orange’s Engage 2025 strategy is to utilize data and AI throughout its operations, customer interactions, and its networks to improve efficiency, save CAPEX/OPEX, and improve customer experience. Orange plans 100% digitization of its network, sales channels, and each step of the customer’s journey to maximize its use of AI and BDA to bring efficiency to its operations and better customer experience.
  • In 2020, Orange attributed between €60 million (US$73 million) and €80 million (US$97.3 million) in net savings, compared to 2019, due to BDA and AI automation. Orange uses AI and BDA to improve its operations and reduce fraudulent activity, deepen its customer interactions, automate its networks, and make its products and services smarter and more tailored to customers.
  • Deutsche Telekom (DT) is leveraging AI to help the company plan new fibre-optic routes quicker and more efficiently. DT uses a vehicle to collect data on the potential fibre route using sensors and laser scanning tools. This data is translated into a 3D image data using AI machine vision, with the system learning to recognize houses, trees, and other objects. More specifically the technology recognizes whether there is asphalt or paved areas on a route that will need to be dug up for a potential fibre line. The AI maps and recognises the most efficient route, both in time and cost.

Technology for Tomorrow

AI is enabled by key technologies, such as conversational platforms, computer vision and context-aware computing – which can be further powered by machine learning (ML) and/or deep learning (DL) algorithms, to supplement the AI’s built-in understanding of what insights can be derived from a dataset. Telcos are positioning themselves across the AI and BDA sector, offering solutions such as BDA and AI as a Service, platforms for the development of AI and BDA, and BI solutions utilizing AI and BDA. In addition, telcos are implementing these products into their own services and networks to improve and streamline their operations and services.

DT’s subsidiary T-Systems specializes in B2B ICT, platforms, consultancy, devices, and digital services, with the company generating over €4.2 billion (US$5 billion) in revenue in 2020. T-Systems aims to guide enterprises in their digital transformation by offering AI and BDA services – such as consulting, data analytics, business insights, big data tools like BDaaS, and AI solutions, and an AI platform. T-Systems has also tailored its offerings to industry verticals, including retail, transports, and utilities.

The Next Level

Telcos are also innovating upon their existing services through the use of AI, building AI into their network management, fibre rollouts and digital services. In addition, telcos are able to develop and sell their own AI applications or provide businesses with the platforms to develop their own specific to their use case. Moreover, telcos can build more in-depth BDA capabilities and turn these into solution portfolios like BDA platforms, vertical-specific BDA solutions, and consultancy services. This can be achieved in-house, by creating new specialized divisions and/or through partnerships with other ecosystem players.

Vodafone launched their TOBi AI chatbot in 2017, with the AI having gone on to replace some human customer interactions and save costs. The bot now runs in 15 languages and in multiple markets – handling over 60% of Vodafone’s customer interactions in 2020. Overall, telecom operators require AI to fuel their digital transformation objectives, to drive differentiation, business agility, new revenue streams, and emulate the customer experience and operational efficiencies that digital brands like Amazon, Google, Tencent, Alibaba, Netflix, Apple, and Facebook have already delivered.

AI has further paved the way for Industry 4.0 and quantum computing. This next level of AI follows the technological development of quantum computing, leveraging the properties of quantum states to perform computation, with standard computers operating in binary language whereas quantum computers are the opposite – operating in a state of superposition.

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