Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to profoundly impact the way companies conduct business, and telecom service providers are no exception.

From an internal perspective, it can be used to improve network management, operations, security and customer support.  Operators can also use AI to add new features to existing products, or to bring entirely new solutions to market.

All of this is good for customers, but the benefits don’t stop there.  Service providers can use the lessons they learned with AI to help customers make the most of the new capabilities.

Across the globe, major telecom players are implementing AI strategies:

  • AT&T is using ML algorithms to automate its call centre procedures and to analyse and correct network outages. AT&T also collaborated with Tech Mahindra to build an open source, AI platform, called Acumos AI.  The platform, hosted by the Linux Foundation, makes assembling, sharing and deploying AI applications easier.
  • Similarly, Verizon is using AI to improve network management, including enhancing its SD-WAN and wLAN services. Its roadmap includes use of AI for network management and network security.
  • Orange Business Services is implementing its vision of a flexible, AI-driven network, using AI to improve network management, such as to speed up root cause analysis, proactively address network issues, and streamline customer support, including the use of speech analytics. As it navigates its internal AI journey, it notes that it is developing skills to replicate best practices externally for its customers.
  • In Asia, Singtel is working with Nanyang Technological University and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research to create a lab that will develop AI-infused applications for smart cities, transportation, healthcare and manufacturing.
  • Service providers aren’t on their own when adopting AI; they have partners they can work with, such as IT service providers. For example, HCL just launched HCL TURBO, an AI-driven, end-to-end testing platform specifically designed for communications providers

Market still in its infancy

But the market is still in the early stages.  Only a select few telecom service providers have clearly and cohesively outlined how they are using AI to transform their business customers’ experiences.  This is expected to change as more and more operators embrace the technology.

Results from GlobalData’s 2018 Global IT Customer Insight survey suggest that telco adoption of AI is poised to increase during the next few years.  As shown below, of the 181 telecom operators surveyed in 2018, 55% have already prioritised chatbots, machine learning and deep learning, yet over the next two years this number is expected to grow to 75%.

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Enterprises should expect to hear more from their service providers on how they are using AI.  If not, they should wonder why, since the technology’s benefits will trickle down to the services they experience