Automation in Telecom: Where Success Lies

Automation in Telecom: Where Success lies

The use of telecom services is growing rapidly, fueled by new technologies like edge computing, 5G, and the AI-based Internet of Things (AIoT). For telecommunication companies, this growing demand offers substantial financial prospects, but it also brings with it some major obstacles. Network usage nearly doubles every year, and as a result, even simple functions like network design and planning, delivery, performance and optimisation, operations, security, and client care are more tedious to keep up with. 

To remain competitive, it’s crucial for telcos to consistently adjust to new expectations and technologies. Flexibility, creativity, and a tactical approach are necessary to stay ahead of rivals, differentiate offers, and hold onto market share.

Intelligent Automation (IA), which combines robotic process automation (RPA) with artificial intelligence (AI), can help telcos simplify day-to-day operations and change the way they interact with consumers. This article explores the potential of end-to-end process automation in the telecommunications sector, with an emphasis on network and service operations.

6 Technologies for telecom automation

  1. IA: IA can automate routine and time-consuming tasks such as billing, network operations, data entry, customer onboarding, and service provisioning. This not only frees up human resources for more complex tasks, but also reduces errors associated with manual processes. For example, IA can automatically update customer records across multiple systems, ensuring data consistency and accuracy.

  2. Generative Artificial Intelligence(Gen AI)/Machine Learning (ML): AI and ML algorithms can analyze large datasets to predict network failures, detect anomalies, and automate troubleshooting, significantly improving network reliability and performance. For example, AI can optimize traffic routing and resource allocation in real-time, adapting to changing network conditions and user demands. ML models can also forecast network load, enabling proactive capacity planning.

  3. Natural Language Processing(NLP): NLP technologies enable more natural and efficient interactions between customers and telco services, through chatbots and virtual assistants.

    These AI-driven tools can understand and process human language, providing instant, round-the-clock customer support, handle inquiries, and deliver upselling services without human intervention. This improves customer experience while reducing the workload on customer service teams.

  4. Cloud Computing: Cloud computing offers telcos the flexibility to quickly launch and scale services without the need for significant upfront investment in physical infrastructure. With automation, customers can directly manage their services through self-service portals, resources are automatically scaled to meet demand, and various services across the cloud ecosystem are seamlessly integrated.
  1. Edge Computing: By processing data closer to its source, edge computing significantly reduces latency and enables real-time data analysis and decision-making. In the telco industry, this is crucial for applications requiring immediate responses, such as autonomous vehicles, IoT devices, and AR/VR services.

    Automation at the edge can facilitate dynamic resource allocation, data filtering, and security enforcement without the need to backhaul data to centralized data centers.

  2. Blockchain: Blockchain technology offers a secure and transparent way to manage transactions and data exchange in the telco industry. It can automate contract execution with smart contracts, ensure the integrity of transactions, and securely manage access to network resources. Blockchain’s decentralized nature also reduces the risk of data tampering and enhances trust among stakeholders.

Drivers of telecom automation

Justifying the business value of telecom automation is key to securing executive buy-in. Here are the primary drivers for automating telcos.

1. Enhancing network reliability

Telecom companies can quickly detect and resolve network problems before they escalate by using automation to continuously monitor key performance measures. Telcos can minimize downtime on their networks, and improve overall system reliability by streamlining procedures related to fault identification, performance optimization, and network monitoring.

2. Improving security by minimizing human errors

Information theft and cyber attacks are frequently caused by manual errors, which threaten network integrity. Automation reduces the need for staff intervention, lowering the possibility of errors. Telcos may improve their security posture and prevent future breaches with automated safeguards, access restrictions, and incident handling procedures.

3. Reducing employee workloads

Automating tedious, repetitive tasks frees up personnel to concentrate on more complex, specialized work and adds value to their day-to-day operations. For example, let’s consider the role of intelligent automation in the contact center. Without automation, human agents manually retrieve customer data from different systems to resolve queries. This leads to hold times and puts stress on the agents.

However, with IA, software bots can instantly login to multiple systems and retrieve customer data, displaying it on the agent’s single screen. This means human agents have all the information they need instantly, allowing them to serve customers effectively and eliminating hold times. 

4. Reducing mean time to response and mean time to repair

IA makes it easy to streamline incident response protocols, allowing telcos to manage and address problems promptly. Telecom enterprises may expedite network troubleshooting and reduce the effect of service interruptions on consumers by automating alarm monitoring, alarm filtering and correlation, ticket management, incident classification, and root cause evaluation.

Automation also makes preemptive issue mitigation and forecasting repairs possible, lowering the occurrence and impact of events even further. 

Leap from Intra-process automation to Inter-process automation

The telecommunications industry is set to spend over $50 billion over the next couple of years, largely on 5G provision and network automation. However, less than 10% of telecom companies responding to this study have entirely automated their operations. This signals that telcos have yet to tap into the full potential of automation—and realizing the importance of inter-process automation is key to unlocking this potential.

Inter-process automation refers to the automation of operations and procedures that span various areas within an organization. Unlike intra-process automation, which automates discrete processes or operations within a single realm, inter-process automation combines and handles processes across teams, networks, and programmes.

Telecom companies may simplify and optimize end-to-end operations by automating interrelated processes, reducing redundant systems, removing roadblocks, and minimizing exchanges between different departments.

By consolidating automation capacity, telcos may obtain insights into process efficiency, discover opportunities for improvement, and make data-driven choices to drive ongoing improvement. Telcos can adapt fast to changing demands, grow operations effectively, and capitalize on new possibilities by creating flexible, reusable automation workflows that do not interrupt existing processes.

If telcos intend to realize maximum return from automation, it’s best to move towards inter-process automation, also referred to as “closed loop automation”, which means that there is minimal to no human intervention involved. 

Automating network operations and management/End-to-End network automation

Network operations are integral to a telco’s functioning, and automating these operations end-to-end can help telecom providers unlock rapid productivity gains and business value. Here’s more on what network automation involves.

Network configuration and provisioning

Network provisioning involves configuring IT infrastructure such that only designated personnel, devices, and host servers may access it. Network provisioning is largely concerned with connection and safeguards, which requires a strong emphasis on hardware and user authentication. With automatic provisioning, network administrators spend less time developing and implementing rules, creating IP addresses, and setting up firewalls. Automation may help eliminate faults that impede network performance. 

For example, telcos can use AI-powered anomaly detection protocol to quickly identify and address network issues, reducing outages and service interruptions.

Rapid fault detection with resolution

When network problems arise, it is imperative to promptly address them to reduce downtime and maintain customer satisfaction. Digital workers can be programmed to identify network errors and classify them according to specified criteria like location, seriousness, and incident type. Utilizing this data, bots can recommend suitable remedies and execute automated solutions for specific types of issues. This expedites the resolution process and decreases the amount of time and resources required to handle network problems.

Network security

Staff oversight is the leading cause of security violations. CNBC reports that nearly 50% of companies cited negligence as the reason that data is compromised. Network automation eliminates manual errors and the likelihood of information theft through comprehensive patch management and security upgrades. This eliminates the need for IT professionals to manually reinstall programmes on staff computers, which can be very time-consuming. Furthermore, these tools can handle operations like testing and verification after patches have been applied, which confirms that the update was successful. Telcos can now protect the safety and confidentiality of vital information and financial exchanges by utilizing blockchain-driven technologies.

Performance monitoring and management

Digital workers can be configured to continuously track network functionality. They gather and interpret data to proactively detect any possible complications before they spiral out of control. Digital workers can subsequently create and rank service tickets automatically depending on the gravity of the situation. This allows support personnel to address network problems swiftly. Through the proactive identification and resolution of network issues, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) aids telecommunication providers in upholding a consistently high standard of network performance.

4 Benefits of automation for telcos

1. Transforming the customer experience

While consumers expect their concerns to be handled swiftly, compromising on personalization can be detrimental to their experience. However, intelligent automation now supports a more individualized strategy for customer contact.

Customer care representatives can offer higher-quality service using IA without compromising speed. Even in situations where human workers aren’t present, automation may avoid appearing “robotic” by integrating IA and NLP to mimic human interactions and offer tailored support.

2. Data-driven customer insights

Understanding customer consumption patterns helps telcos meet customer expectations more reliably. This data can be gathered by intelligent RPA bots from a network activity tracking system and compiled into a single database.

For instance, you may build customized offers and promotions by analyzing client behavior using machine learning and AI features. Using a CRM, intelligent bots can send out these promotions via SMS, email, or other communication platforms.

Intelligent bots also assist humans in live interactions. For example, in the call center, they can instantly retrieve data from different systems, giving agents the information they need to satisfy customer queries during the first interaction. These increased first call resolution (FCR) rates help telecom service providers build trust with customers and cultivate long-term relationships.

3. Error reduction

While telcos need to ensure that service is reliable, errors can occur while performing operations like modifying information and searching databases. Task automation (creating reports, changing record sets, etc.) and on-the-spot support for staff members through real-time insights can help drastically reduce these errors and minimize disruption. Network administrators can concentrate on more sophisticated operations, while IA technology can be used for routine tasks like incident management and troubleshooting.

4. Increased capacity

Network administration becomes challenging for carriers as traffic volumes rise, because intricate programmes are required to manage them, manually enter data, and fetch massive amounts of client data to boost functionality.

Intelligent bots can be thought of as 24/7 workers, and complete tasks with predictable efficiency. They may significantly expand a telecom company’s bandwidth on short notice, depending on the number of bots they wish to use and how many processes they want to automate. Furthermore, IA provides effective incident-handling support by automating repetitive operations and freeing personnel to focus on more pressing concerns.

In an increasingly competitive industry, automation helps telcos achieve and maintain a competitive lead. Automating additional processes is key to circumventing declining profits from network commercialization, regardless of whether their primary goal is to offer innovative solutions beyond connection.

To learn more about automation in the telecom industry and what automation solution is right for you, book a consultation today.

Author

Feyaz Khan

Feyaz Khan is the Chief Operating Officer at M.M., overseeing Operations and Service Delivery. In a career spanning 25 years, Feyaz has managed Operations & Service Delivery for companies like Telefonica O2 (UK), Vodafone Group (UK), Capgemini (UK), Huawei (Europe), and Ooredoo Group (Middle East). Feyaz is an avid traveller and has a strong interest in the adoption of emerging technologies.
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