How automation can benefit telecoms


The telecom industry has been in the middle of a transformation. In the decade ahead the telecoms will completely embed automation into the DNA of their operations.

Automation in the telecom industry started decades ago and has evolved with every innovation along the way: from rotary pulse phones to tone-based; from manual switchboards to high-speed voice/data switches; and from human operators/order takers to IVR/automated response systems. In the last decade, we’ve seen acceptance and implementation of traditional automation of simple repetitive tasks.

However, we are still in the very early stages of automation adoption. Most service providers and large enterprises are in the proof of concept/validation stage and a handful of them are exploring/researching AI-based algorithms. The next five years will see an accelerated development and advancement in automation. The telecoms will make this possible by blending the various technology advancements at their disposal: data digitization, virtualization, the cloud, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, telemetry and analytics.

Think in terms of three levels of automation. At the basic level, companies can use rules-based Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to address high-volume, low-complexity repetitive tasks and processes by leveraging smaller software programs or scripts, also known as bots or widgets. These bots typically analyze simple structured data and documented processes and act according to predefined rules. It’s all about getting things done faster, cheaper and more accurate.

At the second level, Knowledge-based Automation can access and analyze multiple data points (key parameters) across several tools and systems, which are then interpreted for decision making. Knowledge-based automation leverages decision making algorithms based on predefined rules and documented processes on structured data.

Finally, Cognitive Automation leverages AI, machine learning and analytics. It incorporates natural language processing (NLP) and unstructured data along with complex decision-making algorithms to predict outcomes and prevent outages. Service providers are working on zero-touch provisioning and have begun to envision the way these so-called “Autonomous Networks” could run and auto-correct themselves.

As a practical matter, there are multiple business and management tasks in which telecoms can gain benefits from automation:

  • Order Entry: Complete/accurate capture of service parameters sold to customers.
  • Order Management: Orders are broken into subcomponents (fiber/CPE; voice/internet/security) and processed/tracked in parallel.
  • Contract Management: Digitization/storage of contracts and clear availability of service commitments by location.
  • Supply Chain/Procurement: Creation of eCatalogue and enabling eAuction.
  • Service Delivery: From activation to test/acceptance, inventory and capacity management.
  • Operations/Service Assurance: From service desk, auto-ticketing to self-healing.
  • Billing/Revenue reconciliation: Ensuring alignment of service commitment to bills generated.

Overall, with automation, telecoms can look forward to reduced errors and faster, more efficient task and process completion. These business benefits will significantly reduce customer pain points, delivering a much-improved experience for the telecom’s business customers.

A word of caution: Automation should not be attempted in an all-at-once manner on the complete lifecycle of a function such as order management, service delivery or service assurance. Start by process harmonization, followed by automating simpler tasks of a function and then move up to automate complex processes.

Mohit Mathur is a Client Executive at DXC and leads the telecom network services consulting portfolio. His work focuses on bringing innovation and efficiency to the telecom lifecycle by leveraging tools, processes, automation and analytics. Prior to joining DXC, Mohit held roles at global telecom service operators such as CenturyLink, Sprint and Telstra in product management/ marketing; consulting and across various network/technology functions.

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