Today, most companies have moved on from the phase of exploring artificial intelligence (AI) to a phase of strategising its implementation. The telecom industry is no exception and with the deployment of 5G on the anvil, it is beginning to take a deep dive into AI and data analytics.

With a rise in new applications and services offered by mobile service providers, traditional voice and text messaging businesses are on a decline. This has also led to a realignment of customer expectations. There is growing competition in the sector with an increase in the adoption of new-age digital applications. According to a report by the International Data Corporation, close to 65 per cent of telecom players are aiming to improve their infrastructure by investing in AI systems. For telecom operators to stay relevant in this competitive age, rapid innovation is the key. This can be achieved by adapting to new technologies to improve the overall efficiency of both  internal and external processes.

Improved customer experience

AI has the power to collect and process large amounts of data pertaining to networks and their devices. This can be used to make quick and accurate business decisions as well as optimise network capabilities. Operators can use AI and data analytics to identify and present different services to the right customers at the right time. Think about how you get those automated messages from your service provider whenever your internet pack is low on data, asking you to recharge/upgrade it. They do this by tracking factors such as individual internet usage and spending behaviour.

Through AI, operators can collect and analyse data based on customer interactions, which can provide valuable behavioural insights. They can then use this information to target individual customers with personalised ads, offers and services. This information gives operators the ability to better utilise network resources and adjust their services accordingly.

Predict and prevent interruptions

In order to leverage the optimum benefits of automation, service providers will have to alter and/or replace their frameworks to accommodate AI in their processes. Machine learning tools have the ability to gather insights from the past data that is fed into them. Based on a deep analysis of patterns through algorithms, they can learn and make predictions for the business. This enables teams to proactively address problems with various equipment and hardware before they can interrupt customer services. It is also useful for security purposes as AI has the ability to track and predict potential threats to the network, thus giving operators time to take the necessary preventive steps.

Streamlining operations with virtual assistants

Telecom service providers usually have a huge consumer base. Due to this, they also receive a large volume of calls and messages from customers pertaining to issues and support. This is where several companies are implementing chatbots or virtual assistants to streamline customer service processes. A chatbot is based on AI and machine learning tools that enable it to have human-like interactions with customers in real time, 24 hours a day. These automated assistants can answer most questions that are predictable/repetitive in nature, learning from past data as well as with every new customer interaction.

If a conversation reaches a point where human intervention is required, the teams have access to the customer information that the chatbot has gathered so far and can take it forward accordingly. This leaves ample time for operators to deal with more complex aspects. Further, the extent to which chatbots are used may vary from company to company.

Some companies limit the use of chatbots to only basic technical support. However, companies such as AT&T have made chatbots that are becoming “friends” with customers, learning their preferences and making entertainment-related recommendations based on these. Reliance Jio also recently acquired the conversational AI platform, Haptik, through which it plans to compete with virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Home by enhancing its AI-based capabilities through a far more localised and vernacular language-enabled approach.

With an increase in awareness about AI, telecom networks are moving beyond traditional technical support. They are now using AI and its tools to help them increase the efficiency of their networks with predictive analysis. Additionally, they are able to utilise tools such as virtual assistants to cut costs and improve the overall customer experience by studying individual behaviour and engaging in a more personalised manner. This is paving the path for a future of automated services and is set to redefine the telecom industry as we know it today.

Suhale Kapoor,
Executive Vice President and Co-Founder,