Shiv Kumar Singh, COO, NEC Corporation India

Digital transformation is gaining mo­mentum at an accelerated pace in the dynamic business environment. Re­se­ar­ch suggests that the global market for digital transformation is expected to grow to $1,009.8 billion by 2025 from $469.8 billion in 2020, at a compound annual gro­wth rate of 16.5 per cent during this period.

Organisations have been adopting “digital transformation” and making significant efforts to incorporate technological advan­ce­ments in their work for some time now. Am­ong the early adopters of this trend is the telecom industry, where digital trans­for­mation is all about the modernisation of processes to compete with new-age organisations and meet the ever-evolving market demands. Some innovative technological pra­­ctices that are set to transform the In­dian telecom industry are given below.

Robotic process automation

Automation in the customer journey th­rough chatbots, virtual assistants and kn­ow­ledge management systems is the key to reducing labour-intensive and mundane tasks. The introduction of robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning (ML) in the system will not only facilitate network management but also improve network infrastructure, digitise processes like invoicing and ensure instant customer que­ry resolution. According to a research repo­rt by Gartner, nearly 78 per cent of the telecom industry has adopted RPA, resulting in rapid data extraction from one system and its transfer to another. RPA, combined with artificial intelligence (AI) processing, supports automated network optimisation to ensure that faults are addressed in real time with minimal hu­man intervention.

Customer relationship management

In telecom, industry players require the use of customer relationship management (CRM) to track, analyse and manage interactions between existing and new custo­me­rs. A strong CRM software ensures sm­ooth customer interactions, increases sal­es, helps in customer acquisition and re­ten­tion, and minimises risk.

Business analytics

In order to meet customer requirements and provide a seamless experience, telecom companies must enhance their operations, analyse customer data and improve overall efficiency. With 5G being the latest generation of wireless technology, it offers the ability to connect a very high density of sensors. AI brings with it a new computing paradigm in which algorithms learn from the data to efficiently handle the ever-growing amount of information that sensors generate, including being able to infer patterns and trends in near-real time.

Big data

Big data technologies such as cloud-based analytics can significantly reduce costs and increase efficiency when it comes to storing and processing large amounts of data. This is especially crucial in an in­dustry like telecom where there is a bulk of data ac­ro­ss technological devices. Big data analytics, for example, enables or­ganisations to predict peak network usage so that they can take measures to relieve congestion. Net­wo­rk outage prediction, maintenance optimisation, efficient reso­ur­ce utilisation and reduction in operational costs are a few outcomes of the ri­ght exploitation of such technologies. Big data can also help identify customers who are most likely to have problems in paying bills as well as those who are about to change service providers, ultimately leading to churn.

Internet of things

Internet of things (IoT) has made it easier for people and gadgets to communicate with each other. It is crucial for telecom bu­sinesses to develop new services and applications to monetise IoT solutions. The moot point here is that the number of IoT users (being machines) is likely to be significantly higher than the number of human end-users. Adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS), backend-as-a-ser­vi­ce (BaaS), and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models can improve business operations and enable the delivery of improved services to customers. New and innovative IoT solutions allow telcos to use wide area networks (WANs) that establish energy efficient communication between machin­es. These low-power global radio networks in IoT devices allow telecom organisations to generate an additional source of revenue. Fur­ther­more, network providers can develop new applications, products and services on IoT to multiply their profits in the industry.

In sum

One of the key objectives of telecom co­m­panies is to survive and thrive in the digital era and keep abreast with the changing technologies. The single most significant challenge faced by telcos today is retaining their customer base and reducing operational expenditure while striving to increa­se their clientele in order to raise their ARPU. Therefore, technology must be implemented with long-term viability and achievability in mind. All in all, the telecom industry is set to undergo numerous changes, with digital transformation being a key driver of this shift. The adoption of innovative technologies will play a significant role in shaping the future of the telecom ecosystem, making it progressive and profitable in the long run.