The value of telco automation

The diagram illustrates the development of automation and intelligence in a telco and considers the financial value for a “typical” telco.

The pink lines illustrate the timeline for delivery of all intelligent and automation in a particular area – most lines stretch out over multiple years as more simple automations are completed and additional intelligence or orchestrations become available to create more complex automations

The blue text quickly describe the significant additions of automation or intelligence

The slope estimates the value to a typical telco of implementing each of these automation areas based on past work conducted into the value of A3 for a telco.

Describing the movement between the various points on the diagram:

1.The first two points allow telcos to automate tedious, small tasks such as switching servers on and off or automating small routines in large teams such as the contact centre (for example, finishing a set of tasks at the end of a customer call).  These automations used RPA and script-based automations with little intelligence, and individual automations would generate small but meaningful financial benefits.  These automations required telcos to build automation management skills in areas such as the authentication of bots.

2.The areas of RAN and BSS automations – and the move towards a Dark NOC – are longer-running projects, starting off with small rules-based automations to undertake configuration changes and working towards introducing more intelligence as required.  These areas represent part of the telco’s digital transformation story – although there is a bias towards cost savings rather than creating better and innovative services – with significant headcount reductions in the NOC.  The size of the cost saving depended on whether the automation was optimizing spectrum and equipment usage (larger savings) or reducing operational headcount (smaller savings)

3.Cloud automation required new IT skills and new partnerships to be built; and underpins many of the other automations on the diagram.  The pace of a telco’s cloud journey impacts its ability to push forward with these other automations and from a financial perspective, telcos have typically failed to make significant cost savings as they move to the cloud due to limitations in their ability to scale up and down.  However, the diagram shows a financial benefit related to its underpinning of other automation as it allows more open, multi-vendor networks to handle an increasing variety of services and devices

4.Service automation reflects a change in telco focus towards generating new revenues with the end-to-end automation of individual services, enabling reductions in time and cost across a service’s lifecycle.  The exact financial value shown on the diagram is currently modest, as it is unclear whether telcos will be able to build significant customer bases for these new services

5.The need for more complex cross-team/cross-process automations and a move towards self-healing automation (one of the more complex to deploy) is somewhat pushed forward by the general economics of automation – which tends only to show a significant return on investment when finally deployed end-to-end.  Potential value destroyers, such as the ability to create poor customer experience, become more of an issue with an increase in automation complexity and deployment of more intelligence – so, this stage of the telco’s journey (which is just starting) will be one of the most challenging

6.The final stages of edge and ecosystem automations should ease the pressure, as automation in these areas will be replications of others already achieved – although new data management, security, and governance issues will appear due to new integrations with customers and partners.