Major telecom companies have spent billions of dollars building out their 5G infrastructure. Much rides on those investments. Eight in 10 businesses, for example, believe that 5G will have a significant impact on their organizations, according to an Accenture report; more than half of those companies further expect 5G to be “revolutionary.”
How will the telecom sector leverage 5G, and other technologies, to drive growth? T.J. Schneider, principal director in strategy and advisory at Accenture, shared some of his insights in a recent interview.
What strategies can help telecoms recoup their 5G investments?
Despite billions of dollars of investment, they can’t charge more for cellular service because people just won’t pay more, so they’re exploring what new services they can offer. For example, on the enterprise side, Verizon and Nokia are starting to offer private LTE for a price. All the telecoms are asking, “What services can I offer on the consumer side besides just faster cellular?” The strategies are still being defined.
What 5G strategies do you think make the most sense?
It’s a question of how do you productize 5G, so they’re looking at what their clients want from 5G. Many of them are focused on customer experience — for example, how can they offer a better digital customer experience across multiple portals, via chat or even a voice agent. Everyone wants to improve customer experience by introducing new products and better service.
Where does AIOps fit into that strategy?
It’s a big part of the story. Not only are telecoms trying to become more digital from an end-customer perspective, they’re also trying to become more digital internally, to automate more and have fewer manual eyes on glass.
With AIOps, they don’t have to wait for operational systems to tell them something is broken. They can monitor it constantly to more accurately pinpoint the root cause of it. For telecoms, the amount of people power it takes to fix these issues is quite intense. You may have 50 people on a call trying to identify the root cause of why someone’s voicemail isn’t working. The more you can automate that and get a better understanding of the issue, the better.
Many telecoms have come a long way with digital transformation. What are the biggest legacy problems they still face?
The biggest issue is that they have many different silos with different digital maturity levels within the organization. While legacy telecoms have implemented some levels of automation, they still use older scripts like Python to operate switches or networks. Different parts of the organization are further along in terms of maturity, but others are lagging.
I don’t think anybody has solved it across the entire organization yet, but I’m optimistic that they’re beginning to break through those barriers.