The digital revolution profoundly impacts the telecommunication industry. With smart cities and the Internet of Things, the Informations and Communications Technology infrastructure are under strain. Over-the-top providers are eroding the margins, drawing off entertainment services revenues — all of this with rising customer expectations, shortage of skilled resources, and burdensome regulations.
Intelligent automation can play a part
Intelligent Automation for the Telecom Industry / RPA ( Robotic Process Automation) can play a pivotal role in overcoming these challenges. It can provide a Digital Workforce that can reduce the pressure of the Operations team. Subsequently, the employees can concentrate on increased quality of customer service and revenue generating practices.
What is RPA?
As defined by Pat Geary, Blue Prism: “RPA Is a software category created by Blue Prism that provides an easy-to-control ‘Digital Workforce’ that informs, augments, supports, and assists people in the automation of rules-based mission-critical procedures and tasks. This category is now entering its next evolutionary phase — ‘connected-RPA’ — which promises an exciting era of collaborative technology innovation – led by digitally savvy business users – enabled by ever greater, intelligent, business automation.”
Examples of Intelligent Automation benefits for the Telecom Industry
Reduce Billing Errors: Billing within the industry is complicated. Telcos usually aggregate services from a mix of providers, making it difficult to see where the liability for a specific mistake rests. Subsequently, there can be 10% to 20% of an error in the billing- leading to penalties and tarnished reputations. Document processing automation, specifically, can automate this process, fasten the systems together, and provide a complete audit trail. It is thereby eliminating inaccuracies.
Improve Call Centre experience: RPA can collate customer data from multiple sources into a single view for the call center agent. The call center agent is empowered to answer all queries very quickly, thus enhancing the customer experience.
Resolve partner queries: Telcos employ partners or agencies to sell their services. Digital workers can understand emails, reply to simple questions, and forward complicated ones to humans.
Comparative Price analysis: Revenue models get tweaked based on multiple factors within the ecosystem. Digital workers can track relative prices across individual, category, and brand level to offer a more extensive judgment of the competing scope.
Create Coherent Backup Systems: Irrespective of a client’s specific system, backups can be done. The Digital workers can retrieve data from the databases of all IPT devices on a client system, and upload them onto an FTP server. Digital workers can connect multiple technical tasks and create backup information.
Use Case for Intelligent Automation for the Telecom Industry: Telefonica O2
Telefonica O2 is the second-largest mobile telecommunications provider in the UK. In 2005, Telefonica bought O2 and retained its same name in the UK. In 2013, Telefonica’s UK revenues were 6.69 billion euros and employed 21,580 people.
Telefonica’s back offices needed to scale up to match industry growth while keeping costs low to flourish in a competing market.
In 2010, Telefonica O2 launched an RPA trial on two high-volume, low-complexity processes. One was SIM swaps- the method of substituting a customer’s existing SIM with a new SIM while retaining his or her number. The other one was applying for a pre-calculated credit to a customer’s account.
Blue Prism’s consultants came onsite to configure the digital worker. The digital worker executed so many transactions in such a short time that it raised security alarms in the IT security system.
Telefonica O2 began its rollout with 20 digital workers. The next wave increased the number to 75. With the help of Blue Prism and only three RPA developers in-house, Telefonica O2 automated 15 core processes including SIM swaps, credit checks, order processing, customer reassignment, unlatching, porting, ID generation, customer dispute resolution, and customer data updates.
Tips when Reflecting on Automation
RPA is one tool: RPA is an excellent tool to have in your collection. However, it’s not a solution to everything. Supplement it with process improvement and even other automation tools.
Sequence process-elimination before RPA: Within a business spectrum, there is always room to eliminate or improve a process. Sequence this improvement appropriately. Let it precede RPA.
Robots lack common sense: Digital workers need exact instructions. A human while executing a task, makes observations based on common sense. The digital worker would, however, follow instructions and make decisions based on a finite set of rules.
Gear up the infrastructure to be resilient: For the launch, Telefonica O2 ran Blue Prism on virtual machines* where a “lead” VM machine harmonized all the robots. The virtual machines ran twice as slow as when people were executing the process. Telefonica O2 had to change the server, database, and system locations to increase process speed. It took 16 weeks to optimize the infrastructure.
In 2019, head for the cloud. Those who have embraced the cloud seem the most advanced.
*While Blue Prism can run on the cloud, Telefonica O2 had decided to keep the virtual machines in-house as of 2015, because it had not made the leap from its own server centers yet.
Consolidate: Telecom automation requires a blend of IT and networking knowledge besides skills. The best way to achieve that is by having CSPs (Communication Service Providers) merge their IT and networking departments to manage the convergence of these two domains effectively.
NFV: Lack of interoperable, standards-based NFV (Network Function Virtualization) solutions impacts the rate at which automation is enabled on service provider networks.
Moving to automate too quickly, can be a recipe for disaster. Start with small steps. Learn quickly and ramp up.
Auro is a silver-certified Blue Prism partner. If you’d like more guidance on how you could start with your automation journey, get in touch with us.
Automate more, automate better, and automate together!