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Generative AI for Telecom Revenue Opportunities

By: Rahul Kumar, Global Telco Industry Leader, IBM Consulting

Generative AI has very quickly found its way into our day-to-day lives, including our work lives. The rate and pace of change brought about by this technology have been unseen before. The possibilities are immense.

This technology and mindset shift of AI+ (AI-first) holds immense potential when applied in an Enterprise setting, opening unprecedented opportunities for value and revenue generation. Yet 18 months after the emergence of this technology on the world stage, many in our industry still find it hard to get out of the ideation phase and are looking for answers to what is the best path to tread in implementing value-generating solutions powered by Generative AI.

The pace of change does not make it any easier, requiring enterprises in our industry to think about and decide on LLMs, SLMs, hybrid architectures, data, governance, and everything in between.

A safe and common starting point, for the implementation of a Generative AI-driven solution, for telecom operators and enterprises across the board has been in the transformation of internal/enterprise operations, like human resources, IT, finance, and others.

For example, the number of context-specific queries successfully addressed by an HR digital assistant (powered by traditional AI) has increased by 50-75% through the infusion of Generative AI; onboarding of new employees has been automated significantly; code development teams are improving quality of code and automating the generation of test cases; and more. Some telecom operators are also testing the use of Gen AI to generate contracts and assist in fast-tracking certain procurement activities.

However, the opportunities and potential use cases expand far beyond internal efficiency. Some operators are beginning to consider self-healing networks and pro-active customer care with cross and up-selling.

One example is using Gen AI to optimize the Radio network without having to incur a huge cost for tedious drive testing. IBM is experimenting with Network Foundation models built & fine-tuned to optimize Radio Access Network (RAN) parameters that provide the highest network capacity. This cutting-edge research has the potential to reduce Network Capex spending, improve network performance, and reduce call drops.

But as the industry continues through difficult economic tailwinds, the focus is shifting from cost control to using AI to create growth opportunities and changing mindset and KPIs accordingly. As telco operators shift their mindset to address the enterprise market, they are recognizing the need to become more sophisticated in their go-to-market approach. Opportunities for services in Edge computing and AI for industry verticals are one example of revenue-generating options telecom operators are beginning to explore and consider.

As with other industries, Telcos are experimenting with converting Customer Care from a cost center focused on service assurance to a revenue-generating domain to upsell and cross-sell products. As traditional and Gen AI make it easier to detect, fix, and report network outages, Care agents can truly focus on recommending and upselling new products to both consumer and enterprise customers.

Another example where IBM is partnering telecom operators with other industry segments for revenue creation is with IBM watsonx Orders, an AI-powered voice agent for drive-thrus of quick-service restaurants (QSRs). Through this generative AI solution, QSRs can solve labor challenges and reduce costs, making it critical for chain restaurants as regulatory, talent, and economic drivers continue to shrink margins.

This solution can also be extended to predict demand for fast food products and reduce waiting time and food waste. Using a Private Enterprise network, this solution offers connectivity, latency, and Gen AI-based revenue generation opportunities for telecoms to partner with chain restaurants.

As telecoms embark on new opportunities and partnerships, considerations around modeling, governance, and vertical expertise are top of mind. Leaders must consider how these variants change and adapt depending on the use case, organization, and desired outcome.

For more about how telecom operatives can leverage the power of AI and watsonx, visit us at DTW24 – Ignite at Booth 215.

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