AI, or artificial intelligence, is high on the trending list today. And it is a well deserved spot. Artificial intelligence sprinkles life into inanimate objects, making them come alive and assist humans like never before. AI has now paved its way into the telecommunication industry as well. Now instead of talking over the phone, you will be able to talk to your phones as well! And it is already happening.

“Alexa, play some music” or “Hey Siri, call mom” are just some small examples of what artificial intelligence can actually achieve in the telecommunication sector.  AI along with IoT, or internet of things, is bringing about a revolution in the telecom industry that will change the way we use phones forever. It is now the fastest growing sector and it is forecasted by Gartner that 20.4 billion connected devices will be used worldwide by the year 2020, with the help of artificial intelligence.

What value does artificial intelligence bring to telecom companies?

People today are not satisfied with any average service provided by telecommunication companies. As the dependency on the telecom sector for the day to day functioning of humans is increasing, so is the need for better connectivity and speed. So what are the telecom companies doing to provide better service to their customers?

They are capitalising by using the vast amounts of customer data collected over the years. They are using artificial intelligence to read these sets of data and extract any useful patterns or actionable points that might exist. Incorporating AI into the telecom industry has enable the giants of this industry to tremendously improve customer service and provide a better user experience after analysing accumulated customer data. This is not only proving to be beneficial not only for the companies but also for the common people.

Use of artificial intelligence in the telecom industry

AI brings along a lot of benefits and uses with it. It literally gives your phone a brain and makes it smarter, faster and better than before. Artificial intelligence has a wide range of applications that are aimed to ease the life of the consumer. Many of its applications are yet to be discovered and applied. Let us have a look at some applications of artificial intelligence in the telecom sector that have started producing real time benefits.

1. Improving customer service quality

The introduction of AI in the telecom industry has improved customer service quality by leaps and bounds. AI has introduced virtual assistants and chatbots to integrate and sort customer requests and responses. Telecom companies get thousands of customer responses for maintenance, installation, troubleshooting, etc. Chatbots and virtual assistants read these messages and generate appropriate automatic responses to them. These responses are spontaneous which makes the customer feel heard and attended to. On the other hand, they then forward the message to the appropriate customer support department which increases efficiency and cuts down on costs.

For example, Vodafone claimed to observe a 68% rise in customer satisfaction after introducing its chatbot TOBi. Almost every major telecom company in the world today has integrated artificial intelligence into their systems to serve better efficiently. 

Another feature of these chatbots and virtual assistants is the gift of speech. That’s right, they can interact with you and help you navigate and solve problems. Thanks to artificial intelligence, several such softwares are now in use that read out titles, words and help the users navigate through various user interfaces. 

Many machines also have the ability to recognise human speech. This enables people to search through their voice instead of typing out the words. This feature comes in handy when the hands of the user are occupied elsewhere and he needs to get work done on his phone. Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant are all examples of this technology. 

It contributes to customer satisfaction in yet another way. AI helps telecom companies identify problems in their service and provides suggestions to those problems after analysing customer service. This provides a more personalised and reliable solution to the problems of the customers. 

2. Maintaining and opitmising the network

This is one of the most important services provided by artificial intelligence in the telecom industry today. It helps prevent outages and keep its customers connected all year round. This is achieved through predictive maintenance and repair work done by AI. Although this is a behind the scenes work done by AI, it contributes a great deal in keeping customers happy and satisfied. 

Artificial intelligence analyses the system and detects any malfunction or damaged parts and alerts the company to get it fixed. It uses the data it collects to monitor the company equipment, communication networks and data channels. A Self Organising Network or SON can also be set up to automatically configure and adapt to changing needs of the consumer. A SON also relies on artificial intelligence to analyse and organise the network.

3. Automating some tedious, manual tasks using Robotic Process Automation (RAP)

Any large telecom company deals with thousands of customers everyday. In dealing with such huge volumes of people and data, humans often tend to make mistakes. Automating some of these business processes can lead to more accurate and efficient service on behalf of the telecom company. Operations which are repetitive and rule based can be programmed and automated to get the job done faster and better. 

Several labour intensive and time consuming processes such as billing, data entry, maintaining records, order fulfilment, workforce management and so on can be easily automated. This will help telecom companies to efficiently work round the clock without any hold ups or errors. 

Artificial intelligence

Several studies and surveys have proved that through this process of automation, telecom companies can significantly improve their performance and increase their profits. Deloitte, one of the titans of the telecom industry, conducted a survey to study Robotic Process Automation in various companies. They found that around 40% of telecom, media and tech executives claim that they have gained “substantial benefits” from such cognitive technologies. Having seen the positive impact, 25% of these companies have invested $10 million or more to support this technology. More than three fourth of them expect artificial intelligence to completely change their business in the upcoming years.

4. Getting virtual assistants for customer support

Virtual assistants are the hot and trending receptionists today. Using artificial intelligence, virtual assistants have become so efficient and useful that according to Juniper Research they are projected to bring down the business expense of telecom companies by as much as $8 billion every year by 2020. 

A telecom company gets uncountable number of calls everyday for customer support, installation or maintenance. Humans tending to such a bulk of calls sometimes leads to a complete mess. People are unable to form a proper call queue, give sufficient time to customers and transfer their call to the right department. However, with the help of virtual assistants, one does not have to deal with this mess anymore!

Virtual assistants answer to every single customer call, listen to their needs and then transfers them to the correct department as per the choice of the caller. After all, machines don’t make mistakes, right? Virtual assistance not only save time but also cut down on customer service costs, thus enabling the telecom companies to invest the money elsewhere. 

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5. Using data analysis for making informed business decisions

Telecom companies collect huge amounts of data from its customers. However, without the right technology, most of this data goes unused and hence wasted. However, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, telecoms can extract useful information and business insight from this collected data. That information can be further used to make informed business decisions. 

The data can be analysed to study a lot of factors. For example, artificial intelligence can be used for customer segmentation, to predict the lifetime value of any given customer, improving cost margins, network optimisation, preventing customer churn and so on. 

6. Detecting and preventing fraud

Yes, that’s right! Artificial intelligence can be used to prevent real time fraud. Any fraudulent activity such as theft, fake profiles or illegal access can be easily discovered by AI. Let me tell you how.

Machine learning algorithms study the behaviour of an average customer, understanding their behaviour and creating a pattern. Thus, they can easily detect any anomalous activity which stands out of the usual pattern. When any such suspicious activity is detected, the machine sends an alert to the user to verify his credentials. In case sufficient proof is not provided, either access is denied or the account is seized. 

Such detection and prevention of fraud is much quicker and has the potential to take security measures before any damage is done. However, in case of human analysts sitting and going over the data, it may be a long time before a fraud is discovered. 

The increasing use of artificial intelligence in the telecom industry is not only providing a boost to company profits but is also helping them provide better customer service. Artificial intelligence is transforming the industry in ways that could only be imagined earlier. As big data tools and applications become more refined and available, artificial intelligence can be expected to keep growing in this sector to ultimately dominate the market one day.

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