In the ever-evolving landscape of telecommunications, staying at the forefront is essential. But what precisely does automation mean within the telecom industry? It encompasses a wide array of tools and methodologies, spanning from basic scripting to cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies. Automation fundamentally revolves around optimising technology to function efficiently and seamlessly.
In this blog, we’ll look at exactly what automation means for a telecoms company. We’ll cover what automation means, as well as the drivers of automation across businesses.
What is Automation?
‘Automation is really anything you want it to be. It’s everything from scripting to RPA bots, to functionality that’s built into vendor products to service level orchestration process Automation.’
Stephen Connor, Head of Pre-Sales & Telco Domain Lead
Automation encompasses a wide range of tools and techniques, from simple scripting, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bots, and vendor product functionality to more sophisticated solutions like Orchestration and end-to-end process design encompassing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.
Automation can be defined in many ways depending on the user’s needs and preferences; from a business perspective, Automation typically involves streamlining and improving the efficiency of specific processes, eliminating manual tasks. Very often, Automation is thought of in a narrow sense i.e. ‘make a computer do this task a human otherwise would be doing’.
At its core, Automation is a hierarchy that spans from the most basic level to advanced business services, and so it is right that you will have a mix of technologies and tools which all come together harmoniously to address the biggest challenges and processes in your business.
Businesses must carefully consider the complexity of the processes they wish to automate, as you can automate anything. With that strategic hat on, it’s often more important to identify what not to focus on, rather than what you ‘can’ do. This would include business processes in flux, poorly understood processes or those where key technical enablers are not in place.
To make the most of Automation, it’s important to ensure that Automation efforts are both driven by the big goals of the business, and that you consider processes end-to-end. This means taking a holistic approach to analysing and optimising entire business processes. This includes qualitative and quantitative assessments, integration considerations, and compliance adherence. In doing this, you will consider various task-based Automations (often recognised as being performed by RPA or scripts) but which form part of a larger process.
Drivers of Automation for a CSP
The TM Forum eTOM and TAM frameworks clearly demonstrate the complexity of the applications and infrastructure that underpin CSPs’ businesses. Indeed, the core objectives of the TM Forum’s ODA and OpenAPI initiatives are to address these. While considerable progress is being made with these initiatives, CSPs are left with the double challenge of rapidly evolving technology advances and the reality that today OSS’s and BSS’s are siloed and require extensive, long duration and expensive customisation and integration efforts. 1
Intelligent decision-based automation is the only practical way of addressing the pressures and demands on CSPs to move into the future and achieve the significant improvements in speed, agility, customer experience, security, and operational efficiency.
The following brief overviews of various automation drivers and focus areas highlight this.
Awareness of cyber-security has reached unparalleled heights thanks to the clever application of Automation. Automation plays a crucial role in implementing robust security measures, such as automated threat detection, password rotation, vulnerability management, firewall configuration management, and incident response. Machine-speed, self-healing compliance is a reality with end-to-end Automation and orchestration techniques.
Incomplete data (late or missing, mis-filed), incorrect data, slow processes and mis-timed billing processes are just a few examples of where revenue assurance can benefit from Automation. This is also an area where CSPs overpay for Automation and need not.
Operational Experience and Efficiency
As a CSP, your business is naturally large and very complex. It is highly transactional meaning huge volumes of repetitive and time-consuming tasks, including service provisioning, service assurance, billing and revenue assurance, and customer service. Automation can obviously help streamline any or all of these processes, reduce manual effort, risk, and cost; but also build consistency, increase speed, and improve customer experience. Automation can also release employees from mundane, short-term, low-value tasks to ones that are more strategic (both for CSP and individual) and high value.
Customer Experience (CX)
The Customer is demanding and unrelenting. You must deliver best-in-class experiences or lose your customers. Automation enables telecoms providers to automate services such as service activation, network configuration, and fault detection. This helps companies to deliver a faster and more reliable service for customers.
Scalability and Agility
With increasing demand for data and connectivity, as a CSP you need to scale the operations rapidly, and often at short notice. An Enterprise ready Automation capability will allow you to deploy and manage network resources, provision new services, and handle spikes and loads in network traffic more efficiently.
Time-to-Value Through Rapid Innovation
Automation enables rapid innovation and the realisation of ideas. It is critical that the Automation is not subject to lots of ideas, all being applied in an uncontrolled way.
This is often where Automation is a liability, not an asset or advantage. A true Enterprise Automation tool will give you a Centre of Excellence for Automation. Offering a design and development testing environment, security controls and governance, you will more quickly be able to bring about Automation and have the confidence to apply it. This is the quickest way to implementation and to deliver the value of your ideas.
Automation is extremely important for telecommunications companies. While there are challenges in implementing Automation across a telco, these can be overcome with effective planning, best practice and investment. Automation offers huge benefits in terms of enhancing customer experience, streamlining operations and increasing efficiency and scalability potential.
If you want to find out more about the challenges of Automation for CSPs, download our free eBook A Buyer’s Guide to Automation for CSPs.