The telecommunications industry has been doing well since the pandemic started (not that many would notice). Revenues have remained relatively stable, while consumption has gone up, as virtual engagement has become the primary mode of operations for many businesses (and families!) In the mean-time, digital transformation has been accelerating both as a means to respond to the pandemic, and as a mechanism to drive costs down further, allowing for margin growth. In addition to that, the march of network virtualisation combined with the cloudification of IT have driven further changes in operations. Are we looking at a transformed business?
While there remains a lot of work to do, it’s certainly the case that telecommunications businesses are more reliant on technology than ever before. Their processes are ‘data driven’, their networks are trending towards automation, and AI systems are powering customer engagement in store, online and at home. Sales and marketing are digital first and owned-media marketing is as laser-targeted as paid-media advertising. This is all based on an enterprise IT architecture that is integrated, data rich, and agile.
Selecting the right technologies to fuel telco transformation
Cloudera is sponsoring the lead session, “The tech driven telco: Driving the next wave of growth through operating model transformation” at the TM Forum APAC Summit on March 15th . At the session, the Forum will address what the technology roadmap should look like to support the operations of a telco as a cloud-native, data driven techco. Also on the panel are thought leaders in the field of telecommunications transformation, from Axiata Digital Labs, Smartfren Telecom and dTac.
We have to ask some grounding questions, such as what are the key technologies? Clearly cloud infrastructure – public and private – are key, but managing those infrastructure resources will be essential too. Cloud doesn’t come cheap, and optimised usage across a hybrid domain will be important. AI of course is beginning to permeate everywhere, but can it be supported at the network edge? AI is nothing without data: how do we address problems of data governance, data silos, and enterprise data policy? How do we make sure that as AI proliferates, enterprise data policy is being enforced across data domains?
As we connect the various elements of the architecture, agility and openness should drive decision making, underpinned by an enterprise data strategy that is aligned with business objectives. These are multi-vendor environments, and ensuring that there is no vendor lock-in should offer maximum options for future application development and extensions.
How do we combine the challenges of network and IT clouds? At a strategy level, the relationship between the telco and the public cloud providers will be important. When it comes to enterprise offerings, it might be competitive. Should IT and Network cloud initiatives be maintained separately? Or are they the same thing? We’ll tease these questions and more at the event.
A key question in designing telco / techco futures is around the governance of AI. The AI Governance workgroup in the TM Forum, led by Rob Baxter of BT, has been working for almost two years on principles of good AI Governance, taking inputs from service providers around the world (and leaders like Cloudera!) on how best to orchestrate AI in order to offset regulatory, privacy and bias concerns in AI applications. As AI proliferates, we will need to be extremely vigilant in protecting consumer rights while at the same time maximising what is an extraordinary opportunity to augment consumer service offerings.
The future is exciting for telecommunications as we consider the possibilities in a more connected world. IoT and Edge offer the potential for deeply integrated enterprise solutions, exceptional customer experience, and service responsiveness across industries. Technology, especially data technologies like AI, and hybrid cloud infrastructures, driven by comprehensive and automated governance processes, offers the potential to turn telcos into intelligent platforms upon which the workloads of tomorrow are constructed.
We’ll explore that and more on March 15th at the TM Forum APAC Summit, register here!