November 20, 2023

Telco Leaders Discuss the Benefits and Challenges of Digital Transformation – Part One

At DTW23 - Ignite, six C-level executives joined Netcracker’s Chairman and CEO Andrew Feinberg to share anecdotes of transitioning from a telco to a techco. In this two-part blog series, we will look at the key takeaways from the session.

Digital transformation can be challenging; it has been compared to 'changing tires on a race car when it is still going round the track.' This was the analogy used by Feinberg as he kicked off the panel conversation entitled CEO Spotlight: Reimagining Telcos – Transformation and Evolution for Future Success.

Feinberg’s race car comparison proved very appropriate. As the panel recounted their personal experiences of managing digital transformation programs, one thing became very clear: digital transformation is worthwhile and rewarding, but it is also extremely demanding.

Here are four key takeaways:

It's Not Enough to Be a Digital Operator: You Have to Be an Intelligent Operator
Feinberg kicked off the session with a review of Netcracker’s GenAI Telco Solution. It includes digital assistants for different areas of the telco business that can answer critical questions related to billing, tariffs, promotions, network issues and more. It can also be used by telco employees to do their jobs more quickly, including field technicians, network designers and business operations. It’s based on a new GenAI Telco Platform from Netcracker that enriches generative AI models with a telco’s real-time BSS/OSS data and instructions to create high quality responses and also take care of the big issue of security – making sure no sensitive data is leaked to public models.

Feinberg explained how tools like GenAI can help telcos work a step past digitization and become smarter. “We’re seeing solutions that truly digitize the operators,” he said. “But digital is not the same as intelligent. AI and generative AI are essential as they make the telco more efficient, more dynamic, taking them into a next-generation operational domain. Generative AI has the potential to significantly increase productivity with incredible cost savings and revenue upside.”

Generative AI Will Transform Telco Customer Care
Tony Geheran, EVP & COO at Telus talked extensively about generative AI. He explained how the technology is helping Telus to move into new ‘adjacent’ areas such as healthcare. But he also reflected on a more specific application: how AI can improve customer care.

“We have a knowledge source that our call center staff use to help customers,” he said. “Our AI tool listens to the conversation and accesses this knowledge source to give very simple prompts in milliseconds. The prompts give answers to questions plus a list of four things the customer might ask next. Take that to the next level and the AI itself will talk to the customer. This will free up capacity for agents to do other things.”

Cognitive Diversity: Telcos Must Embrace People Who Think Differently
What good is digital transformation if the people inside an organization don’t evolve too? This was the question posed in a talk by Jon James, CEO of Nuuday. He said: “Technology brings new capabilities – but if we bring old-world attitudes to these new capabilities all we get is just shinier old telcos.”

James explained how Nuuday has embraced cognitive diversity to force it out of ingrained habits and damaging biases. Techniques to do this include:

  • Holdingpre-mortems’ – exploring how a new project might go wrong
  • Conducting brain writing – asking staff what they think about an idea before they hear what anyone else thinks
  • Highest paid person speaks last – ensuring the leader doesn’t influence other team members

Netcracker is the main BSS/OSS partner for Nuuday’s new venture into a ServCo.

A Digital First Strategy Can Break up a 20-year Duopoly
It takes courage to enter a telco market that has been a duopoly for 20 years and has achieved 100% subscriber penetration. But Vodafone Oman was prepared to do just that. Why? Because it believed it could use seamless digital-first processes to grab market share from the incumbents.

Bader Al Zidi, CEO, Vodafone Oman said, “We had to structure things differently from day one. We built a robust IT architecture, and we were cloud-ready with real-time APIs and omnichannel procedures. This meant we could harness new technology such as AI and analytics tools into our daily operations.”

Learn more about Bader’s digital first strategy and partnership with Netcracker in this video.

It worked. Vodafone Oman offered 5G from launch and achieved 50% coverage. On the consumer-facing side, the company introduced services such as 100% on-boarding from the MyVodafone app. 

This is part one of a two-part summary of the CEO Spotlight: Reimagining Telcos panel session. View the entire video here.



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