Photo by iStrfry , Marcus on Unsplash
Digital transformation can make telecommunications teams more efficient and productive.

AI/ML/AR and Digital Transformation Take the Field

Aug. 11, 2023
Learn how AI/AR/ML and the telecom cloud can empower field service teams to create high customer QoE and reduce churn.

The Right Field Service Management Strategy Supports Your Game Plan

The world has moved on from the global health crisis of 2020, but the digital transformation trend is here to stay. The pandemic accelerated digital transformation’s adoption as companies recognized its value in facilitating pivots to business operations. Digitalization allowed employees to work remotely, maintaining workflow—and, in some cases, boosted—productivity and mitigated disruptions. Today, digital transformation remains integral to many industries, including the telecommunication sector.

In fact, according to the EY Tech Horizon Study,1 today’s inflationary pressures make it more vital than ever that telcos increase efficiency and agility. However, almost 40% of telcos cite the high cost of technology infrastructure as a barrier to executing digital transformation goals. Impending regulatory changes and technological advances create an influx of work, and telcos must invest in digital tools—like field service management software—designed to set them up for success. This investment can contribute to:

  • Improving customer retention, acquisition, and satisfaction.
  • Elevating workplace cultures.
  • Reaching—and exceeding—revenue goals.

One aspect of telecom, in particular, has the potential to capitalize on the power of digital transformation. Short-cycle telco jobs—router installations, phone set up, equipment updates, cell tower maintenance and repair—can reap significant benefits.

In a world where data drives every decision, interface, and process, digital transformation will drive data-centricity. Here’s how it will help telecom companies in particular.

Seven High-Impact Benefits

While artificial intelligence (AI) cannot set up equipment, run wires and cables, replace communication circuits or install panic door systems, digital transformation can help streamline the process and help the humans tasked with these jobs. But those aren’t digital transformation’s only contributions to the telco industry. Consider these seven areas where digital transformation helps move the needle to make telcos operations more effective and efficient.

1. Automating Operations

Telcos are using AI-powered field service software to automate manual, error-prone jobs—like billing and maintenance scheduling—which frees employees to focus on more complex, higher-value tasks like troubleshooting problems and providing customer support. Other benefits telcos see from automating operations include:

  • Improved efficiency and faster response times.
  • Lower operating costs.
  • Reduced human error.
  • More satisfied customers.

2. Advanced Analytics

Leveraging advanced analytics to build predictive capability models helps telco gather data to inform decisions about network planning and optimize network performance. These analytics can help detect and flag anomalies for faster mitigation. This data enables managers to shrink customer acquisition costs and reduce employee and customer churn. 

Additionally, Broadband Service Providers (BSPs) can leverage data analytics captured from their field service management software to increase operational visibility and enhance decision making by crafting custom dashboards based on their KPIs. With the ability to monitor short-cycle jobs with a bird’s-eye view, managers can make strategic decisions for their telco teams.

3. Agile Development

Traditionally, agile models save time and money because they support a flexible approach with continuous testing and responsiveness, making it easier to pivot and adjust. Within the telco industry, identifying a field service solution that has an agile approach enables companies to:

  • Improve their innovation.
  • Respond more quickly to evolving market demands.
  • Deliver new products and services faster.
  • Address unexpected customer challenges.
  • Provide field workers with key information to resolve problems rapidly.

4. Cloud Computing

Streaming technologies made possible by digital transformation have expanded far beyond their humble beginnings to deliver a greater impact affecting the scalability of operations, reducing capital expenditures, improving resource utilization, and accelerating the rapid deployment of new services. By leveraging a field service solution that is backed by a powerful data cloud, telcos can depend on digital access to important documents, forms, and customer data when on short-cycle jobs.

The telecom cloud market is estimated to surpass over $105 million by 2030,2 with a CAGR of over 14% between 2022 and 2030. Within the telco industry, cloud computing enables companies and their teams to be more flexible in meeting customer needs. Service operators can create cloud data warehouses to store customer data, migrate and process data remotely, and more, for short-cycle jobs.

Whether they opt to use a cloud delivery, network service or communication cloud service model, telco companies will see critical benefits including:

  • Reduced costs.
  • Enhanced telecom data centers.
  • More secure business data.
  • Increased flexibility for resource allocation.
  • More user-friendly technology.
  • More effective customer data harnessing.

5. Digital Customer Experience

The best thing about digital customer experiences? They offer a seamless, personalized experience—plus an “anywhere, anytime” approach and a myriad of channels for customers to connect with telcos and their short-cycle teams: field service platforms, social media, mobile apps, or the web. A potent example of this is how technicians can leverage a field service platform to impact customer satisfaction and reduce churn.

As digital experiences continue to evolve, customers expect short-cycle telco teams to anticipate their needs and provide solutions for service and support. Digital customer experience facilitates communications between customers and employees, drives customer engagement, improves accessibility while offering omnichannel support, and self-service options.

6. Predictive Maintenance

We’d all love a Magic 8 Ball in our toolbox, but predictive maintenance powered by digital transformation is the next best thing. Thanks to AI, predictive analytics can identify and address network issues, alerting teams to minor problems before they escalate into larger ones. Predictive maintenance improves network uptime with fewer disruptions, reduces repair costs and increases customer satisfaction. AI can analyze real-time and historical data collected from IoT-connected equipment to monitor equipment prone to failure and exchange it before it breaks down—potentially eliminating the need for future maintenance down the road.

7. Cybersecurity

While digital transformation has, unfortunately, given rise to new cybersecurity threats, it offers solutions to protect sensitive data from hacking. Advanced cybersecurity measures include configurations incorporating endpoint risk analytics, anti-malware, and machine learning (ML) threat prevention to safeguard telco companies and customer networks, data, and infrastructure. Choosing a field service software with advanced cybersecurity measures generates greater customer trust and reduces the company’s risk of reputational damage.

Special Teams Impact Customer QoE

To acquire and retain customers in very competitive environments—and maximize operational efficiency and profitability, telco companies must deliver exceptional customer experiences. Companies that standout above the competition prioritize improving the management of short-cycle jobs via digital transformation with field service management platforms that include:

  • Analytics
  • Customer self-service
  • Mobile access
  • AI-powered scheduling
  • Route optimization

Augmented reality (AR) allows field service management tools to support sustainability efforts as well, with the power of schedule and route optimization allowing technicians to structure their day and routes efficiently—reducing gas and personnel expenses while reducing CO2 emissions—and maximize resources in general.

Here are other ways digital transformation continues to support short-cycle telco jobs:

  • Training and Development: Telco companies can use digital platforms to provide short-cycle employees with on-demand training and development opportunities. E-learning platforms offer access to online courses, webinars, and other educational resources that help employees build new skills and stay up to date with the latest industry trends.
  • Collaboration and Communication: Instant messaging, project management software, and video conferencing via a field service software-powered portal helps short-cycle employees stay connected with their customers and colleagues—and work together more effectively. These tools are particularly critical for remote or contracted workers lacking regular face-to-face access and interaction with their colleagues. And the tools allow customers to chat digitally with technicians, who can assess issues and bring the right tools and equipment to the site, saving time.
  • Inventory Management: Field service management software helps keep track of the parts and tools technicians have (or don’t have) in their trucks, communicating that information to dispatch—an approach that saves time by not assigning techs to jobs they lack the tools to complete in one visit. And field service management also improves customer experience and increases productivity, saving companies time and money.
  • Digital Upskilling: As digital transformation forces evolutions in the technology it runs, short-cycle employees will need to develop new skills. Offering upskilling opportunities enables employees to learn new programming languages, data analysis tools, and other high-demand skills that will help them stay competitive in the job market—and keep them with your company.
  • Performance Management: Provide short-cycle employees with real-time feedback on their performance, allowing them to make adjustments and improve their skills more quickly. Regular feedback keeps employees engaged and motivated and can help telco companies identify high-performing employees and provide them with opportunities for career advancement, while bolstering telco operations. Some field service software platforms, for example, allow managers to track each short-cycle technician’s areas of expertise. When a more complex job request arises, AI can identify which employee has the suitable skill set and automatically assign a technician with the ability to complete the job well.

“Thanks to AI, predictive analytics can identify and address network issues, alerting teams to minor problems before they escalate into larger ones. Predictive maintenance improves network uptime with fewer disruptions, reduces repair costs and increases customer satisfaction. AI can analyze real-time and historical data collected from IoT-connected equipment to monitor equipment prone to failure and exchange it before it breaks down—potentially eliminating the need for future maintenance down the road.”

Thriving in this tumultuous market means adapting to changing landscapes, staying relevant, and generating revenue. BSPs should embrace and implement digital transformation field service management solutions to support short-cycle employees.

And since many short-cycle jobs are potentially the first (and often only) major touchpoint customers have with a telco company, it pays to have a strong, positive impression. By investing in their employees’ development and well-being, telco companies can build a stable and motivated workforce capable of driving innovation and growth in the industry. 

About the Author

Brad Hawkins | Chief Product Officer, ServicePower

Brad Hawkins is Chief Product Officer, ServicePower. He is a long-time veteran in the world of Field Service technology having been with ServicePower since 2004. He has held supervisory roles in Operations, Development and Product Management. Currently, he is responsible for the strategic roadmap of the ServicePower platform and driving the development teams to produce innovative and valued solutions for their clients. For more information, email [email protected] or visit Follow ServicePower on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.