New Telco Software AI Portfolio Enhancements Answer Operator Imperative to Master Customer Experience

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• Telco vendor suppliers are boosting their AI credentials with Nokia recently unveiling the latest version of its Cognitive Analytics for Consumer Insight software, bolstering the Consumer Experience Index (CEI) with automated machine learning (ML) capabilities, the latest ecosystem solution aimed at driving operators to deliver real-time, personalized experiences and better compete against the major digital brands.

• Telco software suppliers, such as Nokia, should demonstrate multivendor credentials and build out an AI-specific services practice to further differentiate the solution and fulfill the full spectrum of operator digital business demands.

Operators are fighting for their long-term competitive survival. Top-tier digital brands such as Amazon, Google, Alibaba, and Netflix, are winning customer experience and satisfaction battles virtually across the board. In order to fight back operators must fulfill four major digital business objectives:
• Retain high-value customers and reduce overall churn.

• Identify new revenue streams more rapidly.

• Transition operations to customer-centric network management including automated self-service.

• Bolster business agility by applying data at the optimal time context.

Vendors have spent a great deal of focus building out their artificial intelligence “smarts” over the past several years to help operators compete more effectively with the webscales. For example, in March, Nokia updated its Cognitive Analytics for Consumer Insight software to improve real-time customer engagements, informed by a host of customer and network data to help solve connectivity and service issues on the fly. The solution includes Nokia’s CEI, which correlates data from multiple inputs like devices and the network to generate a customer-specific score assessing subscriber satisfaction and service performance. Nokia is using ML and deep learning algorithms to deliver new levels of prediction and automated recommendations for next-best actions that operators can use to proactively solve customer concerns and improve the overall experience.

However the AI competitive landscape is thickening in the telco software realm. For example Nokia is competing against a swath of rivals like Amdocs, Netcracker, Huawei, and Ericsson, which are also using AI, including automated ML, to augment their telco software portfolios. So, what will successful vendors need to do to strengthen and further differentiate the latest versions of their telco AI solutions? Two key portfolio areas are ripe for forging differentiation:

Multivendor Credentials: Telco software vendors need to increasingly emphasize the multivendor capabilities of their new AI-related solution offerings, especially within complex, hybrid cloud environments. The multivendor aspect is particularly important in transitioning carrier operations to custom-centric management that rely increasingly on self-assist tools. For Nokia, the approach can boost its marketing edge in demonstrating the multivendor credentials throughout the Nokia Software Suite and Services. Moreover, Nokia pre-empts rivals from positioning the Cognitive Analytics for Customer Insight enhancements, particularly for maximizing CEI data inputs, as Nokia-centric, since the announcement did not attest specifically to multivendor capabilities. All suppliers need to consistently maintain the multivendor, open source capabilities of their telco AI solutions, including at the press release level, to assure operators that proprietary traps are not around the corner.

AI-specific Services: AI still has not proved itself in operator networks. As a result, AI suppliers will have to invest into more resources and AI expertise educating operators on its reliability and accuracy. The approach is especially critical for operators to identify new revenue streams before competitors and applying analytical insights to the customer experience with optimal timing. Nokia, for instance, consistently refreshes its services portfolio, and the unveiling of the latest version of Cognitive Analytics for Customer Insight provides the opportunity to carve out AI-specific services package to fulfill unique operator demands. Nokia AVA cognitive services platform already integrates cloud-based delivery, automation and intelligent analytics to scale personalized digital services, strengthening Nokia’s hand in differentiating its portfolio with AI-centric services. Likewise Netcracker, Amdocs, Ericsson, and Huawei all need to develop their AI-specific services capabilities to accelerate adoption and assure operators AI can perform the essential automation tasks needed to win the digital experience battles.

With the new telco AI solutions expanding, telco software vendors need to integrate AI capabilities into the fabric of their overall telco software portfolio development and marketing. For example, Nokia is betting the Cognitive Analytics for Customer Insight software is key to differentiating its overall telco software portfolio as well as driving operator adoption of automated to ML applications essential to enabling digital experience capabilities like real-time visualization and next best actions decision-making. However, Nokia, like its key rivals, must proactively promote their solution’s multivendor and AI-specific services capabilities to ensure rivals do not steal their AI marketing thunder in the near-term.

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