The impact of generative AI on the telecom industry | HCLTech

The impact of generative AI on the telecom industry

The telecom industry is focusing on generative AI adoption to accelerate innovation
6 minutes read
Nicholas Ismail
Nicholas Ismail
Global Head of Brand Journalism, HCLTech
6 minutes read
The impact of generative AI on the telecom industry

The telecommunications industry is witnessing a profound transformation driven by the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and its subset, generative AI (GenAI). GenAI’s integration into telecom services has the potential to revolutionize internal operations, enhance go-to-market strategies and improve customer experiences. This article dives deeper into the impact of GenAI on the telecom industry, exploring adoption trends, use cases, barriers to implementation and the benefits and best practices for leveraging AI in this sector.

“By harnessing the transformative power of generative AI, we are not merely revolutionizing telco operations; we are redefining the paradigms of innovation and customer-centricity. This pivotal shift is enabling us to drive unprecedented efficiency and significantly enhance connectivity, thereby uplifting the entire experience for our telco customers. In doing so, we're setting new, higher standards of excellence and responsiveness in the telecommunications industry,” commented Priyadarshi A Das “PAD”, EVP at HCLTech.

Adoption trends and use cases in the telecom industry

Telecommunication service providers (telcos) operate within their industry and as technology providers to other industries. To remain competitive and meet customer demands, telcos need to harness the potential of GenAI for both internal operations and in offering AI-powered solutions to industries they aim to serve. 

According to a Gartner IT Executive Webinar Poll, most telcos (70%) are in exploratory stage with GenAI, while 15% are piloting and 4% are in production. 

Vodafone in collaboration with Microsoft, for example, has been leveraging GenAI through the GitHub Copilot to test code writing. During trials involving 250 developers, Vodafone experienced productivity gains of between 30% and 45%.

In another use case, AT&T is using GenAI for network optimization and troubleshooting.

Within the telecom industry, there are several critical use cases for GenAI implementation. Content generation, content discovery, simulation and conversation AI are other areas where AI can have a significant impact. 

Leveraging AI for network optimization is also a game-changer, enabling telecommunication service providers to improve network efficiency, enhance performance and deliver seamless connectivity to their customers.

“By 2027, more than 50% of the GenAI models that enterprises use will be domain-specific — specific to either an industry or business function — up from approximately 1% in 2023,” said Kameron Chao, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner.

Barriers to adoption and overcoming challenges

Despite the tremendous potential of GenAI in the telecom industry, there are several barriers hindering widespread adoption.

According to a 2023 Gartner AI in the Enterprise Survey, the foremost challenges faced by telcos include estimating and demonstrating the value of AI (49%) and the lack of talent and skills in implementing AI technologies (46%). To address these barriers, companies like HCLTech have positioned themselves as value-driven partners, assisting telcos in showcasing the value of AI and providing the necessary skills and expertise to successfully implement GenAI solutions.

Other barriers include the lack of data, lack of confidence in the technological aspects of AI and a lack of business alignment and use cases. Overcoming these barriers requires telcos to invest in data collection and curation, provide training and education to build confidence in AI technologies and align their AI strategies with specific business goals and use cases.

The risks and benefits of GenAI

The risks and benefits of GenAI in the telecom industry are vast and far-reaching. According to a Gartner Executive IT Webinar Poll, risks include loss of confidential data, hallucinations and copyright issues.

However, AI can significantly improve operational efficiency, enhance customer experiences through automation and chatbots, optimize network performance and enable telcos to offer personalized services to their customers. 

By leveraging AI, telcos can streamline internal processes, reduce costs, deliver faster and more efficient customer support and gain a competitive edge in the market. However, it is crucial to address the risks associated with AI implementation, such as potential data privacy and security concerns, and ensure the ethical and responsible use of AI technologies.

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Best practices for GenAI adoption

To effectively adopt GenAI in the telecom industry, telcos should follow certain best practices. These include identifying high-value use cases that are feasible and align with business goals, assigning ownership of AI projects to appropriate stakeholders, defining metrics and ROI measurements to evaluate the success of GenAI initiatives, considering different approaches to GenAI implementation (such as provider-managed, self-built or a mixture of both) and adopting a platform approach to develop and deploy GenAI models.

The telecom industry stands at the precipice of a transformation enabled by the power of GenAI technologies. Telcos have a unique opportunity to leverage AI to improve internal operations, deliver superior customer experiences and offer innovative solutions to various industries. 

By addressing the barriers to adoption, identifying suitable use cases and following best practices, telcos can unlock the full potential of GenAI and position themselves as leaders in the digital era. Embracing AI-driven transformation will be crucial for telcos to stay competitive, adapt to evolving customer demands and succeed in the rapidly changing landscape of the telecom industry. 

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