Automation: Reaching full potential

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The maturity of telco automations in the network OSS and BSS varies significantly. Some telcos are reporting significant headcount reductions from mature automations while others are still in the early stages of simple automation deployments. There are important steps telcos must consider if they are to reach maximum automation.

How to build full value from automation

The analysis in this report is based on the results of an extensive interview program. Interviews were conducted with 12 vendors of telco automation, asking them about their work with telcos and their view of telco progress towards overcoming the significant barriers to full automation. We sought to understand the application of intelligence within these automations – where can it help push forward progress and how will the intelligence get more sophisticated over time? Non-technology areas were another important area of discussion, and this report identifies important steps that telcos can take to roll out organisational change to underpin the move to full automation.

The report comprises five sections. This introduction sets out the main barriers to furthering automation that telcos are experiencing, and the following section identifies five important actions that will help telcos to begin overcoming these barriers. The third and fourth sections examine the expanding use of intelligence and related technologies in automation and the expected growth in the sophistication of A3 technologies as relates to telco automation. The report will help telcos understand the skills and capabilities they will need to invest in to be able to move forward with their automation ambitions in the long term and understand in more detail where they can go as automation initiatives become more complex.

The report concludes with a guide to building a successful future business with intelligent automation and recommendations for next steps.

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Drivers and barriers of automation projects

Automation is supposedly the answer to many telco problems, including improving the bottom line and underpinning new services.

However, as shown in the graphic below, the road to achieving these goals requires telcos to tackle many issues simultaneously.

Drivers and barriers to telco automation

Source: Charlotte Patrick Research

Drivers to full telco automation

Automation is built into the design of 5G standalone, which has a more diverse range of network functions, services and devices than previous generations. It is principally required to provide more rapid scaling and optimisation of network resources as demand fluctuates. The virtualisation of the core and transport network is also on the telco agenda but still requires practical issues to be overcome, such as the development of cloud-native functions.

The popularity of automation is also related to its ability to support a range of telco strategic goals. In the early days, it created efficiencies within large teams, moving in the last few years to reducing headcount in operational teams and optimising capital expenditure in high-spend areas such as the RAN. As many of the larger automations bringing cost reduction are now underway, there is a state of transition towards automations focussed on the service layer, which will allow more rapid development of new products. These align with the telco’s increasing focus on finding new revenue growth.

Lastly, automation offers the opportunity to achieve better resilience, reliability and sustainability on the network., This is key to meeting increasing customer expectations. Areas being discussed include performance management and network/service testing.

Barriers to full telco automation

Making roadmap decisions for automation projects is a complex task. It is difficult to prioritise and coordinate projects given the sheer number of options and the complexities of the environments into which they must be deployed. In addition, stakeholders often have different requirements, with the network teams more interested in customer experience while the CFO is focused on cost savings. This mix of requirements, alongside technical issues, makes it easy for roadmaps to become driven by organic need, prioritising existing implementations and building around the specific architecture of the network without a clear vision of how to achieve the big-picture transformative automations which will bring the most value.

Table of contents

  • Executive Summary
    • Telco’s automation progress to date
    • How telcos will progress towards building full value from automation
    • Recommendations
  • Introduction
    • Drivers and barriers of automation projects
  • Overcoming automation barriers
  • Use of intelligence in automation
  • Growth of sophistication in intelligent automation
  • Building a business that is successful with intelligent automation
  • Conclusion
    • Organisational change is needed to underpin intelligent automation
    • The need for an automation team
    • Recommendations
  • Index

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