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December 5, 2023
Estimated reading time - 5 min

As the industry evolves, it’s clear that delivering enhanced connectivity, seamless user experiences, and sustainable products are paramount. The telecom industry has a unique opportunity to redefine its role and create lasting value for consumers. With collaboration and innovation, it can meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the Gen AI revolution. 

This was one of the core conclusions of the panel discussion that Vantiva held at its new Paris headquarters during Network X this year. The discussion focused on the connectivity and video agenda within the industry, specifically from the perspective of the consumers. The panel delved into the impact of Artificial Intelligence and Sustainability on our end-users. 

The panel was moderated by Jean Ferré, Chief Innovation, Marketing and Strategy Officer at Vantiva and featured the following esteemed executives:

  • Blanca Echaniz, Home Portfolio Group Director, Vodafone
  • Frank Luisada, Senior Partner and Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group
  • Carmine Muscariello, Managing Director Broadband Business Unit, Bouygues Telecom
  • Mercedes Pastor, Senior Vice-President of the Global Customer Unit, Vantiva
  • Tony Werner, Formerly CTO at Comcast, independent Director

Generative AI for the Telco Industry: Revolutionizing customer experience and impacting business strategies

Tony: While Gen AI is still in its early stages, it holds immense potential. Gen AI can optimize the customer experience and lower costs. For example, Comcast introduced an AI-supported chatbot that surpassed human agents in problem-solving and received better customer satisfaction ratings. Additionally, Gen AI can improve network management and efficiency, incorporating smart capabilities at the network’s edge. Werner also mentioned that AI has demonstrated a 25-30% increase in developers’ productivity.

Blanca: the primary applications of Gen AI are in home connectivity, specifically in automating problem diagnostics and enhancing performance. The challenge lies in obtaining customer-centric insights by establishing a unified data repository. 

Carmine: the transformative potential of generative AI lies in the final stages of product development. Unlike current chatbot procedures, generative AI enables dialogue and collaboration with customers, enhancing the overall customer experience. This technology can also offer new ways to comprehend and employ current data, revolutionizing how businesses approach product development and service delivery.

Frank: it’s important to maintain a customer focus in the telco industry. While there are numerous use cases and trials being conducted, it is crucial to consider what problems Gen AI will solve for customers. Additionally, companies need to ensure that employees are not left behind in the Gen AI revolution.

Mercedes: AI can improve customer satisfaction and personalization. Existing AI applications focus on operations and quality control, but there is more potential to be explored. Collaboration between customers and service providers can be inspired by industries such as cosmetics.

What are the boundaries in safeguarding customers from cybersecurity threats and how is it influencing the CPE industry?

Carmine: it is the responsibility of the telco to safeguard consumers, for example by notifying them about network activities. He stressed the need for consumers to actively engage in their own security and take appropriate action.

Blanca: Focus should be on simplicity in digital safety, citing a specific approach by Vodafone of offering a distinct score and improvement suggestions.

Tony: there is an increasing connection between consumers, network service providers, and networks, noting the accessibility of various attack vectors.

Mercedes: the challenge faced by service providers is about managing the growing complexity of homes and ensuring cybersecurity for all devices in the IoT ecosystem.

Frank: shared insights from BCG’s consumer research, highlighting consumers’ growing concern for safety and the need for telecom companies to communicate the significance of safety measures. Carmine: reiterated the importance of educating customers and ensuring a standard level of security. In terms of privacy, consumers have the choice to pay a lower price but face potential risks, while operators continue to invest in enabling services. 

Can the telco industry promote sustainability while meeting price-conscious customer expectations?

Carmine: sustainability efforts should focus on minimizing waste and promoting energy and material efficiency. The question is whether products like CPE can be designed for increased longevity to support sustainability.

Blanca: we need modular products that can be easily refurbished, considering factors like logistics, packaging, and transportation. This holistic approach contributes to sustainability, including energy management for the entire home.

Mercedes: there is a need for innovation in areas such as plastic recycling and reducing carbon footprint. The industry is making changes in manufacturing and shipping to reduce emissions.

Frank: the question is whether customers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Studies suggest they might, but it remains uncertain. It could potentially become a standard cost as customer expectations increase.

What is your dream for the industry?

Carmine: dreams of an industry where the focus is on delivering enhanced connectivity to customers, as outdated handsets are impacting connectivity. He sees this as an opportunity to generate additional revenue by offering customers a valuable upgrade.

Tony: we need to minimize customer friction and create an effortless user experience, similar to Amazon. He believes that the company has the necessary tools to address these concerns and improve customer satisfaction.

Mercedes: manufacturers and operators should go beyond connectivity and offer value to consumers through AI and new generation chipsets. The goal is to persuade consumers to pay premium prices for devices, following the success of Apple in the mobile realm.

Frank: All studies show that the need for connectivity is essential, some customers would prioritize connectivity over several basic needs. If today the telecommunications industry lags behind in value creation, it is important that the industry succeeds in generating growth in the future and is recognized with his true role in society.

Blanca: wishes for more sustainable products, considering the feasibility of economics while prioritizing sustainability. The industry should aim for longer lifespan products that do not incur higher costs in the long run. 

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