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Telco 2030 – Why AI is central to this decade’s success
by Jordan Street

There are few industries more important to the success of global economies over the next decade than telcos. Think of any contender for the title of ‘fastest-growing industry’ or ‘best investment’ and it is likely telco services that power them. The services that telcos make available – and how businesses invest in them – will dictate almost everything about our future.

But while consumers see emerging technologies such as 5G and the metaverse as empowering, they still treat AI with suspicion. Commentary that followed the release of ChatGPT late last year mainly focused on its inaccuracies or its threat to jobs. AI is still widely misunderstood. That’s a problem because telcos can only deliver these transformative benefits in the future by getting AI capabilities right today. 

5G battlegrounds 

Consider 5G, where the UK government will invest more than £40bn in infrastructure with a view to achieving 100% coverage in all populated areas by 2030. According to PWC research, 5G-enabled industries will deliver an extra £43bn in GDP by the same year.  

Investment in these capabilities is already a major contributing factor of growth for businesses. The research found companies at an 'advance level of 5G adoption' were the only group to experience a net increase in productivity (+10%) following Covid-19. Forty-nine per cent of companies in the ‘5G expansion stage’ achieved rapid growth last year. 

5G will be the growth engine in the next decade, but the tools businesses use to maximise it will be the differentiator. We therefore cannot think of 5G without considering AI, which is essential for improved customer experience and smarter collaboration. 5G may be the biggest battleground for enterprises in the next decade, but cultivating market-leading uses of AI will be the supply lines. 

It all starts with artificial intelligence 

AI in telecommunications will benefit from enormous growth by 2030. The three biggest drivers behind this growth will be optimising capabilities as demand for high bandwidth services, such as TV and film, increases; providing more straightforward understanding of data; and reducing human intervention in customer experience. 

Telcos are betting on AI to solve many of their own challenges. Poor customer service is one of the biggest threats to telco profitability, with companies slashing prices to retain angry customers. Telcos know that if customers go, they don’t tend to come back. They understand the lifetime value of keeping an individual with them at any cost. 

AI is the way to pump the value back into operations in the years to come. Using AI, they can manage repairs, fix outages, and streamline installations. At ContactEngine, we’ve seen NPS scores soar when telco customers interact with our services. The result is higher profitability and more sales converting. 

Consumers continue to better understand the value of their own personal data, with companies such as Gener8 enabling users to take ownership of how their personal data is monetised and used. During this decade, telcos will collaborate with users who have a greater understanding of data usage and their ownership of it. They must create an environment where customers feel comfortable in sharing their data with AI to receive a better service. 

Do you have plans in place? 

Despite consumers clamouring for faster speeds, increased connectivity, and more flexible services, a report by Ericsson has revealed that many telcos do not have firm plans to connect AI. 

Yet for consumers to use telco services in the way they expect in future, AI is essential. It is only through AI that telcos can eliminate wastage, whether that’s at the consumer end – such as preventing missed home install appointments with proactive AI conversations – or at the infrastructure side, diverting power and equipment where needed. 

By 2030 the number of connected devices will double from 15.1 billion in 2023 to 29.4bn. Humans alone cannot manage this network. They will need help from intelligent tools to maintain high levels of services. For telcos to truly deliver the capabilities consumers expect by 2030, they must start by employing AI. They must use these to streamline their capabilities and find savings, which can be re-invested into making this exciting future happen. 

Consider the wastage your business faces through missed install appointments or angry customers leaving your service. What if you could reduce this by a fraction through proactive conversational AI? 

We get excited imagining a future of driverless cars, frictionless admin and a metaverse where we can connect and learn. None of this is possible without intelligent and rapid use of data, with AI maximising resources and improving service levels.  

The actions you take today to invest in AI across your business will dictate your success in years to come.  

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