Looking for a Magic Pill to Realize the Potential of AI? Look No Further Than Your Good Old Telephone Company

R. Bhattacharyya

Summary Bullets:

• Many organizations are unsure of how to best incorporate AI to meet their industry-specific challenges – often because the use case options are so vast and so varied.

• Organizations – particularly mid-sized businesses, companies starting out on their analytics journeys, or those rolling out IoT solutions – should explore the services available from their telecom provider, many of which have built out their professional services capabilities around digital transformation.

Despite the consumer hype around AI, many organizations still have no idea how to apply AI in the corporate world. Technologies abound, but the means to apply those to business outcomes remains elusive without help from expensive third party integrators with the necessary domain expertise. But help is already at hand thanks to ever present telecom service providers, which have taken on AI as a core competency.
Most businesses understand that by incorporating AI into their operations they can enjoy greater efficiencies and insights, which will allow them to react more effectively and more quickly to market dynamics. They have heard that AI can be used to interact with customers (even gauging customer sentiment), improve and streamline security, speed up decision-making, allow non-IT professionals to incorporate new data sources in an analysis, or identify trends and make predictions from seemingly disparate data sources. However, many organizations are unsure of how to best incorporate AI to meet their industry-specific challenges – often because the use case options are so vast and so varied. In a recent GlobalData survey, 39% of respondents felt they were moderately aware of the AI solutions available in their industry, and 17% indicated they were only slightly aware.

What makes a telecom provider like Verizon or AT&T a potentially better AI partner than AI heavy hitters Amazon, Google, and IBM? Practicality. Many telcos are investing in AI to improve not only their own operations, but to improve the operational processes of their customers. The more innovative carriers have invested in building out their data analytics and AI portfolios and have solutions in place to serve a range of industries.

This pragmatic approach is of particular importance to mid-sized businesses that already have a managed or professional services relationship with their carrier, and companies that don’t require a highly customized AI solution. For example, an organization looking to gain greater insights from its IoT data can benefit from the efforts its telecom operator has already put into optimizing AI-driven IoT management in its own back office.

Telecom providers across the globe, from the U.S. to Europe and Asia, are increasing their AI capabilities, usually by forming partnerships or acquiring companies with expertise in the space. In the U.S., CenturyLink made a major investment in the space back in 2014, when it acquired Cognilytics, a company specializing in big data and predictive analytics. Cognilytics was incorporated into CenturyLink’s data analytics practice, providing custom analytics solutions, such as data science consulting, security services, and location-based and IoT analytics. In Australia, Telstra has been making acquisitions to help organizations implement transformative technologies that include analytics and AI. It acquired London-based Company85 in June 2017, and then further bolstered its professional services portfolio in December 2017 when it purchased Australian-based VMtech.

With acquisitions such as these, telecom service providers are well-positioned to help their clients harness the power of analytics.


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