The efficiencies delivered by AI and big data analysis will be at the heart of helping CSPs face the challenges of a post-COVID-19 world

At the start of 2020, when the world was just beginning to get to grips with the coronavirus, nobody could have predicted the extent to which it would change our world. As infection rates flared around the globe, many countries were rapidly lockdown, with social distancing and work from home commencing on a massive scale. CSPs – so often taken for granted when it comes to their role in our daily lives – were pushed into the limelight, their networks forced to take the strain of unprecedented traffic. 
Connectivity was suddenly at the forefront of everyone’s mind, whether it was related to business continuity, keeping in touch with family and friends, or even working with the government to combat the virus itself.
Thankfully, the rapid response from operators meant that their networks generally proved very resilient to the surging demand. Nonetheless, telcos still find themselves under pressure from the changing world that the coronavirus is leaving in its wake; trends of digitalisation, which were already apparent before the virus struck, have rapidly accelerated. Businesses will need to be increasingly virtual in this new world, with efficient customer engagement online now a necessity. 
In this regard, AI has rapidly risen to prominence to help telcos deliver superior performance for their enterprise customers. As companies dealing with an enormous amount of data, effective AI applications can be transformational, resulting in unique customer insights, service optimisation, and network efficiency. Real-time analytics, driven by AI and machine learning, is a game-changer for reducing costs, improving customer experience, and potentially capitalising on new revenue streams.
Today, at the Better World Summit 2020, Huawei announced its AI-inside digital platform to help bring every facet of AI support within the grasp of CSPs. 
The AI-inside digital platform has been used in a wide range of scenarios that will be integral to a modern CSP. First and foremost, it can help to deliver greatly improved digital customer experience using the AI contact centre (AICC). This high definition video-based, intelligent platform allows companies to deliver an experience similar to ‘face-to-face’ when providing remote customer care. 
Advanced language processing technologies combined with intelligent routing means that customers can quickly be directed to the information and services they need, while direct integration with an enterprise’s production systems and service processes mean that the customer’s requirements can be met easily online. With the proper strategy, these services can reduce the number of physical calls being received by the company, helping to greatly improve efficiency by over 20%. 
“For example, an insurance company can now allow their customers to report small incidents with their mobile phone, get online loss estimations, and claim on their insurance policy after online approval. The whole process will only take a few minutes,” said Bill Tang, Huawei’s President of Global Technical Service.
Secondly, Huawei’s business intelligence platform will also make it much easier for CSPs to monetise their customer data. Through analysing data at scale using machine learning, the AI can identify trends and recommend customers specific services that suit their interests. The data can be used to more accurately forecast demand, anticipate network load, and adjust capacity and throughput – all of which is done automatically by the integrated AI. Analysis on this scale can even open up new revenue streams entirely by offering customers bespoke connectivity deals. 
But perhaps the real area in which AI shines is network operation and optimisation. As networks grow larger than ever, so too does the risk of faults and service interruption. Once again, Huawei’s intelligent operation platform can here provide a solution, able to quickly identify, diagnose, and correct faults in the system by leveraging event models, fault diagnosis trees, and control APIs. 
Meanwhile, as traffic hotspots change as a result of increased home working, the AI platform can employ different energy optimisation policies for each individual site, adjusting in real-time to ensure that each area receives the perfect amount of power to deliver services.
“Based on Huawei AI technology and data/voice modelling, different energy optimisation policies can be deployed for each individual site while network KPI can still be maintained,” explained Mr Tang.
Naturally, the platform also contributes to network planning and optimisation itself; using over 150 optimisation algorithms, the platform allows for collaborative 4G/5G planning and optimisation, indoor and outdoor user differentiation, improvement in 5G planning accuracy of 10–20%, and gains of in-depth coverage rate of 8%.
Finally, Huawei’s integrated delivery platform can drastically improve delivery automation. Their integrated service delivery platform (ISDP) – already being deployed in 170 countries – contains a myriad of solutions to make the delivery process more efficient and safer. For instance, engineers will no longer be required to climb towers to assess antenna positioning; instead, a simple photograph taken by the device from the ground can be analysed by the AI, immediately incorporated with the data into the platform for use in network planning and optimisation calculation. Similarly, remote delivery acceptance will be achievable through e-reports and AI quality inspection. This AI automation greatly improves operational efficiency, bringing with it major cost savings for the operators.
If 2020 has proven anything, it is that we must embrace change if we are to prosper. Digital transformation has been accelerated around the world and these crucial changes are irreversible. With their profit margins strained more than ever by the global economic downturn, CSPs must embrace AI solutions to help guide the entirety of their digital transformation journey if they are to flourish in the post-COVID-19 world.
“Digital transformation is vital for the dynamic nature and environment of our industry. But digital transformation is a journey,” said Mr Tang. “Our ultimate goal is to build a digital architecture that is open and easy to operate alongside an ecosystem with diversified partners. We will continue to invest and evolve our business and platform towards this goal, allowing CSPs to offer new digital services more easily, optimise network and service performance, and deploy and operate networks more efficiently.”
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