Offerings from OTT competitors are forcing telecom companies to reinterpret their business models. The decline in revenues from the voice business has been testing telco value chains. Add in increasing demands for privacy and security, and you can see why telco is overwhelmed. Learn how robotic process automation is getting telco back on track here.
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Mastering multitasking with ease
In today’s market environment, companies must continuously put their processes and strategic roadmaps to the test. Whether due to technological changes or subsequent customer expectations, this requires a dynamic approach and a certain light-footedness.
In industries with a comparatively high rate of innovation, this requires true multitasking. On the one hand, companies must take advantage of the current market situation to expand their existing business, and on the other hand, they must create an environment for future-oriented innovations.
To master this “ambidexterity,” unnecessary baggage must be thrown overboard. Robotic process automation (RPA) can automate critical processes, create meaningful interfaces between applications and systems, and make workflows leaner.
In this article, you will learn which parts of the telecommunications industry benefit most from RPA and how companies can get the most out of this technology.
The telecommunications industry is growing
The outlook for telecommunications companies is promising. As more and more aspects of daily life depend on communication devices, it can be assumed that the global telecommunications market will also continue to grow in the coming decades.
Overall, global telecommunications statistics are impressive. A recent study estimates that in 2020 there will be around 7.7 billion active mobile broadband connections worldwide. However, appearances are deceptive because even with some 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide, mobile phone revenues are expected to account for only 45 percent of total provider revenues by 2023.
This challenges the original business model of telecommunications providers. The profit share from mobile phone revenues is declining after many years of stability, while the introduction of the 5G network requires extensive infrastructure investments.
Telco under pressure
The global telecommunications industry has undergone a paradigm shift in recent years. Innovative offerings from over-the-top (OTT) competitors are forcing telecommunications companies to reinterpret their business models and value chains.
Consumer expectations have also evolved in recent years. Users want internet access as fast as possible — as cheaply as possible. According to a report, 37 percent of consumers already had unlimited data plans.
In the coming years, the telecommunications industry will continue to face numerous developments, such as:
Increased cost pressure due to a decline in revenues from voice business
Many smartphone users worldwide currently use the voice calling features of messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, and more. This has led to a significant decrease in voice traffic, which was already on the decline.
According to Juniper Research, the use of more flexible and free OTT services will reduce operators’ voice revenues from $381 billion in 2019 to $208 billion in 2024.
Therefore, business models and corporate processes largely based on the voice telephony value chain of recent decades must now be made future-proof.
Device connectivity through the Internet of Things (IoT)
The “Internet of Things” is a collective term for technologies of a global infrastructure of information societies. It intends to make it possible to network physical and virtual objects with each other and to make them work together through information and communication technologies.
According to Norton, the number of connected devices will exceed the 21 billion mark by 2025 — a development that will require telecommunications companies to have an extremely high level of connectivity. To use the full range of functions and make them available to their customers, providers and consumers expect network coverage and hardware to be sufficiently compatible with the services offered and the Internet of Things.
Increasing demands for privacy and security
The telecommunications industry processes an extensive stock of sensitive information. New regulatory and compliance requirements, including from GDPR and other mandates worldwide, call for strict legal requirements for data protection.
Security and compliance with applicable government regulations for the protection of user data is now a top priority for every telecommunications company. As a result, enormous investments are often required to commission third-party organizations to manage data security support.
These requirements extend beyond voice calls to the extensive movement data recorded, sometimes unnoticed, via apps and the GPS antenna integrated into smartphones.
Rising costs due to high expectations of digital customer experience
Many telco providers suffer from increasing service pressure and have problems providing adequate customer service. During nationwide disruptions, providers’ social media channels often flood with inquiries. Once private, complaint e-mails are now publicly visible – a dangerous combination of an overwhelmed customer service department and vocal and dissatisfied customers with a platform.
But today’s customers rightly expect a consistent brand experience and seamless transitions between the various digital communication channels. That’s why companies are increasingly investing in both financial and human resources that improve the digital customer experience (DCX).
Adaptation to legal, economic, and social requirements
Since telecommunications companies play a key role in our society, the legal, economic, and social conditions must be considered in many business decisions.
“Over-the-top” (OTT) providers enable their customers to transmit text, video and audio content free of charge. This way, they put pressure on mobile and fixed network operators who offer comparable services for a fee.
RPA: Shaking up telco
Robotic process automation, or RPA, is a hot topic across many industries — and for a good reason! Software robots, or bots, can automate manual activities, which offers wide-ranging process improvements.
Once the necessary steps are documented, the bots can mimic human input on a program interface. In this way, large-volume and rule-based business processes can be standardized and automatically processed. This often leads to considerably increased efficiency. The crucial advantage in the telecommunications industry is simple: Due to the huge amount of communication end devices and data, the value chain of the providers is based to a large extent on rule-based processes that are ideally suited for automation.
RPA also enables companies to develop new services much more affordable, faster, and more innovative while driving the scaling of their existing business.
Back office processes – Optimal environment for RPA
From invoicing and data entry to order processing, manual and high-volume back-office processes offer the best opportunities to implement RPA solutions. If you imagine the number of incoming change requests for telephone numbers, addresses, and other customer master data, you realize the urgency. In practice, this hard-to-predict workload often leads to long waiting loops, unanswered customer queries, and a never-ending backlog.
In many cases, integrating automated self-services is difficult because the systems do not offer suitable interfaces. This is a perfect opportunity for RPA because software robots can automate cancellations, address changes, appointment allocation, invoice processing, order or complaint recording, and other standardized processes quickly and easily on any program interface.
Manual processes, like reading individual pieces of content, are reduced and made more efficient as RPA bots extract literal or pictorial information and make it available to employees or systems at the right time.
Customer service support – RPA makes it possible
These days, customers expect a consistent customer experience (CX) and smooth support. This pushes companies to connect with their customers through many different channels. Although this customer service is usually free of charge, companies spend significant amounts of money running call centers and social media monitoring and management.
Services like Facebook Messenger or direct message functions on other social networks contribute to the fact that the volume of complaints and contacts is growing daily, becoming more confusing and unwieldy for Human Resources to handle. Bots can play a significant role in freeing up these workers by automating support requests, providing employees with the necessary information, or routing calls to the right person.
RPA projects like this also provide valuable information to calculate KPIs for ticket generation and service-level agreements.
Software robots can be used to automate cancellations, address changes, appointment allocation, invoice processing invoice processing, order or complaint recording and other standardized processes, quickly and easily on any program interface.
Reaping the RPA benefits
The implementation of RPA has numerous advantages for the previously mentioned areas. These are just a few of them:
Improved agility and scalability
Telecommunication providers have a high volume of data to manage. If the workload changes, the digital workforce can be scaled up or down in minutes from a central server. Because software robots work around the clock, they can easily respond to both temporary spikes in demand and permanent growth requirements.
Simplified data communication and transmission
Large data volumes and high transaction volumes are the ingredients for complex data migrations. In this context, data migration refers to nothing more than the exchange (export, import, cleanup, adjustment, or merging) of data between different systems. Sounds simple, but unfortunately, there are often no interfaces or API that allow programs to “communicate” with each other. As a result, an employee usually has to transfer data manually from one program to the other.
This is an ideal case for RPA. The software robots interact with the user interface of the systems and migrate the data fully automatically by mimicking the interactions of the employee. Even daily data audits can be performed rule-based, quickly and easily, and linked to control processes.
Meeting safety requirements
Since the activity reports recorded by RPA tools are encrypted professionally and decentrally, consumer and company information security is always guaranteed. Like its human colleagues, every bot receives the necessary credentials for all tools and programs it operates. With the help of a log-in-log-out service, it is also possible to lock the computer and meet the highest security standards.
Significant cost reduction and fast ROI
There are several reasons for the promising cost reduction potential of RPA. Bots require no salaries or other benefits and work 24 hours a day, seven days a week! The most suitable tasks for bots are standardized tasks with a high throughput, which further increases the positive effects of RPA.
Additionally, RPA has a low cost of entry and can be implemented quickly. As a result, cost savings and a positive ROI are achieved in most cases shortly after implementation.
Reduction of manual data entry
RPA eliminates the need for manual back-end data entry from paper records into electronic repositories. Instead, RPA bots can use integrated OCR technology (optical character recognition from images) to capture, use, and store data from image recordings and enter it into connected systems.
This helps speed up data entry and relieves the support team, which can now use these additional hours to work on nurturing customer relationships.
Increased network uptime
Network downtime causes interruptions in customer service. With RPA, potential network problems are identified and reported to the support team in real-time. This way, the problem is resolved more quickly, and the team is empowered to inform customers of potential downtime.
RPA in practice: Telco Success
Software robots from Hyland already help telecommunication companies with many different tasks. Our service app helps thousands of technical field staff every day.
In the telecommunications industry, technical customer service significantly influences the customer experience. In the event of network or installation problems, a service employee heads to the reported address and checks the situation at the client’s premises. Such “field service visits” occur about 18,000 times a day for one of our customers.
To guarantee a smooth workflow and error-free data exchange, employees must be optimally equipped with the right mobile equipment to perform their work in the field. Until now, technical service personnel (who also perform sales tasks) often had to contact several departments to get the right information, and they had to repeat this process every time they visited a customer.
The mobile equipment the company provided to its technicians did not have the necessary interfaces to process the order itself. Feedback from the company’s internal call center, where line measurement had to be activated first, often led to long waiting times.
Under these conditions, technicians‘ work was unnecessarily complicated, and a positive customer experience became much less likely.
We partnered with this organization, starting with a creative workshop with the client that specifically focused on the ability to take over administrative tasks related to order processing. Thanks to developing a mobile app that triggers the internal software robots, the technicians can now perform the necessary steps of the product installation directly at the customer’s site.
Thanks to RPA, it was possible to meet productivity targets while improving customer satisfaction. The integrated line measurement at the customer’s site and a real-time connection to the company’s central systems have also increased employees’ independence.
Technicians now only need their smartphones when visiting customers. From their phone, they can activate lines, take measurements, and perform research activities. A QR scanner reads the product information directly into the system, where the measuring systems are automatically selected in the background. The technician then receives the final measurement results in a very short time via push message. The entire order processing is automated from start to finish and has become faster for the customer.
Hyland eliminated the tedious calling and research processes via telephone and notebook, and with the “Security Bridge” encryption concept, it has at the same time created the basis for maintaining high data protection standards.
- A savings of up to five minutes per job, thanks to a simple user interface
- 70 percent fewer errors due to predefined process logic and input checks
- Reduction of costs by 80 percent
- Guided workflow
- Short implementation time
- High acceptance and user adoption because of the direct involvement of employees (by technicians for technicians)
Getting your company on board with RPA
Gartner expects that by 2021, RPA will be used in almost 90 percent of all large organizations globally.vi The adoption of RPA in the telecommunications sector is particularly profitable as it allows for greater efficiency and better customer experience while transforming business models.
RPA will be the winning strategy for telecommunications companies to stay ahead of the competition in the coming years. Start your digital transformation today.