Kevin Billings, Director and Communications Industry Principal, Pegasystems, outlines how digital process automation (DPA) is vital to making 5G roll out a success
5G wireless infrastructure will bring faster and broader wireless connectivity, supporting more network traffic, higher volumes of data, greater speed, more devices, and even dedicated “slices” of network service that offer specific performance characteristics.
Communications Service Providers (CSPs) will be able to offer B2B and B2C clients greater capacity for needs like live/interactive video streaming, gaming, augmented reality, and multitudes of IoT connections that will power the smart cities, utilities, education, healthcare, transportation, and enterprise needs of today and tomorrow.
CSPs have already developed strategies for expanding their 3G or 4G service to 5G coverage, including hardware, software, and operational changes to expand networks, enable 5G phones and devices, and launch new subscription plans. But the transition is complex and costly. In addition to bearing the high cost of acquiring spectrum, CSPs need to invest heavily in core and radio access networks, transmission, and infrastructure. 5G typically requires 5 to 10 times more cell tower infrastructure.
Complex network upgrades like 5G migration put pressure on CSPs to manage capital investments strategically
The challenges to CSPs for 5G implementation are twofold: Because 5G requires a greater density of cells, CSPs need to invest resources to upgrade their networks, and stay ahead of or keep pace with their competition. But they also need to maintain their bottom line, and this is difficult when they typically rely on manual and outdated processes with limited visibility.
Detailed oversight of infrastructure investments is critical. McKinsey predicts that in one European country, network-related capital expenditure would have to increase by 60% from 2020 to 2025, roughly doubling the cost of ownership. And operators in some countries are considering sharing networks in order to manage cost efficiency, which could further complicate oversight. To manage all costs efficiently, CSPs will need a system architecture that can identify operational dependencies and coordinate them in a streamlined manner.
DPA orchestrates complex processes and operations
Digital process automation is an approach to an enterprise system architecture that looks holistically at all of the tasks that need to be managed for different vendors, partners, and internal orgs (e.g., engineering, construction, finance) and helps orchestrate and automate each one in concert with related tasks. It unifies different technologies and functions to help organizations work efficiently.
A DPA approach can maximize the efficiency and speed of 5G network rollout. CSPs that get to 5G before their competition will see a greater return and have a contractual advantage as consumers upgrade and businesses build out their operational networks of 5G-connected devices. A DPA architecture allows CSPs to take advantage of cost-efficient, digital technologies like robotic automation, real-time intelligence, and dynamic case management to orchestrate interrelated rollout activities, such as managing costs, hardware, orders for equipment and supplies, and scheduling and tracking contractors. If a roadblock is identified, automated processes can be triggered within a DPA system architecture to troubleshoot issues and maintain progress. Outages can also be quickly identified and resolved with the help of automated processes. This is an approach to building network capacity that internet operators like Google are already using.
Maintaining 5G network quality
During and after rollout it’s crucial CSPs ensure service (and customers) are not lost. In the nearer term, CSPs will need to provide services to replace fixed lines and reduce 4G congestion. Post-rollout, DPA can be used to manage the quality of the overall network to maintain a market-leading, 5G customer experience. Because DPA is designed for complex processes, it can orchestrate the people, materials, and processes in response to any defined event. We’ve seen examples of this from companies like Cisco, which runs the fastest data networks for the largest companies in the world and has reduced manual touches by 93% when resolving network outages.
Transforming the customer and employee experience
The greatly improved data speed, higher device intensity, lower latency, and reduced energy requirement of 5G creates new service and IoT application opportunities for CSPs. As 5G service is adopted and valued by customers, the general appetite of consumers for better and faster mobile data will generate demand for new 5G-enabled digital capabilities.
DPA can connect front- and back-end processes in CSPs, transforming the experience of these customers. Case management, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) used only where appropriate, provide an integrated, end-to-end approach to the automation of processes and tasks. According to Gartner, on average, 24% of CSP business processes are fit for automation.
End-to-end visibility enables CSPs to make continuous improvements to networks but also to other internal processes that impact customer experience and operational efficiency such as order fulfilment. For example, using DPA, Orange improved communication with their customers, reduced order to activate times by 30%, and at the same time reduced the amount of rework in their processes by 50%.
DPA also enables low-code development that can empower CSPs to design and make dynamic changes quickly and with agility, as well as greatly improve employee experience and collaboration between business users and IT. Vodafone is an example of a CSP that improved time-to-market by 75% and customer Net Promoter Scores by 18% by taking advantage of low-code capabilities. With DPA orchestrating processes, people and systems seamlessly work together, ultimately reducing cost and complexity while strengthening competitive advantage.
DPA drives process optimization to increase revenue
Generational changes in the telco industry are complex but are also the foundation for future innovations. Increased network capabilities become opportunities to share information and ideas. In the long term 5G is really about connecting people, things, and data. DPA can help CSPs connect their own mission-critical data, systems, and processes to optimize cost-efficiency and maintain valuable connections with customers.