AI Pickle: Mobile Networks Face Deployment Challenges

Marketing and sales (and by extension, email) are far down the list for AI deployment by  mobile providers, according to Artificial Intelligence: Charting the Way Forward for AI, a global study written by Heavy Reading, sponsored by Coresite and Ericsson. 

Only 32% of mobile network businesses have deployed AI for marketing. Another 25% are bringing it on within one year, while 39% are investigating it and 8% have no plans.  

But 42% have deployed AI for customer care, and 27% will do so within a year. And 42% have brought it on for IT and cloud operations, with 31% expecting to do so in the next 12 months.  

Overall, 82% expect their AI use to increase over the next five years to enhance the customer experience, accelerate innovation, increase revenue generation and decrease churn.

What’s more, the three top benefits of AI for mobile service providers are improving customer experience and limiting churn (40%), improving network and/or IT performance (39%), and driving innovation and revenue for new business (37%).



Of course, 64% of these providers lack a single company strategy for AI, while 45% have different strategies for different parts of the organization.  

One caveat: Only 84 service providers were surveyed for this study, although they do represent a specialized sample.  

Of those polled, 76% work for network operators, including 39% who work for converged operators (those with both fixed and mobile service) 30% for mobile operators and 7% for fixed network operators.  

Companies with revenues of less than $5 billion are more beset with challenges than larger firms.  

For instance, internal collaboration was cited as an issue by 44% of the larger firms in this set, versus 25% of the smaller ones.  

However, 37% of the smaller companies complain that costs for development and deployment are too high, compared to 19% of the larger organizations.  

Data privacy was listed by 22% of larger respondents and 32% of the smaller ones.

On a positive note, here are what companies see as the potential benefits of AI over the next five years (each respondent was asked to select three):  

  • Improve customer experience and limit churn — 40% 
  • Improve performance of network and/or IT — 39% 
  • Drive innovation and revenue for new business — 37% 
  • Savings in network and IT operations (opex) — 36%
  • Savings for network and IT planning (capex) — 30%
  • Improve product development and offerings — 21%
  • Improve security — 20% 
  • Improve IoT complexity — 20% 
  • Lower customer service costs — 13% 
  • As a revenue generator for existing business — 13%
  • Improve energy efficiency — 13%
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