Don’t wait: Now is the time to add intelligence to your applications and services

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a groundbreaking technology; act now to be positioned in a new market


Ovum Principal Analyst Michael Azoff says now is the time for AI

There is inevitable hype with any technology wave, especially one that has touched the public’s imagination through film media. So it’s doubly important to stay grounded and to separate fact from fiction.

The facts are that AI has been researched in the past 60 years with incremental degrees of progress, but it’s in the past seven years that this technology, driven by deep learning neural networks, has broken through milestones in specialized thinking activities. Where competition is involved, it has beaten humans at these skills, examples include image understanding, and the games of Go and poker.

The fiction is that these systems are fully autonomous and capable of artificial general intelligence akin to a fully functioning human brain – we are far from achieving such capabilities. However, the achievements of AI today are such that it will transform how we use automation.

Telcos are already exploring the use of AI to optimize and manage network traffic; however, we also see novel applications of AI in intelligent marketing, intelligent customer care, and data analytics.

Choose an AI strategy that avoids the pitfalls of the laggard and first mover

The laggard position is too risky in our view, because the telco market is transforming rapidly. Digital transformation is already a major activity in most businesses today, including the telco market. We define this as the impact of internet/web-based e-commerce, cloud services, and Internet of Things (IoT). We also see a Digital Transformation 2.0 taking place, defined as the infusion of AI in automation, blockchain technology, and cloud-native IT.

With so much change taking place, incumbent telcos need to act now because they are also competing against start-up entrants that are able to leapfrog legacy technology and exploit the rapid pace of evolution and improvement that cloud-native technology can offer, namely microservices architecture, containerization, and DevOps continuous delivery.

Being too visionary also carries risk, namely, creating unproven solutions that mistime customer needs. Also, a DIY approach in AI carries technology investment risk.

We recommend a pragmatic strategy that combines proven AI solutions with clearly defined goals. This involves working with a partner that has the AI expertise to not only provide the best AI solution today but also to stay up to date with the evolution of AI technology.

A significant reason for the progress in deep learning has been the availability of AI hardware accelerators, and the market is set to become highly competitive with new entrants promising even better-preforming hardware. This new AI chip war will in turn stimulate improved AI algorithms. Keeping abreast of the latest advances in AI technology will require continuing investment in this field. Telcos are not in the business of AI and it makes better sense to work with partners that are specializing in AI.

To read more about how AI will impact the telco market, see the Amdocs White Paper, written by Ovum: Act on your intelligence: seizing the AI opportunity for communications service providers.

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