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Telcos are reinventing as digital enablers in response to demand: IBM

Traditional telecom operators are re-inventing their business during the covid-19 pandemic, operating as both digital services providers and digital services enablers to cash-in on the rising demand in this segment, said a senior official of IBM which recently inked deals with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to help them with IT transformation solutions.

Telecom operators are embracing open ecosystems to control network resources better, using everything from hybrid cloud to artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, Vishal Awal, Vice President and Managing Partner – Telecom, IBM Global Business Services, IBM India and South Asia.

As businesses and governments establish their own new normal, 5G and Edge computing will be necessary to deliver the automation, performance and cognitive insight required by many industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, energy and utilities, among others.

This is a shift Indian telecom operators are making at backend IT/ software application level to be 5G ready, even if they are not committed to spending on 5G spectrum yet.

Indian operators — Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel — have recently announced partnerships with IBM to enhance their data analytics and network deployment architecture.

“Platform plays will become increasingly important to monetize big data. 80% of telecom enterprise data stays within the firewalls of the enterprises, and hence is an incredible asset for the incumbents to strike back at the disruptors,” said Awal.

Telcos are looking at AI and automation to help with cost optimization – some immediate areas of focus are contact centers, employee support, field technical support among others. IBM is already deploying solutions and platforms in Tier-1 telcos globally to address these areas.

Every telecom operator is rapidly improving its cloud presence and security to not only monetise data better but also because the covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have greatly increased content generation and consumption. As a result, the platforms that are accessed through these telcos also need storage and processing capacity which the telecom operators need to prepare for.

“Capacity management on-demand is becoming increasingly important for telcos given the shifting traffic patterns. During the covid-19 pandemic, and also during natural disasters like the recent cyclone in Kolkata, dynamic capacity management was key to ensuring that mission-critical services are kept running,” added Awal.

Vishal added that telcos will increasingly look to move the IT and network workloads into the hybrid multi-cloud platforms to effectively address enhanced pressures. They want to reduce operational expenses and leverage AI and automation capabilities in-built within the cloud platforms to manage operations at scale and to enable quick capacity expansions post-covid. In fact, telcos are already offering clients their own enterprise connectivity solutions as well which leverage these software-based capacity management solutions.


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