It’s no surprise that for the past few years telecom operators worldwide are struggling to maintain their revenue and profit margins. Operators are being squeezed from all corners:
- Customers demanding GAFA like experience
- Non-traditional players like WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype etc. monetizing on product lines considered as core products of telecom operators
- Global IT services providers like Microsoft, Amazon etc. targeting the lucrative B2B segment
- Last but not the least, regulators being increasingly critical towards operators and putting evermore pressure on them. The geo-political situation between USA and China has added another layer of complexity.
As a result we have been witnessing multiple strategies being explored by operators to maintain their growth and margins.One of these strategies followed by every operators is to become operationally lean and reduce operational costs.
Typically operations cost (combined over IT, Networks, customer care, logistics, sales and admin) amounts for approx. 40 to 50% of any operators OPEX. Even a single digit percentage reduction in operational cost can thus provide a huge upside to the margins. As a result operators have been going through operational excellence and cost reduction exercises for almost a decade. Most of these initiatives have been with the sole aim of increasing margin, however cost cuttings have also resulted in loss of customer experience which again results in revenue/margin loss. Operators need to find the right cost rationalization opportunities without impact customer experience.
RPA, Robotic Process Automation, seems to be a perfect technology to support telecom operators in their endeavor to reduce operational cost without impacting customer experience. In the past few years many operators have started to explore the potentials of RPA. Vodafone for example is using bots to automate work done by 2600 employees and Orange Spain has deployed RPA within customer care department, increasing NPS by automating multiple processes.
Currently operators are automating relatively simple repetitive processes however as the technology advances we can expect more complex processes to be automated, fueling further cost reduction. According to industry experts, RPA market is going to grow by almost 2.5X over the next three years.
RPA worldwide revenue forecast in US$:
At the same time we see a strong move towards Intelligence Automation. Until now processes were executed by people supported by technology. But with Intelligence Automation processes will be executed by technology autonomously but supported by people.
At everis, we have been at the forefront of RPA and Intelligence Automation development helping multiple clients in automatizing their processes. Over the past few years we have supported many telecom operators in conceptualizing, designing, implementing and running their RPA programs. Based upon our experience we have been able to identify the automation percentages that can be achieved for different processes. We expect between 60 to 80% automation, depending upon the process and activity type. This experience provides us the ability to quickly identify the processes to automate with the best ROI.
RPA might suffer a bit from a branding problem: “Robotic process automation” makes it sound fancier or more futuristic than it really is. It’s simply software for automating certain kinds of computer-based tasks that once required a person to complete. It’s not magic, and there are no actual robots involved.