The future of 5G relies on digital process automation

(Image credit: O2)

As we prepare to enter a world with 5G wireless infrastructure, businesses and consumers alike anticipate the benefits that accompany wide-ranging, super-fast wireless connectivity. With these promises, the potential for enabling faster speeds, greater volumes and broader reach of network traffic for more connected devices than ever before is nothing short of an exciting and increasingly possible reality.

Now, with this improved connectivity, communications service providers (CSPs) will be able to provide their B2B and B2C clients increased capacity for new pioneering technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and a host of other connected environments that will infiltrate our daily lives – in schools, hospitals, businesses, transport systems and utilities.

In many cases, CSPs have already done a lot in preparation for 5G by developing hardware, software and operational structures that have allowed them to expand their networking capabilities before the technology has been formally implemented. But this is merely the tip of the iceberg for 5G providers. Before CSPs can even think about launching 5G plans the task of transitioning is both daunting and expensive.

Not only will CSPs have to allocate a significant measure of capital to purchase spectrum, they will also need to invest in core and radio access networks. Furthermore, since 5G requires significantly greater cell density and tower infrastructure, the cost of hardware updates alone could be an intimidating prospect.

CSPs are therefore left with the delicate task of managing investments responsibly whilst getting ahead of the competition to gain market advantage. To manage all costs efficiently, CSPs will need a system architecture that can identify operational dependencies and coordinate them in an efficient way – removing cumbersome and costly manual processes as a priority.

DPA as a management solution

Digital process automation (DPA) is a holistic approach to enterprise system architecture that can tackle individual tasks across your business’s roster of vendors, partners, and departments. It allows companies to use automation to orchestrate tasks and ensure the most efficient work process.

Taking a DPA approach to 5G rollout allows CSPs to eliminate process inefficiencies and introduce a marketable service much faster. Not only will this result in higher returns, but also the ability to gain a contractual advantage as businesses expand their networks of 5G connected devices. 

A DPA architecture allows CSPs to harness digital technologies like real-time intelligence, robotic automation and dynamic case management which can be applied to crucial tasks associated with 5G rollout, such as budgeting, hardware, orders for equipment and supplies, and scheduling and monitoring contractors. This technology has already been adopted by internet operators like Google. By using automated processes companies easily identify issues and help troubleshoot them. For example, outages can be quickly rectified to maximise network capacity potential.

Delivering 5G performance at its best

Following the rollout of 5G the priority should be maintaining excellent overall network quality and customer service. Even though 5G operability will be crucial, CSPs will also need to contend with providing services to replace fixed lines and lower 4G congestion. Once 5G is up and running, DPA processes can be used to continually monitor both 5G and 4G networks to maintain a high level of customer experience. The complex processes which DPA is designed to tackle, contribute to service management, including people, materials and processes. One example of this technology in action is Cisco, which currently runs the fastest networks for large business, and is using DPA to resolve network outages resulting in a 93 per cent reduction of manual tasks.

Realising the benefits

The benefits of 5G – faster data speeds, higher device intensity, lower latency, and reduced energy – will open up an array of opportunities for CSPs to introduce new services and IoT application tools. As 5G becomes increasingly ubiquitous and customers become accustomed to its benefits, the need for better and faster mobile data will generate higher demand for the latest 5G-enabled digital capabilities.

DPA can help to deliver on customer expectations by connecting front and back-end processes for flawless integration. Appropriate use of case management, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) will be instrumental in achieving end-to-end customer experience transformation. According to Gartner, on average, 24 per cent of CSP business processes are fit for automation.

Using DPA to provide end-to-end visibility gives CSPs the ability to make ongoing improvements to networks as well as a variety of additional internal processes that benefit customer experience. DPA also helps operational processes which add value to services or reduces costs, leading to bigger profit margins.

DPA facilitates benefits for developers too. Low-code development gives employees at CSPs the ability to design customer platforms to align with rapidly changing preferences quickly, easily and with minimal operational disruption to websites and applications. Low-code development also helps improve employee engagement and collaboration between business users and IT. Vodafone is an example of a CSP that improved time-to-market by 75 per cent and customer Net Promoter Scores by 18 per cent by taking advantage of low-code capabilities.

The fact that innovations will persist in telcos is not much of a controversial statement. But DPA changes the ways in which CSP’s can adapt to these innovations. 5G won’t be the last network innovation to be rolled out, and DPA, case management and AI will continue to allow seamless task-flow between people and systems to reduce costs and strengthen competitive advantage.

To realise the common goal of 5G – connecting people, things, and data – CSPs will need to align mission-critical data with existing protocol. Taking advantage of automation tools will be instrumental in optimising cost-efficiency and ultimately maintaining valuable connections with customers.

Kevin Billings, Director and Communications Industry Principal, Pegasystems