The references to robotics and more specifically robotic process automation (RPA) in enterprises have exploded in the last few years. It is, however, not the shiny machine man/woman that’s referenced here.

RPA is software-based robotics that mimics and carries out work done by humans. Essentially, it digitizes manual tasks that are routine, rule-based, and defined by specific steps. And this next-generation technology is going to save the Telecom industry which is buckling under the severe pressure of growing customer demands riding on 5G services. While most telecom providers have been focused on upgrading their networks to 5G, the traditional back-office BSS processes are proving to be a costly bottleneck.

Role of RPA in Business Tranformations in 2021

Studies suggest that around 80% of a person's job can be categorized as rule-based. Such monotonous, routine, and structured data entry tasks that require no creative input can potentially be replaced with robotic process automation.

RPA can handle processes that range from simple tasks such as creating and updating records to more complex tasks such as managing the unavailability of resources or correcting erroneous invoices. According to Gartner, RPA is expected to be adopted by 90% or more medium to large enterprises by 2021. Identifying the right processes to automate is the key to maximizing the ROI from the digital transformation of enterprises by RPA.

 5G Services are Taking Over Every Aspect

5G service is bringing to us technologically superior user experiences by providing unimaginable speed,  superior reliability, and very low latency. Across mission-critical communications like driverless vehicles, telemedicine, smart cities, smart homes, remote learning, and video streaming,  5G is the connectivity gold standard, capable of supporting all spectrum types, bands, new ways of connections, and deployment models.

Operational Challenges of Providing 5G Services

Acquiring and attending to a growing customer base on the 5G promise is becoming exceedingly difficult for telecoms. To offer the full benefits of 5G to their customers, they need to maximize the speed and agility of 5G deployment. In providing round-the-clock customer service, seamless connectivity, and customized plans, the back-office processes of companies have been burdened tremendously, not to mention the growing amount of data that needs to be handled.

Automating is the only way for telecom companies to remain competitive, seize new opportunities and manage changing customer requirements while maintaining service quality and cost. There is an indisputable need to automate actions that generate revenue (onboarding new connections, responding to customer requests, invoicing, etc.) while maintaining control.

RPA and 5G

A peripheral knowledge of the telecom industry will tell you that there are endless use cases for automation in the telecom industry. With 5G, the use cases have only multiplied and well-defined process definition is bringing many of these to success.

Some of the most impactful use cases among these are:

  • Network Management

RPA allows dynamic bandwidth configuration by aggregating and updating information from disparate legacy systems.

  • Customer Onboarding

Customer onboarding actions like product guidance, offering available plans, installation, setup, and upgrades generate maximum revenue but are mostly repetitive. Such tasks can and should be automated.

  • First call resolution

70% of service requests can be solved by AI-powered automated customer support. RPA can help resolve customer issues at scale and efficiently by decreasing first-time resolution (FTR) times. It takes the manual burden off customer service call agents so they can spend their time on higher-priority and complex resolutions.

  • Revenue Assurance and Risk Management

The exponential increase in 5G traffic is also increasing the complexity and number of transactions that revenue assurance and fraud departments need to manage. With RPA, telecom companies can automatically detect and correct billing errors before they appear on a customer invoice. By enabling their OSS and BSS systems to become self-correcting and minimizing fraud automatically, network providers can expand their margins.

  • Data Management

Increasing customer base and transactions have led to massive amounts of data recorded on disparate systems. Analyzing all of it to have a single view of the customers is almost impossible for humans. This is where RPA can help in handling the data.

  • Launching New services

Network slicing which is one of the key advantages of 5G enables telcos to offer new services and tap new markets.  By automating the execution of regression, performance, and other tests, network providers can deliver higher-quality software more quickly and efficiently.

Digital Transformation of Enterprises by RPA

A study by Forrester Research had predicted that over 500,000 jobs will be replaced or augmented by RPA in 2018. Similarly, McKinsey & Company have predicted that automation technologies like RPA will have an economic impact of around $6.7 trillion by 2025. Another study by Osborne and Frey from Oxford University suggests that 47% of U.S. jobs could be automated by 2033. All these numbers make one thing clear. RPA is here to stay and may even play the role of a disruptor in enterprises that are aiming for digital transformation.

 Benefits of RPA in 5G

  • Improving efficiency across departments
  • Eliminating human errors due to incomplete knowledge or fatigue
  • Reducing labor costs while providing 24x7 availability
  • Freeing expert resources to focus on high-impact activities
  • Creating new opportunities and markets.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind Before Going the RPA Way

Any digital transformation undertaking like RPA can be successful only when latent factors are considered. There are a few things that teams responsible for implementing RPA need to keep in mind.

  • Educating Stakeholders - Educating key stakeholders is important to guarantee leadership support. Alignment of the company goals is key.
  • Identifying the Processes - Deciding which of your processes need to be automated is a very crucial step in RPA. Processes that use structured inputs like formatted data files like excel, JSON, CSV, XML, etc. are a better fit than those processes that use unstructured inputs like handwritten forms and scanned documents.
  • Assisted Automation Vs. Unassisted Automation - Be clear on what kind of automation your business needs. Assisted automation needs to be activated by a human to complete a task and unassisted automation starts without needing a human to activate it. This kind is mostly scheduled.
  • Humans are still Irreplaceable - As efficient as RPA is, there will be still times when a person needs to step in for exception management. RPA should thus be seen as a means of improving your existing processes and not merely to replace human resources.
  • Reinvent- Telecom companies can also take this opportunity to reimagine some of the processes that are not presently prime for automation. Quite a few organizations have gone for overall process reengineering to not only automate their current tasks but change how the tasks are done to begin with.

RPA allows telecom companies to free their teams from several complex, repetitive, rule-based processes so that they can focus on expanding the service horizon. By improving the detection and correction of network issues, invoicing, and other areas that impact service quality, 5G network providers can deliver at scale and meet their customers’ expectations.

Find out from experts how they are leveraging RPA to catalyze 5G adoption.

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