Partnerships key to telco AI success – poll result

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Nov 9, 2023

  • TelecomTV held is first AI-Native Telco Summit recently
  • As part of the summit, we conducted a poll about how telcos can best use AI to improve efficiencies and develop new services
  • Telcos can’t go it alone, according to the vast majority of our respondents
  • They should also focus on specific parts of their business for their AI projects

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) offers a broad range of new operational and business opportunities to telecom operators, but they shouldn’t try to go it alone with their AI strategies, according to the results of a poll held during TelecomTV’s first annual AI-Native Telco Summit

The poll, which attracted responses from 195 respondents, asked: How can telcos best leverage AI innovation to improve operational efficiency and develop new services? 

Respondents were able to select as many options as they thought relevant, and there was a very clear message about collaboration, with 72% of respondents voting for the option ‘Work with partners to develop new AI capabilities’, as the chart above shows. 

This makes a lot of sense: Very few telcos have the in-house skills to be able to develop their own AI-enabled applications (though South Korea’s SK Telecom might be an exception to that rule) and so will need to turn to third parties to help plan and execute their AI strategies.

Our poll respondents also believe that telcos need to choose specific parts of their business on which to focus their AI efforts, with 59% of those who voted selecting the option ‘Focus on selected key areas for AI projects’.    

And for those telco AI efforts, 44% of respondents believe operators should ‘Create test beds and digital twins for AI-first models’ to get the most out of their efforts.

Perhaps surprisingly, given how much discussion there is in the industry around digital skills shortages, only 42% of our respondents believe that telcos should ‘Strengthen in-house software and development teams’, though of course this could be linked to the strong support for the notion that telcos should lean on partners in their AI-related efforts. 

Attracting less support in terms of actions that would help telcos to best leverage AI innovation to improve operational efficiency and develop new services were the responses ‘Push for an agile approach to standards and specifications’, with votes from just 37% of our respondents, and ‘Fast-track new AI-as-a-service products’, which drew votes from 35% of our voters.

The least popular option was ‘Launch a CEO-led strategic vision for the company’ – only 34% of respondents thought that would have a positive impact.  

To stay up to date with the main AI developments in the telecom sector, check out our dedicated AI & ML content page on TelecomTV, download our latest DSP Leaders Report, Telecom’s Take on AI, and join us at our in-person event, Telcos & AI: Generating New Opportunities for DSPs, in London on Wednesday 6 December. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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