AI Checklists deliver best practices to manage AI at scale

Via TM Forum Press & News

Nov 19, 2020

London, UK — Today, TM Forum, the industry association driving digital transformation through collaboration, announced the availability of AI Checklist Cards that offer guidance and best practices to communications service providers (CSPs) in the safe and effective deployment of AI systems at scale throughout the software lifecycle from AI procurement, development, deployment and end-of-life management.

Developed under a collaboration project by TM Forum members A1 Telekom Austria Group, Amdocs, Axiata, Comarch, Ericsson, Ernst & Young, IBM, Microsoft, Netcracker, Orange, PCCW, Prodapt, STC, Tecnotree, Vodafone and Zenath, these checklist cards are simple and easy to use.

One of the project team members, Rob Claxton, Chief Researcher, BT, said CSPs have a huge appetite for AI and want to know how to exploit it, but they lack the best practices and standards to avoid common traps and pitfalls. As a result, the team drew inspiration from checklists used by airline pilots and doctors to create a simple answer to a complex problem with the free, downloadable AI Checklist Cards.

“AI is new for CSPs. There are lots of traps that need to be avoided, and the processes and best practices don’t yet exist,” said Claxton. “These new cards will help them implement AI in a way that is both safe and effective.”

**Learning from AI best practices ** Another member of the project team, Michael Hind, Distinguished Research Staff Member, IBM Research AI, said best practices are especially important when it comes to AI. “There are a lot of things we can learn from AI best practices,” he said. “Data scientists, model validators and people who deploy AI can focus on their expertise and use tools like checklists and model cards to monitor governance.”

Soyini Taylor, Enterprise Data Architect, Vodafone Group, said AI practitioners can use the AI Checklist Cards to document their processes and methodology. “It’s important for us to be able to note down what we have done for explainability and fairness so that if I were to give my AI model to another team, or to an outside organization, they can open the box and see what’s in it without guessing,” she said.

Ignacio Mas, Senior Expert and Head of Technology Strategy in OSS, Ericsson, added that the AI Checklist Cards will help speed up the deployment of AI by providing an industry agreed framework on how to deploy and manage AI at scale safely and effectively. “The checklists will help increase confidence and reduce risk,” he said. “Many people are unfamiliar with AI and the cards can serve as a useful guide as CSPs begin to deploy AI as part of their networks and operations.”

As networks and operations become automated and rely on AI to manage services like customer experience management, predictive analytics, personalization and more, CSPs need to ensure the AI is properly managed and governed. The checklists will play a critical role because an AI-enabled architecture will need strong governance.

In addition, the AI Checklist Cards will provide a useful guide for CSPs who need to ensure that critical items, such as ethical assessments, training and data validation, are addressed at all stages of the lifecycle in order to increase trust and reduce risk within an organization, according to Aaron Boasman-Patel, Vice President of AI and Customer Experience, TM Forum. “Helping CSPs avoid missing out on critical steps that might otherwise lead to some harm is central to our creation of the checklists,” he said.

“Checklists are essential in the airline and medical industries because they ensure standards and best practices. Checklists, in spite of their apparent simplicity, have driven profound improvements,” added Boasman-Patel. “As CSPs start to deploy AI, they need to ensure they are doing it safely and that they can manage it at scale.”

**More AI tools and tips ** There is also an AI Checklist Poster that summarizes the steps included in the AI Checklist Cards. The poster and the cards work hand-in-hand with TM Forum’s AI Readiness Check, an online tool that allows AI practitioners to identify gaps between current and target capabilities across six dimensions of a CSP’s business. In December, TM Forum will offer AI Model Data Sheets to accompany the checklists and readiness check.

BT, IBM and Vodafone discussed the AI Checklist Cards with Boasman-Patel during the “Laying the AI foundation” session during TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World Series. The panel is available to watch on-demand now through November 20 at https://dtws.tmforum.org/. (Registration is required.)

**Get involved in TM Forum’s Collaboration Projects ** All of the programs and initiatives underway at TM Forum are designed to help our member companies improve operational agility while reducing costs and risk, engage customers, expand market share and drive revenue growth through new services. Learn more about Collaboration and get involved here.

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