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Eric Estroff, VP of Services Marketing, Amdocs
“Minority Report” Meets Managed ServicesOver a decade ago, the science fiction thriller, Minority Report depicted a world devoid of homicide. Using futuristic viewing technology, police in the pre-crime division arrested and convicted killers before the crime was committed. Today, the ability for technology to pre-empt problems before they get out of hand is no longer the stuff movies are made of. As service providers become increasingly digital organizations, what if your back-end operations could adopt a similar approach and help identify and prevent issues before they happened?
Artificial Intelligence is Everywhere, Already
While not always obvious to end-users, artificial intelligence (AI) is present in nearly every aspect of day-to-day life. Anytime you use online search, Google will suggest search terms. Shop online and Amazon will recommend other items. If you need to know something – nearly anything –AI engines such as Siri, Cortana, Watson and Echo will provide an answer. But AI has many uses beyond consumer-oriented applications.
Within the communications industry, AI is being applied in an ever-growing number of use cases. So what does this mean for service providers and their managed services operations? With AI, managed services teams can not only gain awareness of issues before they occur, but also the impact those issues will have on the business – both immediate and future. However a proactive approach to issue resolution is only part of the story. Imagine resolving the problem before it arises – with minimal human intervention.
The Future of Managed Services is Now
With an evolution spanning 20 years, AI has come a long way and is fast becoming an essential component to a service provider’s managed services operations. According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, AI is technology that appears to emulate human performance–typically by learning, coming to its own conclusions, appearing to understand complex content, engaging in natural dialogs with people, and enhancing human cognitive performance.
• Machine learning: allows machines to learn from past experiences and apply those learnings to new ones.
As The Heartbeat Of Communications Organizations, Operations Need To Ensure That All Services, From Order-To-Activation And Network To Billing, Are Provided Seamlessly To The End-Customer
• Automation and robotics: provides the ability for a machine to automatically execute predefined tasks. This is particularly powerful when done in combination with machine learning.
• Analytics/trend analysis: machines have the ability to process large amounts of data, as well as spot trends and anomalies. For example, analytics can detect anomalies in usage patterns which could indicate a potential future issue.
• Natural language processing and vision: provides the ability to decipher human speech (oral and written), as well as to process visual objects. By understanding the customer’s intent, chatbots can provide useful suggestions, thereby avoiding escalations and improving customer satisfaction.
Powering Zero-touch, Self-healing Operations
In our industry, AI is already being used to drive more cost-efficient and higher quality operations. As the heartbeat of communications organizations, operations need to ensure that all services, from order-to-activation and network to billing, are provided seamlessly to the end-customer. For example, if a service provider launches a new service but operations lags behind, the customer experience will be poor. AI can remove the guesswork by resolving operations issues automatically, even before they occur.
Use cases include:
• Predictive alerts: using pattern recognition and anomaly detection techniques, AI can detect patterns of system data that indicate an imminent problem. This allows the operations to see into the future and identify trouble spots before they can escalate into issues. In addition, operations managers can be alerted so that proactive actions can be taken.
• Intelligent triage: once a problem has been detected (or predicted), the system can analyze it within the context of how it will affect customers, and project the business value of the impact. This allows the system to apply a priority level to the problem; ensuring issues that have the greatest customer and financial impact are handled first.
• Automated ticket resolution: since the system is constantly building its knowledge base of issues and determining the correct resolution path, over time, a growing number of issues will be able to resolved automatically.
An Intelligent Outlook
Unlike the conclusion of Minority Report, where the pre-crime unit is dismantled, AI is here to stay. And as it becomes more integrated into operations and systems continually “learn” more user cases, service providers will become increasingly accurate in predicting imminent issues. Ultimately, operations will move towards resolutions that are zero-touch and self-healing, with issues correctly identified and handled before they impact customers. Indeed, AI is a powerful game-changer whose ability for proactive prevention will ripple through the industry, setting the stage for service providers to take customer experience to the next level, lower their costs and improve efficiency.