Blog post

The Future of RPA in Telecom: BSS Automation in the Cloud Era

Learn about the most notable RPA use cases in telecom companies and the benefits their application can bring to the global telecommunications arena.

August 17, 2022

8 mins read

As businesses increasingly run in the cloud, RPA provides the means to streamline processes across both cloud-native applications and legacy, on-premises systems – ultimately helping employees spend less time on repetitive tasks and more time supporting business-critical projects.

Thomas Kurian, CEO, Google Cloud

The telecom industry is steadily moving toward a much wider adoption of 5G networks and the cloudification of OSS/BSS services. In line with that, the task of keeping the effectiveness of key business processes on par with this progress comes to the forefront.

RPA at a glance: what’s in it for telecoms

Robotic process automation (RPA) is an important modern element of a much wider concept known as business process automation (BPA). BPA focuses on streamlining the overall effectiveness of all business processes an organization has by means of creating a single coherent automation framework and integrating multiple components on a low level.

Unlike BPA, RPA addresses specific tasks and routines with pinpoint accuracy using a completely different approach. Instead of using hardcoded automation routines relying on APIs, direct database access, or middleware components, RPA fully emulates the behavior of system users via bots — pre-recorded action sequences or scenarios executed according to configurable rules.

Robotic process automation in telecom is considered to be one of the primary means of maintaining a consistently high level of BSS efficiency, as RPA scales up with the growth of the subscriber base and supports the ongoing cloudification of traditional telecom business processes. Combined with AI and ML, the technology also has the potential of addressing a variety of challenging tasks in the Big Data department.

The Future of RPA in Telecom: BSS Automation in the Cloud Era

Source: Protiviti

According to a 2022 article by Grand View Research, the total volume of the robotic process automation market is expected to hit the $30.85 billion mark by 2030, yielding a CAGR just north of 38% over the forecast period.

Telecom companies were among the most active adopters of RPA and not without reason. The amount of document processing, interactions with customers, partners, and contractors dictates the need for intelligent automation at multiple levels. The promise that RPA once made has been fully delivered through off-the-shelf solutions (like UiPath, Microsoft Power Automate, Blue Prism and Automation Anywhere) and robotic process automation services from competent vendors familiar with the needs of the industry.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular telecom use cases for robotic process automation and the value they deliver.

Telecom use cases for RPA

Telecom use cases for robotic process automation are extremely diverse and depend primarily on the existing business processes of an organization and the pain points and bottlenecks it strives to eliminate. However, there are a few common areas where most CSPs tend to start their RPA journey.

Customer support

One of the areas where RPA truly shines is customer support. Dealing with a massive number of queries and converting them into categorized support tickets according to their content and SLA rules is a labor-intensive task — and that’s what those macros excel at executing. RPA bots do a great job analyzing and interpreting incoming email and chat requests, responding to some of them immediately with predefined answers from the company’s knowledge base or categorizing them and assigning them to a particular support group.

Throw in AI and ML algorithms and you can use NLP and TTS for processing inbound and initiating automated outbound phone calls, make use of OCR for converting scanned images to text, and tap into massive arrays of historical data to create personalized user experiences. All of these elements can be implemented via some off-the-shelf tools and custom telecommunication software development services.

Invoice/PO processing

Managing accounts receivable and payable for millions of subscribers and hundreds of vendors is a highly challenging task, especially considering the ramifications possible with invoice errors. Well-implemented BSS automation with strategically embedded RPA bots helps automate this highly complex and tedious workflow, making it less prone to errors, delays, and data duplication.

A good example of finance-related automation in telecom would be the processing of emails with payment requests from vendors and contractors or purchase orders from the company’s procurement department. Bots can automatically open them, validate their source, extract meaningful data and insert values into specific fields on a particular form in the company’s ERP or accounting system, then send them for approval to corresponding employees.

Such RPA use cases in telecommunications help gain tangible advantages, both direct and indirect. From invoice discounts for early payments and higher vendor loyalty to access to better offers and improved employee satisfaction — all of these perks come as a result of letting RPA bots take care of time-sensitive and repetitive financial operations that your employers would’ve otherwise gotten swamped with.

Network maintenance and optimization

Network issues can often be resolved (and even prevented) without replacing hardware or performing complex software reconfigurations. In many cases, preemptively increasing a threshold of a particular value or restarting a service/hardware unit is enough to bring your network status back into the green zone.

RPA in telecommunication companies can be effectively combined with AI to create highly autonomous, intelligent bots that monitor your network’s performance and replace live personnel in cases where human intervention is not required. Based on a complex set of predefined rules, these bots keep an eye on key performance metrics (such as the network load, number of connections, bandwidth, signal strength, and others) and either take action when a particular event occurs or send an alert or incident report to a corresponding systems administrator.

ETL operations

The list of telecom use cases for robotic process automation would not be complete without data transformation. Telecom is all about data and the sheer amount of it that has to be processed for day-to-day operations, and big data analysis can be very impressive.

Depending on the channel or data provider that the data comes from, CSPs often need to spend considerable amounts of time and effort to validate it and convert it into a usable format. This initial process is fairly time-consuming and can be automated using RPA bots that look for new files in designated locations, check them for errors and perform basic data transformations according to predefined rules. The resulting files can then be pushed into corresponding BSS solutions for further processing.

The same approach can be used for company-wide product stock level reconciliation in situations where inventory updates are submitted by remote branches or field offices via file uploads. Bots can take care of proper file naming and references, correctness of the document structure, lack of duplicates, and more. As a result, stock level data always remains accurate for the benefit of both service providers and their customers.

Data entry and validation

Data entry jobs have always been associated with high intensity, tediousness, and a significant risk of employee burnout — all of which leads to errors and data corruption. This is one of the best telecommunication use cases for RPA, as bots are a perfect solution for high-volume, ultra-fast, concurrent data entry through standard forms.

Deep automation of routine back-office operations is one of the hottest RPA trends in telecom these days. Besides obvious advantages like the speed of document processing, fewer data entry errors, and higher customer satisfaction, setting up an effective RPA workflow can free up valuable human resources that can instead attend to tasks that generate more added value for the company.

Compliance management

Although compliance with various industrial and cross-industry standards and guidelines may seem to be a one-time job, reality proves this theory completely wrong. Rules change over time, and although telecoms typically have CIOs and CSOs to keep an eye on compliance metrics, their job can be made much easier by allowing bots to automatically monitor relevant parameters and values.

This is one of the less obvious RPA use cases within the telecommunications industry, but it clearly delivers a lot of value to large organizations with multiple online resources and traffic-heavy, customer-facing applications that must be compliant with such standard frameworks as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Learn how Intellias created an automated tariff calculator with customizable filters for efficient telecom back-office solutions.

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Business benefits

If we take a closer look at some of the most popular RPA use cases in telecom, it will quickly become evident that all of them primarily focus on the following areas:

  • Accelerated digital transformation
  • Improved compliance and long-term audit savings
  • Better customer experience and a higher LTV
  • Ability to reassign staff to streamline more complex, business-critical processes
  • Reduction of data entry errors

Innovative approaches to company-wide automation help CSPs offset some of the costs of ongoing OSS/BSS cloudification while boosting the overall effectiveness of business processes and improving the customer experience across the board.

Top five RPA business case criteria

The Future of RPA in Telecom: BSS Automation in the Cloud Era

Source: Business2Community

RPA is essential for achieving these objectives in a relatively affordable manner. At the most basic level, it automates simple data entry tasks that the telecom industry abounds in — but combined with AI-powered algorithms and other modern technologies, RPA enables a slew of advanced automation scenarios capable of completely replacing live staff or limiting their involvement to review and approval only.

In addition, unlike conventional BPA systems that take months to develop and deploy, RPA can be implemented within weeks thanks to no-code/low-code tools, thus allowing telcos to start reaping the benefits of new technology a lot faster and making any necessary adjustments while the implementation is finalized.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that RPA appears to be a must-have item on the to-do lists of all modern telecoms undertaking OSS/BSS transformation and moving their workloads and applications to the cloud to cope with growing demand for performance and service diversity.

With RPA, significant improvements can be achieved in a wide range of business areas: from interactions with customers and vendors to real-time network monitoring and (semi)automated network management.

The cost of RPA projects is considerably lower than that of traditional automation solutions and the implementation time is reduced to a minimum, which translates into substantial savings and higher flexibility in terms of process refinement and incremental adjustments.

The key to a successful RPA implementation lies in the depth of understanding of the organization’s inefficiencies and a well-planned, milestone-based implementation process using appropriate tools, their customized versions, and fully-customized robotic process automation software.

Intellias has a wealth of experience working on RPA and OSS/BSS transformation projects for major telecommunication service providers. Feel free to contact our sales team to schedule a discovery call where our experts will hear you out and outline your options.


Have a feeling that RPA is something that your company needs right away? Let Intellias take a look at your situation and advise you on the optimal implementation scenario that delivers tangible results right away without burning a hole in your budget.

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