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Are partnerships with OTTs viable for telcos’ digital assistants?

By October 17, 2018 No Comments

It’s quite rare at a telecoms event that a speaker stands out in your mind weeks after the event. This happened to me recently. Chema Alonso walked out on the stage wearing a beanie hat, t-shirt and jeans. Over the next 30 minutes he delivered some amazing insights into some of the work that he and his team are doing at Telefonica. I’m not going to lie. Some of what he went through went straight over my head. But what did resonate was the work he and his team are doing with their AI tool called Aura.

In a general sense, they have developed an AI tool that is connected directly to the core of the network and BSS systems that allows their customers to engage directly with the operator without other human interaction. You can ask Aura how much your bill will be, you can ask to purchase additional services or ask some general customer service type questions. Aura will then answer back directly without the need for the customer to contact customer care or find the information in an App or on the website. This has significant cost savings for the service provider as well as the opportunity to improve NPS/customer experience.

They took it to the next level and created an in-home device that replaces the need for a router, home phone, TV box etc., all run by Aura. For example, you could ask what’s on TV now, if you like what it says, you can ask for this to be displayed on your TV. All without the need for getting up off your seat or the need to touch a remote.

Telefonica see this as the next generation of smart home communication infrastructure. At the same conference a speaker from Orange group discussed their AI future and it looks like Vodafone are investing in their own version. This led me to think about the smaller service providers out there. There are service providers that don’t have tens of millions to invest in this technology. How do they compete?

Last week Google launched its Home Hub for full smart home control. This device is AI powered by Google assistant. There is opportunity for the Tier 2/3 service providers to partner with google with this. Simply set up some API’s that link Google assistant with the service provider’s customer information, then allow for their customers to have the same experiences as Aura without the upfront investment required. The other added benefit is that you are leveraging Google’s technology which will only improve as it continues to learn from working with other service providers around the world.

Google Home Hub enables the smart home of the future at the same time allowing service providers to become more relevant especially with the growing availability of IoT devices. Bundling has been a revolution in terms of churn reduction, but this device gives service providers the ability to sell more products and services as part of the one package. Service providers need to be at the forefront of the smart home in order to stay relevant with their customers.