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FutureNet Asia, Robi Axiata Speaker Interview

Asif Rashid, CIO, Robi Axiata, is speaking on the Panel: Operational Transformation: Accelerating the journey to zero-touch automation, on the 27th of October. We recently caught up with Asif to get his thoughts on the topic in advance of FutureNet Asia.

Why do you see the need for new operating models for the modern telco?

Telcos need new operating models mainly for two reasons; to adapt to the changing needs of their customers and to ensure healthy returns on their investments. Telecom landscape is constantly changing as their B2C and B2B customers need more diversified enablement from telecom operators, especially in the digital ecosystem. The challenge for Telcos is to deliver that keeping shareholders’ interests served. Many telcos have not been built over the years to switch gears just like that. An ad hoc approach may not work. The most preferred approach seems to be creating a new target operating model and carefully balancing the legacy and the new digital businesses through separate playbooks.

What should an optimum operating and organisational model look like in a 5G world?

A 5G world is a service-oriented one. Customers would not be fooled through intangible value proposition that’s not quite there but could be claimed. The QoS would be as transparently visible as the clear sky. Therefore, the first thing a telco must consider is to ensure it can meet the committed quality of service over 5G before making a commitment. A telco must also be sure to have a solid mid to long term business case to get due buying from its shareholders. The optimum model for running a 5G business would vary market to market. For many Asian markets, the NSA-based overlay model may work quite well as cost of 5G SA may not have immediate payback. So Telcos may opt for organic addition of a 5G focused operating and organizational model.

How important are automation and AI in the transformation model?

If a telco leaves out AI and automation from its transformation model, it will most likely end up having a model that won’t sustain. The telcos that will leverage Cloud, AI & automation as their key enablers for supporting their transformation model are more likely to keep their costs & efforts at optimum level, have more diversified offerings for their customers, achieve their goals faster, and be able to tweak their models as they experiment them in their markets of operations. Also, if a telco wants to scale up or down certain spot-winners from their service array, AI, Cloud and automation are must in order to do that real quick and error-free.

What are the barriers for operators to accelerate towards zero touch automation?

The biggest barrier for telcos to switch to zero touch automation seems to be their complex legacy network that would resist quick changes, not always deliberately but in many cases haplessly. Zero touch automation best works if the deployed network elements are built to accept intelligent instructions rather seamlessly. The new generations systems offer moderate-to-strong built-in intelligence. Therefore, creating the orchestration for a telco to manage this network with zero or fewer touch is relatively easier. The data or insight produced by a smart system would also be designed to give away the pulse without bombarding the upper monitoring layers. For legacy systems or a complex network collecting, correlating, deducing, pin pointing, and eventually resolving an issue would be lot more challenging.

To hear more insight from Asif, join the event and register here