As Telia Company ramps up its digital transformation it is using automation to improve customer experience through faster service delivery and has zero-touch automation in its sights, notably for network slicing.
DTWS: Telia's path to zero-touch automation
As Telia Company ramps up its digital transformation it is using automation to improve customer experience through faster service delivery and has zero-touch automation in its sights, notably for network slicing. In a market where self-serve and on-demand are normal, the central customer proposition is “stuff just works” Herbert Blum, Global Practice Leader – Communications, Media & Entertainment, Bain & Co. told the Digital Transformation World Series 2021 audience. “Zero-touch automation is one of those great tools by which we will be able to deliver on that,” Blum said. He explains that zero-touch automation is not only good for cost but “even better for the customer experience.” Zero-touch automation comprises the idea that a network essentially sorts itself, its services, and its problems out. “It means that the network is going to self-heal and self-optimize and you’ll understand whether the network is going to start to degrade in terms of service performance before it actually happens,” Aaron Boasman Patel, Vice President, AI, Customer Experience & Data, TM Forum explained. Telia, which operates across six countries in the Nordics and Baltics, is going through a digital transformation “faster than I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Ida La Spisa, Head of Products and Production Services, Telia, with a longer term goal of achieving zero-touch automation, particularly for network slicing. Telia has taken many steps toward consolidating and improving its systems, processes, and customer experiences across all six of its operating companies. In the past five years, the communications service provider (CSP) has “consolidated quite a lot in the assurance area and automated quite a lot already, moving rapidly from network assurance to full-service assurance, and using data driven operations so, close to real time, we can make decisions and...be predictive and enhance the customer experience,” La Spisa said. La Spisa explained Telia has created a unified organization which has embraced the TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA) and is using it to drive transformation across its operating companies. Telia’s first target, La Spisa says, has been “to fully automate the order to activation processes” with a primary goal of improving CX through faster service delivery. She explained that as recently as two years ago, Telia had at least “six different ways of doing order to activation” and “proposing products to customers” with six or more order to activation stacks across B2C and B2B markets in different countries. These were targeted for transformation, which also entailed rationalizing and unifying product and customer data and processes across all six countries. While transforming order-to-activate processes, La Spisa said Telia has also made sure to “fully take into account service assurance across the countries we operate” and to “clean up assurance aspects, rather than seeing it as an appendix to our processes.” She explained that Telia fully automated both its customer SLAs and “the internal operations levels we need to assure those services for our customers.” Telia also changed the ways it worked, embracing Agile and DevOps across the company. The smaller releases allowed for a faster pace. Though that has introduced some new challenges, La Spisa admitted, it “gives the ability to adjust deliveries continuously,” with new production releases every two weeks. This also extends to Telia’s vendors, La Spisa said, with whom it conducts common governance and from which it expects buy-in throughout the transformation process. The next key step, La Spisa explained, is for Telia to support network slicing use cases which, she says, require zero-touch automation. “Without automation it would be impossible to support these use cases,” La Spisa said. Watch Ida La Spisa share Telia's case study on adopting a pragmatic approach to enterprise-wide IT and network automation here.