Demystifying AI on the path to automation 

June 27, 2023
minute read

Rakuten Symphony CMO Geoff Hollingworth recently joined a 2023 DSP World Leaders Forum panel on the creation of a framework for AI-native telcos.

At the event, he shared some words of wisdom with the audience: don’t get hung up on AI simply because it’s the buzzword du jour. His advice? Demystify AI and get past the phase where we think it’s the answer to everything just because it’s shiny and new.

Summing up AI as “simply the next software algorithm,” Hollingworth distilled its benefits to going faster at lower costs.  

Essentially, AI is a speed game. But it is not the end game. Really, it’s about automation. As he explained it, you can automate someone responsible for watching and reacting to network changes, but the magic of AI algorithms is analyzing large, unified data sets.  

Getting to the next level of automation maturity

Rakuten Symphony has been open about the four years it spent making progress on automation. It believes other operators can take what it has learned for similar achievements in as little as just one year.  

But first, time and commonality must be established.  

Hollingworth discussed Rakuten’s efforts to build a unified data model that was vendor-agnostic and able to interpret various data signals. Without it, inferences couldn’t be drawn from the data. Trusting these inferences wasn’t an overnight process. Confidence needed to be built via a human-intensive, open loop approach that eventually became closed loop.  

Where to start?

Leveraging AI toward major automation milestones starts with pursuing automation’s low-hanging fruit, suggests Hollingworth. Identify simple problems like sleeping cell situations, eventually setting more progressive and ambitious goals.  

In the end it’s about replacing 70-90% of energy spent running a network with efforts dedicated to solving customer problems and establishing a network that runs itself.

Video of the full session can be accessed over at Telecom TV.  

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