New research by Accenture shows that while 77 percent of chief executives in the telco sector understand that adopting intelligent technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) will be critical to the organisation’s ability to differentiate and compete in the market, only 25 percent believe their workforce is ready to work with AI and just 6 percent plan to up investment in reskilling programs.

The firm’s Reworking the Revolution: Are you ready to compete as intelligent technology meets human ingenuity to create the future workforce? report also showed that employees are positive about the change innovative technologies can bring in. Indeed,  63 percent of CSP workers polled believe intelligent technologies will make a positive impact on their work, with 77 percent believing smart technologies will save them time carrying out their tasks.

Jonathan Restarick, Accenture communications, media and technology industry lead for Australia and New Zealand, said intelligent technologies such as AI can help telcos be more proactive, which in turn can put them ahead of competitors.

“The majority of roles within Telco’s have been designed to react. React to a sales lead, react to an appointment booking, react to a billing inquiry, react to a network alarm. The key potential for intelligent technologies is to pivot from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ in culture and activity,” he said

“Intelligent technologies (aligned with human capabilities) provide a potential for predictive and proactive actions, avoiding interruption to customer experience such as offering solutions before the customer has to wait,” he added.

However, Restarick did note that the pressure for telcos in Australia to adopt AI has only become more acute in the last few years, in comparison to the rest of the world.

“The Australian communications industry was relatively under-affected until 2015 when significant disruption was fuelled by OTT (over the top) digital players, driving a material reduction in ARPU and therefore ROI. Recently, the introduction of the NBN as a consistent wholesale platform has created a second wave of disruption, especially for vertically integrated players,” he said.

“In this constrained ARPU environment, the ability to differentiate by customer experience and operational efficiency is magnified, and AI is critical to unlocking that value. But businesses must navigate this shift with careful balance – maintaining the core whilst investing in new value streams,” Restarick said.

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