Telecoms – Advanced QA for a 5G World

Telecoms – Advanced QA for a 5G World

NPS Boosting Opportunities

In addition to addressing increasing levels of competition from more agile over-the-top competitors and the challenges and opportunities brought by new technologies, Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are challenged by constant changes in consumer behaviour, customer churn, low Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and a continuing decline in monthly revenue yield from data services due to discounted, unlimited data packages.

The good news is there are a large number of investment and growth opportunities to enable forward thinking Telcos to differentiate themselves and boost their NPS and customer retention. These include the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain; enhanced Security; cross-industry partnerships; VR/AR, Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation; and the arrival of 5G to pull it all together.

Of course, these all present challenges in terms of cultural change, managing legacy IT, integration, development, QA and testing and delivery, but fortunately, we’re also developing highly efficient and effective solutions based on Automation, Cognitive QA and Artificial Intelligence, to overcome them.

The (Dis)connected Customer

IoT & Blockchain

From mobile banking and music and in app purchases via Blockchain, to smart cities and connected cars and homes, CSPs need to capitalise on the Internet of Things (IoT). Those that create a high functioning, intelligent wireless network, will become the central point of connectivity in their customers’ lives. While mobile connectivity is in far greater demand than a hard line connection, in general, the profit margins for connectivity continue to fall at pace. Instead, the key differentiators that now cement consumer loyalty are mobile content, products and services. For example, media and video constituted less than 10% of traffic in 2010 but accounted for a whopping 50% in 2017. Telcos are therefore starting to forge partnerships with content companies to stay ahead of the game. They’re also making their content more engaging with Virtual and Augmented Reality and using artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation for a better user experience and enhanced customer service.

Too Much Mobile?

Another seemingly contradictory trend is that consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the negative impact that mobile conncecitivty is having on society and individual mental health. We all talk about limiting our mobile usage, switiching off our phones at meal times and not using them directly before bed, but are we really disconnecting? The truth is we look at our phones on average 47 times per day at home and at work, and mobile will continue to permeate every aspect of our lives. That said, innovative Telcos can seize the opportunity to capitalise on the “too-much-mobile” trend and develop apps and services that monitor usage and enable a healthier lifestyle.

Security Blanket

Security remains of paramount importance to the connected customer and yet the general concensus is that, as users, we have very little information about how our connected devices and our privacy are protected. CSPs who want to get ahead by boosting moile payments and other OTT services would do well to offer additional information, resources and services around keeping customers informed about how they are protected and how their security surpasses that of their competitiors.

At the heart of all these innovations is the promised imminent arrival of 5G, so let’s take a look at the challenges and opportunities it will bring.

QA & 5G

Competitive Differentiator

With delivery speed capabilities of 1 Gbps, a negligible 10 millisecond latency and the ability to connect a far greater number of devices and higher volumes of data than 4G, 5G will enable the progression of these Telecom trends and innovations in the coming years. As Telcos look for 5G network sharing opportunities, infrastructure will eventually cease to be a major competitive differentiator and the focus will shift further towards services.

5G Challenges

For those Telcos that embrace all the capabilities of 5G from the outset, it will quickly transform the role they play in society. Of course, there are technical, socio-economic and regulatory challenges. These include spectrum availability; monetisation of 5G specific investments (such as small cell deployments); developing services that are relevant and meet customer requirements, service continuity, ensuring systems can manage the large influx of 5G data; data privacy and embedding quality assurance at every level, to name a few.  

Priority Mismatch

The most recent World Quality Report shows that the Telecom industry currently rates early lifecycle QA and testing low on their list of priorities, with just 19% citing it as high on the list, compared to a 30% average across all other sectors. Similarly, the traditional CSPs, even those that have merged with more agile OTT companies, still struggle to adopt Agile and DevOps ways of working.  This seems worryingly at odds with the 38% who rate end user satisfaction as a top priority, as you can’t keep your customers happy unless you have quality products and services delivered to market at speed.  

Those that want to win the 5G race and lead the field are going to need to close these priority gaps and refocus their attention on overcoming the limitations of legacy systems, earlier and more efficient QA and Testing, skills development, attracting new talent and cultural change.  QA and testing in the 5G era needs to focus on testing the end to end operations systems and software; enhancing output quality; ensuring the integration and efficacy of complex billing systems; and enabling innovation for better user experience and customer retention.

From Cognitive QA to Continuous Delivery

To provide support to our Telco clients in the 5G era, Sogeti have developed an end-to-end portfolio of QA, Testing, Digital Transformation and Consultancy services with customer in mind.  Customer centricity underpins our services include testing Telco core operations and business support systems; mobile application and device testing; high tech, network and embedded systems testing; process and data governance assessments for GDPR compliance and beyond; and a fully Managed Test Service.

Our Telco clients are benefiting from our new Cognitive QA approach, which leverages AI and Smart analytics to harness the power of data and automate tasks such as creating test cases, executing test scripts and prioritising which tests to run, enabling us to work towards Continuous Testing and Continuous Delivery.  Cognitive QA also gives us the tools to measure and analyse our test approach in real time at the project, portfolio and programme level, so we can make instant changes and constant improvements to our strategy. We’ve also developed Robotic Process Automation solutions to speed up our QA processes. For example, we can now create master test plans in minutes rather than over a 5 day period and spend some of the additional time improving the plan, while also redeploying resources for other critical work, to save time and money.

Our Cloud and DevOps services are also of great benefit to those Telco clients who are seeking agility, scalability and speed to create a foundation for greater innovation. In all our work in the Telecoms sector we take a customer-centric approach, streamlining processes and operations to create quality products, build out a user base and monetise products as rapidly as possible to help our Telco clients operate more efficiently and attract and retain customers.

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