Automation: Hot Topics & Groups to Watch

Iain Morris

With its roots in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, automation is hardly a new phenomenon. Nor, of course, is it one that affects the technology and telecom sectors only. So why are parts of the telecom industry suddenly touting it like a cure for cancer?

The ceaseless marketing of the buzzword by some companies partly reflects newish developments in so-called "robotic process automation" (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) that certainly are not telecom-specific. Facing the perennial need to cut costs and the steady advance of web players, some operators have fast latched onto these more generic technologies as a potential panacea.

In tandem, as operators continue to wrestle with SDN and NFV, the much more focused automation of network services and management has risen up the telecom agenda. If these technologies promise eventually to deliver simpler and more autonomous networks, they are introducing complexity today, says James Crawshaw, senior analyst with the Heavy Reading market research group. "At first that means more humans to figure out how to get this stuff working," he says. "In the early phase virtualization brings less automation."

For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.

While this transition is underway, several industry groups have sprung up to address the challenges associated with network automation. The precise role of these different groups remains largely unclear, however, and there is some concern their efforts overlap. Politics are undoubtedly at play, as rival interests clash. (See Tribalism Is Rife in Telecom, Too.)

Telcos' efficiency drive has claimed thousands of jobs in the last two years, including hundreds in the recent weeks, as Light Reading's research and reporting has shown. Although some of these cuts are linked to automation, it remains very early days for RPA, AI and, of course, the efforts of the aforementioned network groups. All will have some impact on the workforce and the roles of telecom operator staff. But the entirely self-driving network belongs to the realms of science fiction for the time being.

"I don't think we will get a telecom operator with one guy running the network in 10 years' time," Crawshaw laughs. (See Efficiency Drive by Major Telcos Has Claimed 74K Jobs Since 2015, Automation's Advocates in Downsizing Denial and Comcast Also Cuts Jobs, AT&T Faces Lawsuit.)

Next page: Automation talking points

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
John Chambers is still as passionate about business and innovation as he ever was at Cisco, finds Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 12, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 6, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Telecom Jargonosaurus Part 1: Repeat Offenders
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/13/2018
AT&T's Stankey Serves Up a Stinker at HBO
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/10/2018
Broadcom Buys CA – Huh?
Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading, 7/11/2018
Verizon Taps Malady as Acting CTO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/12/2018
FCC's Rosenworcel: US 'Falling Behind' on 5G
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/13/2018
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed