Microsoft starts gathering pace in the telco AI world

Telecom Italia and Microsoft have expanded a partnership between the pair to develop new AI-based tools and services to improve customer service and experience.

The announcement follows a similar tie-up with Telefonica, which saw the telco use Microsoft’s Bot Framework to create its own digital assistant Aura. At TIM, Microsoft will help the telco expand its customer touchpoints with new apps and an interactive voice response tool, to help simplify customer relationship management.

“The present agreement is a step forward in DigiTIM’s strategy, strongly committed to providing digitization of all processes to dramatically enhance the digital experience for best in class customer engagement and to create an effective digital journey,” said TIM CEO Amos Genish. “Today we confirm once again our restless commitment to the execution of the Industrial Plan, of which Artificial Intelligence is a key pillar.”

DigiTIM is the focal point of the telcos strategic plan to slimming down company processes, improve digital experience and create new revenue streams. Announced last month, the aim will be to create a ‘digital journey’ for the customer, customising multichannel interactions and using artificial intelligence to create digitalised customer service management. The digitalisation of all processes is key here, and Microsoft seems to be taking a leadership position when it comes to AI in the telco world.

It is the big data dream, allowing TIM to have real-time and in-depth knowledge of the needs of every single customer. Through a new, single platform, TIM has high hopes in the convergence of fixed and mobile services, video, music and gaming content, to better monetize customers.

This is the grand plan, though TIM will certainly have some hurdles to negotiate over the next couple of weeks. For such a wide-scale, capital-heavy, digital transformation plan to come to fruition there needs to be cohesion above all else. Unfortunately, activist-investor Elliott is threatening the harmony at TIM, trying to force through its own agenda of asset stripping and short-term investor pay outs, in what can only be viewed as a share ‘pump and dump’ exercise.

Vodafone has shown an AI-orientated customer service approach can work, complaints against the telco are dropping pretty rapidly, though conflict in the board room will undermine any transformation journey. Digital transformation is complex and not cheap, for the DigiTIM strategy to work it will need the support and co-operation from every corner of the company. It is difficult to see that happening right now.

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