Communications and media companies have embraced artificial intelligence (AI) in multiple areas of their business. In fact, recent Accenture Strategy research found that 63 percent of telecommunications executives anticipate AI deployment will drive additional revenue and growth opportunities by accelerating the introduction of the new products and services they take to market.1
AI’s importance is reflected in findings that show 72 percent of telecoms executives identify AI as a Top Three business priority currently or within one year, versus 65 percent of their counterparts in other industries.2 But capitalizing on the promise of AI will require companies to deeply integrate AI into their business strategy to maximize the value they reap from it. Doing so is key to getting applied intelligence right—the ability to implement technology and human ingenuity across all parts of their core business to solve complex challenges, break into new markets, or generate entirely fresh revenue streams.
To scale AI, the role of business strategy is increasingly important, facilitating a strategy-driven combined with a bottom-up AI planning framework for the enterprise, and infusing AI into the strategy team itself. A few areas are key:
- Turn enterprise data into rapid insights. Telecom companies identify Big Data as the most important complementary capability to deploying AI (43 percent).3 Modern AI feeds on numerous large data sets. Companies need a critical mass of AI competencies to rapidly exploit a comprehensive enterprise data inventory to fuel insights.
- Drive best-in-class AI execution. Using AI to extract value from mountains of data provides advantage now. But as more companies adopt AI, advantage will shift rapidly from AI data pipes to best-in-class execution of priority use cases. Many telecom companies are making progress; three in four are finding sufficient use cases.4 By collaborating with data teams, strategists can continue to multiply AI use throughout the enterprise.
- Determine how AI can move the key levers in your customer strategy. When a cross-functional team that intimately knows the levers of its customer strategy taps into Big Data, business strategists, working closely with data scientists, operating teams and R&D, can collaborate on AI use cases that directly impact profitable growth.
- Foster AI-empowered innovation. AI is already helping to solve a range of questions today—in parallel, companies should also ask “How can we use AI to create what hasn’t been done yet, complemented by human ingenuity, to drive sustainable advantage?”
- Lead with AI in an ecosystem. By embedding AI and cognitive intelligence as a “brain” at the center of the organization, telcos can continuously learn from customers and the ecosystem. This learning will enable it to increasingly automate the creation of new services. The better it does so, the more likely the telco can become the center of an ecosystem that expands to capture the value of adjacent value chains—in industries such as insurance, health, autonomous mobility, smart manufacturing and more.
- Effectively resource bottom-up AI learnings to enable more exploratory AI prototyping. But don’t leave it at that—creating an iterative feedback loop to apply those learnings to business strategy is key to reaping the full value of AI.
How AI affects the strategist role
AI is changing the role of the strategist. Strategists will need to foster relationships with AI engineers and data scientists and become well-versed in algorithms and AI tools to help them with everything from surfacing new competitive threats, to identifying product opportunities or acquisition targets. And importantly, strategists play an important role in planning and iterating the investment strategy for AI.
AI will change the strategist’s role, from driving investments in AI to ensuring application of insights to core business needs, enabling strategists to be true AI champions. By 2035, AI has the potential to increase information and communication industry output by $1 trillion. 5Strategists can play a key role in making that $1 trillion a reality.
1 Accenture Strategy, AI research, 2017
5 “How AI boosts industry profits and innovation”, Accenture, 2017