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Narendran Sivakumar

New technologies have been ushering in change at a fast clip, but the scope and importance of that change far outweigh the change itself. Consider the internet of things (IoT) and 5G. Together, they have the potential to revolutionize the way we live. However, though an integral part of life, change is never risk-free.

Communications service providers (CSPs) are under tremendous pressure to continuously transform network design and operations, introduce new customer touchpoints and provide superior levels of seamless connectivity for consumers and organizations alike. The challenge for CSPs then, is to assess the likely outcomes of new operations and new customer journeys, without exposing themselves to unnecessary levels of risk.

There is already enormous demand for better connectivity to support business goals and customer expectations, but rolling out any change to an operation can be daunting.

Getting future-ready with digital twins

We all are familiar with the concept of ’what-if’ analysis, where you change the values of certain parameters to monitor the cumulative effect of those changes – for instance, what if sales receipts fell by 10%; what if they rose by 15%? Now, imagine the possibilities if we could scale this up and do such simulations at an enterprise level.

An enterprise digital twin offers a similar glimpse into a hypothetical future in the event of an operational change or a response to the market. It recreates a virtual model of the enterprise environment, which can then be manipulated to simulate various customer journeys, powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

But this is more than an abstract model, because this virtual creation connects to its real-world counterpart via three distinct replicated operational blocks – infrastructure (IT, networks, physical assets), IT application stacks, and business processes.

With that kind of insight, an organization can map out the ideal buyer journey; in a perfect world, this is how we hope things will play out. This idealized situation can then be continuously compared with what is happening in the real world. That can give decision-makers invaluable insights into specific areas where the ideal scenario and reality part ways, and, in time, prevent lost business while strengthening customer loyalty.

But steps can only be taken to mitigate such a loss if the reasons for the same can be identified and explored.

Additionally, this kind of enterprise simulation makes it possible to examine trends such as competitor actions, the influence of technology, and inventory availability. Immediate, in-depth and meaningful analysis like this can help depict whether such trends might have an impact on current operations and back decisions with more reliable evidence.

Take the case of a multinational telecommunications firm that used an enterprise digital twin solution to identify the ideal customer journey, reduce customer churn, and arrest potential fraud. Key entities such as customer, product, process, network, and resource were mapped, to test strategic decisions such as new product rollouts or the launch of new channels, before piloting them in the market. This helped the firm enhance customer experience and maintain market leadership.

The challenge for CSPs

We’re already at a point where people’s expectations of getting great digital experiences are racing ahead. From hailing a taxi and ordering a takeaway meal to checking your bank account and placing e-commerce orders for same-day delivery - the many things we have been taking for granted were almost inconceivable a few years ago.

For CSPs being able to support businesses in these efforts calls for flexible, intelligent connectivity that can help safeguard margins during times of change. Having to reinvent your service offering for every customer scenario is just not feasible. What’s needed is the ability to understand your infrastructure and develop robust capabilities that can be replicated.

As the telecom sector continues to transform at a lightning speed, emerging technologies such as 5G and IoT will drive a huge increase in speedy connections and its scope – allowing for 20 billion new devices to be connected and supporting a 1,000-fold increase in data. To remain competitive, CSPs will need to leverage enterprise digital twin technology which can bring some predictability into the business.

So let the digital twin hold up a mirror to your enterprise, for when businesses do have to confront the bend in the river, they are able to navigate it smoothly.

About the author

Narendran Sivakumar
AI Advisory, Products and Platforms, Communications Media and Information Services Business Unit, TCS Naren globally leads AI Advisory, Products and Platforms for TCS’ Communications, Media and Information Services business unit. With almost 15 years of experience, he helps CXOs formulate AI strategy targeting the key priority areas of customer experience, product innovation, consumer insights and business transformation. Naren’s areas of interest include the evolution of the hyperconnected and data driven world and the impact on the communications industry. He is a Masters in Embedded Software Engineering from MDH, Sweden, and holds an MBA from Warwick Business School, UK.
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