Virgin Media O2 is keen to enhance customer service with AI as part of its ongoing transformation into a data-driven cableco.

Nick Wood

July 5, 2023

3 Min Read
google cloud

Virgin Media O2 is keen to enhance customer service with AI as part of its ongoing transformation into a data-driven cableco.

As part of the integration between O2 and Virgin Media, the company has been busy overhauling its legacy back office systems, upgrading and migrating them to Google Cloud. This has been going well. So well in fact that it is paving the way for more ambitious projects due to commence over the next year or so.

“One project in the pipeline is our plan to incorporate large language models (LLMs) into our customer service chatbots by leveraging all our existing data from previous customer interactions,” wrote Alberto Rey Villaverde, director of advanced analytics and data science at VMO2, in a blog post on Wednesday.

“This would previously have been impossible, but with Google Cloud, we will be able to use this data to greatly improve the customer experience,” he said.

Indeed, Villaverde detailed some of the improvements VMO2 has seen since undertaking the migration, particularly when it comes to gleaning insights from the vast of amount of data it captures.

“As data analysts, our goal is to use the data at our disposal to gather insights to increase efficiency, target customers and improve our products. However, we don’t always have a precise question in mind from the outset. We come to the data with high-level problems we want to explore, we ask a question, get an answer, and then refine our journey from there. Iteration is the key,” he explained.

In the legacy, siloed operating model, each query took hours to process, and therefore refining a query so that it generated a useful insight could take days, or even weeks, he said. Now though, query execution time has been reduced to around 40 seconds, so the time it takes to get to a valuable insight can now be measured in hours or even minutes.

The migration has also allowed VMO2 to build richer, more detailed customer profiles, presenting more innovative ways to target new customers and launch personalised offers, Villaverde said.

Cloud-based data insights are also being used to improve VMO2’s network monitoring, reducing the amount of time it takes to model changes to the network from six months to just one hour.

“This allows us to continually model any changes to the network before implementing them,” Villaverde said.

In addition, crunching the numbers is also helping VMO2 reduce the volume of unnecessary engineer call-outs, which has a positive knock-on effect on its carbon footprint. Every time an engineer is needlessly sent to fix a fault in the network, the data from both the network and the engineer’s own assessment is analysed, making it easier to identify when there are faults that don’t necessitate the presence of an engineer.

A telco working with a hyperscaler to modernise its back office systems is not earth-shatteringly new news these days. In the UK alone, BT has for years been working with both Amazon Web Services (AWS)and Google Cloud as part of its ongoing digital transformation, for instance.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to get more detail on exactly how the benefits of cloud migration – so often discussed by telco execs with fluffy words like ‘agility’ – actually materialise.

Going forward, as well as implementing LLMs to improve customer service, VMO2 said it plans to share these data insights across the business, with every department that needs them. This, Villaverde said, will empower them to take informed decisions more quickly and independently, making for a more agile operation in general.

“This is an essential part of our journey to becoming the modern telecommunications company that we want to be, where data underpins every decision we make,” he said.

 

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About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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