& cplSiteName &

Data Sharing Key to AT&T's AI Push

Sarah Thomas
6/15/2017
50%
50%

SDN, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are all making a big difference in AT&T's network operations, but what has been the biggest game changer for the communication service provider is really a lot simpler than that -- learning how to share data.

While the algorithms have greatly improved over the years, the real challenge of AI and ML -- technologies that underpin AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s software-defined network -- was gaining access to the right data and having the ability to act on it, according to Chris Volinsky, AT&T's assistant vice president of Big Data Research. He says that necessitated a change in culture at AT&T to one that was powered by data and in which silos between divisions came down to allow for data sharing. (See AI Key to Telcos' Digital Transformation – Survey and SDN + AI: A Powerful Combo for Better Networks.)

"With the big-data revolution over the last five years, enterprises in AT&T realize the value of unlocking data and making it available for analysis," he says. "In my early career, I had to beat down doors for access to data. It'd take months of escalations. Now there's a real data-powered culture in the company whereby people realize the value in letting others have access to data and the benefit to the company's efficiency and customer experience."

He calls this the perfect storm of having more data to analyze, improved algorithms to analyze it and an increased ability to act on it. Volinsky is referring to AT&T's end customers opting in to share data, but more so to what's going on internally. AT&T has to have a data-driven justification for every business decision it makes. That means it needs its entire staff to be able to analyze data. Volinsky says this has required both an internal shift in mindset and more training of its employees to make everyone a data scientist.

"In order to get value out of large data sets, you had to hire a statistician from [AT&T] Labs to consult," he says. "Now, so many more people in the company have expertise through skills pivot or AT&T university that the people with subject expertise can analyze their own data. The work is being distributed around company to accelerate the learning we can get."


For more on big data analysis and artificial intelligence, visit the dedicated analytics content page here on Light Reading.


The willingness to share data across business divisions is also a relatively new phenomenon. Volinsky says it's been a slow cultural change over the past five to ten years, but it's accelerated in the last three to four driven by the move to open source.

While many in the industry have mixed feelings on open source, AT&T has embraced it and actively contributes and draws from the open-source community. The mindset also extends to its internal use of data, Volinsky says. "There's a general culture and understanding that it's worthwhile to open your data to have others explore, join with their data set, add value to it and weigh in on how to analyze it," he adds. (See AT&T's Chris Rice on Open Source & Standards, OPNFV Summit Comes at Critical Time, AT&T's Donovan: Resistance to Change Is Futile and Open Source an 'Overrated Necessity,' Says PCCW.)

Coupled with SDN, AT&T is able to use the data it collects from networks in real time to automate network processes, self-correct network problems and detect anomalies in the network before they affect the end user. One example he offers is a proactive care model that AT&T built for its U-verse customers. By analyzing customer data, AT&T learned that many of the customers were calling in about problems that could be solved by rebooting their modems. Its employees began using the algorithms to predict where problems might arise and reboot those modems overnight as to not impact service. Volinsky says they had 30% fewer calls into customer care and 30% fewer dispatches needed the following month.

"Every call to care that we prevent saves a certain amount of money," he says. "Every time we prevent a truck roll, that saves money. These are real benefits that are gotten through smart data science."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
6/19/2017 | 1:51:48 PM
Re: adapt or die?
That's interesting, SystemsE12915. Do you find you can't reach upper-level management to discuss the issues, they aren't open to it, are focused elsewhere or the company is too bureaucratic to change it's culture? Or are they actually opposed to virtualization and analytics? That seems so shortsighted, especially if your customer base is the CSPs! 
SystemsE12915
50%
50%
SystemsE12915,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/19/2017 | 1:09:12 PM
Re: adapt or die?
Sarah,

I agree 1000% with your comment.  The problem is that the initiative starts at the top in most companies instead of having it start with the people who actually are the most familiar with the equipment and data.  I have been shouting about the use of Predictive Analytics in Maintenance for awhile now with no indication that anybody is listening.

A single candle in the dark cannot light an ocean at night.  Getting the darkness lifted is hard when nobody listens.  I am not sure that my company can adapt in time as they barely have started with virtualization, let alone, Predictive Analytics...and heaven forbid the start looking at AI.....and we supply AT&T with solutions!
Sarah Thomas
100%
0%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
6/16/2017 | 10:36:31 AM
adapt or die?
One thing you'll hear in common behind every tech advancement is the cultural transformation that was required to take advantage of it. I think that's interesting that that transformation is often the hardest part, not the tech. These are big, legacy companies trying to keep up. The successful ones are the ones that can adapt. AT&T seems to get that, echoed by John Donovan's comments at BCE as well. 
From The Founder
NFV's promises of automation and virtualization are intriguing, but what really excites service providers is the massive amount of money they could save.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Tech President Preps Workforce for the Future

7|26|17   |   5:47   |   (2) comments


AT&T is focused on the software-defined network of the future and is reskilling its workforce to get ready too, according to AT&T's President of Technology Development Melissa Arnoldi.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Mavenir on RCS Cloud Platform & Multi-ID

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guillaume Le Mener, head of marketing and corporate development at Mavenir, discussed RCS and the recent launch of Multi-ID, which supports T-Mobile's DIGITS, the revolutionary new technology that breaks down the limitation of one number per phone and one phone per number.
LRTV Custom TV
ADTRAN Executive Outlines Trends in Next-Generation 10-Gigabit Cable Networks

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Hossam Salib, VP of Cable and Wireless Strategy at ADTRAN, outlines key trends as MSOs begin to deploy next-generation Gigabit and 10-Gigabit cable networks. In the interview, Hossam outlines the advantages of a Fiber Deep architecture, FTTH options including EPON and RFoG, and the importance of SDN and NFV in building next-generation high-bandwidth cable networks.
LRTV Interviews
Global Capacity: Bandwidth Demand Driving Ethernet Growth

7|6|17   |   6:37   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Global Capacity's VP of Marketing Mary Stanhope talks about how the demand for bandwidth is changing the way service providers deliver broadband services.
LRTV Interviews
Colt's Services Chief on Digital Delivery

7|5|17   |   16:12   |   (0) comments


Rogier Bronsgeest, the chief customer experience officer (chief CEO!) at Colt, discusses the way in which the service provider interacts with its customers these days and his aggressive net promoter score (NPS) targets.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
BT VP: Women Should Fill Security Talent Gap

7|5|17   |   6:00   |   (2) comments


By 2020 there will be six security jobs for every qualified worker, and Kate Kuehn, vice president of Security for BT in the Americas, says BT wants to encourage women to fill the shortage in jobs.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
BBC Head: We Must Reinvent Broadcasting for a New Generation
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 7/21/2017
NFV, SDN, Big Data – It's All About Automation
Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading, 7/21/2017
What's a Little Throttling Between Friends?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/24/2017
Qualcomm Takes Q3 Pummeling From Apple
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/20/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.