Telstra lifts lid on robotic software deployments

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Telstra lifts lid on robotic software deployments

Three projects and at least $1.7m in savings.

Telstra has revealed an expansive adoption of robotic process automation (RPA) technology on projects from its HFC network upgrade to the way it arranges training for its 36,000 staff.

The details are contained in a series of case studies published over the past fortnight that collectively show the telco is significantly advanced in its use of software robots.

Indian outsourcer Wipro ran two projects for Telstra, which it claims jointly saved Telstra over $1.7 million, mostly by lowering the number of staff needed for those projects to function.

One of the projects fell under the auspices of a net promoter score (NPS) boost program, in which Telstra wanted to “enhance its customers’ old data plans in three months”.

NPS has become a popular tool among telecommunications companies to see how satisfied and loyal their customer base is.

Meeting that ambitious three-month timeline was originally going to require “hiring and training of 450+ FTEs [full time equivalent staff]”, but Wipro used “50 robots and 23 FTEs working 24x7” to hit the target and deadline.

The outsourcer said Telstra’s NPS score was “uplifted by 20 points” as a result of the project.

Wipro also said it had worked with Telstra to aid the telco’s “mammoth task of migrating its customers from [its] old [cable] network to a new network platform (DOCSIS 3.1) in the 61-day timeline committed to the national broadband network (NBN)".

It did not provide much context on the project, codenamed ‘Cable Care D123’, but said that instead of hiring and training 25-plus FTEs as initially scoped, it had instead used nine RPA bots and just four FTEs.

Separately, Telstra said it used Raytheon Professional Services to automate some of the back-office administration efforts that went into scheduling training for its 36,000 staff worldwide.

Telstra runs about 4600 “days of instruction covering 150 courses” that are delivered at 300 locations in Australia and Asia each year.

Until recently, it appears this was administrated manually.

“Several individuals were managing over 18,500 registrations across 3500 training sessions, and performing multiple discrete tasks for each session, all within a variety of Excel spreadsheets,” Raytheon said.

That caused a range of issues from high error rates (which spread into reporting) through to inefficient scheduling of training and therefore sessions being run without being “fully subscribed”.

Raytheon indicated it used RPA to optimise a number of backend processes, including training session management; the triage of “inquiries from Telstra’s learning population” to the best person to respond; and managing and communicating changes, such as to the training venue or session time.

Raytheon said the main return on investment on RPA for training was a “70 percent reduction in resources required to complete training”. It did not elaborate further.

The telco is not stopping at the RPA deployments undertaken by Wipro and Raytheon.

In March, it revealed plans to adopt a variant of RPA – known as intelligent process automation – within its procurement and supply chain operations.

It is yet to reveal the nature of the procurement processes it hopes to automate.

RPA and IPA have also found a home in Australian companies including CBA and NBN Co.

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