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GSMA and IBM Collaborate to Accelerate AI Adoption and Skills for the Telecoms Sector

AI training initiative is first in new GSMA Advance series aims to build skills, foster innovation and champion workforce diversity

The GSMA and IBM announced a new collaboration to support the adoption and skills of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the telecom industry through the launch of GSMA Advance’s AI Training program and the GSMA Foundry Generative AI program.

The AI training program, the first in a new series of courses by GSMA Advance, seeks to prepare telco leaders for the AI-era and bridge skills gaps in the telecom industry, by equipping members with skills and knowledge to help effectively leverage Gen AI technologies utilizing watsonx, IBM’s AI and data platform with AI assistants.

The training program, designed for telecoms leaders, will span a wide range of topics, from fundamental AI principles to specialized Gen AI applications in telecoms. To ensure a wide-range of participants can benefit, GSMA Advance AI Training sessions will take place at IBM offices in five locations around the world in 2024, including DubaiLondonMexico, New York and Seoul, and an online training program will be available in multiple languages.

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A digital version of the program will be available to help address both the business strategy and technology fundamentals of Generative AI. This program will leverage IBM watsonx to deliver hands-on training designed to equip architects and developers with in-depth practical Gen AI knowledge.

The GSMA Foundry Generative AI program will provide GSMA members with access to IBM’s watsonx. This platform is intended to help telecom industry players explore innovative industry-specific use cases of Generative AI, enabling members to improve cost leadership, revenue growth and enhance customer experience. As part of the ongoing collaboration GSMA Foundry and IBM will drive a series of Gen AI industry programs and challenges to investigate the use of Generative AI in various functional areas of a telecom provider.

Bridging The AI Adoption Gap

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Through both the GSMA Advance AI Training and Foundry Gen AI programs, the GSMA and IBM will help address the gap in AI skills, training and tools, supporting GSMA’s commitment to operators of all sizes across the world.

IBM’s latest AI Adoption Index found 40% of telecoms surveyed are exploring or experimenting with generative AI, and 45% have accelerated the rollout of AI. Research from GSMA Intelligence also shows that while 56% of operators surveyed are actively trialing generative AI solutions – at a rate higher than any other priority technology – adoption this is less prevalent amongst mid-sized and smaller operators surveyed.

Through this initiative, the GSMA and IBM aim to allow operators, including those supporting the world’s least connected communities, to benefit from AI technology, and develop new innovative and inclusive solutions to help connect those in society who are not yet online.

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Generative AI holds tremendous potential to help improve all manner of operations and customer engagement. Specifically, generative AI can help transform customer care, IT and network optimization —all areas in which automation can notably help increase agility and efficiency. Through their commitment to developing generative AI skills and training for the telecom industry, the GSMA and IBM want to enable mobile operators to provide better services and, ultimately, help more people benefit from digital connectivity.

“Artificial Intelligence provides the telecoms industry, and the societies it serves, with huge opportunities to launch new services, improve connectivity and customer experience. Overall, it’s estimated that AI could contribute $15.7 trillion1 to the global economy by 2030,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer at the GSMA. “However, it’s critical that AI is democratized to ensure that all parts of the connectivity industry and their customers, wherever they are in the world, benefit. Bringing operators access to AI tools and knowledge, alongside the necessary skills, access and training, is key to achieving this.”

“As a world leader in AI for business, IBM will provide critical support to this training for the telecom industry through this collaboration with the GSMA,” said Stephen Rose, GM, Global Industries, IBM. “Generative AI can create massive opportunities for communication service providers as they look to optimize current processes, and like the GSMA, our goal is to offer this technology within the industry, which we’re making possible through watsonx.”

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