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AI, big data & customer experience 

Turning data into a superior customer experience

Paul O’Brien, Director, Service, Security and Operations Lab

While tremendously exciting, the data explosion we’re seeing all around us comes with a significant challenge.

Namely, ‘how can we make the best use of it all?’

Finding the answer to this question is the driving force behind much of the research and development work being carried out by me and my team.

Our aim is to help the company become more efficient in the way we use data and information to manage our business and deliver products and services to our customers.

We want to better understand how to store data and how to harvest the vast quantities of information being collected.

We’re also big into analytics and data science because we know we need to make sense of all the information and extract patterns which will give us valuable insights.

And then there’s the research we’re doing into artificial intelligence (AI). This, if you like, represents an added layer of smartness on top of the traditional data science techniques. We are exploring how AI can analyse data to help us better predict future trends.

Mine and define

One of the stand-out projects we’ve been involved in has seen us gather data from 20,000 BT and Openreach engineers together with information from weather feeds, network performance indicators, workstack patterns and more.

We then apply the latest in emerging technologies, for example AI or machine learning, to that data so that we can predict where engineers with the right skills will be needed, and when.

So far, by using this technique we have improved our forecasting ability by between two and three per cent. With a workforce of tens of thousands, this equates to savings of many millions of pounds.

This is a great example of BT increasing automation across its estate so that we can drive down costs, cut wastage, boost efficiency and, most importantly, deliver a better experience for our customers.

 Nuisance call

Protecting customers from nuisance calls

Data science research carried out by BT has been key to the development of Call Protect - a service for consumer customers which helps to filter out illegal cold callers. Call Protect works by identifying the patterns and tell-tale signs of an illegal cold caller.

The algorithm that the system uses to analyse the vast amount of data was created at BT’s laboratories.