LIVE FROM DTW 2024, COPENHAGEN: Nik Willetts, CEO of the TM Forum (pictured), conceded the returns from generative AI (genAI) for the trade association’s members had been a little disappointing so far, as he outlined some of the key challenges facing the telecoms industry in adopting the technology.

In his keynote, Willetts referred to a survey the TM Forum conducted with its members around the world about their use of generative and predictive AI which found “only a handful of operators are finding a real bottom line impact that adds to their businesses”.

However, while making it clear the technology is, and will be, hugely important, he said there are a common set of challenges “that are holding us back”.

First, he argued the data AI is trained on “dictates how good it is”.

“It is hard to surface the right data. It’s hard to get our internal data governance models and systems talking to each other in a way that allows us to surface that data, allows us to understand that data in a clean and efficient way to train the right models.”

He said there is “no sense in going it alone” when trying to overcome the challenge, urging the industry to work together.

To ensure genAI has true impact, he also urged the industry to go beyond thinking of the technology as a bolt-on. “In the next few years, we’ll start to see the emergence of truly AI native businesses. This is a profound shift affecting everyone in this room.”

Willetts further outlined the TM Forum’s commitment to contribute to this new era through a three-step plan to help develop: composable IT and ecosystems; autonomous network operations; and AI and data innovation, all designed to “unlock the true potential and revenue opportunities of being an AI-first operator”.