T-Mobile: Digital transformation has to start with your employees first

We caught up with Scott Tweedy, vice president of strategic transformation at T-Mobile, to talk shop.

For T-Mobile, digital transformation starts within and any artificial intelligence efforts need to start with employees before facing end customers.

That's one takeaway from Scott Tweedy, vice president of strategic transformation at T-Mobile. We caught up with Tweedy to talk shop. Here's a look at the key lessons.

Digital transformation starts with your employees. T-Mobile's transformation efforts started about 4 years ago and a lot of the initial effort revolve around moving to a modern cloud architecture and sun setting legacy systems. A bigger digital transformation task was tweaking culture. "Employees were selling to customers and needed a new platform," said Tweedy, who works with WalkMe, which provides artificial intelligence based systems to walk workers through systems.

"WalkMe is a series of balloons that help the rep selling to a customer to move through the process. It also allows us to rapidly simplify the product and the experience," said Tweedy. "If an employee gets hung up, WalkMe can tell her what to do next. It simplifies the modern user interface."

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By focusing the WalkMe effort internally for customer care and retail employees, T-Mobile is in a better position to iterate. "We're in a position to know where people are struggling with the systems. We didn't have that before," said Tweedy.

Artificial intelligence needs to be worked out behind the scenes before rolling out to front-end consumers. "We're using AI more internally so employees can provide a frictionless experience," said Tweedy. If you roll out an AI-powered experience like a bot directly to the consumer first you're taking some risks. "We want to be close to the customer and employee and don't want AI to disrupt that," said Tweedy.

For instance, bots are used internally for employees to assist helping customers. T-Mobile does have a few experiments with Facebook Messenger bots, but that effort is more about purchasing accessories and gathering feedback.

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You need multiple AI partners. Tweedy acknowledges that T-Mobile hasn't gone that far yet with AI, but it plans to work with multiple partners to find the best path forward.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is critical. Tweedy said T-Mobile has established a center of excellence for RPA and the business and IT are focused on processes that can be automated. By effectively deploying automation, T-Mobile was able to better manage spikes in support for key launches such as Apple's iPhone X and Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.

Every component of your architecture and infrastructure is a product. By re-platforming, T-Mobile has taken an approach where internal processes like bill output is seen as a product that touches the consumer. T-Mobile is working with Ericsson to modernize the billing platform.

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