Telecoms Trailblazers: A Day in the Life of Priya Kurien

Priya Kurien

Hello, I’m Priya Kurien and I lead the research in the telecom industry in IBM’s thought leadership division, the Institute for Business Value (IBV). I create insights on trends and business imperatives, while also considering the challenges that telecom executives face.

I focus primarily on the business value of technology. In this context, one of the technologies that is important to telecom is AI. IBM is a pioneer in AI and has been working on AI since the Dartmouth Conference in the mid-1950s - though, of course, it has evolved significantly since then, particularly over the last decade.

Many of my reports cover AI and in my role, I look at how the technology fits into telecoms. In the next few years, we will see the sector change as it adopts and embeds AI. In a survey I carried out, 91% of telecom executives said that AI is a top technology for their organisation to master by 2030. This will be transformative, and create a systematic shift in job skill requirements. 

Telecommunications is critical infrastructure for a country since we use it at work, and in our personal lives. This sector continues to have a major impact on the world, though most of the time it’s taken for granted. From cars to factories, from governments to banks, from homes to shops, everyone relies upon connectivity.  How does AI impact the telecom industry? AI is transforming the telecom industry by improving network performance, and the customer service experience, creating new revenue streams by supporting personalised marketing for instance and improving efficiency of operations in business functions of a telecom organisation. 

1/ What do you enjoy most about working in this space? 

Looking at where the future of the industry is going, focusing on the role of technology, and bringing innovation to life.  I also enjoy the discussions I have with senior stakeholders in the industry and within IBM; they help me ideate and shape perspectives on the art of the possible, something which gives me a lot of joy.

2/ What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve done in the name of work?

Working globally, I get to travel the world, which is something that I really enjoy. I sometimes travel to see clients and once took a speedboat from Hong Kong to Macau - all in a day’s work! 


3/ What excites you most about working in telecoms?

I'm a telecoms engineer by training, so for me, this is an interesting industry. Telcos connect the whole world. With enhanced connectivity, IoT devices and AI, along with the speed of technology change, we're going to be living in a different world as we get to the end of this decade. Without connectivity this wouldn’t be possible, so I see the future we will live being enabled by the telecoms industry.

4/ What would you like people to know about your work?

I’m at the cutting edge of change. I influence telecom executives through my reports and seed ideas on new ways of working, and new opportunities that they may not have considered before. 

5/ ​​Why is a vibrant, flourishing telecoms ecosystem important for the UK?

The telco environment has become incredibly complex. The industry needs a unified, healthy, thriving ecosystem to support transformation. Universities can act as a starting point, with new perspectives on research as well as providing a pipeline of skills. Start-ups,  service firms, niche solution providers, and of course, product and technology companies are all critical here too. The better we develop the ecosystem, the stronger the UK telecoms industry will become.

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