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Quick Take: IBM & the GSMA’s Collaboration for GenAI Adoption in Telecom

The GSMA and IBM recently announced a significant new collaboration to promote the adoption and development of generative artificial intelligence (AI) skills within the telecom industry.

This partnership launches through two main initiatives: the GSMA Advance’s AI Training program and the GSMA Foundry Generative AI program.

GSMA Advance’s AI Training Program

  • Objective: To prepare telecom leaders for the AI era and bridge the existing skills gaps in the industry.
  • Content: The program will cover a broad range of topics, from basic AI principles to specialized Gen AI applications in telecoms.
  • Format and Accessibility: Training sessions are scheduled to be held in IBM offices across five global locations – Dubai, London, Mexico, New York, and Seoul – throughout 2024, with an online version also available in multiple languages.
  • Tools and Platforms: Utilizes IBM’s watsonx, an AI and data platform with AI assistants, to provide practical, hands-on training for architects and developers.

GSMA Foundry Generative AI Program

  • Access: Offers GSMA members access to IBM’s watsonx platform, enabling the exploration of industry-specific Generative AI use cases.
  • Goals: Aim to enhance cost leadership, revenue growth, and customer experience within the telecom industry through Generative AI.
  • Activities: Includes a series of industry programs and challenges to investigate the use of Generative AI in various functional areas of telecom providers.

Bridging the AI Adoption Gap

This collaboration between the GSMA and IBM seeks to address the significant gap in AI skills, training, and tools within the telecom industry. Despite high interest and experimentation with AI among telecom operators, adoption rates, especially among mid-sized and smaller operators, have been lower. This initiative aims to democratize AI technology, ensuring operators worldwide, including those in less connected communities, can benefit from AI advancements.

Potential Impact of Generative AI

Generative AI promises to significantly transform operations and customer engagement within the telecom sector, particularly in customer care, IT, and network optimization. Generative AI can enhance agility and efficiency by automating these areas, ultimately improving digital connectivity and services for a broader range of people.

Commitment to Democratizing AI

The GSMA and IBM emphasize the importance of democratizing AI to ensure the broadest possible benefit from its capabilities. By providing access to AI tools, knowledge, and the necessary skills and training, they aim to unlock AI’s full potential across the connectivity industry and for customers globally.

With an estimated contribution of AI to the global economy projected to be $15.7 trillion by 2030, this collaboration represents a crucial step toward ensuring the telecom industry is well-equipped to leverage AI for innovation, improved connectivity, and enhanced customer experiences.


IBM’s collaboration with the GSMA to foster the adoption and skill development of generative AI in the telecom industry is a strategic move that positions IBM at the forefront of AI-driven transformation in a sector that’s increasingly critical to global infrastructure. This initiative, encompassing the GSMA Advance’s AI Training program and the GSMA Foundry Generative AI program, is an effort to address a pivotal challenge in the telecom industry: the AI skills gap.

The telecom sector stands on the cusp of a significant transformation, propelled by the convergence of AI, 5G, and cloud-native technologies. However, realizing this potential hinges on the industry’s ability to leverage AI technologies effectively. IBM equips telecom leaders and developers with the necessary skills and knowledge to harness generative AI, enhancing operational efficiency and customer experience and, ultimately, fostering innovation.

The collaboration between the GSMA and IBM aligns with broader industry trends where telecom operators are increasingly looking to AI to drive efficiency and innovation. According to IBM’s AI Adoption Index, a significant portion of telecoms is exploring or has accelerated the deployment of AI, with generative AI solutions currently in trials. This collaboration with GSMA addresses the immediate need for AI literacy and strategically positions IBM as a key player in the telecom industry’s AI journey.

Disclosure: The author is an industry analyst, and NAND Research an industry analyst firm, that engages in, or has engaged in, research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, which may include those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.