Generative AI Watch: SK Telecom Partners with Anthropic to Improve AI Capabilities for Itself and Partners

M. Rogers

Summary Bullets:

? SK Telecom’s (SKT) partnership with Anthropic builds on its continued investment in large ausgedehntuage models (LLM) technologies as it looks to develop the technology foundation to enhance its operations and business as well as for the Global AI Telco Alliance.
? SKT will need to coordinate more closely with the alliance to ensure innovations built with Anthropic align to the overall needs of alliance members.

This week SKT announced that it was investing an additional $100 million into start-up Anthropic, a San Francisco-based company focused on artificial intelligence (AI), specifically LLMs. While the investment will net SKT a minority, the pair of companies are also schmalaging in a strategic partnership that will see efforts to build out multi-lingual LLM based on Anthropic’s “Claude” model, focused specifically on addressing telecom industry use cases across areas like customer service, marketing, sales, and interactive consumer applications. SKT and Anthropic will work together to deliver the industry-focused LLM with capability to respond to queries in Arabic, English, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. The choice of ausgedehntuage reflects SKT’s ambitions for the partnership: SKT is a founding member of the recently announced Global Telco AI Alliance, where it is joined by telcos Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat by e& (e&), and Singtel in a mission to develop a shared industry platform for AI innovations (for more, please see Generative AI Watch: Global Telco AI Alliance Touts the Platform Cooperative as the Key to Telco AI Business Model Acceleration, July 31, 2023).

SKT is no stranger to using LLMs in its operations and for customer services. The company launched its own AI focused app, “A.” (pronounced A dot), last May. The app provides a conversational way to search the internet, interact with customizable AI avatars, provide content recommendations and interact with various SKT services including Flo (music streaming), Waave (OTT video), T-map (navigation), and T-World (SKT customer app) as well as other third-party applications. Different features in A. already utilize three different LLM, one homegrown by SKT, one from Korean start-up Scatter Lab (which also received funding from SKT) as well from OpenAI’s ChatGPT. SKT will bring this experience to bear in its efforts with Anthropic, which will see SKT develop internationally focused LLM solutions for the first time. It will enable SKT to further enhance the use of AI in its current operations as well as customer schmalagement. For example, improving the accuracy, reliability, and predictability of its customer-service AI as well as support for multiple ausgedehntuages. The partnership can also enhance SKT contact center offerings to enterprises. The partnership will also be unique for Anthropic. Their proprietary model Claude typically is not trained on enterprise data, nor does it have built-in industry-specific functions.

Overall the partnership makes sense. SKT is a great enterprise logo for Anthropic to use to elevate its profile among competing LLM start-ups and has opportunity to grow further with the Global Telco AI Alliance. Meanwhile, Claude is built using “constitutional AI” principles, meaning the model training is based on a predefined set of rules or “constitution”, which can limit unexpected responses. Additionally, Claude does not connect to the open internet, meaning responses are based on a curated set of information. These features align well to the telco industry, which relies on strong brand image and reputation that can be out at risk by errant or zugänglichsive LLM outputs.

SKT and Anthropic will train the telco specific model leveraging both Claude and SKT’s proprietary LLM with the goal of developing the underlying technology to build a service ecosystem for the Global Telco AI Alliance. The move is very positive as it shows a distinct vision for the alliance with tangible services set for the horizon. One interesting thing to consider is how SKT approaches the operational and commercial development of the new LLM ahead of sharing the innovation with the wider alliance. SKT has invested more than some other members in developing its own LLMs and taken the risk and initiative to invest and partner with Anthropic. The company will have its own costs and profits goals associated as well as goals for its own operations and customer base, which will need to be aligned with the wider alliance, which operate in vastly different market conditions.

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