Trial Purpose

The purpose and rationale of Skillsbase & Openreach cooperating to undertake this Virtual Buddy Trial was to demonstrate the potential of such technology as a learning tool to improve User Compliance and evaluate its potential to reduce Early Life Failure (ELF) rate & Truck rolls.

Executive Summary

As we saw from the data, the Primary Trial Outcomes were:

  • Accepted Training Support Tool
  • – The Trial Engineers in the field made good use of the tool to improve their work over time. Training Managers and Trainee engineers saw a positive impact when using this tool in a classroom environment.
  • Accuracy Improved During Trial
  • – The accuracy of the virtual buddy improved over the course of the trial, new critical faults were added, and engineers were made aware of changes in work practices.
  • User Compliance Improved
  • – While some engineers may not have immediately repaired their installations, they did improve in subsequent jobs.

    With the results of the trial, there are significant benefits of the Virtual buddy that Openreach can take advantage of:

    1. Training Support Tool
    2. Accuracy Improvement
    3. Add More Products
    4. Reduce ELF Rate and Truck Rolls

    Trial Analysis

    • 3463 Total trial participants
    • 7744 photos scanned
    • 615 Before and After Pictures were identified across 1889 faults
    • 226 users completed the CSP App-based Training Course. 292 for MDU

    The fault rate dropped among all engineers as the trial progressed. High instances of critical faults detected at key points gradually dropped as engineers learned new work practices and avoided common problems.

    User Feedback

    Of those surveyed, we noticed some key takeaways and identified some noticeable trends through the survey response.
    Interestingly, 88% of those surveyed overall like the app, with 12% indifferent. Most notably though, 0% showed any dislike towards the Virtual Buddy. When asked to explain why they felt this way, some engineers responded:

    It is such a great tool that is simple to use and picks up what could be service affecting faults

    I like using it, it’s tells me if there’s anything wrong with my csp so can improve how I fit them

    Very informative and simple to use plus the equipment list with item codes great help many thanks.

    It is a good tool to have especially for someone newer to the business as it will help them hone their skills. For older employees it will keep their quality standards at a high level.

    Engineers adapting Virtual Buddy

    For the purpose of this trial, the Virtual Buddy classifies a Critical Fault as a photo where a Damaged Fibre, Bent Fibre or Misrouted Cable has been detected.

    We have seen improvements in an installation where engineers have completed corrective actions and applied these learnings to their ongoing work.

    By selecting engineers’ who were high faulting at the start of the trial, based on their scanned photos, we were able to identify positive case studies where the Virtual Buddy contributed, or at least digitally catalogued, their reduction in faults over time.


    The VB technology allows us to create an accurate detection tool with a smaller set of photos thanks to its accuracy boosting algorithms. These enabled us to start small with a working solution and grow it over time.

    Using Enhanced Processing Algorithms, we can increase the critical fault accuracy even further, allowing the Virtual Buddy to remove the chance of a false positive.

    This technology is perfectly scalable to other product ranges and even installation scenarios.

    Focusing on quick win products or problem areas, it is possible to launch this technology in a phased approach and build accuracy over time.

    New Products or Solutions

    Wherever a human can visually identify a problem with an install, a Virtual Buddy can be built to provide real-time support.

    Automated the process of creating this support for other products and solutions - We have the platform and expertise to develop this technology further.

    Rapidly add new products to the virtual buddy.

    Enhanced Processing Algorithms, enable us to provide extremely accurate fault feedback vs traditional AI methods.

    SkillsBase can provide assistance in creating an accurate AI Virtual Buddy.

    Thank You

    Wherever a human can visually identify a problem with an install, a Virtual Buddy can be built to provide real-time support. Building on our 4-Step process, we can add any other products or solutions to the Virtual Buddy to provide engineers with a tool to detect the quality of their work in real-time.

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