A RAG for All Seasons

With all that’s been going on in the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG) over recent months, it can be hard to keep up. But nothing worth doing is ever easy. And doing it is also a great deal of fun!

This is the longest article I have written for Commsrisk, and for good reason. If you read no other article today, I recommend that you read all of this one!

RAG Winter Meeting

We recently concluded the Winter RAG, our final meeting of 2016, and it compels me to take stock of our journey to date, and to survey the road ahead.

The first thing to note is that we had a lot of interest and a lot of registrations.  So many registrations for attendance that it actually caused us a few logistical challenges. The first – we had to move from our usual location in the Cartesian boardroom to another floor. This was necessary to accommodate the 60 people who came to listen to the experts and thought leaders on our agenda. The second challenge came in the form of seating.  We didn’t have enough chairs. And I don’t mean in the room. We had to raid the whole building to try and grab every available chair of any description!

Despite the disruption this caused, Cartesian remained good humoured, despite not having enough chairs remaining for their own senior management meeting.  They eventually had to hold that meeting off-site – thank you once again, Cartesian!

As you can imagine, the room was packed and we had an excellent balance of attendees – operators, vendors, subject matter experts, law enforcement and government professionals. We also had doughnuts and plenty of sweets which, despite the cold weather, helped keep everyone’s spirits high. The good mood continued as the day went on, and there was lots of energy in the room from start to finish, which is no surprise really given the quality of the speakers.

It’s genuinely hard for me to pick highlights, but I will try.

The much beloved and highly respected Jack Wraith MBE, Nick Kemsley (Action Fraud, City of London Police) and Dave Morrow (FraudFit) kicked off by talking fraud. Not just the usual facets, but the wider issues of reported and unreported fraudulent activity, how the Police need our support to be able to perform their role and how we can take POCA to the next level in lobbying to have it used to seize fraudsters’ ill-gotten gains!

We also had Mike Haley (Cifas) helping us understand some of the approaches used in combining information across industries to better identify the networks of organized fraudsters. And all this in the run up to International Fraud Week.

And of course we didn’t leave revenue assurance untouched either, with discussions in the room throughout the day, and an excellent presentation from Stuart Waton on the evolution of RA teams in an ever changing environment. He highlighted a key RA case which shocked the room, and no doubt prompted those responsible for revenue assurance to take the insight back to their respective organisations, to ensure that they aren’t suffering similar cost issues within their PAYG customer bases.

Our working group leaders all gave us an update on their respective areas of progress and development in education, RAG document library and RAFM innovations (keep reading to find out more about those). On top of that, we had a new feature for the groups: RAG-on’s Den. This involved listening to three great 15-minute sessions about identity and authentication.

Though the meeting was done, the day wasn’t finished, as we then went out to network and unwind over a few well-earned plates and glasses where discussions continued into the evening. My journey home after a RAG meeting seems a long way, but I’m always on a high after spending time with such intelligent and wonderful people.

If you weren’t lucky enough to be in the room on the day, do take a look at the agenda and keep a look out for the presentations from the day which we’ll be posting up on the RAG site to view. If you haven’t yet, register here to gain complimentary access to the members’ area and to get news and updates from the group.

RAG Working Groups

We had updates from David Smith (Education Program), Geoff Ibbett (Innovations Initiative) and David Morrow (POCA Campaign and Library Submissions). Over the coming weeks and months, members will receive key updates on the RAG initiatives’ progress and ways to get involved.

Education

We are trying to forge a path in education and training, but first we need to understand what training material is already available. To support that, we plan to release a survey soon to gather information from members as to what they genuinely want and need, rather than what is prescribed by those offering training.  In addition, we’re in talks with several operators, independent SMEs and vendors who conduct their own internal training, with a view to building up a tried and tested catalogue of trusted material which we want to make available to RAG members.

Get in touch with David Smith if you would like to know more or want to get involved in helping shape this much-needed and long-talked about initiative.

Innovations

Geoff Ibbett gave us all a great view of the approach to innovation in RA and FM, showing a foundation of modules which aim to define the different key areas of operational functions which innovation and education can align to.  Though a work in progress, Geoff’s vast experience in the field of RA is proving invaluable to forming this model for use going forward, and, like any strong foundation, this is rooted in what he has learned over many years.

We’re very supportive of Geoff’s approach, and are always looking for ways to support his efforts to develop this initiative.  If you would like to be involved, reach out to us to find out how.

RAG Library

The RAG Steering Committee’s very own David Morrow (and others) are already receiving documents related to revenue assurance, fraud management and risk management from RAG members. These are then reviewed by experts in the respective fields to determine whether they are ‘up-to-scratch’ for RAG members to be able to view, refer to and learn from.

But there’s room for more.  It doesn’t matter if you work for an operator or a vendor, or if you work for yourself or are now retired.  If you have a document which you believe will help the risk and assurance community, get on to the RAG website and tell us about it using our contact form.

It’s through the open nature of RAG and the willingness of its members to pull together for the betterment of our functions that we develop, mature and become stronger together.

Proceeds of Crime Act

As though David Morrow doesn’t have enough to do with the Library initiative and general RAG Steering Committee roles, he’s also spearheading the campaign to have the UK Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) used for confiscating the funds and assets of telecoms fraudsters.

You’re right – it makes perfect sense and seems like an obvious thing, but it is no mean feat that David is undertaking here.  David is now calling for operators to get on-board with helping lobby for effective use of POCA to have a real impact on organized crime in telecoms (which affects us all from our employers through to the institutions of education that our children attend).  Dave is also gathering data from UK law enforcement agencies to help with the lobbying effort, and he will be telling RAG members about the results as he makes progress.

Whether you want to get involved or just want to know more about any or all of the RAG initiatives, become a RAG member and get in touch with us and our working group leaders.

RAG 2017

It is around this time of year that I normally share some of RAG’s plans and aspirations for the coming year. Whilst we break new ground every year, I cannot quite believe just how big 2017 is going to be for RAG and its members.

Events

Spring: we already have our first conference of 2017 in the diary and registrations are open now.  Once again, BT are very generously hosting us in the auditorium at the BT Centre in St Paul’s, London – the same location as used for last summer’s RAG. It’s a fantastic venue which lends itself perfectly to the RAG format and we’re very excited to be going back there.  We are compiling the agenda even as I type, and it will be an event that you can’t afford to miss (don’t forget that it is free to attend after all).  The summer event saw a great increase in international interest, and we are expecting even higher demand for this two-day conference. Reserve your now, before it’s too late!

Summer: Germany.  That’s right, RAG is committed to holding its first conference outside of the UK, and this will take place in Germany.  The increased interest driven by the 2016 Summer Conference has led to a need to reach farther afield than before, and I’m exceptionally proud and grateful to Deutsche Telekom and, in particular, Gina Pesheva, for offering to host our first mainland European conference in Bonn.  This will also be a two-day event, and we’re hoping that this will make it easier for some of our European colleagues to be able to attend a RAG event and so discover what makes our conferences special.  If you want to hear more about the RAG Germany roadshow as the agenda undergoes development, become a RAG member and get the latest news.  Don’t forget that RAG events are free to attend!

I also highly recommend checking out a video snippet of a most inspirational talk by Gina at the Summer Conference in July of this year, demonstrating why she is a driving force in RA and in Deutsche Telekom.

To Infinity and Beyond

Can’t get to the UK?  Can’t get to Europe?  Don’t worry – we’re doing all we can to bring RAG to you.

We’re currently negotiating to bring RAG and its unique format, experience and insights to other regions, including Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  We have even started planning international roadshow events for 2018!

The only reason for us to bring these roadshow events to new continents is so you can be a part of them. Help us by joining us, and telling us where you are and what you want. Use our RAG you can more easily attend, contact form to get in touch and tell us new locations that RAG should visit.  If you don’t tell us, no-one will!

No-One Left Behind: Utilities

The RAG has always been for its members, regardless of which industry they belong to. We have always had members from the utilities sector, and whilst many of the lessons, approaches and challenges we discuss are universal, our agendas favour the majority of our members, who work in telecommunications. However, we want to support those members working in the utilities sector. We are hence exploring the potential to run a RAG event exclusively for utilities. If that sounds like something you want, become a member and let us know.

Sponsors and Supporters

Our ambitions, our aspirations and our successes are realised by the quality of our members and the guidance of our wonderful Steering Committee. But there are others to thank too.

Since 2004 when RAG came into being, Cartesian have been selflessly supportive of RAG and that hasn’t changed.  But we have also received a great deal of support from other sponsors such as Neural Technologies, and other member companies too, like BT and Deutsche Telekom.

As you know, RAG is free to join and our events are free to attend.  It’s through the grace and generosity of our sponsors and partners that we are able to continue to deliver RAG under our free model. We are grateful for their help.

We want your support, we want your opinions, we want your feedback and we want to be your voice, not just locally, but globally. Join us and together we can change the face of revenue assurance, risk management and fraud for the better, all across the world. Until next time, from me and on behalf of the RAG Committee and its members, take care and see you soon!

Rob Chapman
Rob Chapman
Rob is a consultant working for Cartesian in the UK, specializing in business assurance. He previously worked at Three, Cable & Wireless, Verizon Business and TalkTalk.

Rob is also Chairman of the UK's Risk & Assurance Group. The RAG is the oldest regular gathering of RA professionals anywhere in the world, having first met in 2004.