An Open Letter to Gadi Solotorevsky about Professionalism

Gadi,

In your recent blog you wrote about your hope that revenue assurance will one day be regarded as a profession. Let me remind you of how your employer, cVidya, repeatedly obstructs the transformation of revenue assurance into a genuine profession.

To begin with, you wrote that “revenue assurance” is an established name and we should stick with it. As my colleague Güera Romo recently pointed out, a common language is the foundation of a common community and hence of a common profession. At the same time, your own company now says it sells “revenue intelligence”. Nobody knows what “revenue intelligence” is. As a vendor, your company is naturally inclined to invent new names for old things, in order to enhance sales. Whilst this helps cVidya’s sales, it runs directly counter to the spirit of your plea for consistent terminology across the industry. If you cannot restrain the impulse in your own company, I see no reason why anyone else should respond to your pleas for consistent terminology.

Vendors have a primary interest in competing, not in building a common profession. That is why we see cVidya not just competing with all other vendors, but we also see cVidya competing with – and systematically undermining – all RA professionals who understand that some RA challenges cannot be addressed with software. Just the other day I saw a cVidya-drafted TM Forum standard that was about “coverage” in revenue assurance. The word “coverage” had an established meaning. That did not discourage cVidya from redefining the word to suit its business interests. Coverage relates to the entire scope of revenue assurance control points, to all potential leakages, and to all activities to detect or prevent leakage. cVidya’s proposal was to redefine the word so only detection tasks that can be automated will be within the scope of the TMF’s new “coverage” model. As you are the leader of the TMF’s RA team, I am dumbfounded that you could be blind to the difference this makes. It means that if something cannot be done by cVidya’s software then it is not part of RA and if a leakage cannot be found by cVidya’s software then it does not even exist. This is no kind of coverage model as I understand the words. I believe any sincere professional will agree that the scope of revenue assurance should never be defined to perfectly match the functionality of one vendor’s products.

cVidya’s competitive and anti-professional instincts do not stop with their attempts to bias the TM Forum’s standards. You, Gadi, have to write a blog in competition with most of your industry peers. I invited you to write at talkRA alongside many notable professionals who accepted my offer. We count employees of rival vendors amongst the talkRA authors. You gave a unique reason for declining the offer to write at talkRA: you would not blog on the same website as competitors. You cannot expect a profession to flourish if professionals indulge in competitive behaviour like that. In contrast, you chose to write on your own website, where there is no prospect of readers finding alternative opinions from other professionals. Your website is registered in the name of cVidya and only ever presents opinions that are favourable to your employer.

Unlike most RA professionals, I have seen the consequences of standing against cVidya’s anti-professional behaviour first hand, when I ruined cVidya’s underhand attempt to control the RA profession through the World RA Forum. I revealed what cVidya wanted to hide: that the Forum was owned and set up by cVidya to promote sales. The World RA Forum promised to recycle TM Forum ‘best practice’ to its members – code for circumventing the rules on distributing the intellectual property of the TM Forum. With one hand cVidya planned to steal another organization’s intellectual property, and with the other hand it would have gifted it to telcos on condition that cVidya gets exclusive opportunities to sell its software. In its short life, the World RA Forum talked repeatedly about professionalism, whilst showing scant interest in following a professional and transparent code of conduct.

For professionalism to occur, it is necessary to have a degree of freedom of speech and for professionals to be able to engage in mutual dialogues and to critique one another in their shared pursuit of professionalism. Professionals need more than a code of conduct that exists on paper. Codes of behaviour must also be enforced by mutual consent, and if necessary by punishing those who behave improperly. These objectives do not sit well with the instincts of people who put competition ahead of all other concerns. That is why neither Rob Mattison’s GRAPA, nor cVidya’s manipulative attempts to influence the professionalization of revenue assurance can ever succeed. At best they can only deliver an empty shell. They can deliver outward appearances – mere words – but not the substance of professionalism.

In setting up talkRA, it was in my mind that professionalism begins with a foundation of openness and transparency between equals. We do not see this encouraged or fostered by either cVidya or by GRAPA. Gadi, I am not hopeful that you will approve and publish this blog comment on your website, as you have rejected previous criticisms of cVidya. Your site is ultimately another kind of marketing vehicle for cVidya. However, this open letter will be reproduced on talkRA in the spirit of a transparent dialogue between professionals. I urge you to stop asking others to aid the professionalism of revenue assurance, and instead to ask harder questions about how and why cVidya regularly stands opposed to the development of a genuine revenue assurance profession.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Director of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.