TM Forum Slaps cVidya for Shoddy Marketing

Credit should be given where it is due. The TM Forum recently showed encouraging signs that they will defend the integrity of their published advice, when this is undermined by the marketing shenanigans of certain TMF members. The incident began when a telco employee asked an innocent question on one of the TMF’s community pages.

Subject: Revenue Assurance Solution
From: Jimmy Zuñiga, Telefonica
Posted: Oct 27, 2014 11:17

Hi,

I am new in the area of Revenue Assurance. Actually, we are following the TM Forum Standard in my area and we want to acquire another solution that aligns the TM Forum. So, if you can give some recomendations about market solutions , I will appreciate it.

After a few days, Jimmy’s question attracted the attention of cVidya, the Israeli software vendor, who could not resist the opportunity…

From: Efrat Nissimov, cVidya Networks Ltd.
Posted: Oct 30, 2014 06:48

Hi Jimmy,

cVidya’s methodology and product, Money Map, work according to TM Forum standards as defined in GB941 and TR131, MoneyMap is certified against Business Process Framework (eTOM), Information Framework (SID), Release 9.0.

And offer him to have a call to provide more details.

I will be happy to provide additional information,

Efrat Nissimov

Nissimov’s response drips with insincerity. “And offer him to have a call to provide more details.” How should we interpret this sentence, except that Nissimov did not write this reply, but dictated it to her secretary, who then mindlessly repeated it verbatim?

More importantly, we must question the assertion that Money Map works “according to” TMF publications TR131 and GB941. I wrote large amounts of the content in TR131 and GB941. I would never state that any software could work in the way described by these documents, because they were not written to describe how software should work!

Saying that cVidya’s software is consistent with TR131 is like saying my motor car is consistent with TR131. My motor car will never do anything non-compliant with TR131, but that is because TR131 says nothing relevant about how my car works. GB941 and TR131 gives advice for what Revenue Assurance departments should do; they do not dictate how to design or implement software. These documents should not even be described using the word ‘standard’ because they are merely guidelines, and are not as authoritative as a real standard should be.

There is a better, more positive way to answer Jimmy’s question. That answer confirms that the RA products from all the major reputable software vendors are equally consistent with the TMF’s RA guidance. All those products do essentially the same things. They all support conventional RA requirements.

In some respects, it is a complimentary to the TMF to observe the consistency between published TMF guidance and so many RA products. The TMF’s advice has been so widely accepted that it is difficult to imagine anyone trying to create an RA product that is inconsistent with TR131 or GB941. If anyone made a product that clashed with TR131 and GB941, the first argument would be that the product should not be labelled using the words ‘revenue assurance’. TR131, in particular, gives a definition of what revenue assurance is. If you make a product that is inconsistent with TR131, it must be because the product is doing something different to revenue assurance.

On the other hand, observing the consistency between TMF advice and RA products is also a statement of the obvious. Trying to select an RA product by asking about consistency with TR131 and GB941 would be like trying to select a car by asking how many wheels each model has. With very few exceptions, all cars have four wheels. Having four wheels is just a really obvious, really practical aspect in the design of cars. The TMF’s guidance establishes common sense basics for how to do revenue assurance. Though well-written, the advice is not unique; others make similar recommendations. Just like suggesting a car should have four wheels, the TMF’s advice suggests basic activities that might be performed by an RA function, so long as they are relevant to the needs of the telco. Some of these activities can be automated in very obvious ways. Various vendors have automated them. Trying to pretend that one particular RA product was created with the intention of following the TMF’s RA guidance would be like marketing a particular car by saying it has four wheels and that having four wheels makes the car especially safe and efficient.

Thankfully, the TMF intervened, and deleted cVidya’s marketing puff. In its place, you now find this statement:

From: Megan Lunde, TM Forum
Posted: Nov 03, 2014 12:26

Hi Jimmy,

I recommend that you check out the TM Forum Conformant solutions in this area. You can view the list of these here: Conformance Certifications Awarded.

A reminder to all members of this community that commercial messages are not permitted per the Community Usage Policy.

Kind Regards,
Megan Lunde
Community Manager

Megan could have gone further, by pointing out it is not possible to award conformance certifications in respect of TR131 and GB941. This might have undone any misconceptions that have been deliberately encouraged by cVidya. But at least the offending material has been stripped from the TMF’s community pages. The TMF deserves praise for standing up to cVidya, and curbing their misbehaviour. cVidya is a long-standing customer of the TMF. But then, the TMF needs to protect its publications, and dispel misinformation about them, if it wants to be respected as a trustworthy source of reliable advice. I encourage the TMF to enforce strict rules on all its member companies, prohibiting them from turning decent community-created content into degraded marketing slush.

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.