Less Text, What Next?

Our recent discussions about revenue assurance, business assurance (or whatever we call it these days), confirm the one constant in the telecom industry: that it is in a state of constant change. An article in the Wall Street Journal addresses the SMS-related revenue stream and its decline, which has/had generous profit margins of 80% compared to the 35% typical for voice.

The most interesting comment was made by KPN’s Chief Exec:

“It’s not cool anymore to SMS”.

KPN also reported that its youth-oriented brand, Hi, saw an 8% decline in outgoing SMS or text messages per customer in the first three months of this year compared with the first quarter of 2010.

You have heard me say this before, but I will say it again: in my opinion the way for RA practitioners to remain relevant and justify their relevance is to offer a way to address these kinds of challenge, and not to just continue doing what has worked for RA over the last 15+ years. RA is no longer the new kid on the block. We can tell that from the debate about its name. The TCFKARAV (The Companies Formerly Known As Revenue Assurance Vendors) have grown out of their schoolboy shorts and want to put on long trousers. As it matures, RA needs more than a change of name. RA needs to take on more serious responsibilities.

David Leshem
David Leshem

David is an expert in enterprise solutions: billing, profitability, business intelligence, customer retention, churn and revenue assurance.

 

Away from the office, David is a keen photographer. Visit davidleshem.com to sample his photographic work.

  • Güera Romo

    David, I could not agree with you more. I am often questioned about my unwillingness to embrace “new concepts” such as business assurance or collections assurance. Simply by pasting a new name to something that may already have been done in essence by the RA department or anywhere else in the organisation doesn’t make us contributing value during this time of constant change. It requires a fundamental paradigm shift. One I don’t things half of the current RA community understands or even recognised is needed.

    I recently spoke with someone who is “Head of Business Assurance” which incorporates RA, Fraud and Law enforcement. Incidentally, my title was SM of RA and I looked after exactly these 3 functions. To my question “how does your division and its objectives differ from “Head of Revenue Assurance”, which traditionally may have included these functions as well, the person’s responds was “Oh, that is just what my company decided to call it”. They do exactly what I have done with a different title.

    My question is this. How many people out there thing that RA have evolved into something more/else because there is a critical mass that has lashed on the new buzz words?

    I will stand by the foundation for what we are doing is not solid enough to support us going through this change.

  • Asem

    I believe the new technology is playing major role in influencing subscriber behavior, in a recent study we’ve conducted to analyze this drop in texting and international calling. We found that the popularity of smart phones that supports vast number of VOIP & texting applications such as facebook, twitter, viber, fring, tango… etc. has shifted the users from using the traditional way of texting or even voice calling.
    I suggest for those who is concerned about this drop in SMS & INTL call revenues to also consider the hike in data services subscriptions and usage. In my personal experience, I’m getting triple the number of messages more that what I used to receive earlier, so I don’t “it’s not cool anymore”.

  • Nev Phillips

    Interesting topic!

    I think you have 2 different situations. The first in the non-smartphone world, where mobile penetration is still growing primarily on non-smart phones, and SMS growth is still very relevant. As you were then. The second is smartphone world where you can see the obvious attraction of messaging via facebook/twitter/skype/IM (shame Google Wave never caught on) vs the 160 chrctr txt msg. And while both, in mature markets, are at negligible cost, then there will be a drift towards richer messaging environments. New Street.

    That then puts the challenge of monetising the new messaging playing field, made more difficult because the mobile operators do not own the platform only the transport. Logically, and much talk to be had on this subject, is for facebook, twitter, google to step up and pay for the transport from which they benefit. So shifting the RA challenge to data/content interconnect. And there are many ways to skin that cat.

    Bilaterally, if mobile operators open up location to face-twit-oogle-et-al, then the opportunity for targeted market/content holds an exciting lure for them in return. And another challenge in pricing and assuring that.

    Can RA lead that debate? I think probably not, but certainly there will be opportunity to contribute to its success when it happens. Different tools required, yes, but will the principles change?