Centre of Gibberish

I received an interesting email recently. It came from a well known vendor in the RA and Fraud Management space and was titled “Are Fraud Management Systems the centre of gravity for telecom fraud?”

So much food for thought, I said to myself. I like questions. Of course answers would be even better.

Inside the email was a quote from GRAPA (no doubt intended to be some sort of endorsement).

“The return on investment (ROI) on a FMS is fantastic and it’s always the backbone and a core competency of every fraud department.”

Please read that again. Allow me to highlight a few things.

“The return on investment (ROI) on a FMS is FANTASTIC and it’s ALWAYS the BACKBONE and a CORE COMPETENCY of EVERY fraud department.”

I nearly fell off my seat but quickly re-established my centre of gravity, with great difficulty.

For one to make such wild claim, I can only think of several scenarios.

(1) The person has never worked in a telco revenue assurance/fraud management team
(2) The person wishes to sell FMS and is willing to pull any amount of wool over unsuspecting CSPs
(3) This is a person reading a dictionary that has a very unusual way of defining “fantastic”, “backbone”, “core” and “competency”

Of course somebody who is depending on GRAPA for insight would likely fall in any of the above categories.

I have nothing against tools. I think a CSP that consciously evaluates, plans and project-manages an automation project is doing a wise thing and perhaps the naturally logical thing. Tools exist for a purpose. They make work easier. They help us out. They can put fun in the work. That happens when they are deployed sensibly. Otherwise, they also have the capacity to achieve the exact opposite of what I have just outlined above!

But I have a problem with anybody who wishes to make people believe that a tool is some fantastic thing which is ALWAYS the backbone of this or that. If you think a tool is the backbone of your revenue assurance and fraud management program, you deserve a good kick on your backside.

I have therefore taken liberty to correct the statement made by GRAPA.

“The return on investment (ROI) on any tool is dependent on many factors. A tool can never be the end in and of itself. Rather, to have an effective revenue assurance and fraud management program, a CSP’s RA and FM program will need appropriately-skilled people, the right organizational placement and sponsorship (which depends on the specific CSP and can even be subject to office politics), flexible use of technology (including freely-available software as and when needed), good old common sense and a healthy amount of luck”.

Since the issue of centre of gravity has been raised, it is only fair that I state that a matter that is as grave as RA tools should not be left to the wild claims of GRAPA. Of course, I could be wrong, because I have only relied on my experience, which is not much. And that is why I invite GRAPA to provide statistics to back that claim.

Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu is a director at Integrated Risk Services Ltd and specializes in revenue assurance. He previously worked as Head of Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management at Vodacom's operation in Tanzania, having previously served in the same role at Vodacom Mozambique.

Before his work with Vodacom, Joseph was an internal audit manager for Airtel, with responsibility that covered their 17 countries in Africa. Whilst at Airtel, Joseph led reviews of the Revenue Assurance, Customer Service and Sales & Marketing functions.

Prior to his stint at Airtel, Joseph was an RA manager at Safaricom in Kenya. He holds an MSc Degree in Information Systems.

1 Comment on "Centre of Gibberish"

  1. Hey Joseph,

    Today’s meteorite shower in Russia reminds me that our email baskets receive a daily shower of promotional trash like the one you received. Thank God for spam engines and concrete walls.

    But the email points to a larger, more persistent problem: RA, fraud, and analytics software vendors don’t take the time to explain why their software is superior. So the potential buyer has to waste time trying to figure that out through RFPs and many rounds of discussion.

    Recently I conducted an interview with cVidya’s Tal Eisner on Black Swan and I believe that articles like this will promote a great transparency in the vendor community.

    Tal and I went back and forth a few times to make sure the Q&A was objective, yet – as far as Tal was concerned– it also firmly stated cVidya’s value proposition.

    So I urge the other software vendors out there to likewise open up their kimonos and really level with guys like Eric, myself, or other analyst folks from Analysys Mason, Frost & Sullivan, etc.

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