Elephant in the Room

I work in an industry where there is always an elephant in the room…

Getting customers and prospective customers to discuss their fraud and risk issues is always challenging. Getting customers and prospective customers to provide an indication of the cost and rate of fraud or revenue leakage is nearly impossible.

So when is it practical and beneficial for all parties to collaborate on fraud and risk issues that impact your business and profitability?

No one likes to admit they have a fraud issue and it seems this mentality is engrained in many corporations from the top down. Initially you would think it understandable; the immediate reaction is to think of the impact on consumer confidence, shareholder value and brand reputation.

But one of our customers, Safaricom, provides an important counterexample. The Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, has freely admitted that they have made positive steps in prosecuting employees who committed fraud. He is making a positive message out of a negative facet of their business.

You can never stop fraud but you can make strong inroads to control it… but only if people are willing to admit that fraud takes place, then share issues, experiences and ideas about how to tackle it. For companies like Neural who are product providers, we need to have visibility of these issues in a timely manner. That insight allows us to align our product functionality to tackling these challenges. This needs communication and collaboration:

  1. internally within the corporation;
  2. with your fellow peers;
  3. between similar or even competing service providers and organisations; and
  4. with people like us, the external product vendors.

Neural Technologies wants to change attitudes towards discussing shared problems, and we do this in various ways. For example, our user forum gives customers an opportunity to share their experiences with peers, and helps us to define our product roadmap. But this is only one small step, and we seek much wider participation and involvement with our colleagues in industry. Industry forums are content to have vendors sponsor their lunches and evening entertainment, but they sometimes close the doors when service providers discuss hard facts about the fraud and risk issues that telcos face.

There are some signs of a gradual and positive change in mindset. Organisations like the Risk and Assurance Group (RAG), and various LinkedIn groups are good at sharing thoughts and intelligence about risks and issues. I am hoping these examples are the start of a wider collaboration for the benefit of all. With the help of initiatives like these, we can overcome the hesitancy that reflects the competitive nature of business.

In short, I would like to hear the elephant speak out.

This article was originally published on the corporate blog of Neural Technologies. It has been reproduced with their permission.

Luke Taylor
Luke Taylor
Luke is the founder of Risk Reward Awards, an association whose goal is to encourage recognition of the best work done by risk professionals. Previously he was the Group Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of a risk management software developer. Luke now divides his time between Risk Reward Awards, RAG and Lateral Alliances, his consultancy business where he works with the likes of Symmetry Solutions, XINTEC, GBSDTech, Yates Fraud Consulting and Focus Data, to name a few.