From the Archives: The RA Truck Stop

There are well over 2,000 articles in the Commsrisk archives, so I wanted to take a few of them off their virtual shelves, blow away the virtual dust, and share some highlights drawn from this website’s 15-year journey. The new ‘From the Archives’ series will run on occasional Saturdays, and begins with my very first article for this audience, published on 22nd October 2006…

I’ve been looking for years for likeminded souls who think the way I do about RA. If life’s a journey, and a good chunk of our lives is spent at work, then for most revenue assurance must be a grubby truck stop. It is somewhere they find themselves, not on any map, just hoping to refuel, grab a coffee, take a break. However long they stay, it is a nowhere-place, just a place on the way, not the destination.

Looking around, I cannot blame them for not wanting to stay. For a start, it isn’t exclusive. Anyone can drop in anytime they like, whatever their qualifications or background. Many of them are a little shady. And if there is any excitement it’s a fight. The fights are mostly about who can boss who around and who has the biggest RA engine, who is going somewhere faster, who has the most admirers. Then there is the hospitality, which is atrocious. Everyone is impatient. Most people stare blankly at you when you speak to them – some look right through you. Nobody has a smile for you. You get cussed at and treated like scum most of the time, unless you act really nice in which case you get barely tolerated. And finally you get ripped off. However much you money you give them, the hand stays outstretched expecting more. So it is no wonder people don’t plan to stay.

It must be hard to get people to work in truck stops for any length of time, especially if they have a tiny amount of ambition. The same is true for revenue assurance. But the thing that drives me crazy is that to be good at RA you need to be a smarty-pants or ultra-keen or have some kind of visionary faith in what you do. RA is detective work, not flipping burgers. It needs an enquiring mind, not one that switches off and goes into auto-pilot. If it doesn’t engage people like that, then it is nothing. Because it all boils down to finding out what when wrong when a lot of other smarty-pants were trusted to run a telco.

So here’s my blog manifesto. I want to smarten up the truck stop and to do that I need the help of the others who have stopped by this way. We need to move up-market, discourage some of the riff-raff who visit, and make it a more pleasant place to stay – maybe even turn it into somewhere people want to stay for a long time, maybe even a lifetime. Striking up a little intelligent conversation might be a good place to start. So I see you, sat at your table on your own, with your coffee and stale sandwich. And I’m coming over to talk to you. What you going to do? Will you assume I am a psycho and try to leave at the first opportunity? Just keep your head down, act dumb and hope I go away? Be entertained by my stories but choose to not share your own? Or are you going to respond, share an anecdote, a joke, some tips, and generally make this stop a nicer place? The truth is, you would much rather visit a place where everybody knows your name and wants to engage in conversation. So this is me talking. If you talk, I will listen. Are you listening to this?

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 Chief Executive 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.