MACH’s Comedy Cloud Keeps Raining Gold

MACH, the specialists in mobile clearing, gave us some of the biggest belly laughs of the year so far, by announcing they were ‘first’ to provide a cloud-based revenue assurance solution, a mere three years after some of their competitors. A new blog post from MACH discusses why the time is right for cloud-based fraud and revenue assurance. The answer is obvious. The time is right because MACH now offers a service. Previously, the time was wrong because only rival firms offered that service. At this time, I have no reason to make fun of MACH’s latest blog, except that it is very very funny. So I will…

Knowledge about fraud protection and revenue assurance disciplines, procedures, best practices and systems is maturing.

Yeah. Odd that. You would think people should know less and less about their job, every day they go to work.

Despite this apparent maturity, the means by which network operators approach the management of these processes continues to evolve.

Despite the fact we are maturing, we are evolving. That is deep, man – I can feel those Zen vibes.

This creates a fresh dilemma…

Sorry, what is the dilemma? And why is it fresh?

of how to implement fraud and revenue assurance best practices to ensure maximum ROI and also guarantee the integrity of the revenue protection process.

Oh… I think I can tell why this is ‘fresh’. But this smells fishy to me. Maybe like a fresh fish. But definitely fishy.

Minimizing revenue leakage is a significant issue for network operators.

This fish is not fresh.

Various industry reports indicate that anything from 1% to 15% or more of gross revenue is typically lost due to revenue assurance or fraud issues.

This fish needs to read some fresh reports.

It is also significant that the sources of revenue leakage continues to be fragmented – including network element configuration issues, system integration disparities, tariff configuration problems and a range of elements relating to billing, partner management, credit management…

Yes, we can all agree there are many causes of loss. We can even agree there are some causes of loss that MACH’s tools would not be able to find. Sometimes you need a human to sniff out losses. Like the Zen man probably said: ‘is there a fish, if you have no nose?’

… and fraud.

And fraud? Is that all you have to say about the causes of fraud?

A software system based approach to fraud and revenue assurance would typically be expected to cover a range of fraud or revenue assurance processes, however the growing sophistication of cloud-based solutions provides a new approach.

I clearly have no idea what the cloud is. Is MACH offering a cloud-based solution where there is no software anywhere?

The consideration of a cloud-based model avoids the need to acquire and implement software altogether, while ensuring that all of the required fraud and revenue assurance process elements can still be performed, including data warehousing, online reporting and the provision of dashboards and alerts for proactive decision support.

Oh, now I see what they mean. The customer does not acquire a copy of the software, they just rent it from MACH via the cloud. One is a software-based solution, whilst the other is fundamentally software-free. Presumably that means MACH do not use software to look for anomalies in big data sets. Instead, they output all the data on to huge fanfold printouts, and employ a team of highly-trained chimpanzees to look for anomalies, which they mark using yellow highlighter pens. Hmmm… I wonder why nobody did that before.

Using a cloud-based approach removes the CAPEX cost issues associated with system acquisition, but continues to support the checks, reconciliation and associated processes expected from a standard licensed software model.

This is true, and not funny. Unfortunately. Although, I could point out that buying and training chimpanzees would be classified as OPEX.

Of equal importance is the associated time to market advantage which a cloud option provides. Implementing conventional licensed software takes a considerably longer time to deploy, quite apart from the costs, as there is a time consideration associated with hardware acquisition, project team mobilisation and related tasks. With cloud the infrastructure is always available, with configuration and adaptor developments quickly accomplished within the existing infrastructure.

I smell fish again. Sure, some of the tasks in deploying a system on-site will consume time, but a lot of time is spent understanding the telco’s data, where it is being taken from, how to interpret anomalies and such. Some work can be done in parallel. And I cannot see why a cloud-based solution would have a significant advantage when it comes to speed of configuration.

A hybrid environment can also be considered, combining cloud-based fraud and revenue assurance processes within a conventional OSS/BSS infrastructure.

Hmmm… like a fish-chimpanzee hybrid. That is an intriguing concept. But MACH were making such a good argument for doing everything in the cloud! Does this mean that ***drum roll*** the cloud has some drawbacks?!? I wonder if MACH will tell us what they are…

Thus cloud-based data warehousing, correlation and reconciliation are available for your fraud and revenue assurance team, while online reporting, dashboards and alerts, supported by data processing and data warehousing and monitoring and processing capability, are entirely external to your in-house IT environment.

***Drummer hits the cymbals*** Nope. MACH did not mention the drawbacks to using the cloud.

Hang on… Let me read that sentence again… Hmmm… Surely this says: ‘thus you’ve got your cloud-based stuff over here, and your external stuff over there’. What happened to our internal stuff? Did somebody ban it? Was it because we used chimpanzees?

If the idea of cloud-based, or hybrid cloud/managed service for fraud and revenue assurance processes management seems unrealistic, then it is appropriate at this stage to indicate that this is no fantasy.

That is so true. Cloud-based assurance is no fantasy. After all, MACH’s competitors have been offering it for years. Is this a backhanded mea culpa for MACH’s epic fail of a press release?

It is the day to day reality for a number of operators who have already decided to adopt just such an approach…

… from MACH’s competitors, for several years now…

…in order to resolve the dual challenge of reducing revenue leakage and managing CAPEX constraints on fraud and revenue assurance system investment. This approach is therefore proven and provides new options as fraud and revenue assurance best practises evolve to deal with new technology and commercial value chain evolution.

So, in conclusion: bin the fish, get more chimps, and now is the time to buy MACH’s cloud-based assurance if you have not already bought a proven alternative from a rival. Because MACH’s new offering is really fresh. You can almost smell its freshness, wafting through the internet. And MACH’s not-really-world-first-but-new-for-them offering is proven to be proven, because it evolves to deal with evolution. Possibly it matures as well, but I cannot be sure, as that might cause dilemmas. Freaky fish-chimpanzee evolutionary hybrid dilemmas, I expect.

To the guys at MACH: I am sorry to pick on you, but you still deserve it after the terrible whopper you put in your press release. And next time you try to promote your cloud-based offering, instead of pretending it was first, you should tell us what makes it special. Maybe it has something to do with leveraging all that data you process anyway? But that is my limit for free marketing advice – if you want to get more, you need to give more than comedy gold!

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.