Four years ago I chaired the fourth annual Vision in Business conference on “Revenue Assurance and Cost Management in Telecoms”. Obviously I did not do too bad a job, because on Thursday I was once again in London to chair ViB’s eighth annual conference. If the trend continues, I should next be back in the chair at the 2012 event. Perhaps Olympic years are good for me ;) The conference was excellent as it always is, bringing out the great and the good from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. I noticed that the habit of speakers introducing revenue assurance as a “new” practice seemed to have died off completely. There were too many familiar faces around the conference venue, too much experience in the sessions and on the speaker’s platform for people to pretend that revenue assurance is the latest craze. Instead, much of the talk was about how to keep moving forward once the most obvious and immediate goals had been realized. This was refreshing. No business activity ever succeeded by trying to repeat former victories, or less still by just reminding people about them. The revenue assurance sector is not immune from the pressures of the wider telecommunications marketplace. Periods of investment and growth must eventually be followed by periods of consolidation, cash generation and cost cutting. Even if revenue assurance is an activity that telcos turn to later in their growth cycle, that does not mean revenue assurance will keep growing and growing long after the rest of the business has reached a plateau. The pattern for telecommunications in general is being followed by revenue assurance, though revenue assurance lags a few years behind other telecommunications industry sectors. This lag may have confused some people who expect revenue assurance to just keep growing as easily and as quickly as it does when it delivers those first quick wins.
In the developed world, revenue assurance penetration is nearing saturation, growth is slowing, and cost cutting is becoming more important. Focus on growth potential is shifting to the developing world, which largely means reproducing what worked in the developed world, but more efficiently and in a way tailored to regional needs. The implications for revenue assurance cut across all aspects of its work and culture, forcing revenue assurance suppliers, individual practitioners, and telco RA departments to think about the future. With this in mind, I thought the eighth annual ViB conference, and my second time chairing it, was a good opportunity to analyze current trends and make some predictions of how the revenue assurance sector will change in coming years. For those of you who want to read more, you can obtain the slides for my opening remarks at this year’s conference from the downloads page. Even if you disagree with the predictions, I suggest you take a look and decide what you think the outlook for revenue assurance is. Whether you have worked in the field for many years or are new to it, it is important to have a roadplan for how you intend to change in response to the changing marketplace around you. Why is it important? Well, as Deming once put it:
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”