The RAG RAFM Survey: A New Dawn

I do not like reading surveys. You read that right.  For a long time, I have seen survey after survey, purporting to talk about revenue assurance and/or fraud management and offering “insights”. I would start reading enthusiastically, hoping to improve my awareness of the industry, learn what my peers think and all the stuff that will make me better at my job. Without fail, I would always discover (much too late when I am on the last paragraph):

  • I have learnt nothing new, except new ways of saying the same thing.
  • I have more (basic) questions than answers. That would be fine if there was a way to get those answers. However, I invariably decide that a survey which creates more work in obtaining the answers that it should have provided in the first place is no survey after all.
  • This is one more survey that was done as some sort of annual ritual, so I might as well have read last year’s edition.
  • In some cases, the survey was hogwash in its design and the interpretation of results simply because the people who designed it are neither experts in the domain nor disciplined researchers. They just had the goal of a publishing a survey and they did. I have more trust for the US election pollsters.
  • Even when some things made sense, the results of survey were far removed from my experience of working with telcos operating in Africa. I would sarcastically think, when reading some conclusions, “you would say that, wouldn’t you, if you only spoke to Europeans and North Americans”.

The problem of spending your life in a line of work that requires analysis is that you become accustomed to questioning what is placed before you. When it fails the test, you question even more and find even more mess. That loop of exasperation goes on because you still read the surveys even after swearing off them.

It seems my abusive relationship with surveys is coming to an end. The release of the Risk & Assurance Group RAFM Survey last week was refreshing. This comprehensive survey, having been designed by experts in the field and collecting data from a community of dedicated professionals, provides a defining moment for RAG and the industry.

It has succeeded in delivering insights not just on what is in the past (e.g. levels of leakages and fraud) and the challenges but it also gives readers a feel of what assurance professionals are thinking of (e.g. in terms of adopting new technologies such as machine learning) in addition to the way the business of RA and Fraud Management is conducted (dependencies with audit, information security, business assurance etc). There have been many bad surveys in this space which have succeeded in leaving people somewhat dubious about the true state of matters in assurance space. This is simply not one of them.

Firstly, the flow is clear. The sample size is definitely representative and you can see how it is broken down.

Secondly, for people working in Sub-Saharan Africa where we host 144 of the 290 live deployments of mobile money, inclusion of mobile money in this survey is long overdue. Out of the 175 respondents, 41 (23%) have a mobile money service offering. Issues such as compensation for mobile money fraud are shown in the report as well as their contribution to fraud leakage.

Thirdly, this survey is ideal for folks who like tinkering with the data and seeing if we can draw further conclusions and/or validate the report conclusions. The anonymized raw data submitted by respondents is provided at the survey webpage. This is for the simple reason that surveys such as these are supposed to promote thinking, introspection and learning. For too long, they have provided questionable figures to be regurgitated in addition to being so obscure that anybody who wanted to question and learn just gave up instead.

Is this one survey to rule them all?

You decide.

I think that the standard has been raised but if you do not want to take my word for it, perhaps you have some 6 minutes to spare? You can watch the video that gives highlights of the survey before committing more of your time.

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.