Time for disruption?

Back in the late 90s and early 00s, when Revenue Assurance officially acquired the title of “buzzword”, the industry was awash with innovation, crazy ideas and possessed a real edginess. Every different person you spoke to had found a new way that a telco could lose money, and chances are that you would never have thought of any of these by yourself. Vendors were entering the market, all with new offerings and approaches to help tackle the mysteries of revenue leakage. Industry groups were thriving with people keen to get involved and contribute. Let me then ask some questions to challenge whether RA has settled and whether that edge is disappearing:

– has the maturity model seen better days? The maturity model is often held up as what RA success looks like and what should be strived for. However, it seems to built out of what it took to make RA work in large, bulky, incumbants that generated revenues primarily from voice and maybe SMS. Is the alignment of maturity to first centralisation and then decentralisation; and controlled and managed processes, adept enough to allow flexibility in an environment characterised by changing business models, technologies and revenue streams?

– have vendor tools converged to a point of indifference? Fundamentally, it seems RA tools were built on improving reconciliation capabilities – across larger data sets, over more diverse data feeds, to handle more complex business logic, and present results more intuitively. But with advanced analytic techniques being more accessible, should we expect to see more innovation in how we use the wealth of data beyond reconciliation?

– has there not been enough work on measuring RA performance? Methods to calculate quantifiable revenue uplift, coverage of RA activity, controls established, processes decentralised back to operations etc have existed in various forms of acceptance for some time. Targets set on these become “easy” to meet and even easier to argue away if they are not met. Meantime, objectively determining the value of less tangible RA activities, such as those centred around preventative work, are lagging. In scientific fields, great endeavours in discovery are often preceeded by great improvement in measurement. Change what, how, or the depth to which you measure RA’s value and see what opportunity may arise.

– where is all the innovative thinking? This is no way meant to be disrespectful to the many people who spend time and effort looking at RA today. Conference attendances have fallen and annual events are being cancelled – if you ask attendees a consensus opinion, whether true or not, is that “it’s the same people saying the same thing, year after year”. How does RA bring back innovative, disruptive and challenging discussion that provokes wider debate?

So what might RA need? New thinking, new measurement, new uses of technology and new aspirations that challenge and bring out the best in RA practitioners? You be the judge.

Mike Willett
Mike Willett
Mike is a Partner at Ernst & Young, Australia. He is responsible for enterprise intelligence, helping clients to improve their management and use of data. He can be contacted at: mike.willett@au.ey.com.

Mike was previously the Director for Fraud & Revenue Assurance at Telstra. He started his career at BellSouth (now Vodafone) in New Zealand and then moved to Praesidium Services in the UK. Mike graduated from the University of Auckland in New Zealand with degrees in psychology and marketing.