Normally I would not dedicate a talkRA post to a promotional video, but there are two interesting things about this one featuring Danny Sangster, Senior Manager of Enterprise BI at XO Communications. First, and most obviously, there is no mention of needing or using specialized revenue assurance software. There is a Moore’s law undercurrent to what Danny says. As processing power increases, the need for specialization declines. Second, take note of how the language of ‘revenue assurance’ is used. Right from the beginning, Danny talks about margins, costs and profitability. These concepts are part of what ‘revenue assurance’ means to XO Communications. At first glance there may seem to be no connection between my two observations, but I believe there is a deep and fundamental relationship between them. Technology is an enabler, and language reflects what we do. As we attain new capabilities, our language evolves. If our technology allows us to be more versatile, then we can naturally adopt a more expansive role. Meaning is determined by how people use words in practice, and whilst marketeers might try to manipulate language, and standards-setters might try to define language, both can be overrun by the changes that happen in real life. The language and technology of revenue assurance keeps progressing and developing all the time. We will all change with it.
Here is the video…
I agree with your sentiment that real life changes what we may define on paper. I think herein lies the challenge for standards-setters and academia alike, if I may be bold and I myself to that category.
The RA Manager’s RA methodology and implementation plan must change to account for changes in other business practices such as the BI example above. The question is, how does XO facilitate this change between these two function (assuming they are distinct functions and reporting into different lines)?
Likewise, do us standard-setters have a similar means to adjust our working definition of terms?
I think you right on all scores. Focusing on standard-setting, it is vital that standards keep changing to reflect business realities, or else they will become an obstacle to needed change. To pick on the word ‘definition’, a good definition flows from what people and how they talk, rather than imposing rules that tell people what they should do and how they should talk. I’d like the standard setters to step back from dictating how business should behave, where they are critical of businesses that follow any non-standard path. Instead, standard setters should be asking why businesses follow a non-standard path, and understand the pros and cons for the standard path and non-standard path within different business contexts. Then this improved understanding can be brought back into modify and enhancing the standard.
In some ways, the biggest challenge to a standard-setter is to approach their standards with humility. It is tempting to play the part of an authority who gets to set rules with the expectation that others follow them. A good authority, though, deals with the reasons why standards are not followed in practice, and refines them to address these. From this example, I would like to see the standard-setters doing more case study analysis of why businesses like XO Communications would deviate from standards, and adjust their guidance based on what they find.