What Happened to the Subex-Analysys Survey?

Look at the centre bottom of Subex’s home page and you will see a curious thing: a link that is not a link. It reads “Operator Attitudes to Revenue Management Survey“, and if you read the HTML source, it is obvious there used to be a link to another webpage, but it has been stripped out. Going back and checking facts, the most famous survey in the RA industry was last performed in 2007. That was the fifth year running that Subex had engaged research firm Analysys to survey estimates of leakage from around the world. This survey with its seemingly always-growing X% percent estimate of leakage, was guilty of spawning opening paragraphs of a few hundred thousand consultant’s reports, all of which began the same way:

“Average revenue loss in telecoms operators is [scary number]%, which equates to a loss of US$[scary number] every year. Because of that alone, this report has been proven to be worth the US$[scary number] you paid for it, even though all we did is copy an estimate quoted in somebody else’s survey* and offer no real facts to support the claims made in the first sentence.

*or maybe we just copied the opening paragraph of somebody else’s report and never even read the survey”

Of course, I joke. Nobody wrote the second sentence, though if the reports had been written by lawyers I expect there would have been many more caveats about the mental leaps that got people from ill-defined estimates to absolute conviction of revenue loss in every business to justification for any and every activity designed to reduce leakage, whether suited to the needs of the telco or not.

I take the disappearance of the survey to be a positive sign. The survey is no good unless it scares people, and there was always going to be a problem scaring people every year. To begin with, the temptation is to always make the results scarier each year, just like nobody advertises a horror movie by promising fewer chills and frights than in previous films. But that just leaves everybody at risk of explaining why things keep getting worse, despite all the extra money and jobs for revenue assurance. After a while, the CFO’s and CEO’s were going to get fatigued with stories about how much is lost, and start asking questions why their business was not noticeably richer by the promised billions of dollars, and noticeably more successful than its competitors as a result. The disappearance of the Subex-Analysys survey is a positive sign that the revenue assurance industry is maturing, or as I prefer to put it, growing up.

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.