Assurance by any other name… reflections on RAG Sydney
In my role leading business solution consulting for Subex Network Analytics, I traverse a lot of time zones. People assume I have sage advice and perhaps an elixir to cure jet lag. Sadly, I slog through the transitions like everyone else, employing a variety of coping strategies. I just read about an intriguing approach that some members of the US ski jumping team will use at the Winter Olympics. They are embracing jet lag, purposefully showing up just days prior to competitions. Why? For them, it is best not to think too much as they soar into the abyss. Being in a foggy state may be an asset for some, but the rest of us still need to find ways to stay on our game as we trot the globe!
Fortunately, I managed to keep my edge for the Risk and Assurance Group (RAG) conference in Sydney, after traveling 18-time zones to get there. It was a very worthwhile event, held on the Optus campus, with a good mix of operators and vendor partners. Anamitra Mukherjee (Optus) delivered the keynote and provided material examples of how his team is challenging the traditional boundaries of RA, branching into areas such as handset assurance and network assurance. Members of his team, Sujith Dissanayake and Gihan Samarawickrama, provided more insights on handset assurance during their talk later in the conference. Anamitra explained that Network Assurance enables operators to determine whether they are spending the “right dollars” on the network. Are there opportunities for cost savings such as harvesting unused assets and redeploying them? He went on to describe the benefits of reconciling the fixed asset register against the physical network. Payoffs include better asset visibility, more accurate depreciation schedules and efficient tax strategies. Calculating the profitability of cell sites is another area his team is exploring.
From Anamitra’s talk one got the sense that it is time for operators to ask: “Is there more to assurance than RA?” The consensus at the event was a resounding “yes”. This was a major topic of discussion. Eric Priezkalns, one of the event organizers, expands nicely on this theme in his blog post about the event. Jayne Hunter of Vodafone Hutchison Australia explained that her role has migrated from RA to Margin Assurance. Darren Rinaldi of Foxtel described how his team performs “entitlement reconciliation” within the broader context of process assurance. Geoff Ibbett from RRM Solutions chimed in with the importance of contract assurance during a panel discussion. I could go on but you get the idea…
To the list of assurances, I joined the party and added device assurance. Subex is observing that usage-based frauds have been in decline (although IRSF continues to be popular) and there has been a sharp uptick in device and equipment issues. Device/equipment frauds, thefts, reverse logistics breakdowns, etc. are becoming endemic. During my talk, I pointed out that such issues are not limited to mobile handsets. CPEs, set top boxes and even small cells can be considered devices and all have their own risks to mitigate. To this mix you can add vCPEs and the need to control for excess license costs.
There certainly is a new world of assurances to contemplate. In my book, there is only one missing. Any takers for jet lag assurance?
Portfolio Head – Network Analytics
Andy has 20+ years of experience in engineering management, business operations and IT, primarily with Tier 1 operators including Level 3, MCI and GTE. His responsibilities included leading IT development teams that built mission-critical network management, provisioning and inventory systems with thousands of users. Prior to joining Subex, Andy was a Senior Manager overseeing a Data Governance organization at a major Internet Services provider. Andy graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics (Wharton). He holds an MBA from the University of Colorado.