Top 3 mind-boggling views on the evolving nature of Revenue Assurance
Now that I have your attention, I’ll move to the actual topic. Ever since I’ve started heading up the Revenue Assurance product line at Subex, one question has inevitably been asked by almost everyone I meet – What would the RA product look like <Insert preferred number> years from now?
Don’t get me wrong – this is exactly the kind of conversation that I find stimulating. I find that letting your imagination run wild actually helps you find the perfect, ideal solution. Now from that point on, it’s a matter of identifying the key roadblocks and challenges and trying to overcome each one – or finding an insurmountable one, which means we go back to redefining the end-state.
In my thought journeys so far, I have three candidates so far who I believe are the greatest things since sliced bread (if sliced bread was RA). Each of the following options are based on three distinct challenges which I would love to overcome, namely
- control/influence over the whole BSS/OSS roadmap,
- a genius level understanding of cyber-ecosystems and of course,
- my personal favorite, the complete trust of all the subscribers of my customer.
Do feel free to post in the comments which one is your personal favorite, or better yet, your own thought journey. Now onto the great reveal! My top three candidates (in a utopian environment for RA professionals) for the future of RA systems are:
- Self-Correcting Telecom Stack – Now to achieve this, I only need to be bigger than Huawei. In a nutshell, this idea involves OSS/BSS systems which talk to each other on an on-going basis. So if a customer of the network is getting frequent dropped calls, they automatically get upgraded to a priority slice with the CRM sending across a “Sorry, my bad! No more dropped calls for you today!”. Another fun situation – if I see my service is deteriorated from a 100 Mbps to a 25 Mbps for some customer, then it automatically sends a message to the billing platform to work at a lowered rate until normal service resumes (and of course the message to the customer, ”Sorry John, my network planning team was incompetent in terms of guesstimating the actual peak capacity. We’ve reduced your billing rate and given you 20GB top-up for each day you see this”). I’m talking about network switches and charging platforms and partner settlement systems actually talking to each other in terms of assuring integrity and correctness. This approach would truly bring back the “customer” to the term “customer-centric”!
- Bot-net based auto-correction – Lets assume for the moment tat being bigger than Huawei takes a little more effort than keeping your new year resolutions. In that scenario what can we do? Me, I like to take a leaf out of the IT operations world – we use intelligent agents on all network elements. Let call them Bots, because it does a little more than monitoring key KPIs. The idea is similar to the previous one, except instead of each element having a built-in communication heartbeat protocol, we have a bot-net deployed across your entire operations. Now what happens in afore-said bot-net? Well, every single update to key configuration or profile parameters is communicated in byte sized messages through the bot-net to all relevant up/down-stream elements. For example, in case of a dynamic tariff plan change, the bot at the provisioning element communicates with the bot residing on the charging element as well as the bot on the network side. The charging system bot verifies that for that particular subscriber, the rate plan has been changed and the network side bot then confirms that the QoS allocation for that subscriber has in fact been upgraded. We can also have PCEF/PCRF bots to verify aspects about Fair Usage policy, max up/download limits etc. What a wonderful world we’d live in where the only possibility of any mismatch happens when the bot-net is down!
- RA as experie nced – Okay, so maybe building an intelligent, communicative and corrective bot-net is not what I spend Sundays on. Is there no way forward for RA software – fret not, there is one more idea up our sleeve. What if, with the consent of all the subscribers in an operator environment, we send RA agents on the phones of our subscribers. The RA agent essentially monitors usage on the network, up/download volumes, services available, billing/charging profile hashmaps and essentially any network related faults. Imagine all these device-bots (or as I like to call it, the Dendrones) then communicate with the central server (or as I like to call it, the BRAIN). Discrepancies are identified on a per device/profile/event basis, and corrective actions are executed in event-time. This approach would give an outside in view to Opcos, something which may be sorely missing in most RA departments today. Most importantly, this would significantly obfuscate the complexities of the network and focus on the deliverable – Predictable, Consistent and Quality service to our subscribers. Tres MAGNIFIQUE!!!
Of course, these are the musings of someone who wants RA tooling to become simple enough to be comprehensive, and yet light enough to allow for dynamic expansion with minimal time to market for new controls. Do let me know in the comment section which option makes sense to you, or conversely, let speak about why something wouldn’t work. Either way this is a topic which I believe has crossed all our minds at some point or the other – collectively, we might find a new thought journey which makes sense to all of us.
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The article was originally published at Commrisk
Ashwin joined Subex in 2006 as a part of the Implementation team for Revenue Assurance & Fraud Management. Over the years he has worked with cross-geographical teams to drive value discovery and creation for telecom operators across Middle East, Africa and APAC as a delivery SME and a Business Solutions Consultanct. Beyond his work in Subex, he has been involved in some of the most seminal Revenue Assurance public domain centers (both in terms of his work on popular RA blogs as well as his co-authored work on Revenue Assurance for Telecom Operators). He regularly speaks at various industry events on areas pertaining to Business Optimization.