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Category Archives: General

The future of Revenue Assurance - 'Expert opinion'

One of the most evolving functions in the telco BSS side of things is Revenue Assurance. Over the years, it has molded itself into many forms catering to changing business needs, new offerings and market dynamics. However, now seems to be a time that is different from anything we have seen earlier, as the influence of ‘Digital’ on telcos is immense. The possibilities for telcos in the digital world are infinite, and so are the risks – providing immense scope for the evolution of traditional functions like Revenue Assurance. So, we went about asking some of the highly regarded RA experts in the industry what they think is the future of the Revenue Assurance function is, and here is what they said (listed in alphabetical order)

“The Telecom industry has cut across economic barriers and has created a media that surpasses limitations placed on the economy of a nation by its physical infrastructure. The Telecom revolution has hit all countries across the globe from first world to third world. As markets mature and subscribers grow in numbers, new operators set up operations to tap the markets, existing operators face pressures to maintain their customer base, ARPU and ultimately their margins.
The advent of competition has brought about a need to maintain the top lines of the companies, which can be achieved by effective strategy and efficient operations which has very well visible digital Impact. One of the key components for maintaining revenues and profitability is through operational efficiency by continuous deployment of is Revenue Assurance controls across Revenue streams.”

Amit Agrawal, Du

Amit Agrawal, Du – EITC

“RA solutions continue to address different threats as new services are deployed, however IoT usage patterns means need automated customization for each deployment is needed, requiring and understanding of each application.
Real-time monitoring shifts RA solutions into operational systems providing fraud management capabilities, helping to mitigate risks and build trust for customers.
CSPs tempted to reduce investments should consider it like continuing vaccinations even when a disease is eradicated”

justin

Justin van der Lande, Analysys Mason

“I believe as Revenue Assurance is gradually evolving towards Business Assurance and telecom industry is transforming towards the digital arena, the role of business assurance will increasingly focus on adding value in business decision making owing to its enhanced analytical capabilities & commercial ingenuity using artificial intelligence, robotics and next-generation business assurance solutions. This will shift the emphasis from revenue saving to value maximization, operational efficiency and reduction in residual losses through proactive controls & processes.”

Mustafa Ali Batelco

Mustafa Ali, Batelco

“Automation, Digitalization, Process Optimization, everything evolves with customer needs and business risks. In essence, RA should be an agile process with no manual activity: you always need to have the right indicators, suitable and comprehensive, scalable and quickly. In my opinion, a large part of RA should be integrated and taken into account at the time of the construction of the equipment managing offers and revenue streams.
Solution providers and manufacturers should combine their know-how to integrate upstream and perfect this dimension of control.”

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Ndeye Coumba, Sonatel

“Business transformation is taking place faster and the sources of income generation change in the same way. Traditional revenues are being replaced by new digital businesses, which are supported by processes with technologies that require evolving with more efficient control models, capable of processing a lot of information in real time.
Revenue from new digital businesses and carrier billing has been rising in the order of 25% per year and from the revenue assurance area we have the challenge of transforming ourselves to detect unknown errors that are not evident today. The idea is to take advantage of big data always safeguarding the relevance of information security and privacy, to strengthen and give intelligence to our controls, anticipating risks and avoiding potential leaks, not only with the view of income, but in an integral way that allows us to ensure the business margin in an increasingly competitive market.”

Nelson Sepulveda

Nelson Sepúlveda B., Telefónica / Movistar Chile

“In the era of 5G, CSPs are looking at their revenue assurance functions to monetise zeta-bytes of structured & unstructured data to detect patterns, outliers, and learning behaviours. The proliferation of products and the emergence of and API based economy have pushed RA/FM professionals have to find new ways to keep pace with the industry. AI/ML algorithms will assist RA/FM experts to relieve some of the workload and will allow them to take data driven decisions. Data scientists will play a role in creating, adapting and executing models that will detect new issues, reduce the number of false positives, increase the coverage, and improve accuracy. In the future years, Revenue Assurance will play an even more crucial role to protect the bottom line and create enough opportunities to enhance the top line.”

Nikhil Sehgal, Colt

Nikhil Sehgal, Colt

“Digital innovations clearly place consequential challenges on Telcos who must reinvest in and reinvent themselves for incremental revenues in a competitive arena. Therefore, the future of revenue assurance rests in focus beyond controlling leakages within acceptable limits, to focusing value enhancements from statistically discernible causes of performance departures for tracking and improving stated objectives. With the best end-to-end visibility of the revenue value chain, under-funding assurance places a liability on the future.”

Ope Faniran

Ope Faniran, 9Mobile

“Considering the evolution of business dynamics, the scale at which Revenue Assurance is maturing is incredible with more focus on cost optimization, capex management, and knife-edge driven preventive measures thereby climbing up the ladder to be owner of Business Assurance. Growth demands RA to become BA with getting rid of ROI instead to play pivotal role in mitigating risks and minimizing leakages to bring in more value to the company.”

Sai Devata Viva Kuwait

Sai Devata, Viva Kuwait

“As the industry goes digital the challenges for revenue assurance will change but basics will remain. As Revenue Assurance professionals, we need to understand the new risk landscape: cybersecurity and eco-system weaknesses will bring new risks. Digital solutions will also provide new opportunities to assure revenues and transactions. We need to embrace digital and ensure business processes are born digital with Revenue Assurance embedded in them leveraging on new technology as we do so.”

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Sarah Hakeem, Millicom

“The Customer being the nucleus of the business, the future of Revenue Assurance is definitely to assure a superior customer journey and experience. Besides business growth, QoS, profitability, and enhancing the culture of risk management, as telcos continue to evolve into Digital Service Providers, RA will further step up to play a decisive role in assuring security of its services, data privacy, regulatory compliance and data governance.”

Strauss Dias Ooredoo Qatar

Straus Dias, Ooredoo Qatar

“With the ever-evolving and increasingly complex business models governing telecommunications, driven by competition to provide subscribers with an expanding array of devices (from phones and accessories to branding merchandise) and services (from voice and data to media and entertainment), legacy views of Revenue Assurance will have decreasing financial value. Revenue Assurance organizations will be forced to consider costs for performing margin assurance, while also understanding business opportunities and risks in a broader Business Assurance role.”

Taruna Rajan,

Taruna Rajan, T-Mobile

So, those were the views of some of the top RA practitioners in the industry. What are your thoughts on the subject? Let us know in the comments section.

If you want your thoughts to be featured in the next ‘Experts opinion’ article, write to us here.

The 6 worst pitfalls of not having an Analytics Maturity Assessment in place

Most organizations use analytics to improve their operations to enhance business performance and growth. However, through our experience of working with telecom organisations across various geographies, we have witnessed that analytics in many cases is done in an ad-hoc manner rather than in a planned phase. This results in organisations not witnessing the kind of return they were expecting from their analytics investments. An Analytics Maturity Assessment (AMA henceforth) helps in identifying such pitfalls and avoiding them. Few of the pitfalls that AMA helps in identifying are:

  1. Data Issues & trust: The root of any analytics project is the Data element. It is important that the end user does not have any form of data trust issues when it comes to their data. Proper data capturing, storing, infrastructure design, validation etc. are important dimensions which AMA investigates with proper checks and balances based on industry standards.

 

  1. Lack of Clarity: The first step to having clean data comes from having a good understanding of the data. There are basic graphs, queries, questions that every data analysis requires at the start of any project. For companies to be truly data driven, a Data Analysis pack consisting of the above elements and beyond is necessary. AMA checks these points to help figure out whether the first cut is robust enough. This understanding, the results of such a pack, is essential not only for the analytics team but helps business users as well gather lots of useful insights.

 

  1. Lack of Business Understanding: Analytics is a means to an end and not an end in itself. The intention is to help the organization improve on its top line, bottom line and operational efficiency. This is not possible unless the analytics team has a good understanding of the business as well the business team clearly understands what analytics can bring to the table. Synergy between the two is needed for implementable outcomes. The analytics solution should answer the questions that the end user wants to know. AMA helps in avoiding this pitfall or checks the status quo by having multiple checklists such as SMEs, trainings, meetings, presentations on this dimension.

 

  1. Improper Implementation: After what is to be done is clear, how it is done is essential for effective implementation. Ad hoc project work and repetition of same mistakes are cost centers for organizations. There must be standard practices for project implementation.

 

  1. Information Asymmetry: Having to constantly reinvent the wheel is another cost factor which takes the essential time of resources. This issue is usual the result of teams working in silos and not functioning as a larger team. Often similar analytics projects are undertaken in different verticals such as say finance and operations. This is another grey area which AMA helps in identifying and avoiding.

 

  1. Missing dollar accountability: Many organizations do not have long term vision in place. In these cases, analytics becomes good to have but it remains just a cost center. The vision and purpose of analytics needs to should come from the top and be clearly identified and communicated. Each project’s expected outcomes should be predefined and once implemented, its ROI calculated. This is essential for the integration of analytics into the DNA of the organization for it to be able to make a string contribution to the growth story.

Conclusion:

It is essential for every organizations to take stock of the situation after certain intervals. It is even more important when trying to inculcate something very different and new within the organisation to bring about a mindset/cultural change. Most of organizations are investing in analytics but find using it effectively difficult. AMA helps in streamlining this change. It helps in asking pertinent questions and figuring out the change methodology. As noted above, there are quite a few pitfalls of not having an AMA for an organization, and not having an AMA in place can be expensive considering the associated risks.

To understand more on how you can adopt an AMA within your organisation, view a recent webinar we had conducted on the topic.

Click here to view the webinar

The Road to Being Data-Driven Starts with Knowing Where You Are

The telecom world is changing, and organisations are challenged to not only grow, but to merely stay relevant.  To cope up with the fast-changing environment, organizations need to be at a certain level of maturity where the decision-making process needs to move from gut feelings to number & reasoning-based practices. The mandate here is clear: Organisations need to become data-driven or risk being left behind. However, the reality is bleak considering that nearly 100% of enterprises want to become more data-driven, but only less than a third have accomplished that goal. The starting point to being data-driven starts with being able to assess where one stands, and which is the best way to move ahead to a certain objective, a notion which continues to remain challenging for organisations.

Almost all organisations have ventured into the woods of data analytics with a purpose to make a sense and get the best out of the huge volumes of data they have. Sometimes they ask what others (either in the same industry or across industries and academia) are doing and how they can replicate it, while at times they ask what new can be done that no one else has. To analogize the entire data analytics practice to the workings of an engine, an engine can be only as good as the sum of its parts. The parts must fit in well, the oiling mechanisms should help in friction reduction, the oil supply has to be timely and of course, the sparks need to be perfect. As many say, data is indeed the new oil and data analytics is fast becoming the engine (in this case, of growth).

Fine tuning this engine is the need of the hour. Assessing where we stand, which directions we can move towards and where would that lead us to, what would be the best enabler to move in each direction, and how to go about doing it, is mission critical. This, in itself, is an optimization problem where maximizing returns and minimizing costs given the multiple constraints is challenging.

Transformation is important, but to ensure true competitive advantage, organizations must transform themselves in a planned phase. The approach to analytics cannot be stochastic as it would result in more troubles than benefits. Organizations must traverse one stage at a time. Not only defining those stages is the need of the hour but also is knowing what steps one needs to take at a point of time to move from one stage to another. In this scenario, an Analytics Maturity Assessment becomes imperative.

We have been working with customers across the globe in helping them assess their Analytics Maturity, to define the business objectives and carve out an Analytics roadmap towards said objectives, through our Subex Analytics Maturity Models. Subex Analytics Maturity Models defines those stages and the steps between those stages, through an assessment across People, Process, Technology and most importantly Data.

To know more about why an Analytics Maturity Assessment is important, and how it can help your organisation, Schedule a Demo with us and our Subject Matter Experts will get in touch with you.

5G and the dawn of “age of inventions” – Key Takeaways from MWC19!

I am just back from MWC 2019 and am really excited to share my thoughts. The mood at this year’s MWC was of general enthusiasm and exuberance, particularly with respect to 5G and the possibilities it opens up for telcos.

When 3G and 4G happened telcos were slow to evolve and transform their business models. Global internet giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook made most of the mobile internet revolution in the last decade, whereas telcos saw continued pressure on margins, revenue and customer experience.

5G is yet another chance for telcos to #makeithappen if they can get their acts together. I firmly believe telcos have learnt from their previous experiences and are much better prepared for the next wave.

Here are my top three takeaways from MWC 2019

1. The dawn of “age of inventions”: 5G has finally broken through the hype and we saw some groundbreaking innovations being displayed around at MWC 2019. This is after the last few years where there was, in my view, a higher degree of tentativeness. We saw low latency, reliable connectivity-based use cases such as:

a)  Remotely operated medical surgery/ emergency medical treatment

b)  Ushering of “second great inflection point” # in transportation with autonomous cars, cars with natural language interface, cars with cognitive interface

We also saw several announcements in the area of IoT and Industry 4.0 with SAP, AT&T, Vodafone, Ericsson, Telstra etc. launching new solutions.

From Subex’s point of view, these are exciting times as our IoT Security solution is well positioned to help operators, smart cities and autonomous cars by providing much needed security cover.

2. 5G means intense Capex: While developing economies will continue to focus on monetizing 4G networks, developed economies will start rolling out 5G networks starting 2019. 5G rollouts will be Capex heavy needing massive investments in Radio Access Network with network densification, mmWave network rollouts etc. and in core network to support high speed, high capacity, low latency use-cases which 5G promises.

Subex showcased its Network Analytics portfolio driving smart spend, smart asset management and AI/ML driven network capacity planning use cases and these were very well received by both customers and prospects alike.

3. Digital Trust key to success in 5G: According Vittorio Colao, Ex CEO Vodafone one of the main challenges facing telcos is “the lack of a genuine customer orientation, which, if you have it, makes customers truly love your services and thereby drives value” (McKinsey Quarterly).

 As the 5G juggernaut rolls out, telcos will need to do aggressive network build outs, forge new partnerships, and offer far more critical services. Customers will expect ubiquitous connectivity of very high quality, investors will expect better management and ROI.

All this means telcos will need to really focus on building digital trust – a mechanism that creates trust in their offerings, processes and information systems. Failure would mean yet again handing over advantage to the internet giants who already benefit from global scales, not having to invest in expensive networks, and who have shown to be far more nimble in responding to customer needs. Subex with its focus on enabling digital trust through privacy, security, risk mitigation, predictability and confidence in data, is yet again well positioned to work closely with operators in building this much needed digital trust.

What do you think of dawn of age of invention powered by 5G? Let me know in the comments section below.

# Mckinsey Quaterly 

PS: Oh! Here is a bonus takeaway for those among you planning to be at MWC 2020. Wear comfortable shoes. One easily clocks 20,000 steps each day.

Are you 5G Assured? 4 Game-changing Business Assurance trends to evolve with 5G

Even before we could be content with 4G and its value offerings, the 5th wave of telecom evolution is already here. Telecom giants from Middle East Asia, the Americas and the European geographies have already built their first publicly available prototypes in the 5G environment and are aggressively working towards building newer service models to drive unparalleled customer experiences. All said and done it is still in silos since the very process of conceiving the 5G ecosystem is underway. OEMs and integrators like Nokia and Qualcomm have also created enablement environments for the CSPs to progress with their 5G on-going projects.

Release 16, one of the much-hyped releases by 3GPP aims to complete the IMT 2020 vision of building a fully functional 5G working environment is in progress. This, in turn, is going to change the entire scenario of business assurance.

Here are four forecasts which are going to change the perception of looking at Business Assurance.

  1. Business Assurance practices will be services driven and customer focused.

5G is a service driven architecture. The basic objective of 5G is to develop an integrated communications environment for driving scalability of services and Man-to-Machine interactions a reality. The evolution of 5G offerings, services and niches will be around 3 major value propositions as described in the IMT Vision 2020:

  • Enhanced Mobile Broadband
  • Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications
  • Massive Machine Type Communications

More such use-cases can be seen in the diagram proposed by ITU-T for enabling IMT 2020 vision.

ITU-T

The “switch to bill” outlook towards revenue assurance will soon be replaced by revenue enhancement and monetization of these freemium models of service delivery. With the first line of controls already being built and integrated into the BSS systems, the focus of business assurance will shift towards customer experience while maintaining the required financial bandwidth for sustenance and monetization of services offered.

  1. Managed services will converge for the OSS and BSS spaces.

Managed services have evolved separately for OSS and BSS parts of the telecom ecosystem and have required special resources (manpower & machinery) for execution. However, that will no longer be the case. 5Gs service-oriented architecture with network slicing capabilities would cause business assurance functions to be staffed with professionals who have a sound understanding of networks and the business aspect of services associated with it. Strong data interpretation and the ability to co-relate, interpret and present a business outcome with a network performance measure would be in demand. Also, new areas such as Network Asset Assurance, Spectrum and Capacity Assurance, (which were previously on the edge) would now be an integral part of the overall business model.

  1. Use of Advanced Statistical Methods and Analytics for Assurance Practices

5G, with its ability to support multiple service environments, will offer a great platform for the proliferation of Machine learning (ML) practices, both in the networks as well as the business domains. For example, ML may find use in enhancing self-organization feasibility through cognitive network management while in the business domain ML’s role would be to support QoS management in highly automated slicing environments.

  1. Integrated Security Practices will drive a whole new outlook for combating fraud

Cyber-security and traditional fraud management practices, until now have had different paths of evolution. Since 5G will be an end to end IP based delivery platform, this will cause cyber security and fraud management practices in telecom to converge to counter new fraud scenarios that threaten the confidentiality, availability and security of the business.

Bottomline Question: How do I ensure business readiness for venturing into 5G?    

The readiness matrix for venturing into the 5G space can be broken into three major pillars:

  • Technology and Risk Readiness:

While venturing into the new generation of technology, it must be ensured the current network and systems are not cannibalized. One good way to start with is to ensure backward technology integration. This, in-turn, will ensure seamless onboarding. It is also required to premeditate necessary risk controls (business, operational, compliance and financial) involved in the different stages of migration to quantify the overall risk appetite to arrive at basic business decision of “to be or not to be”!

  • Business Model Readiness:

As stated earlier, the IMT – 2020 vision is to create business models best suited for the targeted customers. Depending on the existing value chain arrangements, the CSP can start identifying what kind of revenue stream partnerships can it afford to get into to roll-out services best suited to the proposed customer segment. It is suggested that in an economy that is cost-sensitive, sharing of capabilities (technology, manpower and resources) is the best way to start with.

  • Customer Readiness:
    Knowing the present capabilities, limitations, interests and desires of the customer is important and correlating these with the business model deliveries is imperative to the sustainability of the business. This not only helps the business earn more from the customer but also helps understand the changing patterns in their behavior much sooner and with visible effect.

What to look in a 5G transformation assurance partner?

To sum it up, it’s important to have an assurance partner that can support you in driving a technology transformation course that is so complex. The partner should be able to provide support at any leg of the transformation – from choosing the right model of delivery to helping realize monies out of it. The partner should be capable enough to drive decisions on risk treatment and help the business attain long term sustainability with an optimal amount of investment.

5 Key Reasons Why Telcos Should Turn to Digital Methods to Combat Fraud

Telcos are losing millions of dollars every year to frauds. Of late, we see that fraudsters have become smarter and the tactics used by them have evolved into a more sophisticated level aided by the smart technologies. Further, with digital services entering the new mix of offerings, traditional strategies no longer fit the bill. Digital services, especially those offered on IP networks, are more susceptible to attacks as evident from the recent hike in SIP-based attacks.

The growing complexity in the digital services ecosystem demands a future-proof approach to secure the networks and prevent revenue losses.

Let’s look at the top five reasons why you should invest in digital fraud prevention technologies.

  1. Proactive versus Reactive

Traditional fraud management systems are post facto; they rely on transaction records such as CDRs, payment vouchers, provisioning details, etc., which are generated post an event. Hence, fraud teams can never get ahead of an attack and can only react to it. However, with digital methods, the network is monitored in near real time and fraud teams can tear down a call and prevent frauds before they occur.

  1. Increased coverage to prevent frauds

SIP attacks are inherently complex; they range from Layer 3 based IP attacks, all the way to Layer 7 based SIP protocol attacks. All of the Layer 3 attack reconnaissance need not translate to a breach, but by keeping track of the origination of these attempts and then correlating it to high-risk behavior at the higher network layers, modern digital fraud prevention techniques can automatically prevent such attacks.

  1. Combat Zero-Day Threats

Of late, fraudsters are increasingly exploiting the vulnerabilities in fraud detection mechanisms and duping the system with malicious inputs. To avert such frauds, you need to employ an intelligent system that can detect such attacks in real time and prevent them before they impact the customers. With advanced Machine Learning (ML), you can create a defense against such attacks and future-proof the algorithm.

  1. Scenario Planning

Security and Fraud is an afterthought while new digital products are launched by telcos as the focus is initially on product functionality and the rush to go to market. This makes new digital services highly susceptible to attacks and breaches which are more often than not exploited very quickly by fraudsters. It is important that new digital services are put through vulnerability assessments and scenario planning so that obvious holes are plugged, and then continuous monitoring is put in place to detect any new threats to ensure profitability and prevent revenue leakages from fraud.

  1. Future Proofing to address the complex scenarios

As the digital framework grows complex, threat management becomes even more challenging.  With advanced ML capabilities, the new threat management systems allow you to gather threat intelligence from across the globe covering a wide range of digital products. This will help you identify new trends and malicious patterns. Further, it also gives insights on the specific tools and tactics employed by hackers, so you can bolster the system well in advance.

Stay tuned to get more updates from Subex.

To know more about our Digital Fraud prevention Solution Click here !

Selling devices – A boon or bane for Telcos?

Smartphone flashes in mind, when device is mentioned.  Devices, however, are a large ecosystem beyond smartphones – a range of equipment like dongles, routers, customer premise equipment (CPE) and IP phones, to name a few.  Devices are a great tool for telco to lock their customers in. For instance, the bundled offers with contracts spanning months provide predictable revenues for the telco’s.

The next wave of opportunity

With IoT and 5G making inroads, telco’s are preparing for the next-generation devices for home and office networks. A lucrative opportunity for telcos, as devices are critical to the IoT/5G penetration. Newer devices will be introduced, like small cells to boost network capacity and improve indoor coverage. It’s no wonder that telcos are investing into devices.

Are telcos benefiting from devices ?

Devices are an attractive opportunity as they improve customer stickiness and ARPU. Devices are good promotional tools to attract new customers and gaining traction even in emerging economies. Many customers extend their relationship with telcos beyond contract period.

Yet, procuring, selling and managing devices is riddled with risks. Fraud, leakages and unmanageable debt are hampering the revenues and profits.

A survey across telco’s states:

telcos stats

What are the risks?

Telco’s on an average spends 20% of their OPEX on procuring and servicing devices. The entire supply chain covering the forward and reverse logistics is prone to risks. The supply chain not only involves stakeholders within the telco (marketing, sales, operations, logistics, finance), but many external parties –manufacturer, supplier, financing partner, distributor, shipping partner, warehousing network, retail agents, repair/refurbish partner, and the end-customer.

risk

The technology stack is complex with at least 10 different applications and platforms involved. Leakages of stock in ordered vs received, inventory gaps, devices ageing at inventory, gaps at POS are a few technological risks to highlight.

Bane to boon – Manage the risks

How could telco’s control the risks & leakages, and make the best of the opportunity? It is important that Telcos have Device Assurance strategy in place to manage the device related risks. Stay tuned for more updates about Device Assurance Solution.

Cash in on Reverse Logistics

Reverse logistics has long been the problem child of supply chain management. Increasingly that child has been in need of some serious help. This is due to two factors. The way in which the internet has transformed how we shop, and the short lifecycle of consumer goods. Although most consumers still like to shop in high street stores to find the products they like, at least 8% of sales are now from consumers just clicking on a picture to buy a product, comfortable in the knowledge that they can return it if necessary. In most countries, consumers have a legal right to return goods purchased on the internet. Many retailers now even offer free ‘try-before-you-buy’ returns, but the processes for managing those returns, known as reverse logistics, are far more fragile, costly, and susceptible to issues than the generally well-controlled forward logistics processes. Although return rates vary widely across different verticals, the average return rate has been calculated to be around 17 to 18%.

Brightpearl

Source: Brightpearl

Reverse logistics faces complex issues due to the ad hoc way in which consumers return items and vulnerabilities in the returns processes. Because reverse logistics is not seen as a revenue-generating process, it sometimes doesn’t get the attention it needs, but recently it’s been getting more widely recognized as having a key role in the company’s profitability. Having efficient processes for collecting, re-selling or recycling used items can bring in additional revenue and improve a company’s bottom line. There are other important reasons for giving more attention to reverse logistics.  Consumers are now judging companies on their green credentials, and consumers are aware that many electronic devices contain some highly toxic chemicals. Providing a channel through which old devices can be traded in and reliably recycled is a positive selling point. The efficiency of the returns process also has a significant impact on customers impression of a business.

Although the ‘returns revolution’ impacts all retail lines of business, high-value consumer electronics are especially prone to issues in the returns process.  Huge volumes of handsets, set-top boxes, routers, even TV’s and laptops, are now being returned through a multitude of channels for a variety of reasons. Warehouses may receive thousands of such goods per week. Most of those devices may still be working and able to be resold, but tracking such devices back from customers, assessing their viability for resale, refurbishing, repackaging, and then re-distributing them, is a substantial challenge.

The problems begin as soon as a customer says they want to return a device. Whether it is because the device is faulty, unfit, incorrect, unwanted, or because they’re terminating their contract, they must provide notification that the device is getting returned. Agents must correctly capture the details of why the device is getting returned and issue an RMA (Return Merchandise Authorisation). This will trigger a complex sequence of processes to terminate services in the network, calculate bill adjustments, prepare downstream systems for receipt of the returned devices, update inventories on receipt, manage the inspection, refurbishment, and resale of those devices, and potentially issue replacements for faulty devices. Depending on factors such as contract, warranty, device status, termination type or customer rating, customers may be liable for additional charges or eligible for compensation.
Reverse Logistics

Typical return channels would be to send a device by courier, return it to a shop, or a technician may return the goods.  Whatever the channel is, devices will often arrive without a clear indication of which customer account they relate to.  Returns to stores are particularly problematic with agents failing to scan in barcodes or register returns correctly. In-store systems may not be able to record IMEI, IMSI and/or serial numbers, and there is no motivation for staff to label returned devices accurately.

With so many moving parts it’s no surprise that many devices become stranded or lost along the way, and customers getting charged incorrectly. Operators have been known to write off more than $5+ million in lost devices per month.

One solution is to implement automated controls that provide monitoring across all systems in both forward and reverse logistics, thus assuring that devices can be monitored from the initial order in CRM, in and out of warehouses, with couriers, shipping, refurbishment partners, finance companies and activation status in network service provisioning.  With monitoring systems in place that can even detect the physical location where devices are installed, it’s possible to validate inventory, bill customers and partners accurately, prevent fraud, recover maximum value from returned devices and understand why devices are getting returned.

Subex provides ROC Device Assurance solutions to operators around the globe, helping to track down missing devices, reconcile and correct billing, CRM, provisioning, distribution and inventory systems with world leading discovery and reconciliation capabilities.

Its Not Just a Conference – But a Celebration!

It’s almost time for the 15th edition of Subex User Conference!  As we count down the weeks, days and (soon to be) hours, many are starting to plan their agenda for the week.

For those who are new to this extravaganza, the Subex User Conference is an annual gathering of telecom operators, technology partners, and Subexians dedicated to sharing first-hand knowledge and provide insights into Subex Products and Solutions, give an unbiased opinion about the performance of products and influence product roadmap and also discuss on some of the challenges faced by Telcos today. This is our 15th year uniting thought leaders who are at the forefront of the telecom industry for two days of informative sessions and networking opportunities. The conference is hosted on 24th & 25th of October in Grand Hotel Excelsior, Malta.

My team often say that this is the only time of the year that they see me working 😊. For me, this the most exciting time of the year and is more like getting prepared to host a carnival or a big fat wedding!   I am more than a little excited to kick off this year’s festivities and host our customers and partner delegates in beautiful Malta. We’ve got workshops, informative sessions, demos, and social events to help make this conference unforgettable.

To all of our Subex User Conference registrants, we hope you are just as excited as we are for this year’s event! We are eager to share what we’ve been up to, where we’re headed.

Every year we carefully pick a theme for our event and align our sessions and speakers to the theme.  Digitalization is the most powerful driver of change. It brings change across all aspects of the business. A known reality! Well, that’s not the theme we are talking about; Imagine a situation where your competition helps you with you topline! Telecom operators are innovating and reimagining their fundamentals; rebuilding their market positions, business systems, partner ecosystems, networks, and business processes.

Reliance Jio created the world’s largest mobile CDN to satiate the Bollywood yearnings of 1.4 billion Indians through high quality, low latency video streaming. #Reimagining Network

GiffGaff decided that crowdsourcing their customer support via open forums creates transparency and overcomes mundane, and at times ineffective and cumbersome. #Reimagining Processes

Verizon bought Yahoo as they saw Digital Advertisers as their new customers. #Reimagining Customers

Google Fi – Google partners with operators across 170+ countries to deliver Planetwide “Roam like Home.” #Reimagine Partners

Keeping in mind such rapid evolutions, the theme of this year’s event is #Reimagining Business

In addition to significant learning and networking experiences, we’ve set aside time to have a lot of fun at this year’s conference. We’re hosting two social events that will help you make new friends in the Subex User Network.

Here’s a quick rundown of a few things to look forward to at #SubexUC:

The Bucket List Life: What if we tell you that we have James Bond speaking at the event!!! Excited?? Well, even we are. This high energy, opening keynote session, will perfectly set the stage. Powerfully delivered by Kenyon Salo, who has been referred to as the ‘James Bond of Speaking.’

Technology Keynote Sessions: We’re bringing you the leaders who are at the forefront of the industry for this year’s technology keynote sessions. Click Here to see the full list of speakers at the event. With the fantastic line of speakers, we are sure that you will make the most of your visit and return to your work empowered by knowledge & connections.

The Sessions: Some sessions will showcase what other users have accomplished with Subex Products & Solutions. Get tips, tricks, and ideas from your peer group, as well as Subex SMEs.

The Company Update & Roadmap: Get a preview of an inside look at our roadmap. Our CEO Mr. Vinod Kumar and Mr. Rohit Maheshwari – Head of Strategy & Products will walk you through the long-term vision of Subex and changes we’ll make to Subex products in the future.

The Social Events: All work and no play make for a very dull conference, and we don’t do dull. We are hosting a welcome reception for our delegates on 23rd October at the Grand Hotel Excelsior. Be prepared to come dressed in Subex Colors (Blue & Green). On 24th of October, after a full day of sessions join us on a Harbour Cruise and witness Malta’s living past and unwind with your peers and enjoy traditional Maltese hospitality and culinary delights.

It is our sincere hope that you share in our excitement for this year’s conference. We are geared up and more than excited to host you at this beautiful Island – Malta. We certainly had a lot of fun in arranging this two-day event for you, and we selected what we think will give you a fun and authentic taste of Malta.

We look forward to hosting you!

Account Takeover – Fraudster Intelligence

Account takeover fraud is one of the most common fraud types across the world. Fraudsters use the various methods to takeover an existing open account within the mobile operator or the banking instrument. The commonly used method of committing this type of fraud is vishing or smishing. As per CFCA fraud survey, account takeover accounted for an estimated fraud loss of 1.7 Billion US Dollars in the year 2017.

In all these scenarios, the primary goals of the fraudster are to gain access to the account and (by-) pass the validation steps. In many situations, such validation may only require low-level knowledge-based authentication, so basic information obtained by the fraudster is used to validate and by-pass controls in place and to takeover the targeted account.

I was investigating an Account takeover fraud case for one of the leading telecom operator in the APAC region wherein the fraudster used a different type of methods to commit this fraud. Many customers lost millions of dollars from their bank accounts without the knowledge after their account was taken over by the fraudster. On investigation, we identified that the fraudster’s primary motive was to takeover both mobile and banking account and then initiate multiple fraud transactions. He used Social Engineering, CLI spoofing, Spoofed website & Malware to commit the fraud.

The Fraudster sequentially executed his schemes. He targeted only the high-profile subscribers in a region. He acquired all the information of the subscribers using social engineering methodology and called up the subscribers pretending to be a Bank executive and Mobile operator security officer. He asked the subscribers to download a malware-infested application from a spoofed website, following which he gained remote access to their mobile phones.

The malware would read the SMS’s & call logs from the subscriber’s mobile and forward the details to fraudulent server. It also deleted the SMS & call logs from the mobile handset before the subscriber knew the same. The intention behind the reading of the SMS & Call log is to Bypass the second level authentication for completing the banking transactions. With this method in place, he was able the execute multiple transactions without the knowledge of the subscribers.

Impact to Telcos?

When subscribers approached law enforcement agency, the Law penalized both Telco and the bank and recovered from them, the amount lost by the subscriber. The Law took this action to protect the interest of the customers and secondly it was negligence from the service provider that led to the revenue losses of the subscribers.

Telecom & banking service need to protect the subscribers from such fraud attacks by providing awareness to subscribers. Fraud management systems need have intelligence built into them to detect the fraud attack and control damages at an early stage.

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