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Category Archives: Revenue Assurance

The growing interest in big data technologies for Fraud Management & Revenue Assurance

The telecommunications sector is no stranger to big data. As a premier vendor for Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management solutions, Subex is no stranger to big data too. Traditionally, our RA & FM applications process billions of transactions every single day. The past few years have been particularly demanding – with the proliferation of 4G, LTE and the upcoming 5G, data has exploded and continues to. Change seems to be the only constant.

The bid management team, I’m part of, is a witness to the change. We are at the helm of affairs in serving our customers needs that come via an RFP.  Over the past year, we are witnessing a key ask in the RFP —

“Does your tool comply with big data technologies like Hadoop”?

The Trend

Request for proposals (RFXs), are one of the modes, through which Subex periodically receives the customer requirements. A key component in Subex RA & FM solution is the database. For many years, RDBMS like Oracle, MYSQL, Vertica, have been the preferred choice for telcos. There is a new trend now – Hadoop.

Telcos are now considering big data technologies like Hadoop. Looking into the trend of RFPs over the past years, gives an understanding of the future. The requirement for big data technologies have gone up two times in the past 2 years.

GROWTING TREND IN BIG DATA ASK

GROWTING TREND

A further drill-down of the requirements is also a testimony to the changing face of RA & FM functions. Few of the key requirements taking shape are:

  • Data lake: Data lake is becoming de-facto ask. With the explosion of data volumes and data types (structured and un-structured), telcos are increasingly preferring to set-up a common data lake to feed multiple downstream systems
  • Data quality: Given the importance telcos are now placing for the quality of data, expectation is to procure systems that provide high level of data integrity and sanctity of the underlying data
  • Analytics & Machine Learning: Clearly, RA & FM functions are now including analytics, insights and pattern recognitions to their repertoire of tools at disposal to combat fraud and leakages. The RFPs are now focusing beyond transaction monitoring and entering the realm of business intelligence and machine learning

Subex Big Data Solution

Recognising the importance of big data and its’ relevance to the RA & FM teams, Subex started offering Hadoop as a platform of choice a few years back. Today, we are hosts to many live implementations around the world, processing billions of transactions every single day.

Subex RA & FM solutions with Hadoop as a technology, delivers value on the 4-fronts:

  • Volume: Capability to handle large volumes of data loads and deliver at scale
  • Velocity: Forget the days of “T+n” monitoring. Real-time assurance is becoming the norm
  • Variety: Gleam insights from the good old structured to semi-structured and un-structured data, using traditional rule engines and new age ML & AI capabilities
  • Veracity: Highest quality of output with high integrity

Big data is empowering RA & FM teams with big possibilities. To learn how you can benefit, talk to us.

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.

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.

The changing business model of Assurance

It’s been more than a year since I have even looked at my phone bill, lying in my inbox, marked as read, never to be opened. Bundle of services packaged under a single price, only to change by a small margin when India moved to a single Goods & Services Tax framework.

This is the new world of telecommunication. Select services of your liking, planned well like mine is, you would rarely be looking into your bills, scrutinizing itemized lines and stressing about your usage with  customer care.

In a recent survey of complaints received at the CCTS (Commission for Complaints about Telecom-Television Services, Canada) while incorrect charging complaints increased by 71% Y/Y, complaints on changes to contracts increased by over 200% Y/Y.

This trend is one of the key indicators of the change that is emerging in the space of assurance. The others being the steady and continuous interest in mitigation of risks within the partner ecosystem primarily related to contracts, margin, partner invoices, and inventory.

What’s Changing?

Today with telcos moving into the domain of content providers with offerings of entertainment streaming, current affairs consumption, shopping, and many more options. All these services are bundled into a highly configurable plan that has an “all you can eat” approach as long as it is within the “Fair usage policy” means for a telco subscription, services, on-boarding, customer intelligence, and QoS are the critical assurance parameters from a retail point of view.

However, the change being addressed has a pivotal impact from a B2B perspective from the massive complexity of the partner ecosystem.

partner ecosystem

Today for a partner ecosystem the risk universe includes devices, direct carrier billing, partner credibility, partner & product margins, pay-in & pay-outs, revenue sharing, contract alignment and many more which needs to be monitored & actioned on at near real time.

Furthermore, we are not talking just about revenues but also costs and liabilities. So, the new business model of assurance, which we are referring to as “Business Assurance.”

“Assurance is becoming a source of competitive advantage.”

Business Assurance is not just a methodology but a major transformation in practice & technology. The new Business Assurance solution will need to:

  • Own and maintain the system that measures data quality
  • Own and maintain the business anomaly detection engines
  • Manage & drive business intelligence & insights
  • Measure and anticipate the impact of changes or offerings on customers
  • Monitor the content & partner environment for business feasibility and continuance
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of revenue & cost breakdown in the organization
  • Help in assuring the “business model” itself, as opposed to a line of business

In short Business Assurance is the new Revenue Assurance. It is not a question of if this transformation will happen but when will it happen? If it hasn’t yet started, it will.

Boost your Campaign ROI through Promotion Assurance

“Why do you love your service provider?”

At the end of the day, this is the billion-dollar question which drives the entire telecom industry. When one ponders the answers, quite a few would emerge – flawless connectivity which helps my business flourish, a well-priced model which keeps families closer than ever, providing a backbone that keeps a country productive, etc. But in most surveys (and in my personal experience), it is the attempt at focused engagement that keeps most of us linked to the same Telco. Giving me freebies on my birthday, suggesting I change my plan to one which suits my business travel (even though the rental might be lesser) or even the act of proactively passing me some benefit during a network downtime adds that human element which tends to create brand loyalty.

From the above, it is clear that successful promotional campaigns can do wonders in terms of customer retention as well as acquisition. With the plethora of analytics tools powering the marketing departments across most Telcos, differentiated, qualified, and value-driven campaigns are a reality. Of course, some have gone farther than others in this regard. But the question which I will explore in this blog is whether this practice creates risks and brings in more issues than it solves.

Now, I look at Promotions and Campaigns from a more general perspective. It’s like eating at Dominos. While Dominos makes some decent pizzas and has a large customer base, it faces the same issue as all other eateries – consumer fatigue. This is not just caused by the limited choices (assuming a market where you could only eat Dominos pizzas), but also the sheer banality of the process. In this environment, if one offers a package deal (drink + pizza + lava cake) at 50% of its list price pursuant to a customer also purchasing a premium feast pizza, the break from the monotony of the pizza ordering process itself drives a sense of “anticipatory need.” Now, this is the easiest level. Going beyond, if Dominos were to use analytics to understand and anticipate my ordering behaviour and suggests a ready cart with one click check-out, I would be delighted. Too much to ask? Well, the reality is, this is what subscribers expect from their service providers today.

The Inside-Out of Promotions

With promotions emerging as a major business strategy in today’s competitive telecom environment, targeted campaigns can help Telcos increase revenue, margin, customer retention, customer satisfaction, and overall brand stickiness. However, the differentiation comes with its own challenges, and so does the ROI. The returns from the campaign greatly depend on how the Telco addresses each one of the challenges. Globally Telcos have allocated a significant portion (around 8%) of their budget for promotions and advertisements, but the results, in terms of campaign ROI, are not as expected. The ineffectiveness of campaigns could occur due to several reasons including lack of planning, improper budget allocation, incorrect metric measurement, wrong promotion qualifiers, incorrect target list, and many more.

Let’s examine some of the challenges associated with driving successful campaigns and see how Telcos can mitigate them to gain maximum return from their campaign investments. I will broadly classify them as:

  1. Data Access and Integrity – Each stage in the promotion launch process is critically dependent on the accuracy of the facts from the previous stage. It is of paramount importance to ensure that the raw datasets are accurate, complete, and integral. Unfortunately, most marketing teams do not have access to a comprehensive data integrity engine.
  2. Promotion Complexity – Promotions can widely vary in nature (i.e. the device, vouchers, services, etc.), and most operators do not have a ready-to-use promotion risk matrix or checklist. This leaves assurance teams at a disadvantage to deal with the volume and velocity of new promotions.
  3. Time to Market – Competitor pressure in most regions leads to a very short release/launch time for new promotions. In the absence of automation, this means pre-launch testing is usually sample based, and the test results are contaminated by confirmation bias.
  4. Lack of Automation – Many of the checks required to ensure high ROI on promotions require a high level of automation as manual interventions usually introduce errors.
  5. Regulatory Hurdles: Regulators may apply a cap on certain promotional offers announced by Telcos. For example, In India, there is a 90-day cap on such offers, so the Telcos find it difficult to optimize the market spend and achieve the target within the short span of time.

So, why invest in a Promotion Assurance program?

Having the right product does not always guarantee revenue. Telcos may be losing out to competition due to lack of visibility into how efficiently promotions are rolled out. Promotion assurance programs, which build around modern analytics and intelligent automation techniques, emerge as a winning solution in this context because it helps the Telcos define the campaign KPIs and measure ROI from each on a near real-time basis, so they can take corrective measures appropriately.

Challenges inherent in the current approaches and the evolving marketing conditions pose higher risks to campaign ROIs, and more importantly, might impact the customer experience. It is the need of the hour for Telcos to implement a promotion assurance strategy that focuses on the business, system, process and customer aspects of the campaign.

Direct Carrier Billing : A Massive Revenue Opportunity for Telcos

In the last few years, OTT players taking away a sizable chunk of the telco revenues. To deal with this, it’s time the operators harness the potential of new streams of revenue. Direct Carrier billing is one such avenue.

Direct Carrier Billing is a telco driven payment model, for the digital services. Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) opens the possibility of generating a new revenue stream for operators, by leveraging on the existing telco network and the billing relationship with the customers. Direct Carrier Billing, enables telcos to allow its wireless subscribers (both prepaid and postpaid) to purchase goods and services using their handsets. The cost of purchased good and services are added to their monthly phone bill or deducted from the prepaid balance, thereby providing a seamless & secure payment mechanism. This medium enables a very simplified online payment experience with just a click to complete a transaction.

Why is Direct Carrier Billing beneficial for the Telcos?

Juniper Research found that operator revenues derived from carrier billed purchases will rise from USD $2.9 billion in 2017 to USD $9 billion in 2022, an average annual growth of 25%. With growing purchases via DCB, operators enabling their customers to buy all kinds of goods and services using their mobile services subscription will add a new revenue stream for the operators.

  • The operators can take a % of the revenue from the transactions, and their customers don’t have to look for a financial relationship with another company.
  • It is a win-win situation for both the operator and the merchant since it also helps the merchant extend their reach by using the operators existing customer base.
  • The higher conversion rate in DCB transactions will lead to an increase in ARPU for operators.
  • The payment method is extremely simple and secure leading to better user experience and reduction in customer churn.

Leading Technology firms like Google, Apple and Amazon are also investing in building DCB relationships with operators and vendors (like Fortumo, Bango, Boku etc.).  They strongly believe that DCB will allow the unbanked to better engage and participate in the digital economy. The increasing desire to enable payment across Smart TVs, Xbox and IoT devices emerging in the market, widens the opportunity for Direct Carrier Payment.

With most of the transactions completed via DCB, the problem is that maintaining Direct Carrier Billing functionality sometimes fails due to settlement involved between the multiple parties and the frauds in the DCB chain. Subex Direct Carrier Billing Assurance program protects the entire DCB chain providing end to end Risk and Fraud Management.

Stay tuned to know more about Subex Direct Carrier Billing Assurance.

Digital Transformation: The Art of War!

Straight from the Board Room

15th Jan, 16:00 Hours: The Board Room at the Telco HQ

The silence is deafening, and the breathing heavy. Everyone is waiting with heavy anticipation. The top comes off the Mont Blanc, and the only sound is of the pen on the paper. The VP-Sales surreptitiously pulls out his iPhone, and drafts a text “Deal Done! Congrats…”. The finger is playing near the send button, with every passing second feeling like an eon.

The last dot underneath the signature is placed, and without missing a beat, the send button is pressed. The room is filled with a sense of relief, and the muted claps soon turn into backslaps and congratulations…The multi-million $ deal for Digital Transformation is now underway….

15th Jan, 22:05 Hours: The Conference Room at the Vendor HQ

1000s of miles away, the CEO phone beeps discretely. All the weary eyes turn towards the CEO. A faint smile emerges. With the “Yes” and the fist-pump, the room erupts. Years of arduous work has come to fruition. The clinking of the glasses, and the pops of champagne bottles could not drown the enthusiasm, and the spirit of the crowd.

The Chief Marketing Manager sneaks out, to work the PR lines. Minutes left before the item makes into tomorrows’ news.

16th Jan, 06:00 Hours: Leading Media Publications

“Vendor X inks a multi-million $ Digital Transformation deal with Telco Y”

Telco Y, one of the leading telecommunications services providers, has signed a multi-million $ partnership with Vendor-Y, for Digital Transformation. Digital Transformation is a strategic initiative of the Telco Y and is aimed at offering an extensive portfolio of services to its customers, enhance customer experience & engagement, and quality of services delivery.

01st Jul, 10:00 Hours: The Board Room at the Telco HQ

The silence is deafening, and the breathing heavy. Everyone is waiting with heavy anticipation. The Head of Billing is pouring through the recent twitter reactions to the Digital Transformation.

twitter-reactions

The VP-Sales surreptitiously pulls out his iPhone, and sends a text “Bad, looks very bad…”. 1000s of miles away, the exasperation sets in …

Let’s look at one of the major transformation challenges faced by telcos

Digital transformation has become the norm now, and it is nothing short of a war – the war to win over customers, to stay profitable, and survive amongst the fiercest competition. However, studies indicate that most of the migration attempts have resulted in an increase in revenue leakages and has negatively impacted the brand and customer experience.

The unfortunate reality is that a majority of telcos are currently seeing issues in their transformation process leading to negative impact aspects around revenue and non-revenue. Reasons for this vulnerability are quite straightforward – the controls that existed with a set process get disrupted, and start to diminish once the transformation begins, thus leaving the operators in a bit of a handicap.

As per the recent reports, a leading telecom operator was fined for serious breaches of consumer rule due to inconsistencies in the new billing system and incurred a financial loss of close 4.6 Million Euros. There are also reports of operators losing up to 50 million due to migration failures.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”.

– Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese general, military strategist, philosopher, and the writer

Which side are you on? The Victorious warrior or the Defeated warrior? Download the datasheet to find ways of becoming proactive in your transformation, and being a victorious warrior.

Why Telcos Need Real-Time Revenue Assurance?

Revenue leakage is one of the major worries affecting telcos around the world.  The number says it all. The 2017 Global Fraud Loss Survey by CFCA says telcos lose $29.2 Billion (USD) annually, equivalent to 1.27% of global telecom revenues, to several revenue frauds. For telcos, who are also aggrieved by the declining margins from traditional voice business, safeguarding the existing revenue sources thus becomes critical. The rising concerns over revenue loss have brought the discussion around a new approach to revenue assurance (RA). While the revenue assurance solutions in the market address some of the possible threats in revenue leakage, they lag behind in delivering a faster detection and reconciliation capabilities.

Why Real-Time Revenue Assurance?

As we see today, the main drawbacks associated with traditional RA solutions is the long gap between revenue leakage detection and revenue realization. Since these systems adopt conventional methods for data consolidation and streamlining, the process requires manual intervention in parsing and auditing. Considering the enormous volume of transaction generated in today’s customer-centric world, telcos cannot ignore such lapses in remediation. Thus, the need arises for an intelligent, automated RA platform that can reduce the gap between these processes to a minimum. Legacy systems also face challenge due to the rapid surge in user data generated from millions of transactions every day. In the wake of new challenges brought by IP networks and the sophisticated interconnection frauds, detecting and remediating the anomalies becomes even more challenging.

Real-Time Revenue Assurance: How?

Real-time revenue assurance focuses on minimizing the time gap between fault detection and reconciliation. With analytics at the core, the technology enables service providers to detect the threat as soon as it occurs and start the reconciliation process within hours of data inception. Let me elaborate the process a little. The files collected at the source will be pushed to the real-time RA system within a few minutes. The data is parsed and loaded within, say 30 minutes, and the reconciliation process starts within the next two hours, enabling the early revenue reconciliation than the traditional approaches.

Analytics plays a crucial role in ensuring real-time RA.  The complex algorithm segregates the data based on a set of parameters, so anomalies can be detected quickly and accurately. Advancements in real-time RA also promise near real-time and even real-time controls on revenue leakage. The output of RA controls can deliver additional insights on each transaction, which can be used to improve sub-optimal processes.

What Business Benefits Real-Time Revenue Assurance Bring to Telcos?

Since revenue assurance is the most crucial element in a telco business, the impact brought by real-time RA is huge. As mentioned in the beginning, the loss attributed to different types of fraud is incomparable, so a reduction in leakage exposure time results in significant savings. Also, revenue assurance in a telco business is linked to multiple processes including data collection, billing, settlement and operations. Thus real-time RA allows telcos to gain increased visibility into all aspects of subscriber data, which in turn helps them to improve Quality of Service (QoS).

Subscriber management is a key aspect of revenue assurance as it helps telcos to deal with customer attrition. The operators need to have visibility into subscriber’s usage and billing patterns. Such insights will help them to launch the right mix of services that enhance customer value and improve ARPU. Subscriber management, especially in IP-based systems, proves crucial to eliminate billing errors and disputes. Real-time revenue assurance scores in this context as it provides real-time visibility into customer behavior and capture anomalous activities before it impacts the network.

Watch this column to gain more insights on revenue assurance for telcos.

Device Journey Management: the next frontier for Device Assurance

In recent years operators have scaled their thinking into hundreds of millions – but not in terms of data volumes, but instead in the numbers of devices now utilizing their networks.  Smart handsets have led the charge of devices, followed (and soon to be surpassed) by IoT devices, and an army of small cells that will serve to densify the upcoming 5G network rollouts around the world.

Why are these devices capturing more and more operator attention?  With over 1.5 billion smart phones shipped from manufacturers in 2017, the amount of investment by telecom operators just in this device category alone amounts to approximately 20% of their overall operational budget.  However, each year tens of millions of dollars of this opex are being written off as losses by operators due to issues with logistics (forward and reverse), fraud, and process misalignments; device journey oversight doesn’t exist as a discipline today.

Subex has invested almost two years researching this domain, including talking with operators of all sizes around the world.  What we have found is an expanding set of exploitable gaps that current systems and practices are incapable of closing.  Points of risk exist across internal processes, channel partners, distribution and supply chain, and various other areas leading to (and sometimes even originating from) the end consumers.  These risk points accumulate losses for operators that range between $500K USD to over $10M USD per month, per operator, depending on size of the operator.

The device growth area today is not only in smart handsets, but also in a wide array of small cells, sensors, and various other categories.  With already significant gaps existing in oversight, this new breed of devices puts an even greater risk on operating budgets.  Under current estimates, deployed IoT devices alone in the next 5 years will exceed 200 billion units, dwarfing the handset counts worldwide.  Can losses be sustained, or even ignored, at these levels?

Subex will be speaking about a comprehensive strategy and methodology for Device Journey Management during a presentation at the CFCA Winter Conference in Las Vegas on February 6th, 2018.  We will also be at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later in February where we look forward to speaking with operators encountering the same problems.

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?

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