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Tag Archives: Business Assurance

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.

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.

The “Revenue” of Revenue Assurance

What is the scope of Revenue Assurance? Honestly, this is a vendor / RA team/ consultant capability dependant age old myth, leading to the term being a misfit for the purpose. There are always things that one can debate on such as what is in scope and what is out of scope? However, if one takes the terms “revenue” and “assurance” at the face value what would be defined as the scope of work? It would simply mean any activity/event that has the ability to generate revenue should be monitored to ensure that the associated ‘revenue’ is generated; and if it is not, ensure steps are taken to fix it. Sounds fair? But then, this brings in another primary question: “What is “revenue”?

Ask personnel from finance and they would give you the most appropriate and correct answer. Now if you ask the same question to an RA professional, the response would not be encouraging. It is not to say that such individuals don’t know anything- but it is a matter of knowledge w.r.t the financial context. Typically, the individuals working in the RA department have sound knowledge of KPIs, data analysis and such items that are monitored as part of RA activities.  However, often the large part of data analysis related to finding leakage is not translated in the correct/appropriate terms for business benefit.  The net effect of this at times, results in inappropriate KRAs for the RA department. I remember hearing somewhere, the KRA for the RA department for an operator was to detect x% more leakage from the previous year!  I don’t think that is a valid KRA.

The solution therefore is to establish the following two things:

  1. KRA’s for the RA department need to be worked backwards: The KRA’s of the department need to be defined keeping in mind the core business objective of the operator.  In this aspect, one would have to determine, how to map the organization KRA’s to that of the RA department? This would definitely vary across operators. Example, if the organization’s focus is to improve profitability of services, one would have to determine the impact of the same in cases of leakage.  Hence, the KRA for RA department would have to be worked backwards to ensure that the efforts put in by the RA department are aimed at fixing leakages around activities that would improve profitability.
  1. Accounting of detected leakages in a manner that makes sense:  The “revenue” calculations should be used only for quantification and gauging the leakage potential and recovery. This may or may not be the most accurate revenue calculation because RA is not accountable for revenue generation. However, there are a few methods  which use the following of revenue calculation
    1. ARPU
    2. “best fit rating” of usage xDRs
    3. Effective rate of XDRs
    4. Effective rate of files

NOTE: A revenue assurance department should ideally NOT even attempt to calculate Revenue per Stream/Service/Business Unit, ARPU, AMPU and other revenue figures. These should be obtained from the financial systems for quantification of the leakage detected and to understand the potential impact of leakage on the top line of the company.

Besides “revenue” there are multiple other aspects of RA that should be addressed and answered much before the start of RA activities. In the next post I would try to address the following 5 questions that should be looked at, as the business aspect around RA:

  1. Who is responsible for RA?
  2. What should be viewed as the tactical task for the RA department?
  3. What is the ideal number of controls that should be worked on by the RA teams?
  4. What are the most important parameters to report on?
  5. Is Cost Management a part of RA activities?

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