GRAPA: Minding the Gap and Assuring the Revenue in London Town

datePosted on 11:26, October 8th, 2009 by admin

I cannot tell you how excited I was to put on a GRAPA training event in the city of London. What many of you may not realize is that a subset of people in the world that believe that London is the heart and soul, the actual birthplace of revenue assurance.

Many of the “old-timers” from the Revenue Assurance league had their grass roots in the old British Telecom Revenue Assurance regimen. Without a doubt, those people did a lot to launch the profession and prove how revenue assurance added value to a major league telecom player. It is also true that London has one of the largest, strongest and most cohesive revenue assurance communities, with a large number of revenue assurance managers from the different telcos getting together on a regular basis and sharing best practices and “war stories”.londontraining

I was very honored to be invited to present to that group several years about, and I remember the meeting place; a grand old Victorian renovated “gentleman’s club” with domed ceilings and polished granite floors. It was cool. They were also great bunch of people.

Of course, since those “good old days” of the supremacy of British Telecom on the telecoms scene, many things have changed. BT is no longer the Lion of the industry. Recent statistics show them dropping drastically in the global standings (and even within the UK itself). The old school is moving out, and the new school in moving in.

We decided to put on a training event in the UK with some misgivings. The “GRAPA style” of revenue assurance does not especially play well in the hallowed halls of the British Empire. Our “Xtreme” approach causes many of the “old school” RA people to scoff and claim that we do not know what we are talking about. However, with our successful track record of European events in Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Madrid, we decided to take the gamble and see if we could convince anyone in Old London Town to take GRAPA training out for a spin.

I am very pleased to report that the London event was a success on all counts. It seems that telcos in the UK are facing the same challenges faced by telcos around the world, and our European audience was surprised and pleased with what they got out of the event.

The focus of this particular group of students was different from other classes (but then, it always is). The issues that seemed most important and raised the most focus and attention in London were in the areas of Location Based Services, GPRS-3G Assurance, the special challenges faced when doing Virtual Network Operator Revenue Assurance and most critical of all, topics associated with Margin and Market Analysis. That one surprised me the most, but in retrospect, it makes perfect sense.

Riding though the tubes (subway train) all across London made the issues of the Telecoms market in the UK painfully obvious. Our hotel, the old Vanderbilt Hotel, was near the Gloucester Road subway station, and we held our training at our meeting rooms right on Trafalgar Square. (Talk about a great location.) Each day, as we took the tube to the classes, we were inundated by ads for discounted telecom services. I thought African price wars were brutal! For instance:

  • Free international phone calls for life with this rate plan.
  • Free SMS for 3 months.
  • Free DSL, a free router, free long distance for 19.95 per month.

Unbelievable! I scratched my head, trying to figure out how any telco in the UK can make any money. Luckily, the local UK telcoms market was well represented, and we were able to look at this environment from a systematic, rationalized, profit based revenue assurance perspective.

What did we find? That margins are clearly tighter than ever, and telcos have to work hard to make their money, but there is still money to be made. However, what should come as no surprise to anyone is the fact that the telcos in the UK and Europe in general need a good, proactive revenue assurance commitment more than ever.

It is interesting the way that business, and cultures and situations parallel. Synchronicity I think they call it. Well, the synchronicity was thick in London that week. The London Tube  system is one of the most famous and reputedly, most dependable train systems in the world. However, what we found, to our dismay, was that many lines and stations were closed, due to a massive renovation project underway. It seems that to keep their city moving, and growing and changing, the city of London itself is going through some growing pains of its own.

Like the old tube lines, UK and European telcos are finding if they do not take hammers and chisels to outdated modes of doing things, and replace outdated approaches with newer, leaner and meaner approaches, no one will be stopping at their stations. Nothing could be more appropriate, and more in alignment with the GRAPA message. Telcoms is a dynamic business, and a successful revenue assurance professional has to do more than just keep up; they have to lead the telecom charge. The people attending our fourth European training event could not agree more with the message we are promoting.

We have already received a number of inquires from European telcos who are scheduling training at their locations for 2010, and we will begin plans for scheduling more European events the first half of 2010 as well. I am sure that our momentum will continue to grow as more and more European telcos discover and implement the GRAPA standards.

I am also pleased and proud to announce that at this event we successfully certified our first group of Bachelors of Revenue Assurance Professionals, including Revenue Assurance Professionals and Fraud Specialists.

For me, it was a great experience, and I look forward to meeting with, and finding out more about how our members are doing at the different UK carriers (along with the other Europeans). From here, it is off to Uganda and the first ever – National Training and Certification event, but I will talk about that next time.

Until then, this is Rob Mattison – saying….. Be Safe

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