Welcome to Revenue Mania – 2010

datePosted on 05:56, June 30th, 2010 by admin

Have you looked at any of the recent agendas for “Revenue Assurance” conferences around the world? Have you seen any of the vendor’s websites, or the latest marketing programs and promotions for consulting firms, software vendors and systems integrators? If you have, then you may be like me, just a bit confused.

It seems my friends, that telecommunications revenue assurances out of fashion. It has lost its appeal. It is old fashioned and out of style. While most conferences and software/hardware vendors and consultants continue to give a respectful “nod” to the term revenue assurance, many seem to believe revenue assurance is not important anymore.

But don’t panic folks. These vendors and speakers have not decided to go bankrupt and get out of the business. Instead, what they are doing, is what they have always done. They are redirecting their efforts, re-branding their approaches and trying to breathe some new life into their marketing and sales efforts. Do not get me wrong. Rebirth and reinventing yourself is an absolutely good thing. It is the lifeblood of our industry, above any other, and as such, it is a painful, but necessary process. On the other hand, this need to “reinvent oneself” does not mean that we should just abandon everything we have learned, and do and run, helter-skelter into new and random directions.

What we are witnessing in the revenue assurance marketplace today, is a process I like to refer to as Revenue Mania. This process occurs in our industry every three or four years. Vendors, carriers, professionals and companies all take a look at themselves and realize, “something’s not right here”.

The stuff we have been buying, the things that consultants and vendors have been selling us are not working. We need a fresh approach to the problems we are facing.” In addition to this ‘wake up call’, we also have the fact that in the telecoms industry three years is like several generations of operational change. We are not the industry we were three years ago, and the old ways of looking at things are not going to cut it anymore. And so, is born, Revenue Mania.

So what is Revenue Mania. I always like to begin with looking up words in the dictionary, in order to get my thinking clear. What is mania? The dictionary describes mania as:

1 An. excessively intense enthusiasm, interest, or desire; a craze: a mania for neatness.

2 A. manifestation of a mental disorder, characterized by profuse and rapidly changing ideas.

3. Violent abnormal behavior, also known as insanity.

(reference: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/mania)

That certainly helps us to put this whole thing into context. Yes, I absolutely believe that Revenue Mania is upon us. Vendors, consultants and conferences are “reinventing” revenue assurance (or what we used to call revenue assurance) in literally dozens of different ways.

  • However, what “flavor” of mania are each of these sources promoting?
  • Are the changes in direction a healthy ‘enthusiasm’ for improvement?
  • Do they reflect an attempt to improve and build upon what worked in the past?

Alternatively, do they represent the more malignant form of mania. Just pure insanity. A mad rush to redefine yourself in whatever way will help you get ahead with no thought for consequences.

Are there are vendors and consultants out there that are making an attempt to put shiny new faces on many of the same old stories and approaches? Is someone trying to convince people that the same old, tired, illogical and unfounded approaches will work, if only we call them by different names? Are there vendors and speakers whose efforts amount to nothing more than the magician’s acts of “misdirection”?

Is there an attempt to “get out of the revenue assurance business”, by disguising it and saying that it has nothing to do with revenue or assurance, while it is exactly what revenue assurance is all about, simply because that is what they are trying to sell this week?

Are there speakers, vendors and thought leaders, who make a concerted effort to help “keep up” with the incredible rate of change in telecoms and are sincerely trying to “steer” the telecoms revenue management profession to its next ‘level of excellence?’

If you look at the many different “faces” that the media and vendors, speakers and thought leaders are putting onto the telecoms revenue landscape, you can see examples of all of them.

Allow me to share my observations on some of the patterns that I see.

Software Mania

There are the “good old boys” of revenue assurance. These guys are not just “out of touch” with change, they are actually moving backwards in time. These alleged “thought leaders” are still arguing about CDRs, KPI’s and debating about how to justify “software”. Their vision of the role of the revenue assurance professional is to justify poor software decisions made by others. Come on guys. The game is over. Revenue assurance is not about, has never been about , and will never be about software. Software is a tool that can help the revenue assurance professional and that is all.

Obsessive Neat Freaks

These wearers of the “old school tie” still believe that the absolute and annihilationof leakage and risk is the only acceptable role of revenue assurance. These guys have not yet clued into what GRAPA has been realizing for years. The telecoms industry tthrives on risk, and risk containment in a cost effective (Rationalization principle), Team Oriented (Consensus Principle) and Accurate and reliable (Integrity Principle) environment is the way that revenue assurance can actually add serious value to the process. If you want to attain zero tolerance get into the banking business.

Money Mania

These are new school groups trying to say that revenue assurance is not about revenue, it’s about anything financial. These groups will tell you that the real role of revenue assurance is to assure accounting systems, balance general ledgers, manage inventories and assure all sorts of financial transactions.

Now here we have a case where the Mania moguls may be onto something. Increasingly, revenue assurance professionals are being called upon to expand their horizons into more and more areas related to “margins” and “profits”, and I cannot argue that the directional drift this represents is probably a “for real” expansion of revenue assurance roles.

However, if this “growth horizon” is going to be managed in a way that enhances careers and adds value to the telco, it must be based upon the skills, staff, direction and efforts of the telco’s own revenue assurance staff, not a group of “cowboys” who claim “it’s easy, anyone can do it”.

(The GRAPA standards focus on Margin assurance – the assurance of different Lines of Business (interconnect, roaming, content), different asset categories (Switches, MSCs, BTSs) and promotions are good examples of an approach to issues that builds upon established foundations).

RA is CRM

By far, the most ludicrous of the pretenders to the “future vision” for revenue assurance are the ‘Revenue Assurance is really about customer satisfaction school. Customer Relationship Management, customer satisfaction and the role of customer in the entire _ telecom mix has been a hotbed of controversy for over 100 years. Unfortunately, for the Revenue Assurance “thought leaders” who are trying to steer the bus in this direction, the CRM Mania fever has cycled through telecoms every 5 years like the re-appearance of the 7 year locust.

I predict that the CRM invasion will proceed, like all locust invasions have in the past. It will come, attack, leave a path of devastation in its way, (wasted millions of dollars on CRM software, and thousands of hours of consultants and employees time) and then go back underground for another half-a-decade leaving no discernible improvement in its wake.

(This is not to say that there is No Value in some parts of the story that these advocates tell. See the GRAPA standards, or upcoming blogs and training and certification programs regarding Market Assurance, New Product Assurance and Revenue Engineering for more information about a proactive, progressive and consistent approach to these problems.)

Revenue Management

By far the most serious contenders among those with a clear, legitimate claim at moving revenue assurance forward, are the “revenue management” school. These people have begun to coin the term “revenue management” to represent approaches to revenue assurance that build upon past successes, while attempting to enhance the effectiveness to the business by changing fundamental parts.

In future blogs, we will continue in our exploration of these different issues, and we will continue to question and analyze the emerging worlds of “revenue mania” in all of its different forms. The real key, I believe, for the revenue assurance professional, is to begin to take a much more analytical and critical approach to their acceptance and advocacy of this insane mix of “flavors” or revenue assurance that is being offered by the current market. Indeed, the insanity that is represented by the many different approaches being advocated today in our industry while different than the insanity being promoted 2 years ago, it is incredibly consistent in its diversity.

The bottom line is, that if you are a revenue assurance professional, you cannot afford to simply “sign up” to any oneapproach or vendor solution. You need to analyze each product, approach and solution against the backdrop of your own experience, the needs of your organization and your own career goals, and make a decision based upon your own best judgment (not anyone else’s).

And that, ladies and gentlemen is the core of what GRAPA is all about. We do not exist to push, promote or advocate any approach or belief. Our job is to collect information about how professionals are actually doing their jobs, turn those practices into standards which can be reviewed, modified, ratified and published and then teach those ratified approaches to all who wish to learn.

If today’s “state of the industry” is any indication, we here at GRAPA will be busy for some time to come, analyzing, reporting and communicating back to our members as the “standard practices” of revenue assurance professionals continues to morph.

Well, that’s enough for today, until next time, this is Rob Mattison saying… be safe….

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