I do not usually blog about what I do – it has something to do with respecting client confidentiality and all that. But at last I can publicize some really good news about the revenue assurance maturity model. It has been approved by the TM Forum, and what is more there is a new training course to support it. To find out more, look at the full entry on my community pages.
Archive for May, 2008
Every week I monitor posts to the so-called Global Revenue Assurance Professionals Association (GRAPA). I find it to be a good way to switch off from real work for 5 minutes, so long as I can find a way to fill the 4 minutes and 30 seconds remaining after I have read all the posts… twice. So you might say that Papa Rob and GRAPA has failed to make lightning-fast progress. But even I found it hard to believe what they were still debating last week.
Posted: 13\May\08 at 09:40
….Revenue Assurance is the function / process of Identifying the Risk to revenue, Quantifying the Risk to Revenue and responding according to Management’s appetite for risk. (the reponse includes reporting and containing the risk)
Geez. They are still debating the definition of revenue assurance. Come could in pretty handy, I suppose, if you just got a new job doing revenue assurance and opened your new Certified Revenue Assurance Professional’s coursebook to lesson number one: what revenue assurance is. Not that handy for anyone already working in the field. There was a time when you could not go to a conference without at least five different speakers offering five different personal definitions. You do not get that any more – it was getting mighty boring for anyone in the audience. It looks like the people on the GRAPA forum are still chugging through them; perhaps they will end up compiling an authoritative list of the several thousand definitions people have proposed over the years. They have so far forgotten the half dozen different definitions that Papa Rob included in his own book, which is a bad start given that GRAPA was planning to use his book as the de facto textbook for its qualification. Thankfully, the TM Forum defined revenue assurance back in 2004, and has not changed its definition since. GRAPA has been going for a year now, and is still debating what revenue assurance is. Methinks one organization is getting bogged down in the trivial stuff and failing to deliver the useful guidance it originally promised.
Definitions are trivial. They only help people who do not know what the words mean, and want a 5-second answer. They may be useful to many, but only to those who have no interest or involvement with the detail. They help with promotion to new markets, and not much else. No definition will be universally popular, as everybody will have different aspects of revenue assurance that they would want to emphasize or exclude. If GRAPA has any serious pretensions to issue guidance and standards, it needs to move on from the definition debate and deliver something of substance.
Do you want an example of an organization that defines things? The Oxford English Dictionary. Those employed to write dictionaries spend their time exhaustively searching for sources that reflect how words are used. They then write an objective definition that reflects how people actually use the words. In that spirit, here a few more definitions:
GRAPA (grä-pə) n. Organization that exists for the primary purpose of making consultant and author Rob Mattison the Global President of something.
CRAP (krap) n. Certification from GRAPA attained by buying books written by, and attending training seminars hosted by consultant and author Rob Mattison. a. Unintentionally funny but accurate description [example: that jobseeker has CRAP qualifications].
Mattison (klaun) n. (1) Someone who works as a consultant and author. (2) Founder, father, inspiration and lifetime global President of GRAPA. (3) A kind of hot air balloon that repeatedly inflates itself.
Well, those are the definitions you get if you read my dictionary… ;)
Razorsight, the revenue and cost optimization vendor headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, has been ordered by a court to pay US$4.5m in settlement for stealing intellectual property. The property was stolen from TEOCO, another revenue assurance and cost management vendor based in Fairfax. The story is that former TEOCO employees, including Razorshite founder and Chairman Sundeep Sanghavi, had long been using TEOCO’s intellectual property as part of their rival offerings. The court has also judged that Razorshite must immediately stop using TEOCO’s intellectual property, must remove, destroy or return the intellectual property in its possession and its deployed systems by September 1, and should be subject to an audit thereafter. The court’s decision was made somewhat easier by the admission of liability by the defendants. TEOCO discovered the theft in mid-2007, though the subsequent lawsuit’s discovery process revealed the extent of the theft was greater than they had first thought. You can read TEOCO’s press release here. Look here for the official court order of the US District Court for Eastern Virginia.
Not surprisingly, there is no mention of the contravention or the court order on Razorshite’s website. However, there is a press release dated May 19 that tries to give the impression that Razorshite is moving in the right direction. It states that Razorshite’s VC backers have pumped another US$9m into the company, in order to “expand Razorsight’s innovative product set, accelerate the company’s international expansion… and to support strategic global alliances.” What a load of bull. Half of it will go straight to TEOCO. Presumably the other half will go on development to replace TEOCO’s stolen intellectual property, the costs of ripping out the stolen property and on kissing customer butts. Some of those customers must now be wondering whether they picked the right vendor in the first place, given they were unwittingly using TEOCO’s intellectual property. You can read Razorshite’s humbug press release about new funding here.
Intellectual Property theft is more common in revenue assurance than most people care to admit. That is a damning statement, and so it should be. There is hypocrisy in selling the goal of integrity and compliance with legal and accounting expectations, whilst knowing the offerings were stolen from somebody else. At times revenue assurance is like the Wild West of telecoms. It has the right cast of characters: prospectors, sheriffs, pioneers, gold diggers, madams, company men, bandits, and engineers. We can now add outlaws to the list. I have written before about the tendency for people in revenue assurance to help themselves to other people’s work. Part of the problem is that too many turn a blind eye when it happens, or worse still they are happy to indirectly benefit from the crime. Eventually the Wild West was tamed, and civilized. The honest folk won because they stood up to the troublemakers and lawbreakers. Next time you see, or suspect, the infringement of intellectual property rights, remember it is your duty to speak up. I am sure you feel the way I do: rewards and recognition should go to the people who deserve them, not to the people who will stop at nothing to get them. Honest people can win, if we stand together. We must stand up for honesty, or we all risk being branded as cowboys.