Archive for September, 2008

For this weeks question, the route cause was one of many possibilities that were investigated. The actual issue was identified after validating data used for performing a prepaid balance audit.

A prepaid balance audit is a simple control whereby the following steps are conducted:

Step 1: At a fixed point in time record the total amount of credit held on your prepaid billing system

Step 2: Record the total number of credits(top ups) to the prepay billing system for a given period(say 24hrs) – use an external source like the prepaid card database along with any other crediting mechanisms

Step 3: Record the total amount of debits from prepaid accounts for the same period(as a negative number)

Step 4: at the end of the period record the total credit held on the prepaid billing system

Step 5: Perform the following reconciliation:  1 + 2 + 3 = 4


Now the above didn’t identify the issue, however by validating Step 2 against cash received for sales of top up cards we could see that there was a general issue, where more credits were being applied to the prepaid billing system than those being sold.

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UK operator BT and Indian vendor Subex have signed a new three-year framework contract. Subex will supply products and services relating to revenue assurance, fraud detection, interconnect billing and event integrity. According to the press release, the deal is estimated to be worth US$50 million.

It looks like this deal builds upon the existing relationship between Subex and BT’s Global Services division. Some of the elements, like managed services for the BASALT data repository, were anticipated in a previous press release of January this year. The deal comes at a good time for Subex. The vendor is under pressure from investors wanting to see a turnaround in fortunes. Subex suffered big losses for the last financial year. After making cutbacks, Subex needs to show increasing profitability each quarter this year if it is to meet expectations.

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Apart from people randomly copying in other people on totally irrelevant emails, executive indecision is the single greatest curse of working life.

Wearing until recently an RA vendor hat, I was always puzzled by the (in)decision making process in many telcos. While it is evident that in many cases RA projects demonstrate financial merits which are usually easily quantifiable, it was always a challenge for me to understand the pathetic indecision phenomenon. The lamentable part of this paradigm is that the monthly revenue loss, which usually cannot be claimed back from the customers, is piling up and the overall system cost of a typical RA solution is often less than the monthly expenditure of the telco on bathroom tissue.

I was rather unimpressed by the full scale decision paralysis and an inability to action. The only thing brought into being are hundreds of pointless meeting where reports and judgments are made. I hope I’m wrong, but how else could someone explain to me the fact that a sales cycle of an RA system lasts for an average 15 months, for a system that costs less than a monthly expenditure on bathroom tissue, while not considering the daily leakage, which usually cannot be reclaimed a posteriori.

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Connectiva Systems, the risk management and revenue assurance software firm, has obtained a further US$17m of VC funding. See the press release on Connectiva’s site.

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Remember the World Revenue Assurance Forum? You may have forgotten about them already. They were the ones saying they were “for the operators, by the operators” around the whole world, despite only having two members: software vendors cVidya and their favourite customers, BT. Now, it seems impossible to find anyone who will answer a straight question about what happened to WRAF, either in cVidya or BT. After setting up a Stalinist “committee” (hand-picked by cVidya), launching a Stalinist agenda (‘we are monitoring best practices!’ – how can they tell what is best practice until everybody is a member?), and even setting the date for their first Comintern-cum-sales-jamboree (to be held at BT Tower), WRAF has since air-brushed itself out of history. The only thing you can find is an ‘under construction’ banner where their fancy website once lived. So what happened to WRAF? Is there anyone out there who knows and is willing to give a straight answer?

My prediction is they will back. They might come back with a new name, but people like this do not give up easily. I look forward to seeing them again. When they return, I want to be the first to ask: ‘where did you go’? ;)

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