Archive for July, 2009

It seems Russian communications providers have broadened the definition of RA – to include blocking VoIP.

It is obvious Skype and IM erode prime revenues for any telco. The question that matters is whether they can find alternatives to compensate. It seems Putin and his buddies came up with a simpler solution: say Skype is a threat to national security (no one can argue with that) and, by the way, also a threat to the personal wealth of a few super-rich individuals.

I hadn’t conducted any further research whether this modus vivendi occurs between Skype and other countries or operators. It seems the old saying that “pornography is a matter of geography” also applies to RA.

Bookmark and Share

Razorsight, the revenue assurance software vendor has bought rivals Singletusk for an undisclosed sum. You can read Razorsight’s press release here.

(more…)

Bookmark and Share

Papa Rob Mattison, self-proclaimed President of the Revenue Assurance World, is up to his tricks again (but you did not need me to tell you that, did you?) I am trying to stick to a policy of ignoring this silly bugger, I promise. However, he is a hard man to ignore, thanks to his endless self-promotion. When I saw the announcement that he is offering revenue assurance training and certification to national telecommuications regulators, my brain went through a mental cartwheel. Revenue assurance training for national regulators? Is he serious?

Papa Rob’s announcement begins

“responding to demand from national telecommunications regulators…”

Pull the other one. Let us imagine what national telecommunications regulator has been writing to Papa Rob…

“Dear Mr. Papa Rob, I saw your website and was very very impressed by your global organization, GRAPA, and its certificate, CRAPA, and how you have so many members and have trained so many professionals and clearly sets the gold standard for the revenue assurance regulation, as you yourself often say on your website. I know nothing about the revenue assurance but it is top priority for my government, in the middle of the world economic slowdown, to pass new laws to force telecoms companies to do the revenue assurance whether they like it or not. That is why I typed the word ‘revenue assurance’ into Google and found your website, and was very pleased to see that it exists and you are such an honourable man with fine ethics, as it says on your ethics page, because all educated peoples know that if you read something on the Internet it must be true.

As you say yourself on your home page, the revenue assurance gives telcos a critical competitive edge. Because of this, my government believes we need to spend taxpayers’ money to forcing the stupid backward executives, with their stupid MBAs, that run our telecoms companies to do the revenue assurance, even if they are too stupid to do it, though apparently nobody is too stupid to do it, because everybody is doing it and has joined your magnificent global organization and I can find no contradiction in anything I just wrote. For this reason, although I am a lowly government official and there is no reason why a government official would want to enforce laws to make telcos do revenue assurance (that would be like passing laws to say telcos should really try hard to make a profit instead of making a loss), I want to join you and spend a week (and two weekends!) in the wonderful city of London, England, visiting the Tower of London where they chopped off Henry VIII’s head and Buckingham Palace where the Queen has the tea with the corgis, and also learning to write laws that tell people to do the revenue assurance things they should do.

(more…)

Bookmark and Share

In 2003, I was lucky enough to co-chair the Revenue Assurance stream at IIR’s Billing Systems conference. My fellow chair was Alex Leslie, founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association. During a coffee break, I started scribbling some notes for a presentation/paper. I never did write the paper (yet another item on the to do list!). However, it got the attention of one person; Alex was looking over my shoulder, trying to read my terrible handwriting. I doubt he succeeded in deciphering my scrawl. Fast forward to present times and Alex has been, metaphorically, looking over my shoulder again. The GBA has since merged with the TMF, but Alex’s latest venture is BillingViews, a site with news, interviews and articles about billing. He kindly dropped me a line and asked to republish my recent talkRA post: ‘Ten Tips for Starting Revenue Assurance‘. Of course I was happy for him to do so. Sharing is great when people give credit where credit is due. I only have a problem with those people who copy from everyone else but pretend it was all their own work (you know who I am talking about!) Keeping up with the latest billing trends is also important for revenue assurance people, which is why I will be copying from Alex too – with his permission, of course! Look in the right-hand column, and you will see a new syndication, of the news feed from BillingViews. RA people need to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate the changes they will need to respond to. That is why I will be using the news from BillingViews to help keep me up to speed.

Bookmark and Share

Globes, the Israeli business daily, has reported that cVidya is in talks to buy fellow Israeli vendor, ECtel. You can read the Globes story here.

Both businesses sell software in the revenue assurance/revenue management sector, and both are facing tough competition in an overcrowded market. On face value, the logic for a deal is strong, but it may not be a straight buy-out. ECtel’s shares, which are traded on the Nasdaq, have taken a pounding, especially since the global economic meltdown. That leaves ECtel in the strange position of having a balance sheet worth more than its market cap. ECtel’s strong cash reserves mean that any business could, in theory, buy all ECtel’s shares at their current market valuation and make a gain of about U$4m on the deal by liberating ECtel’s cash pile. ECtel is cash negative, but has been optimistic about turning cash positive, a message that was reiterated when I spoke with ECtel’s CEO at the start of the year. Since then, ECtel reported disappointing figures for Q1. cVidya, in contrast, is still backed by venture capital – and seemingly not enough. In May, cVidya were looking for more VC funding. The lack of a subsequent press release suggests they were not successful.

In difficult times, the current VC backers of cVidya may well be asking how they realize an exit strategy. ECtel’s current Nasdaq listing may hold the key to the way out. A reverse takeover of ECtel by cVidya would give cVidya’s investors a route to the stock market whilst bypassing the need for an IPO – at a time when any IPO is likely to fail. Of course, in any such deal there will be a lot of wrangling over details. Big questions include who gets how many shares in each business, and how much of ECtel’s cash pile will be distributed back to its current shareholders before the takeover. Even so, consolidation would fit with the overall trend in this niche software sector. Both parties would doubtless present any deal as being a stepping stone towards the inevitable global success of the resulting business, though job cuts and cost reductions are an inevitable outcome. Ignore any positive spin. Even rose-tinted glasses cannot obscure the subtext of a deal between businesses under stress. Is this the sign that says the revenue assurance sector has now gone into decline?

On a lighter note, one can only wonder at the new name of an ECtel-cVidya hybrid. When Subex ‘merged’ with Azure they called themselves Subex Azure for a polite period of time. They later dropped the ‘Azure’ part to clarify that Subex had been top dog all along. With all the strange mixtures of capital letters in their current names, my guess is a combined new Israeli vendor would call itself ecVidyaTel. Saying that, perhaps I should not make fun whilst writing on a site called talkRA…

Bookmark and Share