Imagine P-NUTting your way through traffic

If the header did not quite catch your the breadth of your imagination, let me put it simply: P-NUT or Personal-Neo Urban Transport is the what the R&D at Honda labs have to offer you. This concept car is way off to hit the roads.


Looks cute, for the “small family”; ideal for the traffic burdened road– yet it is still the “concept” car for the future. Why?


A probable answer for the business-mind is actually the question:,”Are there any takers for this cuty-pie, because this “cuty-pie feeling” has to generate revenue figures in terms of bringing business, if not– there is no point in these sitting in showrooms with window-shoppers to look at.


This is just a simple and way too myopic view of the actual reasons, but still, is a contributor for this still being in R&D labs.


Do share your thoughts as to why you think this baby “Developed by The Advanced Design Studio of Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Los Angeles, the P-NUT is currently only a concept with no plans in place to bring it into production” ?


Reference: http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/dec2009/bw2009123_776105.htm



Posted in Business, Businessweek, Honda, P-NUT | Leave a comment

A Questionnaire framework for building Customer oriented messaging

What does a customer want to hear? Lowest price and best offering– what can be better?
Lets see how we can build up this kind of messaging.

The objectives that needs to be fulfilled for a customer are very specific. The fantastic concept of Customer Centric Selling (visit http://www.customercentric.com/ for further details)- a propriety concept (kudos to the ones who created the messaging format) available at the above site talks of achieving 3 main points during a sale:
1. Achieve a goal
2. Solve a problem
3. Satisfy a need.
The outcome of the above three points as mentioned need to be supported by the cost vs benefit analysis- thus a complete pack for the salesman.

But the question is – how do you create a message around these lines. Here comes the next big input as provided by Dan Roam in his book “The Back of The Napkin”– where he lays down a very basic set of questions, which if properly answered solves the most complex of business problems. Well the book is more about solving problems visually, but the core questionnaire set is extremely good. Simple — Ask: Who/What; How Much; Where; followed by When, How, and summing up to Why.

Let me try and add up these two sets of absolutely awesome ideas:

  1. Who needs to achieve a Goal; and What is the Goal, and What is the problem that needs to be solved?
  2. How big is the problem that needs to be solved (the How Much); and How Much Effort should ideally be put in for the same; or How Much effort would be required for the same ?
  3. For solving the problem and thus satisfying the need– where are the biggest challenges that would have to be mitigated ?
  4. When and how would the problem faced be mitigated by the “solution offering”?
  5. Why is the cost of the solution/offering thus justified? (i.e., providing the cost vs. the benefit)

(NOTE: points 2 and 3 above are interrelated to each other).

Seems a plausible thought? Do share your opinion on the pros and cons of the same. As for me, since I was trying to integrate these two concepts– let me see, where I myself can find the flaws in this integration.

Posted in Business, Customer, Customer care, Sales | Leave a comment

Customers, and Marketing to Customers in an age of Customer Capitalism

I was reading the HBR issue of Jan-Feb 2010, where Roger Martin describes the importance of Customer Capitalism. It is interesting to note how the business has changed over time- starting from managerial capitalism, to Jack Welch’s implementation and drive of shareholder value capitalism, and how today the business is focused on customer capitalism. Simply put, it is about improving the life and expectations of customers.


As a matter of fact, I found the big point to note from the article, is the fact that the scope of business improvement has always been driven by the need sets of customers– but the method of implementation of the same has been so different in all of these eras. In fact, the analysis of “what the customers’ want”, and the result of the outcome of the analysis that have been adopted by companies in the past, has largely shown that the companies at large and at different points of time are usually far away form answering the real need of the customer.


Come to think of it– even now, when we talk of customer capitalism, — there is a diverse opinion in the product driven organisations– should the organisation listen to what the customers want? If yes, you are actually then catering to the customers’ needs directly. However, the best of the product companies have only interpreted what the customers wanted– rather than taking that on face value. So we have Henry Ford who had said that if I listened to customers, they would have asked for faster horses. Again Steve Jobs from apple, claims not to listen to the customers. But actually end of day, the output from the same companies exceeds the expectations of the customers. So, the question then is – do they not talk to customers about their needs? 


I feel the answer lies in the fact that these companies read between the lines when it comes to customers’ needs. yes, they do not take the literal words of the customers, but they extrapolate the need set to ensure that not only the customers’ need is met, they provide the extra cherry on the icing on the cake. That is what makes them stand out in the market. As a matter of fact, iPad sold 300,000 pieces on day one. 


This seems to be a great case to look at from the perspective of the question “should we talk and listen to our customers?”. There was always this need for a third generation device between the mobile and the laptop– and number of companies tried it out- Sony, HP, Acer, and everyone else came up with the model of the net-books- all slim and sexy, but it was only Apple that launched the true third gen device in the form of iPad. So did the customers want an iPad? No one may have thought about it- till Apple has actually launched it. Apple read between the lines.


Thus extrapolating the information of the need seems to me as the key to success. 


This is a classic example where customer capitalism is used as an instrument to drive business into newer heights. But only following the model of customer capitalism has not helped– it was backed by the tremendous charisma of Jobs who revealed to the world what the customers needed. Apple, actually Steve Jobs, has shown the world that marketing about the product’s “value” and the benefit that it brings to the lives of the people is the key ingredient of success in this age of customer capitalism.


But easier said than done, in an age like this where customers are the ultimate drivers, it is a tough balancing act to determine, to what extent the company is going to invest in getting the right mix which generates the maximum revenue. CEM or customer experience management, is a key activity in this customer driven world. I was reading a blog on CEM in the age of Customer Capitalism,(http://blog.vovici.com/blog/bid/26364/CEM-in-the-Age-of-Customer-Capitalism-Roundup) where I hit upon the following:(a copy from the above blog) “






  • Don Peppers argues on John Oswald’s blog that you need a framework for making the hard decisions about priorities and investments. “If your marketing exec says, well if we want a good customer experience then we should just DO these kinds of things, then our question is: What if the cost is $100 million? Or $500 million? See the problem? At some point a balance has to be struck, but where? Simply saying that CXP leaders tend to have better financial results than CXP laggards won’t solve the hard problem of resource allocation. To solve this problem you need a metric for the benefits of customer-experience-management that can be converted to dollars and cents. That’s why we invented the financial metric, Return on Customer, a precisely quantifiable measure of the efficiency with which a company’s customers are creating value.”

Customer Capitalism presents one of those discontinuities in the marketplace that will separate the winners from the losers. Make sure to help position your company to be one of the winners by relentlessly focusing on measuring and prioritizing improvements to the customer experience


So, the catch is to “accurately determine”,how much you spend on ensuring the customers’ satisfaction by appropriate marketing and similar efforts for providing services, against what you really make as revenue in return.


This is a big yet niche subject– the dimensions in consideration are, the cost and effort spent on marketing and customer experience management, vis-a-vis the ROI. Easier said than done– I wonder how can one possible quantify the effort vs. the ROI.


Please help.





Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

RA ….The real value add.

I was looking into how “RA” is being done in a number of places– for all the good legal reasons cannot share the sources. But what was strange was to find out — the “outcome” seems to be somewhat distorted in a number of places. “RA” is about “revenue” and “assurance”– so you have revenue to be “assured”; and revenue is “things for which you would raise an invoice” (a novice definition, but good enough for my post in here!).

One of the methods of “RA” is leakage detection. But then what do you do after that. The scope of RA just starts with “detection”– and so no point in exclaiming that $x amount of leakage has been detected. It does not help anyone– except for marketing teams of vendors who sell RA tools. The challenges are (1) to fix the issue (could be leakage or even something else), (2) “ensuring” that the same is not repeated, (3) if a heart-beat is noticed in the particular control, identification of the real-cause behind the repetitive behavior.

In a number of cases, I have seen, this heart-beat is where the real problem is. It is chronic in nature– and contributes to cases which after detailed analysis have been found to be a form of fraud. A real example as I have seen of this is here: In an operator, suddenly the analysts found a drop in chargeable calls. Analysis proved a misconfiguration in a network element. It was fixed. Here is the first catch. A network element is suddenly behaving/behaved in an erratic manner. What was the cause? The identification is a must. What went wrong is identified. Now it was the time to find out the “why”. As a matter of fact, a bunch of subscribers had started misusing the situation– all they needed to do is prefix a particular  number before they called– that is another aspect of the fraud part. The question is, was the misconfiguration “deliberate”? The next question is, the group of subscribers that benefited from the misconfiguration– were they linked? Either way– the answers are of prime importance, but the real “RA” in here, is to be able to identify all such calls first, ‘quantify’ the value, ensure that the appropriate subscribers are billed, compare the payment received vs, $ value of the loss, and then say, how much was actually “assured”. The next step is to ensure possible detection of such happenings “before they have caused the harm”. That is the real “ASSURANCE” part.

This brings another question in mind, “what is the scope of RA” ? I would cover what I feel about the scope in my next post.

A question on a different track– how much was the operations cost vs the recovered/detected/assured $ value? This is to be able to measure, over a period of time, the real benefit of the revenue assurance activity. But then again, if it is found that the ratio is not heartening, can an operator even think of stopping such a function?? NEVER– the reason is simple, what seems a small value today, will simply bloat up exponentially before realizing that the situation is out of control.

Let me know what you think about this.

Posted in Leakage Detection, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management | Leave a comment

"Catch me if you can" — said the fraudster

Apologies for any typing / grammatical errors! Please point out the same through your invaluable comments.


This is not about the great movie though! But this is exactly what typical fraudsters would say, smile and vanish. Now imagine the context of the telecom operator– millions of subscribers! How would the operator run among so many?

That’s not a great way to see who is stealing the “millions”.. and as a matter of fact– catching up with fraud is typically the “catch up” job– unless u have a trap for every possible fraud prank. But such a vast trap-net is not practical. Remember The Thomas Crown Affair. The fact of the matter is, even if you create a trap– “the face-less businessman” still escapes.

Catching fraud is about finding an off track heart-beat in the otherwise calm data-movement. Typically such attacks have peaks– so watch for sudden surges. A peak appears and dies– but the peak and the trail of the peak is where the millions is lost. Prevent future peaks of the same sort– if you know the peak made you lose $.

Find the heart-beats. This is very important. Large amount of $ may be lost by such chronic pulses– which may not have peaks but are repetitive. Monitoring the generic behavior of the data is of primary importance– it is almost like a terrain. When u scan the satellite image of a terrain one gets to see the various concentrations, hills, valleys and all are in different colors and shades. That is what differentiates the plains (the normal data behavior) with the crests and troughs. A view of the terrain is not the details — but just the bird-eye view.

This bird-eye view can be focused on certain sections after you have scanned the terrain, instead of monitoring only the sections at the first go. Narrowing down with pin-pointed precision is possible, its like the hawk-eye that can spot the smallest of rabbits.

When it comes to the question of implementation of a fraud catching tool- it is just impractical to try and spot every customer. This is when the bird-eye view helps in catching deviations- then spot on the prankster- zoom on to get clearer views– and then there is no place to hide for him– because we were watching from the top.

This is a story-telling approach–  it sounds nice– but of course there are practical challenges.  That is the on-field challenge, they are always there to stay.

Again, as I keep saying, this is just my opinion. Let me know your thoughts!!!

Posted in Fraud Detection, Fraud management | Leave a comment

Rev Assurance to Rev Management :: Leading change of thought process

Apologies for any typing / grammatical errors! Please point out the same through your invaluable comments.

I was reading the book, “Leading Change” by Philip Kotler– and found it amazingly simple to understand. (Suggest everyone who is in business). It s really about 8 vital mistakes so called business leaders do, the 8 things the good business leaders wont do, or rather the things the good business leader would do while creating a better business. Side by side, I read a great post on revenue assurance by Eric on the talkRA blog. (http://talkra.com/archives/1050#more-1050).

and I really found a couple of things freakishly not discussed. That is about the need to change the outlook from the perspective of “revenue assurance” to “revenue management”. No gimmicks– no marketing pitches, no sales pushes– the transition needs to be at the thought process before a real world implementation. So here I am trying my hand as the good Samaritan and bridging the gap in here– and trying to lead the change

Now, the agreement with the blog is that RA, is really a cross-domain need, so horizontal growth is a choice (though debatable), and vertical growth enables the company to get more revenues. So beyond a company’s need, let us discuss a few points on RA. So here they are:

Points to disucss:
1. RA as it started.
2. RA today
3. the COTS myth
4. Growing need of assurance
5. The movement of ideas for a solution
6. What happens to the “product” model created
7. Making a sustainable eyeball business

1. RA is not a new domain for telecoms. RA started and is as old as fraud management for telecoms. Initially operators realized the glitches being faced and tried to do good with the rating, billing and invoicing processes. That was probably where RA started off. I’m not sure if this task got the name of RA back then, but the scope grew.

2. Till sometime back, RA deployments was about ensuring switch-to-bill reconciliation. The scope had grown only from billing assurance to start from switch to invoicing– the full usage chain. All the wise men realized the back log and brought in the entire network, including inventory, subscriber and everything where there was a movement of revenue. RA still grew.

Now there has been a volume expansion of data to be handled for RA. Large number of theories grew, starting form sampled based approach to full data handling approach. Everything was and is  still growing within the scope of RA. Today “RA” encompasses a very wide horizon of activities across all operators. In the yesteryears, people were not sure of the need and the “to-do” list under RA, now they do, and have a very clear idea of what they want.

3. There was a time, when people were really experimenting with the concept of RA to see what could be done, and what not. Now, all of us looks for a COTS application. The myth prevailing is that it would be a box which would solve the RA problems. — WRONG!!!! An out of box product would let you control only a few known areas out of the many unknowns. Lets take the case of mediation systems. If you think checking the problems around mediation would solve all the world’ hunger problem of RA, think again. Mediation anomalies no doubt form a large chunk of problems, but that is not always the only BIG problem area. It really depends on the geography and the type of the operator. It is not exactly about one-problem-one-fit-solution-for-all (– don’t know if there is such a tagging phrase though.)   If you cannot figure out the real unknown sources of revenue loss, you are not doing RA. So ROI calculations jump out of the window in real life, but look good only on Keynote marketing presentations. The sense of RA is really to check the points where one did not know that leakage existed. How do u do that?? That is the million dollar question, but in any case, and out of box application cannot help you figure that.

4. So where is RA going tomorrow. Look around, the answer is all there. There is a huge crunch with dwindling revenues (ARPU); the costs are sky-rocketing; usage of “data” made available because of the high-speed connectivity is increasing at a high rate over conventional voice, SMS, and age-old GPRS;  the mobile phone consumer is the best way to reach out to the mass of customer which is calling in other players like Google, retail industry and even banking to use the same media— thus to add on to existing pain problems with revenues, we have revenue-share-holders; and as if this was not enough, competition is the stiffest challenge to meet. Here is an example of competition– DoCoMo launched a pay per sec plan in India. I know I am a happy customer because i am using one. Immediately all the major operators, Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance and Idea were literally forced to provide the same– objective ” save thy business from customer churn” . Who could help? Newer marketing and promotional programs coupled with exhaustive technology usage is the talk of the hour: “DoCoMo plans LTE cloud to avoid dumb pipe”– That struck the headlines on 19 Nov 09. All this, and then investments to improve in existing delivery to customers and provide new age services– coupling, all the network access technologies for the offerings; with zero knowledge of the fact the the business would be sustain the cost or not. Imagine the state of WiMAX — how many takers worldwide do we have. Similar for femtocells. Well lots of people have the hopes surviving on the success of these. I know I would never call an Inmarsat number–in India and from my operator it would cost me a freaking amount of INR 500 (or roughly USD $10) per minute.  That is where the revenue are all going — only investment and no big tangible returns. Anyone doubts that need for an RA solution? 


Well I do, and that is because if you look at the problem areas I mentioned , it was not about reconciliation of switch to bill– but it had a lot to encompass across a wide range of operational areas.

5. The ability to provide a scanner to ensure visualization of a proper revenue flow across such a  cross operational horizon of opportunities is the key requirement for such a vast problem space. The question is what to name this– Dealer management, Interconnect settlement, Revenue maximization, revenue assurance– or what?? face it— simpler the better. The art is to think objectively and yet simply. The tasks I was talking about is essentially about how the revenue is getting affected– and the need is to ensure that the money-ins and money-outs are being managed properly. Thus simply speaking– it is about managing the revenue — everything that you have billed, and not billed, could not bill, forgot to bill, — everything. Hence I suggest the solution as “Revenue Management”. (for now lets keep objectives of revenue maximization out of the plate, we have too much to first manage before we think of maximizing).

6. So what do we need? rather what happens to the “product model” business of revenue assurance? Product sale dwindles?? yes of course, Operators are not being able to get a hold of revenue from the operations, why would one try to invest in newer RA products. What do the products do then? Well, the need of the hour has risen from switch-to-bill reconciliation, and thus the capability of offerings really need to speak the language of today’s need. Imagine an operator trying to deploy a 3G network with its existing POTS or PSTN network. 3G is yet to have subscribers  and the old network has millions. What would this operator do with an RA tool?? Ofcourse it needs it for both the networks. But the pain are is ensuring: (a) the deployment is simple and smooth with lots of tests. (b) subscribers have a smooth transition if they choose to switch services (c), commitments to subscribers are met (d) lowest possible costs . Now costs is something that anyone would love to minimize, so if one has tools to act even-if-as poor man’s solutions to address the needs, and also at the same time costs very low, the operators would like to consider. Once convinced of the capabilities the operators may obviously choose to go for long term relations. This is where services bundled with products would win the market. (There is a great article by Thomas Davenport in the Nov 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review. Suggest everyone to read the same)

7. When you know you are present everywhere to address the needs, you know the revenues would keep flowing in. This is exactly what I concluded by saying in my last post (a quote form Eric Schmidt). But true to the sense, Google really serves the role models for survival strategies for companies, esp. during transition phases.

This post is not meant to be a technical scoping document– or even business scoping document. There are lots of people talking about a lots of things– problems, solutions and the what would work and what not. What would work and what wont work is something only time can tell, but with the growing challenges, the need is more for collaborative efforts. There is lot to be achieved by the form of collaboration and symbiotic existence in the same ecosystem. It is like a jungle struck by sudden drought– Only those who would collaborate and co-operate would survive the race for existence– that is my opinion..

Please share with me your thoughts.

Posted in Business, Philip Kotler, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, telecom | Leave a comment

Visualizing Growth

Apologies for any typing / grammatical errors! Please point out the same through your invaluable comments.

Eric Schmidt knows, it would take Google a freaking 300 years to achieve purpose of literally “being the owner” (well that is not how they term it though) of all the information in the world.

So, is anyone expecting, that Sergei Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, are hoping to stay alive to see that happening?? Actually they don’t. But what they have is what Thomas Davenport rightly points out as “Strategic Patience”… They know it is gonna take time. But well, all product companies cannot nurture such objectives as Google– but what all the iconic “product” companies have in common is the sense of “what to achieve”.

Now if one sees the Google model, as a mandate Google offers employees to spend 20% of their time on their “own projects”, which if turns out to be good business model, justified by immense amount of numerical and statistical figures, are taken up as Google offerings. What is 20% of time. Lets play with the significance:
Say one works in the company for 10 hours per day.
20 % is 2 hours.
Multiply that in a month of 22 days (that is excluding weekends). It is 44 hours/ month.
12 months a year== 528 hours a year per employee
Now say you have 500 employees. (Google has over 10,000 employees)
So that makes it 264,000 hours of contributed research.
Isn’t that a staggering number?????????
Which company wont “grow” with such a contribution?

Now you know what makes Google grow?

500 forward looking employees would form the key success criteria for any company’s growth. I know , this is not exactly about product management. But this objective is more than a product and its freaking roadmap.

Two things — and two only lead a company to growth– Innovation and Marketing. With such a staggering number for hours of innovation, what more would one need — just have your marketing folks on their toes. Again the sole objective of marketing is to ensure that the burden on sales is less, and sales is smooth to enable achieve the “revenue targets”. Today the most innovative ideas are generated for proper marketing. We all remember the first iPhone sale and how the guy who owned the first iPhone, was literally stormed by news/media on how he was feeling (watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oShf29P34kw&feature=player_embedded). See the excitement in his eyes. That is what marketing is all about. Is iPhone the best “phone”– obviously no, it used to lack in basic features and capabilities of a phone. Jobs knew about the this– that is how the “greats” visualize growth. Today iPhone has a huge market.

Product development and management cannot be about ensuring lesser or greater number of codes. The primary goal is to have growth– which is achieved by innovation, and revenue targets met by marketing.

Innovation cannot and in principle must not  be bound by pre-decided roadmaps and strategies. So the basic question is, are there takers for early innovations. This is where Geoffrey Moore probably  has the best contribution. (Read “Crossing The Chasm”). There are the enthusiasts, and there are  laggards in accepting technology. Imagine the hype of Artificial Intelligence in the 90’s. What is the state of it now (as of today in a sweetly chilly November morning!) . But that never stopped innovation on the front. What is thus important is the ability to channelize innovation in direction to suit the needs of main stream markets.

Innovation projects must be a “must have” for the growth of a company, and these are off the road-map ideas. If one feels we would stick only to what the “customers want” –fair enough, you could. That is exactly what IBM did. Imagine what IBM did in the 70’s. Then computers were not for the individual at home. Along came a “university drop out” introduced the world to a Macintosh, and made the Mac say “Do not trust a computer you cannot lift”. Did the consumers of 1984 know that they were in dire need of a Mac for their homes?? IBM followed the the-then newbies . They had to– rather they were forced to. That is the power of innovation. What roadmap did IBM follow then??

 For today’s world. Google forms the role model of growth strategies and innovation. Think of “Google Wave”. Will it work, only time will tell– but that is what Google shows as having the power to visualize growth. It just seems to be growing in all directions. So whatever it does, is that a hit– actually  “NO”. Google literally has only 2 major hits– Search and Advertisement, and they are on the look out for the third. But still it has an uninterrupted growth in all directions.

Innovation and marketing–> Revenues–> Growth : that is literally the path of success.

In a pro-typical Steve Jobs style allow me to say “One last thing”: — Google’s CEO says : “Ubiquities first, revenues later– if you can build a sustainable eyeball business, you can always find clever ways to monetize them“. —  this statement is a lesson on “how to visualize growth”.

Posted in Business, Google, IBM, Management | Leave a comment

Handling volume explosion of data

Apologies for any typing / grammatical errors! Please point out the same through your invaluable comments.

Lets say you are Not Google, and you do not have BigTable, and you need to work with huge volumes of data, and over that you cannot invest in infrastructure like Google has done– and as if this was not enough, you want to do analytics of some sort on this huge set of data. Now think about handling some petabytes of seemingly useful information that you would have to analyze before u say “Bingo, here it is!! That’s it!!!”.

How did that sound?

I was reading a bunch of articles for quite some time, and the key topic concerning everyone across the board is what to do with the explosive volume of data. We all know “data” is rich storehouse of information, and the better we utilize, the better we serve the customers– well Customers are Gods.

So we have two statements here:
1. we need to serve our customers (which could be business and retail) and thus their needs
2. we have to deal with a freakishly large and ever growing amount of data.

I have a small question here– did the customers say, I want the data “of” everything “for” everything? Well the truth is “No”. This is probably what could solve the matter.

All tasks need data, and all the data requirements are different. Hence what you would need for customer analytics is not what you would need for fraud management. The objective i want to point out is that– the data treatment is where the real play is. For a fraud management scenario, the actual xDRs really do not serve much purpose (except may be in the court of law). But for purposes of fraud identification, it is about the properties of the data which matters. So, that is not exactly a subscriber profiling, it is almost like profiling of the information of data– something like working with the profiled “data of data”. The delta shift of the “properties” depict more that just looking at the entire raw data. In that case — do we really need the xDR details?

Imagine analysis of customer behavior– a call center gets 5 calls from a single customer in a single day. Is this an unhappy customer? may be not. A single customer can have multiple issues and had to call up the customer care. Personally while working in a call center in my first  job days, I have faced the same issue. (The hit was on my personal performance though, because of the SLAs and KRAs. That is a separate issue). Do we need the details of the transaction for all the 5 calls? I think No. key points of observation says it all. 5 issues, 5 calls, 5 closed, 5 satisfied events– 1 customer. — This is still a happy customer. Therefore that data that i need from here is the no. of different issue types, sum of values (say of calls, closed issues)– and related meta information of the actual transaction. Analysis of the meta solves bigger chunks of analytics issues. Here i am not storing the entire detailed information.

In telecom there is a boom in the amount of data. Data segmentation based on the “kind” if meta information possessed within the data could be more helpful than the data itself. I was listening to a free webinar by a particular company, where they proposed, that the data could be classified into 3 classes– the prime class, the middle class and the lower class. (Deliberately I have changed all the terminology and methods of classification). The prime class data is what we would be looking at in all detail. From the middle class, we really could take in snapshot of information, and play more with the meta information to track the behavior, while the lower class, is almost like the throwaway class– from which summarized and condensed information could be extracted and the rest turned to cold data. The challenge is to identify the classification.

Data classification is what plays the real role in handling information and then serving “customers”. Now the question could be what is the basis of the classification? Well that just depends on the need of the domain– revenue assurance has its own needs, fraud and risk management has its own needs, where as analytics (based on the region of the analysis) has its own needs. There could be obvious overlaps– but then the trick is really to be the clever manager to get the “single” work done by the two or more different “people”– basically the trick is on thee methods of “cleaning” the  data. I would say the requirement is to get the meta information from the seemingly important real-looking data.

By the way– not always does the analyst look of the change in the meta information. I was looking at a blog post by Kathy Romano from Verizon (from a link provided in the talk RA blog (one of the best blogs of its kind)[“http://talkra.com/page/5” Raw Data, Workflows and Mr. RA Analyst])
where she quantified and said, that it is more important to look at the raw data, and analyze the shifts. Now that context was for more from a revenue assurance side. But note, the objective was still to identify the shifts. — at least that is what I would gauge out of her requirement. Thus shift of behavior is not the real data– but it is the “data of the data”.

This entire post is just a first phase of wild thought! I may post more to clean up this initial thought– so u know– at some point (after you all readers have contributed) we would get the “meta” to help us ease our work!

– c ya.

Posted in Customer, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, telecom | Leave a comment

CEO- The best product manager?

Apologies for any typing / grammatical errors! Please point out the same through your invaluable comments


One direct answer to the above question is “yes”.
What exactly is a CEO supposed to do? Guide and lead the company to growth, prosperity and development. And the world has seen brilliant CEOs doing so. What are the few names that come to the mind: Steve Jobs, Chad Holliday, Bill Gates, Julius Rosenwald —- and there is a brilliant list. Actually this is a list of Business Leaders who have shown a direction to the world, in a way of their own But all leaders may not be COEs. Think of Sergei Brin and Larry Page. The thing that is always common in successful Business Leaders (be it CEOs or NOT) is their deep rooted “sense of purpose” – which although is simple enough to fit in a 140 character Twitter post, however conveys a messianic sense of belief and purpose. The word therefore is NOT in being the CEO– but in being the Change Leader who is there to metamorphose the caterpillar to the butterfly. How many of such people we see in and around us?


But that is not what this post is about– it is about can the CEO be the best product manager? Actually while studying a few links, I found out that the next way forward from being the head of the product management team is the position of the CEO– they have some similarities in their tasks of managing expectations and dealing with people. The justification for the starting answer is Steve Jobs.


Imagine Steve Jobs at any of the MacWorld exhibitions. There is an aura around him. Is it about a passions like no other. Is he the product manager at Apple? –No, he is better than that. He is the one prime example to prove that beyond Strategic and Tactical games there is the necessity of the details of Operations- he knows about perfection. Perfection cannot be achieved in a day. Even Steve himself if not perfect, and it is shown by the way he himself perfected the “art of perfection” over the years– remember the 1984 Macintosh release ? Imagine the charismatic Steve of then, and compare it to the Steve at MacWorld 2007 introducing the iPhone. There is a sea-change. What is attractive is the fact that, every time, when the audience expects to see the “great”‘ Steve they last saw, they are only overwhelmed to find a better Steve, a better Apple, a better show of perfection.


During my first twitter post, I was wondering what could be the opening statement. Somehow I remembered Steve Jobs, and automatically I typed the following words in Twitter : “There is a great need to outperform one’s own self– Learning is the process, perfection is the by product- No honcho said that, I did“.


This was and is dedicated to the achievements of Steve Jobs.


The word perfection must be the only word in the dictionary of Product Managers. That is something I have literally felt is missing in the loads of books and articles that I have been reading about product management. It is not that you don’t have a precedent to guide you and show that it is possible– as I was mentioning, Steve Jobs is the best example that we get to see daily around us in our lives.




CEOs who are change leaders are also perfectionists. Name a CEO who is revered for his contribution and still is not a perfectionist. I feel Akio Toyoda– the man who transformed Toyota, and Steve Jobs (the one who has transformed Apple)– represents the best change leaders of  our recent times, and there is a lot to learn about business administration from people like him.


The best part to note is, CEOs who have demonstrated the passion for their company and their products, have really proved to be the greatest of world leaders. What is common is the simplistic sense of purpose that fits the Twitter post.. This is what drives a company– A company is never about the share holders– it is about the people, from the lowest of rungs to those in the highest of posts, who make the company the company that it is.


A product manager who has the power to bring a change for the betterment of the bottomline of the product’s culture truly becomes the best of CEOs, but the vice versa may not always be true. Such CEOs, I feel, should learn the art of respecting the philosophy of a  Product Culture from the CEOs who have driven change for the “good” in the world.


Posted in Business, Management | 3 Comments

The Test Event Generator

Apologies for any typing / grammatical errors! Please point out the same through your invaluable comments


This is the first post on the subject matter 🙂
Before i proceed, it would be good to let you all know that there is a great blog that you could follow for all your revenue assurance needs. It is called “The Talk RA” blog (http://talkra.com/)


I think it is one of the greatest links for RA and practicing domain knowledge. The other on is the TM Forum website itself.
—————


Let me talk of Test event generator. This is something I find to be so fascinating in terms of capabilities. Imagine you are an operator. A test event generator box typically allows up to get the view of your network in a controlled environment. All you need to do is create a bunch of reports on the data that you get.


Imagine– you know you have a problem with your network– and the best and the worst part is — you don’t know where it is. Imagine having to track billions of xDRs per day. Imagine what if a large operator with over 75 million subscribers, tries to find the faults in its vast network by using RA reports. Is that not like trying to find a needle in the Arabian Sea?? 


So, say this operator, uses a TCG. What does he gain? A controlled call generation across the network. All call generated (even if it be 10,000), did they pass through the network, and ended up in the invoicing system? No– Bingo, you have the points to suspect. get the calls that did not.


Repeat the exercise a few times. Is some thing showing up again and again?? Usual answer is yes. What larks!!!!! You have your suspect and culprit.


This is not easy — practically. But at least easier than having to view and count 750 million xDRs (@ 10 xDRs per day per subscriber- just being generous). Accepted that there are also challenges of frequency adjustments and the related. Even then, the problem is less that counting a billion records daily!!!


RA really needs to be pin pointed and focused. I am really not of the opinion that you could go and track xDR by xDR. Say today you can. Today you have major GSM, CDMA and PSTN set ups. You know your network. Tomorrow when u have IP (and imagine IPv6), handshaking with your existing network, things would be far from being just screwed. Would one track information xDR by xDR in an IP network. You bet– and even if you do, who will pay for the hardware and the processing?? RA is supposed to bring down your cost, by finding the “missing money”.  Such huge investments wont help (well I think, prove me wrong if you can! ).


Now that is just a hint with RA. A call simulator tool that costs roughly $1500 – $3000  (better tools are surely available) is being used by fraudsters for their fraud pranks resulting in millions of dollar losses for the operators. Such sim boxes could just serve the purpose of a test event generator. The only other investment you would need is to generate an interface for the call to happen via a computer. use an excel sheet for the reporting.


Again this is just for revenue assurance. If handled properly, the test event generators really bring the entire network in the board room. You just have to be careful with what you make out of it.


its just too beautiful a tool.

Posted in Revenue Assurance, Revenue management | Leave a comment

Introduction

Apologies for any typing / grammatical errors! Please point out the same through your invaluable comments

There are a bunch of sites that provide information (and better information) like this one. But i wanted to put things my own way.
So “This” blog is about :

1. Product management: I work in the product management team of a Company. Now there are times when because of situations, company protocols and other factors, some good and some not-so-good idea get mis-handled, resulting in non-implementation of the same. This blog is to jot down such situations.

2. Revenue and Risk Management: These two terms are cross-platform and cross-domain terms. Now being in a company the works in a particular domain on these verticals, I surely will not post company strategies in here. So all readers be sure, that what I write in here has nothing got to do with what my company does, and this would just be my own ideas. I love this domain and its vastness. So in here, in this blog I would love to portray the love and respect for the same.

3. Resource of Information: There is a lot  of information freely available in the net about these subjects. Some i read, some i don’t. In here I would try and collate a lot of information on these subjects. I surely would not go for any copy-right infringement activity, but the basic point is knowledge is something one must share. That typically builds up intellect of the community– here which is the net-community.

Feel free to comment on my posts, and if you want to contribute to this blog, let me know- just send me your email id via a comment, I will send you my email and then put up your information (of course with your name and credentials), or if required share the “author” permission for contributing in the blog.

– Welcome.

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