Thoughts on the book “Exposure- From President to Whistleblower at Olympus”

While it reads like a crime thriller, the book definitely brings out the dire need of corporate governance in its true sense. SOX is present, J-SOX is present and so is a number of ways in which organisations are supposed to run. But still we see the corporate world riddled with the likes of Olympus like events, and or the Satyam scam.

The questions then is, what is it that is not working time and again?
The book is an awesome account of how breaches in corporate governance needs to be dealt with. The advantage that the author has/had by dint of his position in the org structure was a vital element in bringing out the flaws. But what if someone does not have the stature, like the real whistleblower who revealed had to Facta? How would that situation really work? Or does the real whistleblower have to remain hidden for the sake of earning his/her own livelihood or whatever other reason including personal safety?
This is what the book/author does not say, and somewhere i therefore feel that account is incomplete, just as much as thorough implementation of corporate governance. One may argue that it is not so and that CG is well established; but to that I would feel as if it is an ostrich ducking its head in sand and thinking the danger would pass away (or it is some other bird/ animal, i am not sure, but that is besides the point). If CG was really implemented, we would not be looking at events like these where decades of hard work by lots of people is laid waste by a few bad men.

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US $200 Million in credit card fraud… money may have worse impacts as well

 US $200 Million in credit card money may have worse impacts as well

This news item was reported very reported on 6Feb 2013. A 200 million US dollar credit card fraud can only point to the fact that applications like mobile money are even more vulnerable to fraud, and hence there is a definite need of ensuring safety nets for such applications. Real time fraud detection software is definitely the need of the hour.
The real trouble with mobile money is the low value of transactions, and hence it is definitely possible to surf below thresholds while creating havoc in terms of fraud.

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Gold, petrol et al are losing value. World dominance is now almost a matter of information dominance. Data and information is thus the most valuable possession. Could such attacks be regarded as the beginning of full fledged cyber wars? Read more.

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There could have been only one Steve Jobs…. and there is no way another will be there. Applicable even for movies being thought of.

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Customers are Not Innovators! Leaders Innovate—Customers and Others ‘follow’

As much as we may want to think of Customers as Gods, the truth cannot be far from reality. Gods are supposedly those beings who everything and of course the future, but time and again we have been proven that the Customer community might at best know what problem they want to solve, if at all they realize what that problem is.

Henry Ford made the right decision of not asking the Customer what they wanted or even needed. At that time the Customer (as he rightly had pointed out) would have raised the requirement of faster horses and not auto-mobiles. Customers even do not understand the need of a super product till they are given one. Auto-mobiles were the best example.

Every time the world has seen a disruptive innovation, the need or want was never identified from Customers. Technology provides the solution through which only a few visionaries can provide the ideal and most innovative and breakthrough products.

Back in 1950s, when the technology of transistors, semi-conductor and other solid state devices was picking up, no one thought it was possible to create a pocket-held device so small that it could serve the same purpose of the gigantic boxes called “radios” which people used to have at their homes at the time. Marasu Ibuka, Akio Morita and other brains behind SONY revolutionized the concept of such systems with devices which became synonymous with the “need” of the Customers. These included the Walkman, Discman. Post the revolution you had other companies coming up with their ‘walkmans’ or ‘discmans’. Think of any of such breakthroughs, and you would find that the Customer God had no clue or imagination of the need or want of such a device, and only when it was made available, all that they wanted was the same device to get better. Thus post the ear of the Walkman and Discman, the Customer was still unable to envision “iPod”. Steve Jobs did. Along with the vision, what Steve Jobs could do was be the ideal salesman who knew which pressure points to press for literally instigating Customers shell big bucks to satisfy the “quench” created by Apple. Steve Jobs would not have created the 7-inch iPad mini because it is a junk device.

There have been innumerable times when the Customer God has been worshipped, instead of the True Innovators who really created the breakthrough innovations and changed our lives forever. It is this breed of innovators who always lead the way in directions of complete darkness to light the way for the rest to follow. Such people “Lead from the Front” and only such companies make an indelible mark where the Heads lead from the front without bending down to pressure or shunning from taking the decisions that becomes turning points for the company, followers, market and of course ‘Customers’.

Here is a quick example from SONY. Back in 1955 when SONY was still a relatively unknown company in USA;  Bulova- a company known then had asked Akio Morita of SONY to create pocket-sized radios but market them under the name of Bulova stating that “our company name (i.e., Bulova) is a famous brand name that has taken over fifty years to establish. Nobody has ever heard your brand name (i.e., SONY). Why not take advantage of ours?” In view of Akio Morita “Fifty years ago, your brand name must have been just as unknown as our name is today. I am here with a new product, and I am now taking the first step for the next fifty years of my company. Fifty years from now I promise you that our name will be as famous as your name is today”.

This is what true Leaders and Innovators do—They Lead from the Front!

[The text in italics is an excerpt from “Made in Japan” by Akio Morita]

Posted in Business, Customer, Customer Experience Management, Innovation, Innovators, Leadership, Marketing 3.0, SONY | Tagged | Leave a comment

Lies, damn lies and analytics?

This is a great post that summarizes exactly why Analytics is NOT the silver bullet!

Big Talk

Over 200 years ago Benjamin Disraeli1 said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics”. This aphorism is still immensely popular. Every time someone wants to ridicule statistics and statistical thinking he quotes Disraeli. Then, with more relish, he tells you that other one linking statistics to a bikini.

 Most laypersons think of statistics as something that starts with “mean-mode-median” and then wanders off to “variance or standard deviation” with probability coming in somewhere. Very few realize, or accept, that statistics can be a powerful analytical tool. Since it’s hard to change perceptions, statistical analysis must be sold with a new name: “Analytics”. This new name works better; the top management “buys” it more easily. And, one day, when they stop buying “business analytics”, it will be re-packaged as “business intelligence”.

 The major reason why analytics has risen appreciably in public esteem is because computers and…

View original post 1,097 more words

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Should Flipkart be allowed to spoil habit of customers?

Dear Flipkart,

Please don’t provide the best form of customer service that can be available on the planet. especially because you are in India. If you do so, it becomes tough for me as a customer to bear with the others in Business, when one gets a service as unthinkably brilliant as You guys provide. It is wrong on your part to ship and deliver objects at the fastest possible manner thus guaranteeing customer satisfaction. It is wrong on your part to ship and deliver books as a “next day service” with option to pay through cards (credit or debit) when I have asked for Cash-On-Delivery… and You have done this, at least 15 times with me. It is wrong on Your part to set benchmarks w.r.t expectations from customer service.

Your counter parts in the same business (like ‘Landmarkonthenet‘) cannot deliver books in 7 days after promising 2-3 days, and then also they ship old, damaged, used books; and after continuous complaining and cribbing they take another 7 days time to update what is going to happen without telling when the book will come as a replacement.

Why only Landmark, take Aramex courier service for example, through whom Landmark shipped. Aramex, was sitting on the delivery for 4 days before bringing it to me, and the best part is, the shipment was in the same city (Bangalore) for 4 days before it came to me. Reasons cited by them: 1) it was late on Tuesday, 2) Wednesday was a holiday 3) 1st Nov it was raining very heavily 4) 2nd, well the delivery guys were busy! I have never found Flipkart delivery guys giving such reasons. So You see, You have effectively spoilt the habit of me-the customer- by setting wrong expectations w.r.t customer service. Before Flipkart was there, I guess these were acceptable norms.

Why only your domain? Check out my experience with Vodafone Karnataka! For 1.5 years in the name of 3G service they provided the worst form of data connectivity in Bangalore. The speeds were less than 40kbps, when 3G speeds should be some 10 odd times more than that. However they were “Happy to Help” and charged me a ton of money for the 3G service which they never provided. The best part was, on Twitter they sent a direct message which read “Kindly note that the indoor coverage in your area is weak and there is no new site planned as of now.“– which means, do whatever you wish, we wont provide you the service but will continue to charge you for 3G!!! Now that is the kind of customer service people are used to. But this does not end here, let me not iterate the kind of personnel Vodafone has in customer service and they way they have interacted. Anyways, finally I decided to shift from Vodafone to Airtel through MNP- and by God’s grace that happened smoothly, and Vodafone removed my online account. However they did not send me any bill for the outstanding amount. Now, after 1 month, I am getting calls from the Happy-to-Help guys saying I have to pay an amount which is outstanding. When did i say, I wont pay because I know of the usage I have done?? But you see, I cannot expect a Bill, because they wont email it! So, now here is customer service at work in the guise of collection’s agents, who call up and say, “I am coming, give me the money!”. So what of the bill? why is Vodafone not emailing it to me? Now that is the customer service in action. I have to go to the Vodafone store and get my bill… inspite of the technology called “Email” which can send bills digitally!

So You see, this is the kind of “jugaad” philosophy and ‘kuch bhi karo chalta hai’ theology is what works in here. Now, in this environment, if You act so damn professionally, it is definitely wrong and should not be done. Come to think of it…. since You have spoilt my habit w.r.t orders and customer service, now the rest of the guys think I can only crib! But what they would NOT like to take away is the learnings that You at Flipkart can provide about Customer Service, Quality Management and Delivery!

So here is my request. Don’t be so ridiculously professional and awesome. Remember that You are in India, and hence please act accordingly- just like the other do.

Thanks and Regards

Posted in Customer care, Customer Experience Management, Flipkart, Vodafone | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Double Jeopardy for AT & T

AT&T sued over alleged improper billing of services for hearing-impaired

this article caught my eye and I was left wondering of the woes of AT & T.
They charged improperly for services provided (to fraudsters), and now are liable to pay damage charges!
What are the losses?
1. Not being able to detect fraudulent usage.. Ouch, that always hurts.
2. (Therefore) Billing wrongly for services to Federal Communications Commission… That is a type of ‘Bill Shock’ for FCC
3. Now fighting lawsuit over False Claim Act.
Overall. AT & T lost on all sides. Provided services to “subscribers” (who by the way seems to be fraudsters); did not get money for the services provided (FCC claims that they were false billed); and now AT & T would be paying from their own pockets the services wrongly provided. 
USD $16 Million is a ton of money!
Posted in AT n T, Bill Shock, Fraud Detection | 1 Comment

D-Day– ROC Revenue Assurance v5 Globally Launched

No more teaser advertisements…. for today its D-Day.
My product ROC Revenue Assurance v5 is Globally Launched, and it definitely is significant for me.
One could say– it is my first international product launch– and well it is a grand scale of events for a grand product. Here is the link to the event: It is a Virtual Webcast.
It definitely is the one-stop shop for revenue assurance needs, and even then it is just the beginning…. for there is way more coming up.
Stay Put.
Posted in Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, ROC Revenue Assurance, Subex, telecom | Leave a comment

Subex to introduce ROC Revenue Assurance 5- a lot of ‘first of its kind’

I could not resist the temptation of blogging about my first large scale international product launch. Being the Associate Product Manager of ROC Revenue Assurance, it took us a great effort in bringing to the market the first of its kind Revenue Assurance tool. … It is amazingly different…. and we made it happen.
Here is the first teaser ad. that team marketing got rolling into the web.

For anyone who reads my blogs, please feel free to join us [by registering at] as we introduce a lot of ‘first of its kind’ capabilities for a market that is thought to be saturated and shrinking.

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Tickling Human Emotions and Blaming it on Business by a Biased report

I don’t wish to sound like heartless ogre, but a report in The New York Times (find here) on the atrocities inflicted by Apple on its workers made me wonder about the purpose of such a biased report. Before I proceed, one quick question, does the reporter/(s) know about the conditions of the people [workers] who lived and worked to make Beijing Olympics a reality?

The first thing that the outlook lacks to the largest extent is the fact that Apple though the thing called ‘Apps’  has created one of the largest businesses and therefore one of the largest bread-earners for a ton of companies (and therefore human individuals) around the globe. The copy-cats like Samsung followed the same path as was shown by Apple, and that has in turn caused Samsung to grow by using Android. Although Apps were not invented by Apple, but they ‘created’ the economy.

Except for a single line about similar conditions in HP, Dell,Lenovo, Sony et al factories, this seems more of an Apple’s-Back-Stabbing effort. It is not an un-imaginable situation to have cost of land, labor, capital extracted by selling ‘product’. Product price points are set keeping these in mind. That is how any business house works. If China provides cheap labor, that is a driving factor for companies to open factories in these countries. Why look only at manufacturing industry, do You find any significant report on the work-life-balance (the so called must have) of IT creatures in India? Honestly, I could not understand the reason of this report targetted only for at Apple. It is because of the blasts and killed individuals? if yes, where are similar reports of such disasters in other billion dollar industries- not only electronics.

It no doubt is really grave to learn of the mis-fortunes of human individuals, but then– a comprehensive and well made report is one that gives a full perspective and not a biased on like this!

I am not sure if such kind of ‘Journalism’ is what I am expecting from a paper as well known and circulated as New York Times. Talking of responsibilities, probably such biased reports are more detrimental to the society as a whole across the globe than the atrocities of Apple.

Posted in Apple, Blast in Apple factory in China, The New York Times | Leave a comment

Power corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely – The Story of a Mighty Fall

After a long break from blogging, I thought it may be a good idea to be back to blogging with a story of honest efforts that failed because of a maxim that the people overlooked. My dad used to say, ‘power corrupts, absolutely power corrupts absolutely’. It took me a good number of years to understand practical implications of the maxim. Time for the story……….. NOTE: this bears no resemblance to real life and is intended only for highlighting a few good-to-know-points of management. Any resemblance is merely co-incidental.
At the same time when the twin towers collapsed in New York, and with it that collapsed fate of millions, a few determined people started a venture that rocked the world right from the beginning. Over a very brief period of time, these people reached the pinnacle of success and became the obvious reason of sleepless nights for the CEOs of a number of big firms. They became known all around for the ‘effectiveness’ of their work- for they did good work. As they grew, it was time to scale up, and the flood gates opened to increase head count. First point of failure started with that. Soaring revenue, year on year growth, brought about the hubris born out of success, and the good men started enjoying the ‘power’ that slowly grew just as the team grew into a mighty organization. They say, with great powers come greater responsibilities. But some otherwise ‘wise’ brains had already been clouded by the stories of success, the glitz and the glamour. The net effect was an inherent disrespect of ‘prophecies’ of High Priests of business world (and their teachings in books like Crossing the Chasm, How the Mighty Fall et al) of everything that can go wrong. Effectively it turned out the prophecies had been made after years of research and analysis and were bound to be true, and they were more than prophecies- the were ‘ideals’ of what all not to do during the growth years of the organization. But the veil of success becomes the curse for destruction. Over a short period of less than a year, power struggles erupted with organized coups. If only the wise-ones understood that they were just fighting against themselves and not the outsiders who the wise-ones thought were their out right enemies. The outsiders hadn’t build the organization so they left just as they had come. During the power struggle though, something even worse was created- monsters of Frankenstein. Some of these were mere mortals who were glamorized  in spite of dire in competencies and out right professional nakedness. Under the garb of loyalty and goodies-for-good-work, lay the ‘personal preferences’ of the ‘corporate order’. The other monsters were process related where the wise-ones seemed to have lost focus on what all drives ‘business’- viz., Sales does, cash does. Even when the grounds had started shaking uncontrollably, the last resort was ‘methods to fool others’ instead of solving the emergency. As again the maxim goes: ‘you can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time’, the walls collapsed ultimately leading to a sore that the founders would have never thought of.
Enough of the story, now for the perspectives of what needed to have been done:
1. Hubris born out of success: This is a human tendency and hence it is all the more important to do self-evaluations. Win-Loss profiles, and self evaluation of both reasons of success and failure with a commitment of not to repeat whatever went wrong and yet institutionalize the ‘novel’ practices that worked wonders- these were the things to do. But with success comes the greed of power and retaining power.
2. Power dissipation: It is important to note that with growth one has to rise above ranks leaving the control to the lower levels. It is one thing to give attention to detail- which is quintessential; but it is completely different from power transfer to enable lower levels become self-sufficient. Both are essentially required. But the question is to whom You would transfer the power. The people!
3. The People- A-Class Teams work with A-Class people: When You choose to compromise on the quality of people You hire, You have opened flood gates for the not-so-required talents to flow in without filter. With B-Class people around, A-team members would only deliver B-Class results, and in turn the quality degrades over time, and it essentially did, else one would not have had to resort to ‘fooling people’. One never needs to do that, if You know what drives the business.
4. Revenue is Vanity, Profit is Sanity, Cash is reality: This was told to me by my mentor (someone who is a Father figure to me- I lost my dad to cancer, but the Lord thought otherwise to bless me with his company). One should have looked into the cash book more often. the other most important factor is how much sales You have been making year on year? Take a ‘wise’ and un-biased look. Don’t fool Yourselves- at least on this front.
5. Personal goals and preferences above the organization: There are companies that put organization first (ITC) and there are others that put Employees first (HCL), but not a single successful company has ever put personal growth of the senior executives as top priority coupled with ‘their personal preference’ of employees over employees’ capabilities. It raises doubts of reasons of preference.

While I was reading ‘How The Mighty Fall’, I never thought the dramatization of a ‘fall’ could actually take place in reality in such a vivid way with the steps as:
1. Hubris born of success 
2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
3. Denial of risk and peril
4. Grasping for salvation
5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death 
 At least in the last stage where the organization represents a hell-of-doom; there is still time for a retrospective look at what all had gone wrong so that in future that is not repeated. Essentially when leaders fail, the actually ‘innocent’ workers suffer much more than mere financial losses.

Your thoughts please.!
Posted in Business, Crossing The Chasm- Geoffrey Moore, Employees First Customers Second, HCL, How The Mighty Fall- Jim Collins, ITC | Leave a comment

On a Kill Bill mission–Bharti Airtel and RCom

That competition is a fierce war, is apparent in Bharti Airtel’s attitude.

Here is an article, that depicts the fierceness of the operator in its wake of penetrating into larger markets.
Now if anyone thought it is just Bharti-Airtel, lol….. here comes RCom with even more plans to offer. RCom would offer three times the data for the price of one plan. Here is the corresponding article.

If such action continues, I’m sure shortly enough, we would have Hollywood flicks coming up showcasing the wars and battles. 
Posted in Bharti Airtel, RCom | Leave a comment

Building a Business- from the seed, to sapling to a giant

When it comes to business, often I have seen, it is only a few key things that needs to be done right, at the right time, in the right direction, and most importantly in the right way. Essentially there is no rocket science for success except for the fact that You know what You are doing and don’t try fooling all around- which includes Your own employees, who happen to be the biggest strength of the organisation (yet often this is forgotten by companies, especially small ones), Your investors and VCs and most importantly the customers.

Here is a great article  from TechCrunch (viz. The Job Of A CEO At A 200 Person Company) – simple in thoughts and processes to follow when for startUps and budding organizations. The article ends with a fansatic opinion, that a few start ups and small companies over look – “You are human. You make mistakes. You get stressed. But at all times, be real! Your people and your market want to hear from you—they want to know you and know what you stand for. They can sniff bullshit a mile away. Don’t disengage with reality behind the CEO’s magic curtain—it’s all too easy. Keep it real.”.

As a matter of fact, as seen even in this article, there is no rocket science of success and exactly similar thoughts are laid out by Guy Kawasaki in his book, “The Macintosh Way” which simply put reads as ‘Doing the Right Thing’ and ‘Doing Things Right’.

One can interpret it simply as “be honest in transactions” and don’t bullshit, for that won’t help You in the long run.

Posted in Business, Guy Kawasaki, Management, TechCrunch, The Macintosh Way | 1 Comment

‘INRA’- could this be tomorrow’s definition for today’s RA?

How about an acronym ‘INRA’ which reads as ‘Investment aNd ROI Assurance’?
Don’t worry, it is not a new mouthful marketing term that has just jumped out in some bright brain, but the concept and where it stems from is fairly simple. Let me try and explain.

Two questions: Who is RA for? and What is the scope of RA? The age old question that probably is yet to be answered is ‘what is the scope of revenue assurance?’ and we have opinions all around the globe w.r.t its scope, which typically and unfortunately resonates the safe home ground that the specific claimant is confident of. If protecting the revenues of the company is a target, then should revenue assurance not be a part of ‘every’ company on the face of Earth? Obviously the metrics and KPIs would be different, but how come RA is then spoken of as the terminal illness primarily of telecoms? Is it because of the loss volumes are deemed extremely high- could be? But then, by large all types of companies would need some system or the other for RA activities? I don’t seem to see a lot of claims around that- pardon my ignorance if that also is a big buzz word that I am not aware of.

So if one has to come up with a fairly benign definition of RA, should it not include safeguarding the investments and therefore determining ROIs of investments made by the companies? ‘End of day’, you try and “assure” “revenue”. I get it when one would say, revenue is all that for which You can raise an invoice, but hey, someone else also raised an invoice that You paid for in getting a bunch of systems that is supposed to do some work and get Your ROI in x-amount of time. Why would that not be considered a part of ‘assuring’ revenues?

Some terms like ‘cost assurance’, ‘margin assurance’ and the likes seem to speak in volumes of the work that is there for safe guarding revenues. So, if at the end of everything one is targeting to save revenues and mind it, at all quarters and corners of the business, should “everything” not be a part of something like ‘INRA’? And INRA is for ‘everyone’….nothing specific to telecoms only.

One more point; lets keep this straight and simple, first safeguard and stabilize your ‘today’ which is the present state, before trying to optimize for a better future. No point thinking of a glorious ‘future’ if You are dying today, and therefore optimization is definitely out of scope of INRA.

Posted in ARPU, Business Assurance, Cost Management, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, telecom | Leave a comment

War of Worlds- The Tariff War in telecom continues- Time to Assure Business

Don’t think of the Tom Cruise starrer Hollywood flick, for this post is about the recent news of MTS slashing base calling tariff to half paisa per second, that is roughly $(1/9000) per second. Read the full article here.

Imagine the state of affairs w.r.t competition that a company (which like all other operators in the Indian sub-continent) is trying to make a living by cutting down the cost of calls in spite of itself (like all others) having to face still operational cost issues– which effectively are all on the rise.

MTS is a relatively new incumbent in the market that is dominated by the likes of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular, Reliance and Tata.

As the war for call tariff reduction as a tactic to increase the customer base continue, the operators (all of them) seem to be bleeding profusely trying to contain the costs while barely managing to make money in business.

Something tickles within me, when I see this happening and thus it seems to me that the obvious choice of survival for the telecom in this economic belt would be nothing less than ‘consolidation’. The tariff war is taking a toll on the business economics of the telecom world and I don’t see a lot of survivors in the near future.

The quintessential need of the hour before the wave of consolidation (which I so anticipate happening) sticks in and even after that would thus be ‘business assurance’– a term being now used frequently in the telecom C-level rooms. Still a flux in terms of the scope and definition, business assurance may be the answer to the methods that telecom world would use in order to :
1) contain costs across the board, while trying to increase
2) cash reserves,
3) cash flows,
5) net-profit,
6) revenue and obviously bookings
…possibly in the above order of priority.

I guess, its just about time we see a wave of economics tsunami hitting the telecom world.

Posted in Business Assurance, Cost Management, India, MTS, Revenue management, telecom | Leave a comment

An excellent read on Business Assurance from TMNG and GTB

The following article was published in
Since there was no link to share in blogger, I am copy pasting the content of the article in here.
Please read the original article here.

A holistic approach to optimising business performance

21 April 2011
As operators continue to transform their businesses, c-level executives are increasingly turning to business assurance as a means to gain a holistic view of their businesses’ performance. Co-sponsored feature: TMNG Global

Howard Watson: Business assurance is now at the top of the
agenda of the COO and increasingly on the agenda of CEO
The term ‘business assurance’ is still relatively new in the telecoms operator sector and to an extent suffers from the hype cycle that often afflicts the emergence of new terminology. It’s important to understand that this is not a new name for revenue assurance or service assurance but a mature concept designed to describe the effort to gain greater insight into actual business performance across an operator’s environment “This is an assurance activity that sits at an executive level within the organisation,” says Howard Watson, managing director of Cartesian, a TMNG Global company. “While as a company we have a rich heritage in revenue assurance, process re-engineering and customer satisfaction, business assurance extends into the areas of cashflow, cost containment and into the financial operations of the business. Business assurance is now at the top of the agenda of the COO and increasingly on the agenda of the CEO.”
That advance into the boardroom underscores the importance of a disciplined approach to business assurance to the modern operator. However, adopting the business assurance mindset effectively requires operators to also transform their processes and operations from both organisational and cultural perspectives. “If you consider some of the business improvement methodologies that have been used, like Six Sigma, adoption requires a culture where everyone buys into the technology being used,” explains Watson. “In our experience, business assurance needs a similar level of corporate-wide commitment. We have found that this approach must be sponsored by the highest levels of executive management and embraced by the entire enterprise. Every new service introduction, technology change, process improvement and system development effort should be viewed through the prism of business assurance. Once business assurance is embraced by the enterprise it will facilitate that all of your key performance metrics are optimized – not the least of which is ensuring the highest level of service for your customers. For example, our QSA tool ensures when you finish migration and transformation, you leave behind a culture that solves the root cause of a problem.”
Watson certainly knows about the challenges operators face in ensuring lasting success in transformation and migration. Prior to joining TMNG he spent 16 years working in the UK cable industry, which became Virgin Media. Watson led the cable operator’s technology initiatives as its chief of Transformation and Technology. Under his leadership, the technology division of Virgin Media saw revolutionary change as Watson introduced new key and strategic positions, including CTIO and executive director of change, and implemented new strategies to earn the banner “most cost efficient division”. In addition, as the chief technology and information officer of Telewest, which later merged with rival provider NTL to form Virgin Media, Watson was instrumental in the establishment of Telewest as one of the best performing cable operators according to industry analysts.
“I spent 16 years in the UK cable industry and that was characterised by continuous acquisition and merger activity which meant a lot of transformational activity took place all the time,” says Watson. “What I learned, sometimes through bitter experience and sometimes more easily, is that successful transformation is about engaging the entire operation. Business assurance does pull all that together, bringing financial, technical and customer experience organisations together with a shared goal. At Virgin Media, the transformation was sticky, so it continues, that’s because everyone was engaged.”
“People want a partner who can help facilitate the various parts of the organization to pull together,” he adds. “These challenges cannot be addressed in a vacuum or from one vendor’s point of view. A best-in-class business assurance program must be holistic, addressing revenue, costs, margin, cash flow, service, customer satisfaction and operational efficiency, include all the vendors in the value chain, be highly automated, and include experts who fully understand the transformation that is taking place in the communications, media and technology industries.
Much of TMNG’s proposition appears to resemble the management practice applied to other industry verticals but Watson acknowledges that telecoms operators face an array of challenges that are unique to their industry in addition to other challenges faced by other verticals. “Obviously, each vertical has its own challenges,” he says. “The important characteristics of a telecoms operator are that essentially they have a lot of customers that are paying an annuity revenue stream. As an operator your revenue is about lifetime value of your customers which you try to increase. The utility and financial services sectors are similar in that respect.”
Given that, are telecoms operators as savvy as those similar sectors when it comes to business assurance? Watson says the message is getting through. “We need to continue to stimulate the market and ensure business assurance continues to stay in the front of operators’ minds,” he says. “The sector is very customer-centric so for that reason it becomes a top table consideration and is on the c-level agenda.”
TMNG Global has assembled both the technical expertise and the experience to aid operators throughout their transformations. “One of our core areas of expertise is in working with customer to transform their business,” says Watson. “That really applies across the entire lifecycle to what processes are required and what is the impact of specific changes. We can work with the operator to prioritise where transformation is required.”
TMNG Global’s Business Assurance assessments and solutions combine its expert business assurance consulting services with its award-winning business assurance software suite, Ascertain, their internationally-recognised, proprietary Quality Business Controls (QBC), eLexicon, and Quality Systems Audit (QSA) methodologies. For example, TMNG’s eLexicon is a web-enabled toolset and accompanying methodologies that contains user requirements gathered from numerous projects with more than 250 operators, both domestic and international. “We have methodologies for transformation and how to undertake transformation in a repeatable way,” says Watson. “We also provide our Ascertain Business Assurance Suite, which we deliver and leave in place, essentially providing the business with a business assurance dashboard and heartbeat.”
This type of integrated and comprehensive approach is increasingly required across the c-level suites at operators. “Business assurance is at the CEO, CIO, CFO, COO level,” confirms Watson. “Those functions all have this need in common and the underlying driver is the complexity that continues to increase within a telecoms operator, within its IT operations and, more and more, in the sales channels. Process and systems complexity increases quite dramatically at times and our operator customers are focusing increasingly on outsourcing and using third parties which means a framework is also required to simplify and manage those relationships.”
The business assurance market is certainly geared to address that complexity. “What was revenue assurance and resided in the CFO domain involved taking that information and focusing on the lost revenue,” adds Watson. “Now instead of focusing on loss, assurance might be about gaining insight into the 99.99% of revenue that has been assured. Operators might want to know how their high value customers have performed from a revenue point of view and that becomes relevant as a CEO dashboard – whether a CEO looks daily or weekly is an ongoing issue.”
The Ascertain Business Assurance Suite, mentioned earlier, is TMNG Global’s centralised business assurance portal that monitors, reports and analyses the many revenue streams and costs within a company. With a common interface that effortlessly collects and reconciles data while providing constant monitoring of activities and trends, Ascertain ensures users can focus on the results ensuring revenue is recovered, operating costs are reduced and permanent corrective actions are taken. “The key is to have that holistic approach and work from start to finish on a programme of corrective actions,” explains Watson. “Delivering the Ascertain platform enables operators to define symptoms and ensure issues have been corrected. The ultimate objective is to ensure that customer satisfaction has been increased.”
Watson says that while the holistic approach of business assurance delivers a wider set of benefits, there is still value in operators targeting specific aspects of their businesses. “You can and we still do target specific requirements with revenue assurance, for example,” he says. “Operators are looking at reducing the number of suppliers they have and the CIO wants to have integrated solutions so the holistic approach is becoming more the norm. Even with a single supplier, there tends to be a componentised architecture. We can provide a fully integrated architecture and that helps you find the cracks in the underlying architecture.”
For Watson, both schools of thought exist. The first thought is that a pre-integrated solution will have a lower total cost of ownership for the IT infrastructure, while the second thought centres on specifying best of breed solutions with integration done in-house. “There are pros and cons to both approaches,” says Watson. “From a business assurance perspective, we are ensuring we can work with both.”
The TMNG Global approach fits either preference and that, coupled with the market experience the company brings to its engagements, is the key differentiator. “We’re not just a mainstream enterprise software provider,” points out Watson. “Many of our staff have previously worked within operators and been involved in real engagements with real operators delivering added value. We know what it is like to get our hands dirty and we can bring that to bear in our engagements.” GTB

Posted in Business Assurance, Customer Experience Management, GTB, telecom, TMNG | Leave a comment

Using Social Media for CRM or CEM

Here is a good article I caught up with on CRM / CEM. (This was published as an article in Yahoo)

On Cloud 2: making fans of customers on social media

By Siddharth Cavale
BANGALORE (Reuters) – In May 2008, a blog post caught computer maker Dell Inc by surprise: popular tech blog Gizmodo had broken news about Dell’s Inspiron 910 mini-notebook — months ahead of its launch — after seeing CEO Michael Dell toting the notebook at an industry conference.
Instead of staying mum, Dell saw an opportunity in the frenzied online buzz to track what was being said about the notebook and gauge the level of potential users’ expectations.
And it paid off.
Dell realized potential customers were planning to pass up a competitor’s projects for the new Dell Mini 9; the social media chatter was extending the buying cycle and driving demand. (
A combination of social media and traditional customer relations management — social CRM — is allowing companies like Dell to track customer conversations, react swiftly to issues they raise, gain insight into their needs and interact with them.
“The (social CRM) market is over $1 billion in social business solutions this year and is growing at 30-40 percent,” said Michael Fauscette, analyst at research house IDC.
Companies that provide customer relationship management services on the Internet, or ‘cloud’ services, are alive to the opportunity and are snapping up firms that offer social media monitoring services.
This marriage of social media, such as Facebook , Twitter, and blogs, with the ‘cloud’ — a term that refers to the shift to providing software, computing power and data storage on the Internet — has been dubbed Cloud 2.0.
Last month, bought Canada-based Radian6, which counts Dell, Kodak and PepsiCo among its customers, for $326 million. Smaller rival RightNow Technologies bought HiveLive in late 2009, and SuccessFactors last year bought out CubeTree.
CRM vendors’ spending on social software to support sales, marketing and customer service processes will top $1 billion worldwide within two years, IT research firm Gartner estimates.
That figure compares to a forecast of more than $12 billion for overall spending on CRM software in 2012, meaning social CRM will account for around 8 percent of total CRM spending next year, double this year’s level, Gartner said.
Given how so-called cloud stocks have performed, investors appear receptive to companies making these acquisitions to accelerate growth in new areas like social media. Shares of Salesforce rose 6 percent after its Radian6 news, and Successfactors gained 8 percent after buying CubeTree.
Industry analysts say cloud computing projects tend to generate quick returns, allowing companies to quickly recoup what they spend on the projects and see tangible benefits to their businesses.
“I bet a lot of Salesforce’s peers are looking at this as well … it looks like a lot of them are slow or are confused about social CRM, which they say is still in its infancy,” said Lyle Fong, CEO of Lithium Technologies, which provides similar social media monitoring solutions to Radian6, and is cited by analysts as a potential acquisition target.
Lithium, which used to provide Internet traffic monitoring, bought Scout Labs last year and transformed itself into a social media monitoring service.
IDC’s Fauscette sees Oracle and Salesforce — which was founded by CEO Marc Benioff in 1999, when he left Oracle — as potential buyers for Lithium Technologies.
“I’m not sure Salesforce’s acquisition of Radian6 indicates a broader trend of consolidation in the industry,” said Subha Rama, senior analyst with ABI Research. “However, it does demonstrate that companies are looking to understand the return on investment from their social media initiatives.”
As this capability is better delivered from the cloud, you might see software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers buying smaller analytics firms to fill a skills gap, Rama said.
“I don’t think IBM will do a buy … they already have an in-house solution, but Oracle is definitely going to look to acquire some products in this space,” she said.
Lithium Tech’s Fong reckons all the social media monitoring companies will be bought out in the next year.
“All the big ones are already gone … that space will disappear as a stand-alone space very shortly,” he said.
(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair and Ian Geoghegan)
— This article was published in Yahoo.
The following is the link for the same:
Posted in Customer Experience Management, DELL | Leave a comment

Telecom Asia Awards 2011 Presentation

Telecom Asia Awards 2011 Presentation

but it is surprising to see no Indian operators on the top!

(This is a direct  link to ‘Poulos Ponderings’ at )

Posted in telecom, Telecom Asia Awards 2011 | Leave a comment

Oracle CRM: Delivering a ‘Wow’ Customer Experience

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

"Optimizing" Revenue Assurance

For a number of years now, there has been fair bit of ‘buzzzzzzzz’ on Proactive Revenue Assurance.
Let me try and put a few things straight first:
(Reactive) Assurance: Assuring after the fact and preventing recurrence in future
Active Assurance: Assuring ‘as and when’ things are falling apart, fixing and hoping to stop things from falling apart in future.
Proactive Assurance: Playing ‘Minority Report’ (the Tom Cruise starer movie). Just joking. The concept I hope is to ‘assure’ before things fall apart.

Using the word ‘Assuring’ so as to avoid having to define the “scope of revenue assurance” et al.

Nice thoughts and for all practical purposes all are flawed– whatsoever the Gurus of Marketing of pro-typical software vendors may say. Ask the real guy who works his ass off in assuring revenue and You would get the real picture of the actual facts of what works and what not.

Essentially what is typically necessary is means to ‘automate’ reporting and controls that are put in place. Imagine having to use a 100 person strong team for regular reporting and control purposes. The effective tool is one that helps to free up the human resources by automating the manual activities, so that the same set of people can be effectively used for finding and ‘assuring’ other areas of the business, else the capacity is under-utilized.

Note however, a effective output (efficiency) of any process in any place/industry/region is guided by the throughput of the slowest working unit of the process. If you increase capacity in one or more working unit only without considering how to improve the overall efficiency, all that is done is maximizing ‘inventory’ thus building up operational costs with no output. End of day You hurt Your own business. So howsoever You try and fix everything about reporting and controls, if the bottleneck is in getting the data itself in the first place, all other processes is guided by how well You get the data and process the same.

Success of a effective processes around revenue management and business assurance (say call it ‘Optimized Revenue Assurance’) therefore is guided by the capability to optimize the throughput of the slowest process. The key steps therefore are:
1) to identify the slowest process
2) identify how to optimize the same
3) ensure the rest of the processes are aligned to the output capability if the slowest one.
Note, it is not necessary to have the rest of the processes running at full capacity over and above the capacity of the ‘sub-optimal’ process– for that would just increase the operational costs for the organization.

This is a very engrossing topic…. hope to write more on the same in future posts.
All Comments of All Forms are Welcome.

Posted in Business Assurance, Cost Management, Proactive RA, Revenue Assurance, telecom | Leave a comment

Fumbled Tablet Strategy Cost Acer CEO His Job

Fumbled Tablet Strategy Cost Acer CEO His Job, Sources Say

CEO Gianfranco Lanci’s departure from Aceryesterday was both sudden and unexpected. What precipitated it? The company line says it was his differences with Acer’s board of directors. But over what, specifically? Evidently, Lanci grievously misjudged the impact that tabletswould have on the company’s core business.
Sources at Acer told DigiTimes that Apple’s iPad undercut the company badly in the netbook market. And it quickly became clear that simply boosting shipments of notebooks to win market share was no longer a viable strategy. “We were almost too successful in the past…but more recently the iPad and other new form factors have had a very big impact on the PC market,” Acer Chairman J.T. Wang told the Financial Times. “We have to change our business strategy.”
And leadership. Because Acer needs to replicate in tablets its success in notebooks. To do that, it must approach the market as Apple or HTC might, searching out profits on high margin devices. And according to Acer execs, Lanci was too busy fighting a pricing war with Dell and Hewlett-Packard to realize it. Said Acer CFO Tu Che-min, “There is good consensus among the board members that the tablet is the way to go.”
Time to chase profits over market share.

Posted in Acer CEO, Business, Tablet market | Leave a comment

Mobile Banking– could this be a possible pain-reliever for telcos in India ?

In a recent article MasterCard”s India-born President and CEO Ajay Banga said, India presents much more exciting opportunity than China in terms of growth of the credit card business. Read the complete article here.

He argues ..”that cash is expensive for an economy to print, distribute and secure, costing between 0.6 to 1.5 per cent of the country”s GDP“. However, another reader (Satheesh S) has put up a valuable where he says “Nearly 80% people in the village didn’t know how to use debit card,Because lack of awareness and they are illiterate, so we need to convert the all the people in our country in to literate.Then only we Exciting in these matter“. 

What is significant to note here is that there is an opportunity for the telecom operators in India. With the ever dwindling ARPUs, increasing cost of operations, lack of bandwidth for matured operators and lack of subscribers for new incumbents, being the few challenges being faced, the vast rural market is almost not utilized as significantly as it should/could have been. DoT, in a first ever forecast of mobile penetration across India for the next six years, has projected a billion mobile phones by 2014.  It has been said that in 2014, India’s population is expected to be 1.26 billion, with mobile penetration of 1.01 billion the mobile teledensity would be 80% above. It would mean 8 out of every 10 Indians will have access to a mobile device. (read a related article here).

In such a situation, operators in this era of telecom commoditization could be looking at leveraging on mobile banking as a possible solution of increasing the revenue of the business. This could be a significant advantage even for businesses like MasterCard who would look at improving businesses in India and China and such growing markets.

What is required is therefore a business model which :
1. makes operators provide the backbone for service provisioning and availability, 
2. MasterCards and banking systems to become the gateways for validations, verifications and authorizations of transactions over the mobile phone where the device acts as the ‘wallet’ for the consumer,
3. businesses to leverage on the gateways and telecom backbone and have direct interactions with the consumers.
In such a model, for every transaction, the telecom operator and the MasterCards get a percentage– as part of service charges. 

However this model would fail if in markets like India, operators start competing for such services instead of working in a hand-shale mode. India has seen the fall of telecom revenues and the near collapse of an economy due to competition where incumbents brought the house down by reducing tariffs in order to compete– end of day bleeding to death themselves.

It may be a good time to have the business houses sit together to understand and consolidate the business for sustained growth and stabilizing the economies. Of course what really needs to be worked out first are the set of compliance required and changes to regulations that may be necessary for India. These act as significant blockers for rolling out of operations like mobile banking in India.

Posted in India, Mobile Banking, telecom | Leave a comment

Customer Data, Analytics and Future

In a time when the buzz word is about data analytics and deriving value out of the humongous volumes of data, a question definitely arises, how secure could personal information be in the future when the world would have been able to get over the current challenges of data processing, analysis, finding ‘valuable information’ and storage issues.

Here is a hilarious video that probably depicts the message from the future.

Enjoy, and do share Your Comments

Posted in Analytics, Customer care, You Tube | Leave a comment

‘Face Off’ – from revenue assurance to revenue optimization and the way forward

If only it was possible to surgically put faces-off from one skin and fix it on the other, as had been shown in the Nicholas Cage, John Travolta starrer movie ‘Face Off’; business tycoons would surely have used a similar technique to change the cover pages of business. I say this because there has been a lot of buzz in the business of telecom world on where ‘telecom business’ as a whole is headed and the ‘face off’ of the same therefore. Obviously with the changing landscapes of telecom, the associated businesses are also facing a similar crisis and searching ways out to morph into something else.

Where is the mythical ‘revenue assurance’ headed? In an interview with Tony Poulos, Alvaro Ribero from WeDo technology (view the interview here), talks about the ‘new additions’ to revenue assurance domain. In my earlier posts on ‘Managing costs‘; ‘Revenue assurance to Revenue Maximization‘; ‘the Real Value addition of RA‘; I tried to portray similar concepts where the scope of RA changes to include a bunch of new activities, within the scope of work for revenue assurance.

The following diagram is ‘my’ personal vision as to where the domain of ‘optimization and maximization’ is headed, and may therefore be regarded as a much larger scope of ‘business process optimization’.

Why is this important going forward?
The reason is simple.
Effectively, as of now there is a lot of flux in the business of telecom and a lot of ideas are floating around w.r.t what should be the way forward. I had a brief discussion with an experienced and seasoned professional who is a pioneer of the revenue maximization industry, where we discussed that there are three most important aspects we would be looking at in the near future:

1. The telecom business as a whole would have largely two kinds of business models: the value players and the economic players. Todays large telco players could largely be morphing into the “back-bone service providers” in a n N-Sided business model, where different services would be provided to the subscribers on the other side through the telecom backbone.

2. The business landscape would therefore see a lot of ‘Commoditization’ along with the consolidation of businesses across the globe. Deriving value for money for the business houses in such a landscape, would be of prime importance.

3. Thus, effectively the need and growth of analytics is being considered as the game-changer for tomorrow.

What is interesting to note about analytics is the capability and its impact on business. In another post on the value additions of analytics, I tried to argue the relative importance of the same especially w.r.t the cost of operations vs the benefits derived from analytics. On a similar note, ‘Ajay Kellar‘ (COO of Hansa Cequity) has put up a poll in LinkedIn on ‘Why Companies Don’t use analytics?‘ where he aptly puts that the biggest reasons for the same may typically be identified as:

a. They do not have enough data
b. Companies have not understood the benefits
c. Companies do not have the expertise in house
d. They don’t believe it is actionable

It would therefore be interesting to note, what the future beholds and if Analytics would the all-encompassing solution for the needs of business optimization.

Do share your thoughts.

Posted in Analytics, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, telecom | 1 Comment

India – Is Your ‘Middle’ Class Vanishing or Are You approaching an effective Tipping Point ?

While watching the recent promos of an Indian film viz. ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ in which Deepika Padukone – (one of the most popular India female lead actors) is found grooving in smoke ridden environment – I suddenly asked myself…Is that the face of the current “young generation” in India? Amazingly I found the answer geared more towards ‘yes’ than I would have hoped.

It is significant to note, that with the rise of modernization and development, the rise of activities pertaining to the night-life culture (which is primarily West gifted) is on significant rise. India as a whole had the concept of a the ‘middle’ class which was actually the set of people who would concentrate more on ‘savings’ than on spending. A paradigm shift in the same is to be noticed these days. Not so long ago, people in India could seldom be found spending over a couple of thousand bucks per person for a few hours in a disco, or on Martinis (the Bond way) and Margaritas and others– however this is common place today in the ‘everyday’ life. The small towns are fast catching up the metros in this aspect. With growth is such a (termed ‘chilled out’ and or ‘kool’) life-style the immediate effect is actually seen on the Young-generation who have money enough to spare in ‘THEIR’ hands, the source of the same could be it through pocket-money, or be it through earnings in small-time jobs (and not so often, long time careers). What is even more significant to notice is that these Young Bloods actually would not think twice of their savings before smoking off on pot, hash et al, along with the very many mocktails available on the menu. Somehow, although known to the seniors of the society and therefore the parents of such ‘kids’, yet no one seems to be actively stopping the growth and penetration of such irregular and harmful lifestyles.

There is no point in saying that people must enjoy– but this time the cost of the enjoyment is far significant on the economy of the country as a whole. The inherent effect of the same is the fall of the ‘Middle Class’ that has always been a source of ‘potential’ for driving India. Some 10 year back when the population of India was around 900 million, a national survey had resulted in the following classification w.r.t the income groups:
1. The Very Rich = 6 million
2a. The Consuming Class = 150 million
2b. The Climbers = 275 million
2c. The Aspirants = 275 million
3. Destitudes = 210 million

2a, 2b, 2c form the Mythical Middle Class of India. This was never a single sect.

Over the 10 years, population of India has grown well over a billion now, but the growth in the Very Rich sect has not been much. Poverty has decreased because now more people live above the poverty line — the benchmark for the same being having income of over $5 a day. But the most significantly affected sect (or sects) has been the Middle Class. which forms the mass of the population.

The shift is fast affecting the mind-set of people which is evident by the shocking rise of crime rates in and around the national capital and Delhi. Here is an article on the rise of Crime in 2010 in the same area where although the authorities want to paint a picture of lowered crime rates, the actual scenario is very different. The following excerpts are from the same report and it shows shocking numbers:

  • The number of cases filed under the IPC (Indian Penal Code) in 2010 was 48,161 against 47,069 in 2009 (an increase of over 2 percent),
  •  There was a rise in rape cases in 2010. A total of 489 rape cases were registered last year as compared to 459 in 2009.
  • Cases of molestation in the capital rose to 585 in 2010, against 528 in 2009.
  • There was a decline in murder cases, with 519 cases being recorded in 2010, as against 527 in 2009.
  • An analysis of motives in such cases revealed that 15 percent of the cases were due to “sudden provocation”, while another equal percentage was due to “sex related” motives.
  • The number of heinous crimes climbed up with 1,969 cases reported last year, against 1,948 in 2009.
  • There was a decline in dacoity cases. In 2010, 31 cases were reported as against 33 cases in 2009.
  • Motor vehicle thefts accounted for 29 percent of total crimes registered under the IPC.
  • There has been a substantial rise of about 24 percent in the number of snatching cases.
  • The commissioner also stated that 93 percent of these criminals arrested for snatching were first time offenders and 61 percent of them were illiterate or school drop-outs.
  • Interestingly, all the criminals arrested for the 16 kidnappings in 2010 were “first-timers”, with no previous criminal record. In 87 percent of the kidnappings, the accused were known to the victim’s family.

The question therefore is, should this continue, where would India be in the next 5-10 years? Apparently speaking is could sound like a silod view of the state of India, but effectively could we be looking at a ‘Tipping Point’ in India’s form and state ?

A lot remains to be discussed ! Let me know Your thoughts.

Posted in India, Indian Middle Class | Leave a comment

Deriving value out of analytics softwares in telecom – the question is how much ?

Mobile broadband will have the greatest impact in both mature and growth markets, but finding the right business models and managing costs will be the keys to operator success“. This is a direct quite from the an article in Analysis Mason on ‘Worldwide telecoms market forecast 2010–2014. (Click on this link).

The right questions are being asked given the following facts:
1. Decreasing ARPU
2. Increasing costs of operations
3. Regulatory challenges
et al.

Somehow in between, technology enthusiasts are proclaiming a lot on the capabilities of ‘analytics’ driving the face of the market. However, I have a small question with respect to the ability to use analytics for meaningful information in telecom.

The first question is, what is “meaningful information”? Possible answer is, anything that would help in increasing the top-line revenues for the telco. It obviously can be expanded to include a lot of things. 

The very next question is, how much would it cost to extract the information and therefore how much valuable the information extracted would be? Essentially what would be the ROI and how would one be able to guarantee the return on the investment.

The reason I ask is another similar discussion chain that is on the table for a long time. Data growth to kill mobile telco profitability in three years. Read the full article here.

In case telco profit in itself is dwindling, how can the investment on analytics softwares help? Well, I don’t want to sound cynical, but it is a question, I’m sure the answer of which would be available a few years down the line.

But today I ask this question is because, which-so-ever analytics platform/software et al we speak about needs to be able to check all the following:
1.       handle exponential volumes of data
2.       take care of hardware and storage requirements (although in theory it is very easy to have storage considerations ignored, as a DBA or an IT guy where the pain is, and the answer would be in handling and dealing with the volume of the data).
3.       derive the results in real-time, because, all information has a life-time and information lost is as good as opportunity lost.

Sounds like utopia!!! The question therefore is very simple: ‘How many known analytics softwares actually
1.       can handle exponential data growth
2.       derive meaningful information in real-time (or even near real time)
3.       operates at very little cost
4.       aids in adding to top-line revenues for the telco ?’

Given the situation of telecom business and revenues, I feel it may as well be a better idea to figure out a way of auditing softwares and processes being used, so as to optimize the costs and effort being spent on ‘trying to derive’ values out of business.

Posted in Analytics, telecom | 2 Comments

User Specific Attention from Google

Many a times and often, when we send emails, which is supposed to have attachment, and we forget to attach them as part of it, the reader has to revert only after which we apologize and resend the attachment….. seems like one of those very common errors. But this error serves a real bad taste say when You are applying for a job and sent the email (may be just by mistake) without the attached CV.

I was sending an email in one such situation which would have annoyed the recipient and ‘Google’ saved me!
A pop-up that read :

Did you mean to attach files? 

You wrote ‘I have attached’ in your message, but there are no files attached. Send anyway?

came up after I had hit the ‘send’ button.. The following is the screenshot (i have deliberately hidden the name of the addressee)

To check if this was only searching for the form of the word ‘attach’ I typed another email to a friend of mine with the words ‘I am attached to You’ and tried sending it- and then there was no pop-up at all !!! 

It is simply amazing for me primarily for a couple of reasons:
1. This is being checked in ‘real time’
2. I am one among hundreds of millions, and yet Google almost seems to be giving personalized attention- and as a user, it feels great. It simply feels awesome.

There is a lot of talks about Consumer Centric Analytics in today’s world which aim to provide better ‘Customer Experience’. But I guess this is what Consumer Centric Analytics and therefore Customer Experience Management is truly is, and is at its best of its forms. In other cases, all I am given (as in when I am a consumer) is bunch of text messages and emails which are pro-typical promotional offers – almost 99% of which irritates me. 

This ‘analytics’ helped me– the promotional junks don’t.

I don’t know how this has been achieved by Google, but if anyone knows how this has been done, please do share with me.

Posted in Analytics, Customer Experience Management, Google | 1 Comment

Put boundaries to Revenue Assurance – or Just treat the Subscriber as the metric?

Almost after two months of near-zero activity in terms of blogging, I thought of posing a question about the outputs of ‘revenue assurance’ function and the method of measurement.Before that, may I clarify, I strongly hold the opinion that ‘RA’ as a function has no boundaries– anything that contributes to loss of money for the organization falls under the scope of revenue assurance, because end of day, One has to ‘assure’.

So to start with, think of the situation- for a mis-configured newly launched rate-plan, of which the details of tarrifs are wrongly depicted in the website (this happened to me thrice with my own mobile operator),  a post-paid subscriber who opted for it, was charged wrongly. The subscriber leaves the network, like many others (especially that MNP is available) because of ‘wrong’ charging. At the same time, miscreants who knew of some fallacy in the configuration, used the same to their benefit and was not charged. A group of people made use of the fallacy and got away.

Many a time, this is the exact scenario for an operator. The question therefore is, should the operator create a divide in the RA, FM, CEM and CRM functions? or does it make sense to have a single view of subscribers across the network where the processes are assured as an integral part of the same activity? It seems to me an obvious choice to track the subscribers life-cycle as an integral part of the revenue management activities. Subscribers affected by wrong configurations would not be happy to stay in the network and would leave- thus causing a case for CEM or CRM applications. Complaints in the Customer care about services not available typically point to some problem in the network, which if not resolved would cause customers to churn.

If the subscriber is the dimension of analysis, it would typically tend to serve multiple problems at the same time. More so because, typically all errors ultimately reflect in some way or the other on the customers and their reactions to the same. But since it is the customer driving the revenues of the business, would not tracking the customers be of more significance than having point applications that do not talk to each other, or even creating boundaries viz. revenue assurance, revenue maximization, customer experience management and the such ?

Think about it, a rule that is supposed to find customers making more than x-amount (in $ or duration) of a specific type of calls. This rule if fired in the database, the result set when used in conjunction with link analysis, segmentation and customer profiling, would actually help in finding the customers trying to defraud or the customers actually interested to use a better offering to help their cause (leave the outliers or the false positives, they would always be there).  Then what is the point in trying to have multiple systems, if the subscriber dimension helps. For the same rule, now find, if for all the destinations the calls are properly maturing, and are being charged in the right manner- that addressed the revenue assurance and network error related problems. This is just an example though. There could be hundreds of such scenarios which can be monitored if the customer is treated as the dimension.

Also, understanding the customer’s behavior actually would help in identifying potential problems that may have to be solved. Example, network congestion in festive seasons is a known fact. This is guided by the subscribers’ usage patterns more than anything else. Thus monitoring ‘the subscribers’ would help in addressing the situation before the problem actually strikes. So why create boundaries, when the subscribers themselves can help the business??

That is my thought. What would You say about using the Subscriber as the measuring yard ?
Let me know Your thoughts.

Posted in Customer Experience Management, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management | Leave a comment

‘3G tech vulnerable to cyber crime, says experts’

This was a good read from on Yahoo.

As 3G mobile services are set to be rolled out soon in the country, cyber experts sound a word of caution about the high tech enabled mobile phones, which they say are more vulnerable in the world of technology related crimes.
While the next generation technology aims to make life simpler enabling downloading of movies and music within minutes, it can also be used for various unscrupulous activities.
“With 3G, cellphones will have faster broadband Internet and with such speed you can watch television live, make video calls and download music and movies in no time. But through spying software and virus, the hacker can easily break into your system,” says Ankit Fadia, an ethical hacker and cyber security expert.
“The hacker can record all the audio conversation and video files. Not many people in India install anti-virus in the phones. I would recommend them to install anti-virus and fireballs while using 3G, says Fadia who recommends switching off the bluetooth function of the phone when not required to protect the user’s password.
Not limited to an individual’s privacy issues, the 3G technology will also lead to increase in piracy of films and music, thereby giving a staggering amount of losses to the entertainment industry that is battling the piracy threat.
“It will become extremely easy for anybody to download an entire Bollywood film in few minutes using 3G. This is going to lead to further tremendous growth of websites like torrents,” says advocate Pavan Duggal, a cyberlaws expert.
The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) points out that Bollywood would be hit most by the 3G and wants service providers to adopt a stricter approach to check cybercrimes.
“Today it takes several hours to download a new release Bollywood film but with 3G it will be in minutes that will encourage people to use illegal means to view a film,” says Rakshit Tandon, consultant, IAMAI.
According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report titled, “Indian 3G broadband subscribers,” the mobile subscriber base is projected to cross one billion in 2014. The 3G broadband subscriber base is expected to cross 107 million by 2015.
Indian law enforcement lacks the necessary training to deal with cyber-crimes and there is a distinct need for amending the law and making security agencies aware about the Internet, say experts.
“Laws are there to protect but our police agencies are yet not ready to take-up the cyber crime challenges, especially 3G. They need to be trained to tackle the growing usage of Internet by criminals,” says Fadia.
Duggal, who is a Supreme Court lawyer, says there is a distinct need for amending the law so as to provide for far more broad generic provisions which can withstand the onslaught of any other new technology.
“Further adequate statutory protections needs to be given to users so that whatever limited right to privacy they have in the context of the electronic ecosystem are not appropriately compromised with the advent of new technology,” he says.
As mobile handsets is becoming an integral part of the consumer experience, the availability of a large number of feature-rich handsets at affordable prices or in attractive bundled offers is likely to further drive the adoption of 3G value-added services, according to a report by RNCOS.
The industry analysis provider also predicts that the number of 3G mobile subscribers is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 80 per cent during 2011-2013

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Telecom Business = Analytics + Social Media + Advertising + Usage platform + Consolidation

It’s time that telecom business actually started looking deep down into customer analytics and started raising the bar of expectations of consumers with the innumerable ‘next gen’ possibilities that customers can make use of using the telecom infrastructure; rather than concentrating only on price wars, effectively jeopardizing the entire associate economics. Customer Experience Management (CEM) is only the first step for achieving the same.
How this helps?? The following observation caught my eye….. Search for a song in You-Tube. Surprisingly enough, along with the song you would also find a multitude of videos created and uploaded, on the same song, by users. A simple search of a popular song of Backstreet Boys (viz. As Long as You Love me) threw up a huge set of results although there is only one official video though. The rest of the content is completely a user driven and user created! The point is, that web content is user driven is not something that is new, has been all around– but the question is then how to make a sustainable business out of the same?? and how does today telecom operators look at capitalizing on the intelligence from the data that is available and can be used for business outcomes.
The pre-requisites along with the 4 things that would help getting telecom operators good business:
1. Studying the ‘segments’ of customers allows the telecom operators to know what is the appetite of the customer more than anyone or any other industry. It is about building and owning a subscriber intelligence database.
2. Enable consolidated connections through social media for the subscribers. Customers these days spend more time on online social media than with their own physical family– you can read two related articles here and here. Hence advertisements in social media, based on profiles of the customers would add a lot of value. The telecom operators need to understand the expectations of the customers before sending advertisements. Hence data analytics for business outcomes of usage is a must have.
3. Act as the middle-men between the service providers and the customers. This is the same n-sided business model that has been discussed over and over again.
4. Act in a consolidated manner instead of trying to define boundaries of operations. In an earlier post here, I have tried to explain why telecom operators should look towards consolidation of business for sustainability.
5. Operators already own the infrastructure for supporting the subscriber bases. It is imperative to see that the infrastructure is used ‘optimally’. Often it is found that expensive infrastructure stay under-utilized although cost of operations soar high.
6. Something new would be to enable the users create the content as well as the applications by themselves with supporting applications that the telcom operator provides. The point I am trying to make is, what is the operator doing to help the consumer create the content, in this consumer-content driven world? Currently content can only be created with the help of a computer. This is typically not practiced directly as a part of the ‘mobile phone’ usage. Today the applications available from mobile app stores does not exactly allow two-way communication between the consumers and the web.  Platforms like Android are still technical for a lay-man to be able to create applications for communication. But nonetheless, the time for ‘simplification’ is not far off. It should be on the operators mind to help the users create the ‘content’ instead of depending only on the content providers.
However, all said and done, managing costs is the consideration that operators would have to aim for. Hence, solutions that allow a complete 360 degree view of the operations is an ideal tool-kit yet the telecom market lacks such a tool. Most of the analytics tool kits available provide fragmented views of the data and hardly any derive or even help deriving intelligence from the same.
Over and above these, the operators would have to aim at providing ‘services’ or abilities to the consumers which exceed their exceeding expectations. Constant innovation for enabling the utilizing of the end-less possibilities  is a key for driving the next wave of revenue sources.

The question is — would operators look at business consolidation and revenue sharing as a mode of sustainability? Also, innovations cannot be made by teams working in silos within the operator, which is effectively the situation in all telcos. Would telcos therefore be willing to “spend” to increase internal development and understanding of the business situation?? I doubt that, and hence it would be interesting to see what the future beholds. It is quite possible that following Darwin’s theory — only the fittest would survive… which could essentially mean that only the giants would survive the price and economic wars while newbies sublime.

Posted in Customer Experience Management, telecom | Leave a comment

is it wise to charge for Customer Care– especially for telcos?

In an interesting article, Tony Poulos mentioned that it may not be wise for operators for charge for Customer Care operations. You can read the article here. The question is, could this be a revenue generator source for the telecom operators?

This being an interesting situation, the following is what I commented (the article has the complete details) :

This is an interesting topic! let me provide my perspective on this–
If you look at it, it is surprising that Customer Care could be a revenue generator option.
If you look at it– for a normal stand point this may not look beneficial for the telcos at all. But I tried to think about it from the perspective of a n-sided business model where the telcos would serve as ‘The Backbone’ for a multitude of offerings that are provided to the subscribers. True that if angry customers call up customer care, and are asked to pay there is a probability of churn– but probably there is also a large set of customers who could be made aware of the latest and greatest of offerings that they could avail of (from the companies who are participants in this n-sided business model) which in turn would help customers get the best in class service offering, aided by guidance from the customer care agent, and also allow the companies make money out of the transactions. In such a scenario, every transaction over the phone that the agent makes (or even speaks and thus advertises) with the customer could be a chargeable event for which the particular company pays the telco a charge similar to ‘advertisement’ charges. If the subscriber agrees to opt for the service after a successful persuasion by the customer care agent, the telco would not only gain from the call charge from the customer, but could potentially gain from the participating firm as a royalty for enabling business development for the company.
In such scenarios, the customer care agent really has to ‘act’ as the person taking “Care” of the customer.
This is not new, Having worked in ‘outsourced’ customer care departments for some other companies (primarily computer and hardware) I have seen customers’ mood swinging from irritated to understanding to finally happy. Some companies like HP even sell through regular customer care agents. (Agents get incentives for successful sales).So a lot actually depends on the ability of the customer care agent. Typically in these scenarios the agent needs to be able to ‘connect’ to the customer– that is a key element.
Similarly for telcos. If we look at a future of telecom consolidation, customer care could possibly one of revenue generating sources. Of course the telco would have to provide support to enable that ‘customers actually get benefits’ out of such service. Else, as you rightly say, churn is big possibility.
Last but not the least, in such scenarios, it is probably advisable to the telcos not to use AHT (Average call handling Time) as a metric of performance for the customer care agent. Typically for the AHT a customer care executive tends to undermine the real need of fulfilling the customers’ needs. Instead of AHT, the metric should always be targeted to estimate the ‘effort spent’ ‘BY’ the ‘customer’ in resolving the issue. This creates a case for creating satisfaction within the customers by lowering the pains of the ‘customer’.

It would be good to see where telecom as a business would land up in the future. An even more interesting phenomenon thus would be to see if ‘business consolidation’ could actually help in a sustainable business, or if it would simply mean that the giants survive while the newbies shrivel.

Do share your thoughts!

Posted in Customer care, Customer Experience Management, telecom | 1 Comment

Noetic theory- Can it serve purposes of risk and revenue management in telecoms?

Let me be honest and say, I had not exactly heard this term ‘Noetic Theory’ until one of my seniors mentioned it to me. Hence, just to let everyone know what it is, you can read the same in this post in Wikipedia.

The question then is, can this be applied to risk management in telecoms. I would intend to say “yes”. Let me take a sentence from the description of the theory from Wikipedia “study of the effects of perceptions, beliefs, and intentions on human consciousness“. Let me also draw an analogy of the theory from the book ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell. The best part of the book is the fact that it says that decisions in life can be taken within the ‘blink’ of an eye, however, before you take the decision it is the ‘past experience that drives the subconscious mind for taking the decision‘. Essentially what you learn by experience guides your choices. I find the Noetic theory somewhat similar.
So how can we use the same, or rather, how do we derive benefits of this in revenue and risk management in telecoms? Actually ,in an unconscious way, everyone uses the same on a daily basis in their own work environments. That is the beauty of the theory — we apply it without knowing that we are applying.

let me take a few examples in real world for telecom operations:
1. Launch of a new product (calling card, tariff plan, service, etc.)
2. Festive days of a year
3. Installation of a new element in the network of operations (switch, mediation, and such)
4. Daily monitoring of the complete revenue chain 
5. Business expansion through acquisitions.

There could be numerous examples. Let me say why these fit.
Whenever there is a product launch, a group of people always are aware of the ‘things to do’ especially for checking that things are in the right place so as to avoid revenue losses. Whenever there is are festive days in a calender year, the teams are cautious of excessive usage and would try to ensure that all possible checks and revenue leakage points are guarded. If required thresholds at operational level KPI would be increased so as to avoid un-necessary rushes. In most operations, people intend to believe that ‘mediation’ is the main cause of problems, and in bunch of places they are right. Installation of IN systems in another head-ache. Teams in operators know there would be problems and they tend to brace themselves to face the challenges. These are beliefs and these form perceptions. If one wants to study the effects of the same, it is the results derived by saving millions of dollars as part of risk and revenue management. Essentially, that the efforts and intentions are not well channeled into achieving a ‘common goal’ across the organisation of the telecom operators and or service providers– the final outcome of loss detection, correction and prevention suffers. The common goal should ideally be making a sustainable and profitable business– this has to be driven by organizational directives.

A test of success is in the ability of the telecom operator to gauge what the ‘customer wants’ and not exactly what the ‘customer needs’. I say this because, imagine the following situation– a customer wants a service that allows his to send MMS and watch videos on the fly from the internet (say YouTube); and there could be a weird set of requirements of what the customer ‘wants’. If the operator tried to argue saying ‘what you really need is ……’– the only thing the customer would say is ‘Screw you.The other operator would give me what I want!’ and would simply walk away. Thus the use of the Noetic theory is profound in ‘Customer Experience Management’- where the operators would have to ‘study the effects’ of perception of the customers which in turn has the ability to impact business directly.

These seem way too related. The effect of study of mind and intuition, and its relationship with the divine intellect also affects how business is conducted. This is one of the core driving topics in the book ‘Marketing 3.0’ by Philip Kotler, which talks about ‘marketing to the human spirit’ as a method of reaching out instead of 3P based marketing.

These are my thoughts– let me know what you think on this! I would be eager to know your ideas.

Posted in Blink, Customer Experience Management, Malcolm Gladwell, Marketing 3.0, Noetic theory, Philip Kotler, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, Risk Management, telecom | 1 Comment

Revenue Assurance includes Solar RA and Radiation RA

Often it is discussed what is in-scope and out-of scope for “revenue assurance”. In this blog of mine you would find a bunch of articles where I have tried explaining what RA should include and what not.

While debating on such topic, more interesting thoughts surface. In one of his posts in, Eric mentions ‘Assuring Sunshine‘ or so to say ‘solar revenue assurance’. Read about this interesting post here.

If you thought that was weird and yet interesting, allow me to introduce something that may be called ‘Radiation assurance‘. For the lack of a better term I’m using this term. Let me explain what this is.

It may sound catchy but “I” took the liberty of introducing ‘another task’ for the conventional revenue assurance domain. In India, to bring about control and ensuring proper deployment of mobile towers, the Government has proposed to impose a fine of INR 500, 000 (roughly USD $ 1200) per mobile tower if it is found that the towers  flout norms of radiation. Read the article in here.

The reason I put it in here was simple. If radiation norms are not met, the operator would have to shell out money from its pocket. For the scope of conventional revenue assurance, and more recently preventive and proactive RA is to ensure that operators are not only not losing money that should otherwise have been contributing to their revenue, but also to prevent all such possible forms of leakages from ‘even happening’- instead of fixing the loss.

Regulatory compliance is a part of assurance that helps operators save millions. This example is one such norm that would help the operator save millions– and thus as a part of complete revenue assurance and therefore ‘risk management’ regulatory compliance (and thus probably “radiation assurance”) should be an integral part.

How would one perform ‘radiation leakage assurance’? I guess it should not be as big as rocket science. Radiation level detectors are typically found even in household appliance like microwaves used for cooking. Such electronic circuits may be used to continuously monitor the radiation level and report back to a monitoring station. If there is a breach or the level is rising near about a set threshold, alarms could be raised for the network teams to look into the same. Sounds simple and being an electronic instrumentation engineer myself, I can hopefully assure that this is a simple solution.

Just another KPI for the revenue assurance team.

Posted in Preventive RA, Revenue Assurance, Risk Management, telecom | Leave a comment

Telecom Fraud- In news

For a bunch of societal obligations usually prevalent in this time of the year in India, I had not been able to make it to writing, reading, analysis and self-research.The fun part is, I resumed only to feel literally bombarded by news of telecom fraud. This post is dedicated to three news items that I found, almost at one shot:

1. Hacker makes mobile phone snooping affordable: A $1500 device that allows one to intercept mobile phones and snoop into privacy. Chris Paget apparently seems to have been flaunting his creation in Las Vegas, drawing much of public attention.

I am not sure of there is a direct method of detecting such intrusions. This is a direct attack on the CPE. If anyone knows how to prevent such frauds from happening and what a telco can do for the same, please let me know.

The following two cases plagued India very recently:

2. MTNL Mumbai officials held for SIM sale scam: This is a simple case of dealer fraud with lack of implementation of internal regulations. Not that this is anything unique or new, such cases of scheme implementation without proper methods of activation of SIMs happen almost at random. Yet somehow the operators still fail to prioritize the issue and actions are taken only after fraud in the order of millions has happened.

3. Vodafone reports Rs.3.32 crore fraud in Punjab: Again not a new fraud type. Misappropriation of assets (recharge coupons, SIM cards, etc) especially in pre-paid telecom markets is not unknown. The good part is, Vodafone identified and has been able to charge the culprits.

The two fraud cases above, show the dire need of pro-active solutions, that tries to alarm the operators in situations of fraud. Internal fraud is one of the biggest challenges in large operations and especially in countries like India which is predominantly a pre-paid market. Fraud systems would lay only a small part in the entire operation. Dedicated teams that work to prevent fraud from happening have a very important role to play. In India, the monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) for the month of March 10, as reported to TRAI stands roughly at $2.6 (Rs.131). In such situations, fraud cases cause heavy blows to the operator and the costs of operations. Add on to this the advent of newer technologies WiMAX, LTE, and the capex and opex required for the same.

It would be interesting to see the appetite for risk of the operators playing in the Indian market and how they prioritize activities of risk management.

Posted in Fraud management, MTNL, Risk Management, Vodafone | Leave a comment

Dynamic Discounting in telecom operations- Risk management and future utilization

Being faithful to my ideology of ‘Risk Management’ and not using the word ‘Revenue Assurance’– in this post I am trying to put my thoughts on the do’s for risk containment in operations implementing ‘Dynamic Discounting’.

Quickly ‘About Dynamic Discounting’ from Wikipedia- “Dynamic Discount Solution is a charging solution that is able to offer a mobile network customer a discount based on the amount of capacity available at their current location in the network. The software looks at the GSM radio network from where the customer is calling and assesses the amount of capacity available in the network. Depending on the amount of capacity available,the customer is awarded a discount that appears on customer mobile handset screens. This discount is available for the duration of the phone call. The discount available to customers changes periodically depending on the amount of capacity available at their specific location in the network. The more capacity there is at their location, the higher the discount that is offered.” [Please don’t charge me with plagiarism for lifting text from Wikipedia.]

Let me try to put my thoughts around risk management in this issue. For the same, I would use the diagram of scope of work for risk management I tried putting together in another post.

Let us see what are the aims of Dynamic Discounting:
1. Proper network utilization (of existing assets) in cell sites where traffic is low
2. Customer acquisition with lucrative offers
3. Reducing churn rates
4. last but surely not the least- increasing revenues.
5… others!

So in my opinion, this issue transcends across all the problem areas in the boxes of work.

let me try and explain how to do risk containment in such scenarios keeping the ‘aim’ of DD in mind.

1. The key objective of DD is to achieve proper network utilization. This helps to understand how the cost of operations are being proportioned across the assets. However, what needs to be seen is how ‘cost effective’ DD is.

2. Assurance and Management of leakage and Prevention and Optimization: the first level of checks is to ensure that the discounts and offers configured are correct, and that the discounting that happens itself is correct. This is a classic case when a lot can be achieved with proactive and preventive methods. Configuration KPIs have thus a key role to play. Along with that- this is also a classic case when the conventional domains of “network assurance” and the “revenue assurance” merge. For network assurance, a large number of operators use Test Call Generators. This tool can help to play a pivotal role in aiding in proactive leakage discovery and fixing. These boxes can be used to generate calls in the network in varying proportions and then the rating engines can be used to rate/discount the calls as per the congestion information obtained from the network. The best part in doing so is that — even before the offers are rolled for public usage, the same can be tested with physical calls without affecting big time revenue.

Revenue assurance tools that allow discounting verifications play an important role in verification of the configurations for discounting. Samples of data sets typically taken during both peak hours and off peak hours and then checked for rating and billing (discounting discrepancies) would be good enough to present problems that may be present in the network.

However, the use of test call generators is more of a pro-active methods of stopping leakages. This is a situation, when silos needs to be broken and marketing and revenue assurance teams need to sit and work on solutions for preventing leakages.

3. Maximization– That there is a continuous check of network traffic, DD typically has the capability of improving the usage of existing network. An interesting trend in subscribers as noted in an article in TM Forum is “Subscribers are no longer churning over to the competition but keeping multiple prepaid subscriptions and topping up with the operator who is offering the best discount for that month“. Thus essentially there is a big potential of DD in reducing churn, if this trend is continued. MTN has been very successful with dynamic discounting. Maximization of resources would surely help to increase top-line revenues, especially if customers are not churning out. 

Another significant aspect that I can think of dynamic discounting could be the possible use of similar technologies as telecom operators go for consolidation of operations. I have tried to discuss the benefits of consolidation of telecoms in this post. Optimization of shared resources could be an important aspect of cost containment and improvement in top-line revenues. Dynamic discounting may be a method of achieving the same.

This probably is too early to comment on the future benefits of Dynamic Discounting– however,RAFM teams really need to work with Marketing and also be extremely pro-active instead of trying to react to losses.

Please do share your thoughts on the same!

Posted in Preventive RA, Proactive RA, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, Risk Management, telecom, Test Event Generation | Leave a comment

In scope and Out of Scope for Revenue Assurance in telecom

In a recent comment in, Alan Gonzaga has asked a question that I feel somehow points to the core topic of discussion in my earlier posts viz. Managing ‘Cost’ must be an integral part of telecom Revenue Assurance and Assurance : Management : Maximization & the scope of the activities. I believe that the scope of “Revenue Assurance” per se is about ensuring checks and controls (including continuous monitoring and future prevention) of any activity that has the potential of affecting top-line revenue of the company; and add to that the necessity of managing costs as the most integral part. No point in saying I have assured top line revenue when I have made sky-rocketing expenditure. I would thus intend to mention the scope of work as ‘Risk Management’ in operations.

In his question Alan asks is ‘Over Charging’ is a part of RA. In order to address this with my tiny bit of knowledge– let me break the actions of ‘Revenue Assurance’ into some high level yet basic components as I see them through the following representation (not the best forms may be, yet it may be easy to explain):

The grey boxes represent the working domains within the verticals of ‘Assurance‘, ‘Management‘ and ‘Maximization‘ and the horizontals of ‘Leakage detection and recovery‘, ‘Cost Containment‘; and ‘Prevention & Optimization‘. 

Note: There is no particular order that the numbering follows.

Over Charging‘ has the after effect of creating a situation where customers would churn away thus causing potential damage to the top line revenues. In a digital age where information flows at the speed of thought, creating angry customers who would be happy to avenge by announcing their pains in social web could effectively have a cascading effect of having a large number of customer dis-satisfied. Thus managing customer’s experience is vital form of preventing future losses and thus makes up the box number 1. However, over-charging is a situation that should be avoided and not ‘faced’. The way to avoid the same is by ensuring proper configuration checks in the rating and billing systems. This forms the part of activity of box 7 (Assurance + Prevention & Optimization). 

Hence my understanding says ‘Over Charging’ is definitely a part of ‘risk management’ and this is because of the fact that the boundaries of conventional “RA” is way to porous than is conventionally conveyed for all the ‘commercial‘ reasons.

Effectively the scope of risk management in telecoms could possibly be visualized in the following 3 dimensions as in the diagram.

Effectively I find it not particularly correct to use the term ‘revenue assurance’ and then have porous boundaries across the tasks. Instead i personally find it easier to qualify the tasks in the 3D structured mesh under the hood of ‘risk management’.

This is an open forum and all your comments both for and against my opinion are welcome.

Posted in Revenue Assurance, Risk Management, telecom | Leave a comment

BlackBerry Boys – Is that a cost-effective way forward for Vodafone in India

This is the new advertisement from Vodafone — a call to everyone for using the Blackberry services, instead of only the corporates.
I don’t want to comment on the video as a whole for it must have been created by extremely bright people.
What intrigues me most is what Vodafone is after.
In order to capture the usage of the masses, which in India is slowly moving away from the conventional voice and SMS and into data driven services– and that Blackberry is way too secure than conventional EDGE or GPRS, it is a good option to use the same. But the challenge is– cost.
In India, Blackbery services are a few times more costly than EDGE. The question then would the Indian ‘mass’ accept paying more than is required. A few user would, but if the idea is to capture the mass of the over a billion people, Blackberry services may just not be the right choice in India, as over 25% of the population is below poverty line- and rural india is almost yet to be explored.
In terms of competitive stance, yes, the move would provide good competition — but probably only in the up-town markets.

How about costs? and what about the famous “revenue assurance” for Vodafone India?
In India, costs of operations are way on the rise– and if premium services like Blackberry is being provided at cheap rates, who assurances a profitable business? Now this is one of the examples, as to why- cost management and containment must be a part of revenue assurance. A premium service is being rolled out at dirt cheap rates when subscribers are being added at the rate of over 10 million a quarter. In this context , what happens to top-line revenues? Dwindling, no doubts. And now what about the costs incurred ? Are they being approportioned in the most effective ways ? So even if Vodafone make some money in the short term by rolling out the service in such a way- it would be another short instant of time before competition also does the same thing. Effectively the economy of the industry in this market is being destroyed — and in turn is not helping effectively anyone.

May I suggest  the following:
1. Contain costs by making cost management an integral part of revenue assurance to get a real health of the business. I have a complete article on the same here.
2. Business consolidation instead of cut-throat competition as an effective way of long term survival. A short idea for the same is in another post here.  

While you enjoy the Video, also do share your thoughts.

Posted in Blackberry Boys, net-neutrality, telecom, Vodafone | Leave a comment

Small & Medium businesses are leveraging power of SaaS

Interesting article!

Small & Medium businesses are leveraging power of SaaS

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Net-Neutrality – Is it a risky business for telecom operators?

For anyone who may not be able to re-collect at one go the term, net-neutrality is about seamless and unrestricted access to the internet irrespective of the mode of communication.if you want to know details ‘here‘ is what Wikipedia has to say. This is being preached by those who think internet is a means to transcend geographical boundaries and create a global workspace and market, and thus should not be restricted to the powers of the dominant few.

The challenge of acceptance for the telecom operators is that of finding a reason good enough to fit the bill of a sustainable business model. What is the benefit the telecom operators would reap out of the same? Well if they do not practice this ‘dogma’ they stand gaining by allowing faster streams to content that pay well, and letting the remaining traffic slog in slower channels until the originators of these traffic start paying well too. This would mean, big houses like Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and the giants would hog the lime light by simply paying more to the telecom operators, whereas the small and medium businesses that have come into being and grown because of the sheer existence of the ‘worldwide web’ and or the internet stand to be perished by the web-giants for they may not be able to pay as hefty sums to divert their business traffic to faster lanes. So for telcos, net-neutrality would mean having to invest in large infrastructures yet get no great benefits out of the humongous costs that would be incurred. This is more applicable to wireless carriers.

AT&T is supporting Google in the cause for Net-neutrality. AT&T has all the reasons. It is the larget ‘fixed line’ operators in United States. If it succeeds in the cause, it would mean a big blow to the wireless carriers as  a whole. It is probably playing on competitive economics.

It would be interesting to see how it all adds up in the end. If telecom operators continue their internal struggle without consolidation of their businesses in hyper competitive markets, it would be soon be in a situation, when telecom companies would bid for the lowest prices for providing channels for faster data traffic. In that case the n-sided B2B business model [such as the Telco 2.0] (where telecom operators could stand as the back-bone providing the infrastructure while other service provides communicate with customers) would have to suffer dwindling earnings in revenue , because of the competition. Such a state could mean a complete lose-lose for the telcos. On one side, initially they protest net-neutrality, and then at a later point fight for revenues among themselves. In that case, it may sound as a good option to strike long term deals with the data generators about the acceptable business model as soon as possible, for if net-neutrality is adopted as a standard, telcos would probably have no big incentive to invest in hardware for providing faster data accesses.

Business consolidation could thus be an answer to the otherwise risky affair.

Posted in Business, net-neutrality, Telco 2.0, telecom | Leave a comment

Telecom — A Brotherhood at Arms

The following advertisements caught my eye: and I started wondering if it makes sense to have a state when one business can grow by capitalizing on competition of another business . Sun and Oracle in their joint advertisements have started to take on IBM directly. The pictures of the advertisement show the same.

The question is, can telecom companies, use the opportunity to their benefit??
    The growth of the telecom market has been exponential– and we all are aware of it. But standing today, the telecom companies are facing steep challenges managing networks, vs costs vs subscriber demands cs Competition– where Competition is driving business crazy. Consolidation in business is being viewed as one of the modes of operation in a hyper competitive telecom markets. New operators who have spectrum but not a significant customer base can merge operations in a revenue share model with existing and large operators who have large customer bases and thus struggling with spectrum. How to enjoy and reap benefits when the hardware vendors compete?

In the coming years, imagine the telecom companies joining hands in a revenue-share brotherhood to provide a ‘global infrastructural support’ for all forms of communication systems in a B2B business. Companies like Sun, HP, IBM compete within themselves for providing the hardware support in the infrastructure. Thus, just as the revenue for telecom companies are dwindling due to massive competition, the situation could have the hardware companies fight among themselves to get the share of the pie in the infrastructure. Companies like Google become the service providers in a B2C business and deal with the consumer bases, while telecom companies enjoy being the complete integration backbone. Sounds interesting and theoretical.

Business consolidation for sustainability is not a new concept. But the question here is- would telecom companies become the ‘global brotherhood’ or choose to draw arms to kill competition thus depleting their own resources in wake of getting market share? This is a situation, the answer to which only time will reveal.

Like always– this is completely ‘in my opinion’. Do let me know what you think of it.

(PS: Please point out grammatical, spelling errors and or typos. I would be happy to correct)

Posted in Business, IBM, Oracle, Sun, telecom | Leave a comment

Managing ‘Cost’ must be an integral part of telecom Revenue Assurance

Business must be sustainable. A company can be profitable yet bankrupt if the cash reserves are not in the right order. The state of telecoms w.r.t spending does not seem to give a clear picture as to how much the business is sustainable — costs are sky-rocketing where margins are shrinking. One may argue that, that investment in telecom business, means that the break-even would happen over a long period of time — but my question is how long? and if it takes really long for a break-even, what are the key factors that can help to improve the share-holder value? Cost containment is probably one of the ways to create a sustainable business for telecom operators, and it must be a part of revenue assurance.

Revenue is top line– but how good or effective is the top-line is a measure that can be realized only when the bottom line is also accounted with it. Only when revenue leakage is stopped and the costs are optimized, can a business be called sustainable when there is a clear view of the profit margins. If you look at it, accounting for revenue assurance without the effect of cost on the network, is almost as useless as buying a car without the engine– the body of the car may be spotless (revenue figures of telecom) and the car may also have a strong chassis (the business of telecom), but effectively the car is is useless.

In my opinion, accounting for the cost factor is what revenue assurance lacks today. Effectively, these are not two separate forms of ‘assurance’. Cost assurance or cost management must also include the effect of revenue loss due to leakage and thus include the entire activity of revenue assurance.

Is there a thin line of discrimination between cost and revenue assurance? I intend to say no, as either of these alone does not give the proper picture of the state of the business. Be it assurance, or be it optimization or management, effect of activities that intend to affect either of revenue or cost must go hand in hand. In another article in my blog, I tried to find what assurance, management and maximization meant. I believe the broad term of assurance or management should ideally be ‘Risk Management‘ encompassing all the activities within itself, otherwise effectively it just becomes a ‘marketing’ gimmick without much value add for the telecom operators.

Like always– this is completely ‘in my opinion’. Do let me know what you think of it.

(PS: Please point out grammatical, spelling errors and or typos. I would be happy to correct)

Posted in Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, Risk Management, telecom | Leave a comment

India Calling- yet Challenging!

Indian telecom market is like that turbulent sea, where if you survive, you play in billions, or else your ship is permanently wrecked (figuratively speaking in a ‘Titanic’ style). Looking through a few telecom magazines of last month– it seems there is a war going on, and everyday there is something strangely new happening. Here are a few snippets:

  1. If Vodafone thought it was basking in glory of operations and expansions in India, it probably got the shock of its life having to pay $11Billion, as tax to the IT department, because of the acquisition of Hutch-Essar in India.   
  2. ‘Chindia’ –as The Economist likes to name the two most important powers of the Asian market- India and China, with the help from UK based universities are planning to set up research teams for creation of next-gen telecommunication networks.
  3. The Lucrative India – yet look how it screws businesses up: I read a report in Business-Standard in which Gartner said India would have 660 million mobile users in 2010, and that the penetrations of mobile connections is projected to reach 82% by 2014. Bingo, Sweet November! Anyone who thought of rejoicing at the projections, here are the things to be worried about: Tata DoCoMo has introduced 1paisa/sec international call to USA and Canada in Punjab circle. That is like 0.02 US cents per second. The real impact is that in general calls to the countries are charged at Rs. 6.50 per minute. That is over 80% reduction in prices. Let the other compete. In such a scenario, if you  have near zero revenues, what is the point of 82% penetration.
  4. If you thought that was enough– Future group has introduced the new concept of ‘Unpaid‘ as an offering in a market that knows about Prepaid and Postpaid. The way companies are contesting for share, it seems like a complete freak-show. 
  5. Imagine posting a loss of  over 2 billion INR in one quarter. That is what Idea posted due to operational costs on newly provisioned services. Revenues down, Services down, costs up, competition up– Time to grab the share of the pie.
  6.  Hello fraudsters— TelecomLive magazine reports that operators have reported 2150 cases of mobile cloning in FY10. 
  7. Grab the Rural Pie– Operators in their wake of penetrating deep into rural India, is now joining hands with Power Grid Corporation of India to use the electricity transmission towers to set up mobile transmission systems. PGCI has about 105,000 such towers in rural India.
The Darwinian theory of ‘Survival of the Fittest’ has been put to test in probably in its ultimate form by the dynamic market. What remains to be seen is how operators and service providers react – either to live or to wither away.
Don’t forget, there is a new entrant changing the rules of the game completely- Google. I wrote about how I see the change happen in my last post.
Like always, do feel free to post your comments — even if you completely disagree to what I say.
(PS: Please point out grammatical, spelling errors and or typos. I would be happy to correct)
Posted in 'Chindia', Business, IDEA cellular, telecom, Vodafone | 2 Comments

The next sea of change could be around the corner for Telco revenue management

Commonality is a boon or a bane? This is a simple question I am faced with when I try and “search” for the causes of revenue leakage and possible assurance methods in a telecom network. As a matter of fact, the common causes of loss are discussed and re-discussed in never ending circles– and that seems to be the ‘bane’. My question therefore is — beyond the ones continually discussed which include usage anomalies, configuration and provisioning anomalies, partner and order management issues and such, could there be causes which impact revenues of business with a game changing effect? and I am inclined to believe there are much deeper impacts and reasons of revenue loss. Let me try and out forward some thoughts regarding the same. What if the entire business model for telecom operators takes a 180 degree turn?

The business and market share for 4-in-1 boxes with phone, fax, photo-copier, scanner has been nearly killed by the growth in better technology for communications. Email being the game change over fax.You might be thinking why I brought this up? The answer is simple– is there the game changer of technology around the corner that is going to give a new outlook to the service providing and telecom business as a whole- may be something vital as the email that almost killed fax? My understanding says ‘yes‘ and this time we may not be able to ignore the same as it is right on front of our eyes.

When Google announced the availability of ‘call the phone’ service from Gmail (read the article here, if not on the Google blog) the issue struck me! What happens to the existing business with the subscribers for the telecom operators? and what happens to the corresponding revenue management methodologies and concepts?? One might argue- this is nothing new as Skype has been here for quite long. By all good approximations, Total number of Netizens around the globe =20% almost equivalent to the Chinese population of 1.3 billion. (**calculation and information sources provided below) .If I assume, almost everyone of the netizens is a Google user– that makes the ‘subscriber base’ of Google nearly 20% of the population of the Globe– a staggering 1.3 Billion subscribers— all connected via ‘Global Backbone’ of the internet. I, as a user would love to make calls especially if they become cheaper than otherwise local or international calls.

The situation forces me to bias myself to Google’s capability and say that in sometime in future the entire subscriber base would actuallly be that of ‘Google’ and not of the telecom operators. The question then is, how do operators and telecom service providers survive ?? It is not that grim. Google would probably use the infrastructure backbone of the service providers and operators themselves. No doubt they are pushing for net-neutrality with Verizon. In this seeming winds of change Telecom operators and service providers could be acting as the ‘infrastructure’  provider for the services in an n-sided business model.  Thus the sources of revenue and therefore the business model as a whole would be drastically different from what it is today.

If the business model as a whole changes, what would one do with existing methods and technologies of revenue assurance and well to the broader extent (without getting into boundary conditions) of revenue management. The outlook and methodologies may need to have a complete change. The question probably could be, should the telecom operators even own the ‘subscriber base’ as a whole? Possibly– but the cost of the infrastructure could be way to high w.r.t the returns. But someone will obviously need to own the ‘billing and accounting’ for the subscribers. It may be lead to the emergence of a completely new form of business where ‘companies’ may just own the billing and accounting for the service offerings provided to the end subscriber- whereas the telcos provide the complete back-bone support and move in an almost B2B business  and away from the B2C business.

The challenges for revenue assurance and broadly revenue management could be primarily focused on ensuring proper revenue sharing in an n-sided business model moving away form usage (and to some extent) configuration anomaly related revenue management.

As I always mention, the thoughts and ideas I portray in my articles are completely based on my personal study and understanding and thus could be far away from facts and what other think about the same. I request anyone who reads my blog to share their thoughts– outright rejections of my concepts,  or acceptance- partial of full. All of your comments are welcome.

(PS: Please point out grammatical, spelling errors and or typos. I would be happy to correct)

** My Calculations for arriving at the number of netizens:

Population of world roughly : 6.7 billion (source)
Population of China roughly : 1.3 billion (source) [empirically 20%]
Total netizens of the China empirically: 20% of population of China (source)
Therefore if China represents nearly 20% of the world, approximately Total number of Netizens around the globe =20% almost equivalent to the Chinese population of 1.3 billion.
Posted in Google, Revenue Assurance, Revenue management, telecom | Leave a comment

Google Wave – Missed the flight bigtime

This Techtree news was stunning– but showcased an invaluable fact about Business vis-a-vis Technology.

Google Waves Goodbye to Wave

Techtree News Staff, Aug 05, 2010 1253 hrs IST

It was launched amidst much fanfare more than a year ago at the 2009 I/O conference and was touted to be the biggest evolution since the advent of e-mail. Google’s Wave, which created waves in the way people communicated online, was no doubt a great concept – but inspite of its usefulness and capabilities, Google has decided to shut down the service due to lack of enough patronage.

In a blog post  announcing the decision, Urs Holzle, Google senior vice president for operations said, “Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked,” and for the same reason “We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a stand-alone product,” 

Note that this does not mean they are shutting down Wave entirely. For now, the account would still be accessible and Google has reaffirmed that the service would be running through the end of the year. They have also that technology used in the Wave would be integrated into other Google projects.  For those who still use Wave, Google said that many of Google Wave’s features are already available as open-source components and they would enable users to migrate from Google Wave to “easily liberate” their content from Wave.

Looks like, like us, Google too thinks the Wave was a bit too advanced for its time. Or was it a failure on Google’s part to “explain” the whole concept to the public. Or is it just that people like to keep things simple on the web? Google intended the Google Wave to be a “Web app for real time communication and collaboration” however, people think there are other easier alternatives in the market today that make the Google Wave either redundant or simply too futuristic.

Anyway, if you haven’t logged on to Wave for the past few months, you might want to take a look at it again. It might not be there a few months down the line.

Quite like tens and thousands of technical advancements that are made in the market– not all of them see success. This seems another story in the same saga.

Posted in Business, Google | Leave a comment

Assurance : Management : Maximization & the scope of the activities

These three words are nothing new in the revenue management domain especially for telecoms. .But the question is — are these sequential activities or are they parallel? Another question that I hear reverberate across the industry — what is ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ for these activities. Add the word “revenue” in front of these and the debate starts. Let me pen down how I see these merge into one broad scope of work.

“Revenue Assurance” is the activity of determining any activity for which there is a direct loss of revenue in the business operations. Note– I did not say “potential”. So, what about fraud? Is that a part of RA? I would say yes– more so because, for fraud the end activity is trying to fix loop-holes which let fraudsters get away by not ‘paying’– and thus is a loss for the business. I have heard people argue– that this is not so because fraud detection activities have to be looked from a completely different angle. Even if that be– it is about reaching the same goal (of plugging monetary leakage) through different routes — a different tactic for RA and a different Tactic for FM. So not only FM, any activity that helps in plugging leakage of money (revenue) should thus be a part of RA– that includes Network assurance and others too.

What’s  with “potential”? When you do not know what is to be assured, how would you know what was the potential in the first place? Let me take an example– if You know you are supposed to get $100, and you get $90, you “know” you did not get $10. That is the ‘direct loss’ and that should be in purview of RA activities. When you did not know that the capability was to generate $110 and not $100, how would you account in “RA” ? Thus I believe, revenue management should include all activities of identification of ‘true’ earning potential of the business and then trying to achieve the same. Example, say for a telecom operator, one fine day the international calls dipped than normal. There could be innumerable causes– but if any of it is not identified as anything to do with direct causes of network breakage, of fraudulent tampering or such, but is just attributed to the fact that ‘customers’ called using a free service of another operator– how would you quantify this loss? Well the quantification could be average of $ generated usually minus what was generated on this day. But this is a complete ‘opportunity’ loss. how do you stop it? Identifying what the consumer needs/wants is only one form of such management– today this is being called as CEM (customer experience management), some call another sibling task as “Customer Lifecycle Management”….and the such. Think of quality of service– that is not in RA– but is actually a part of revenue management. I would tend to say– ‘revenue management’ is to ensure the following things:
1. you get what you should get (RA) +
2. you dont lose out what you should have otherwise got (every reason) over and above point 1.

[‘Loyal’ and satisfied customer base + Minimal inventory time + optimum asset usage + near zero bad debts + positive cash flow] — if you have ticked these atleast, you know you have a growing business. (How many other points did I miss? Please help me add more.) All activities geared to achieve these – tend to be in the scope of ‘revenue maximization’….. the point is, assurance and management thus fall within the scope of maximization.

I believe these ‘three’ activities are no where sequential– they are way too parallel– and somehow tend to represent the same states that a company would go through in times of transformation for betterment and growth. Just like transforming a company for growth, where you need to attach smaller problems first to ensure quick wins, but also have a large plan of activities causing a ripple across the organization– these activities actually have no boundaries between themselves. There could be potential situations of achieving quick wins in minimizing inventory time, which has nothing to do with assurance or management. Should you not do that first — if you can before you try and fix core revenue leakage problems which you know would take some amount if time?? I guess yes.

The situation for telecoms is just like that of transforming companies for betterment- all you need is quick wins with long lasting benefits. The challenge is identifying the same– ability to prioritize in an ever changing business model. A company that can help telecoms prioritize is the real game changer in the industry

I feel these terms ‘revenue assurance’; ‘revenue management’; ‘revenue maximization’ and the so called debated boundaries are more to create demands (and thus marketing gimmicks for people who want to stay within their comfort zones of offering capabilities) and less to solve the real life problems. Tell me one CFO who would like to have different reports of revenue assurance and revenue maximization activities. I guess all he/she would like to see is how profitable the business was yesterday vs today vs tomorrow — while keeping a positive cash flow. A business can be bankrupt- yet profitable- no one wants to be in such a situation.

Like always– this is completely ‘in my opinion’. Do let me know what you think of it.

(PS: Please point out grammatical, spelling errors and or typos. I would be happy to correct)

Posted in Business, Fraud management, Revenue management, telecom | 1 Comment

DELL- What Simplicity of Thoughts can Achieve

No frills- we all talk about simplicity of thought, but here is a live example.

Michael Dell started off with a $1000 capital — and the sole objective was to provide great service to customers at reasonable prices…. The technology to be used was a simple “thought”– a “Direct Model” for selling and reaching out to customers.

Simple thoughts created a business worth over $40 Billion, from a $1000 dollar starting capital.

So what did Michael Dell do? Magic? No — it was about using the right set of tools for the right purpose at the right time. The simplest of ideas — listen to “exactly” what the customer needs and deliver the same. “Underpromise” yet “Overdeliver”– two simple ideas, and Dell true to its service across the globe maintains the meaning of the words.

The most important thing that I believe worked for Dell was the urge to outperform one’s own self– each day ,every day; and having people (the people at Dell, the suppliers and partners, and most important the customers) informed and charged up for achieving that which is “NEXT” .

Well all this praise comes from understanding how to build business empires from the horse’s mouth. “Direct from Dell” is a book worthy if you want to grow business empires.

Posted in "Direct from Dell", Business, DELL | Leave a comment

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

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Frank Abagnale Jr.

For anyone new to the name, Frank Abagnale was one of the most notorious fraudsters who had duped investigators for a very long time- but eventually landed up being the owner of Abagnale & Associates, a financial fraud consultancy company some time after he was hired by the US Federal Department for aiding fraud investigations w.r.t banking frauds. To know more read the Wikipedia article at

Wondering why this is mentioned in this blog? It is about fraud management and investigation. Still wondering– read on.

Abagnale was hired by the US federal department for aiding them in case investigation of fraud– does not that sound interesting? Well all that i want to showcase is the fact- he was the best fraud detector because he was the best defrauder.

In today’s parlance — when we look at fraud detection methodologies especially through data analysis and or use of a tool (more so during the design of the tool itself) — the basic objective is somehow lost in designing a system that would “try and catch a fraudster”– but what we essentially lose out is trying to implement ‘how a defrauder actually thinks’ … that is the key to understanding how fraudulent patterns need to be detected. If I am a fraud analyst it is about answering the question — what can i do to defraud the system and reap benefits. It is only then the gig-saw puzzle of millions of snippets of available data join to form the actual trap for catching the criminal.

In one of my own posts “

“Catch me if you can” — said the fraudster” (click for reading the post)

i had told how the behavior the data-stream  itself is the big key for catching and identifying a fraudulent pattern. As a matter of fact only a fraudster’s brain would actually allow you to detect the changing pattern in a seemingly harmless data. 

Abagnale was successful because he had the mind to think how “he” would defraud the system and thus look at the available data. It was never the opposite way.

This all sounds like a familiar concept that we have heard a number of times– but of course there are practical challenges.

If you want to share/ discuss / refute what I say– please feel free to do so. I welcome all comments.


Posted in Detection, Frank Abagnale, Fraud management | Leave a comment

Is Vodafone changing game plans? Won’t that hurt?

A call to the Vodafone call center today freaked me out!
The IVR said– “charge of the call would be 50 paise per 3 minutes”….. Now that is strange!
I wanted to speak to the customer care agent for activating a GPRS connection on a new handset and all I wanted to know was how I do it– and ‘Along came Thy Reply’.

I don’t mind paying that puny amount- but well expected more professionalism from the agent though- he seemed not to be in any mood of listening to what I was looking for. I have been a customer care agent myself in my initial days of professional life and I know what it means to handle clients- over the phone- and so would genuinely expect more; especially when “I’m PAYING” for it.

But that is not the point–Think about it- Vodafone- India, with so huge a customer base and literally one among those 2-3 mobile operators in India to make “some”profits in 2009-10 compared to the rest of the operators– in this kind of a market of ever dwindling ARPU, and yet trying a hand with in 3G inspite of the freaking bid value ;out charging customers for their calls of help– doesn’t that sound an “ouch” somewhere??

Or is this some stance for curtailing costs? Just as Bharti-Airtel has announced the following:

Bharti Airtel trims India capex by almost half in new fiscal to $ 1.5 bn
TT Correspondent |  New Delhi |  28 Apr 2010 Airtel which announced its quarter 4 and fiscal year 2009-2010 results today said that it is planning a capex in the range of $ 1.5 billion to $ 1.7 billion for the Indian market in the new fiscal.
“The capex will be mainly towards network expansion and upgradation. While the figures do not include capex for 3G network rollout we feel that there wont be significant capex involved in rolling out 3G network as it will mainly involve replacing 2G gear in our case,” said Akhil Gupta, Deputy Group CEO & MD Bharti Enterprises and a Director of Bharti Airtel.
Bharti Airtel had announced a capex of $ 3 billion for last fiscal.
He also said that the capex for recently acquired Zain’s Africa operations in 15 countries is likely to be in the range of existing figure of $ 800 million.

Akhil Gupta also said that there will be added capex in the company’s Bangladesh and Sri Lanka operations as well

Isn’t this another ‘ouch’?
When other newbies who are bleeding from the investments they have made in India, but are still trying to grab their piece of the market– with lower-than-imagination costs and benefits for consumers, would this stance of Vodafone hold good in long term?  Guess only time will tell.
And the concluding statement had to be.. “Your thoughts and comments please?”

PS: I have a post-paid subscription from Vodafone India

Posted in Airtel, ARPU, Business, telecom, Vodafone | Leave a comment