I read with interest a blog written by industry pundit (and MC at our next Worldwide User Group meeting in May), Tony Poulos, where he felt that the telecoms industry and service providers in general, were ill prepared for the inevitable onslaught of risk that digital services would bring.
He was the keynote speaker at the same revenue assurance and fraud prevention conference I attended in Singapore and what struck me was the audience, comprising senior people from across the region, was almost exclusively from the Telco sector.
This raised the question in my mind - why were other industries not present or even presenting ?
We know for a fact that industries like Finance, Utilities and Retailers, in particular, are very concerned with RA and Fraud, as they have become our customers.
Instead of broader experience sharing between industries, we heard about the same old issues that affect only Telco's - SIM box fraud, test-call generators and software tools with the odd case study in support.
When Tony raised the risk issues that new digital services would bring, he was talking about any Enterprise that was embarking on doing any digital business - and that means just about everyone/industry.
Even those well-established over-the-top (OTT) players like Amazon, Google and Apple selling digital apps, music, games, books, etc. etc., don't seem to be taking risk seriously.
Or is it that they are making so much money they can afford to lose some here and there ?
That's how communications services providers (CSPs) used to think but as margins starting coming under pressure and they realized that all leakage came straight off their bottom line they started taking it very seriously.
Retailers have moved past the 'catch the shoplifter' mentality and now take a more holistic view of loss through Fraud and leakage from order to sale.
Financial services are now charging fees at transaction level and need almost the same functionality as Telco's to track that all of them are being charged and collected properly.
Credit card issuers take risk very seriously but are still being subjected to massive losses through card frauds.
Yet it would be fair to say that CSPs are probably the most mature at effecting some form of Risk Management around what is largely digital business.
Tony felt that perhaps the Telco industry could offer its experience and service models to the newer digital service providers as a potential revenue stream, but I'm not sure the others will buy it.
That's because it is not just about buying new systems to monitor Fraud and manage leakage, even though that is a very important component.
The term 'Revenue Assurance' limits the focus to the money chain.
WeDo Technologies coined the term 'Enterprise Business Assurance' to emphasize that the view should move across all the processes that delivered value to the whole business, including the broader partner ecosystem.
We are now hearing the term 'Service Assurance' sneaking in, probably promoted by the network and old OSS silos that are concerned with assuring that all services are delivered according to criteria laid down in their design.
Surely all these assurances are part of what should now be simply termed 'Assurance', wouldn't you think?
Today, with the customer as the centre of the universe, anything that affects any part of their 'expected' experience will result in negative feedback.
However, shouldn't that 'Customer Assurance' go hand in hand with all the other assurances mentioned before, and all working together seamlessly across the whole ecosystem?
With so many partners, so many digital service providers and OTT players, and so many points of network interconnection it sound like an impossible task, but it isn't.
Soon enough, it will be not only expected, but demanded, and those service providers that prove they can 'Assure' the total customer experience and minimize risk, will definitely be sought out by others in the digital service chain.
The big question is, are we going along the Customer Experience Assurance path as an extension of the Enterprise Business Assurance in order to minimize effectively risk to ALL the Stakeholders ?