Saving telco revenues amidst a flurry of network upgrades
With brisk advancement in technologies across the telecom industry, network operators in this era are facing new obstacles each passing day. Even as technology innovation creates new revenue streams for the sector, it also brings with it challenges that have increasingly become improbable to predict, say Dipayan M Goswami is senior lead analyst and Anand Chandrashaker is senior domain principal at Infosys BPM.
To mitigate the risks that come with transformations of this industrial scale, the role of a Revenue Assurance (RA) officer becomes crucial to safeguard company operations amidst a turmoil of change. With each generation of innovation in network and connectivity, such as 5G network deployment, vulnerabilities in the system have only grown to adversely impact the bottom-line profitability of operators. The role of an RA hence becomes even more crucial in present times. When involved in the initial phases of large transformation programs, the role of an RA can be instrumental in detecting and preventing telecom revenue leakages of any kind.
As it is, with the addition of new components/features and complicated products or services, telecom networks consistently run the risk of unmet requirements, faulty execution of tests, or misconfigurations leading to huge ramifications to revenues and overhead costs. The expertise of an RA can help mitigate these risks predictively rather than reactively. No wonder RAs are quickly assuming a pivotal stance in the strategy table of an organisation.
A pool of loopholes
Amidst the massive fund crunch that the sector faces globally, along with overhead costs of decommissioning legacy networks, operators are also having to deal with loopholes within the system that are additionally burdening them to scourge for possible ways to minimise losses and leakages. Scenarios such as misconfigurations, data feed reconciliation, and normalisation errors, among others, can arise as an unpleasant surprise in the implementation phase, causing massive overshoot in costs, and scrunching the cash flow of operators in acquiring necessary infrastructure, such as spectrum bands.
Revenue generation can also be negatively impacted due to multiple technical glitches during network upgrades. Systems may fail to generate Call Detail Records (CDR) due to flawed network configuration, may not process them correctly, or not pass them on to downstream applications for further analysis. Planned outages may not go live as planned, resulting in a delayed response from the network, or an extension in the system downtime may leave operators with no planned backup to fall back on.
A faulty process model may aggravate the complexity of risks further down in execution. The absence of systematic documentation of test scenarios, incorrect or no analysis of data feeds pre-and post-deployment of product/service, slow resolution of customer complaints regarding upgrades, and poorly defined or shortfall of internal checks can all attribute to a faulty process model, riddled with risk of errors. Such a process model can only be a black hole in an organisational ecosystem usurping all organisational funds towards upkeep, instead of being a source of revenue growth.
But there is a way out of the chaos for operators and arrest these challenges early on. The key is to involve an RA’s expertise right in the design phase of network upgrades to improve the due diligence at the start phase. The involvement of an RA from an early stage will also ensure that project managers have a deeper understanding of various risks and vulnerabilities that may arise during the addition/up-gradation phase of any network and can help evaluate the revenue assurance technologies that can detect, or even predict leakages, thus reduce risks in the later stages.
Keeping it together
If system vulnerabilities were not enough, a lack of interdepartmental collaboration can further aggravate the challenges that operators face today. It is often seen that many project teams work in silos and have no visibility beyond their function. At times, teams may not even know the modules/functions, dependencies, and assumptions, on which their upstream and downstream departments work.
An RA can help in this regard as well. With proper due diligence, detailed product evaluation, and scenario-building for complete visibility of insights, RAs can suggest relevant tech requirements, cutting down the risk of deploying irrelevant transformation projects.
Involving RAs from the planning stage of a transformation project will also allow project managers a deeper understanding of various risks and vulnerabilities that may arise in the course of transformation. Having an RA expert can provide optimum visibility of the current state of the network, create a robust north star architecture, and validate user stories during the development and design phase. RAs are also adept at working with CFOs to predict and provide a bird’s eye view of company revenues and traffic flow in the network, helping finance teams to be more agile in decision-making. By integrating the role of an RA in the core strategy, service providers gain greater cost control and revenue assurance at each stage of data flow.
Having an RA expert can provide good visibility to the current state of the network, help create a robust north star architecture and validate user stories during the development and design phase of the project. In addition, RA experts can help CFOs with an early view of the revenue and traffic flow in the network. With them, service providers gain greater cost controls and revenue assurance at every stage of data flow. Missteps at any point can mean lost margins. Hence, it has become critical for service providers to engage RA function in all their transformation programs.
With the onset of technological advancements such as 5G, the telco industry is undoubtedly at the cusp of a new revolution. Missteps at any point can mean lost margins. Considering this, telcos cannot afford to slack in their pace to achieve this digital transformation. Unwavering focus on revenue management by RA experts, alongside exploring evolving technologies, is essential to safeguard revenues, especially in crises.
This article was first published on Vanilla+.