The face of revenue assurance and fraud prevention is changing and I’m not sure the telecoms industry or service providers, in general, are gearing up for the inevitable onslaught of risk that digital services will bring.
I spent the last two days at a very well attended summit on Fraud and RA in Singapore, and heard from some of the region’s leading practitioners espousing their own case studies and sharing experiences freely with anyone that cared to listen. That’s the nature of this industry sector; risk is everyone’s concern with knowledge and preparation the best means of protection, along with sophisticated software, of course.
However, alarm bells rang when I was presenting my keynote address on the threats that digital services would bring us. There were the friendly chuckles at my one-liners trying to make light of what is going to be a flood of new, and never seen before threats. There were some stunned faces when I explained in more detail the impact of M2M traffic and the Internet of Things (IoT) that not just permeate our networks but may threaten to overtake them.
How are we going to assure revenue streams when we haven’t yet worked out what that traffic will look like and we are going to bill for it. Big data for these folks was the volume of traffic that could hide a multitude of sins. A fraudster’s paradise in the making? Forget your SIM-box fraud (still the most popular subject presented), start worrying about data fraud, data security and total data delivery.
Everyone using a network is going to take it for granted that whatever they send or receive over any network is going to be delivered fast, clean and relatively securely. They are going to expect total reliability and committed speeds, and they will be able to check if either is not happening.
It’s now longer just revenue assurance, or even business assurance, or even service assurance – it’s full assurance they will expect, nay, demand! RA and fraud departments will need to morph into broader risk departments (if they haven’t already) not only to keep doing what they do so well, but also to ensure that every service, from conception to death, is safe and sound, delivered as promised and generates the full revenue potential expected. And that means managing the total risk and the total delivery process.
This new risk spans every department and every corner of the network and will have to extend out to partner and third party networks and servers that will also be delivering services over the network. If network operators are going to be able to charge premiums for QoS levels they will have to be damn sure they can practice what they preach.
What drew the most gasps was the concept I put forward that those awful OTT players are not so awful after all and could be our most valuable partners in the future. Sure, we could offer to help them bill for the services, and help them access our customers for a fee, but what they will need most in the years to come is the ability to fend of fraudsters themselves and guarantee their own service, business and revenue assurance procedures to mitigate risk.
I’m pretty certain that very few digital service providers have given scant consideration to these elements. The rush to establish app stores, online content platforms and easy payment options would not have allowed it and they will soon come under the attention of the fraudsters, if not already. And when competition starts squeezing margins, the need for RA and fraud prevention, in some form, will became apparent and desirable.
Do you think they will want to invest in the same level of sophistication CSPs and network operators have done in the area of risk mitigation? Hardy likely. So whom could they turn to to help out? Hmmmm, let me guess.
Going ahead with new technologies and products/services without assuring that the income from these is not compromised is inane and insane from where I am sitting… Surely RA will be held accountable for ensuring a lot of the new emerging services; but execs and marketing depts manage to launch products that cannot even be supported by the primary technologies let alone RA. Therefore, I gasp that they gasp at the supposedly unknown threats/challenges; QoS and privacy concerns make this even more fun…