Should I feel good about my PoC results?

An article was published earlier this month in a leading Irish newspaper about a middle-aged man, a former marathon runner, who had a heart attack and “dropped dead” while out on a daily run with his friends. One month earlier, his family doctor estimated that his risk of having a cardiac event was just 4 per cent.

This week, our company concluded a “proof of concept”, or a sort of health check, on the data of a telecommunications operator in Europe. The objective was to verify whether the operator was collecting and processing customer event data correctly. And more importantly, to ensure that no monies were being lost or ‘leaked’ at the billing stage. This activity is part of a broader concept known as Revenue Assurance within the industry.

Having checked several basic data streams, the health check concluded that all was well. In other words, there were no errors or anomalies in the data processing chain, from the time of call completion to the corresponding call events appearing on the customer’s bill, or on their prepaid account.

When this good news was relayed back to the proof-of-concept customer, it was greeted with much satisfaction. In their estimation, it demonstrated that their environment was error-free, and any further investigation would only prove costly and possibly futile. It was thought that the level of risk to their organisation of experiencing any “revenue leakage” was zero.

Our business, as a software company, is to protect telecommunications companies from unwanted financial losses, such as fraud. Whereas fraud is typically an intentionally orchestrated scam aimed at exploiting a company’s assets for financial gain (an illicit business that costs the telecom industry some USD39 billion per year[1]), another source of revenue loss is “leakage” within systems or processes, but most often caused by human error. Unbeknownst to a telecom operator, it may be losing revenue, and possibly incurring reputational damage because of inaccurate billing.

A Revenue Assurance software system is designed to automatically monitor a myriad of data streams to detect and report anomalies and manage their correction. In many ways, operating without revenue assurance controls is like living without a health insurance policy. Without health coverage, a serious accident or a health issue that results in emergency care and/or an expensive treatment plan can result in poor credit or even personal bankruptcy.

Telecommunications companies owe it to their stakeholders, whether customers, auditors, regulators, or shareholders, to ensure that the financial integrity of their business is sound. In the deeper recesses of the data world, however mature the operator, problems will go wrong sooner or later. And we have witnessed many cases where unexpected issues arise, requiring urgent attention.

Those that have embraced a revenue assurance culture and the implementation of systems to control their data, have better quality data than those without systems. This is because data sets are being constantly challenged and corrected daily, and this process is largely automated and streamlined.

The resulting benefit is that quality data can be put to good use across multiple departments. In Finance for example, the accuracy of financial statements provided to auditors is critical. In Marketing, data-driven results help to strengthen brands and create business growth by enabling better customer experiences.

In the case of our marathon runner, he’s still out running, but now with a heartbeat monitor. Telecom organisations don’t usually “drop dead” when things go wrong, but the risk of financial losses should not be underestimated.

[1] The Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA), Worldwide Global Telecom Industry Survey, November 2023.