The life of a global operator is an increasingly difficult one, especially when it comes to revenue. Fragile ARPU rates combined with fierce competition from Over-the-Top (OTT) service providers has left once secure revenue streams seriously exposed. Now, more than ever, revenue protection top of the priority list for operators looking to reap the benefits of digital transformation.
However, as operators seek to modernise networks and embark on their digital journey, the balance between virtualised networks and equally virtualised revenue assurance can be a difficult one to strike. They must look to revenue assurance as a key enabler – much like NFV or big data. Indeed, more than an afterthought, transformed revenue assurance must be seen as part and parcel of the operator’s digital journey.
Out with the old, in with the new
The digital journey of the telco operator is a topic that has been discussed and debated at length in the industry. However, it is only in the last few years that its true impact has been felt. Operators are now embracing new digital services and rolling out agile and virtualised networks capable of handling capacity that traditional telecoms networks would have once struggled with. While this is good news for consumers – benefitting from a wealth of additional services and better Quality of Experience (QoE) – for operators, this new era has brought with it several challenges in protecting revenue.
When it comes to revenue protection and assurance, system upgrades have often been an afterthought. As a result, these systems are falling short of their requirements and are found to be ill-fit for today’s agile and virtualised networks. But, as the industry upgrades and deploys new services to meet subscriber demands, operators cannot afford to leave revenue assurance behind.
By the end of 2017 up to 20 percent of total services revenue is due to come from digital services, according to a recent survey conducted by Openet. This figure is only set to increase as data becomes even more commoditized. If revenue assurance systems are left as they are, up to 5 percent of digital services revenue could be lost, the study revealed. For operators, these stakes are too high – digital services are their future, but it won’t make much of a difference to them if they can’t monetise their digital assets.
Moving to real-time
If operators are to succeed on their digital journeys and prevent revenue leakage they must prioritise real-time assurance. Around 91 percent of service providers view real-time revenue assurance as the most important priority to protect digital services revenue. While traditional systems use batch analysis to reconcile transactions, this method poses greater risk of revenue leakage, unlike real-time analysis which can reconcile 100 percent of usage data from network elements.
A change in BSS isn’t always straightforward. Legacy systems mean that alterations can be time-consuming and costly (in some cases, very costly). Operators should therefore seek the most economical way of implementing real-time assurance without entirely disrupting existing processes. Indeed, an adjunct approach should be favoured over “rip and replace” or even upgrading existing systems. By adopting an adjunct system, operators can implement a revenue assurance system designed for digital services capable of running alongside legacy systems and phasing out the old systems over time.
Avoiding the torrent of lost revenue
A real-time revenue assurance system should have the capabilities to collect, measure, and monitor all transactions as they happen to assure new digital services. It is imperative that operators have the ability to view all potential revenue leakage for all services, in real-time and for the entire end-to-end process. Systems must therefore be able to reconcile data across multiple platforms and service layers, as well as at event level to prevent gaps in analysis.
Failure to do this will soon see revenue assurance leaks turn into streams of lost revenue and with so many monetisation opportunities expected to come from digital services, operators have a lot to lose if they don’t consider a revenue assurance revamp in the immediate to short-term future.
Joe Villarreal is Director of Assure Solutions at Openet, a digital transformation consulting company focusing on improving customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.