Reinventing business assurance for the digital era

Business assurance (BA) in the digital era is not about assuring business as usual; it’s about safeguarding new business, business models and customer experience delivered by ecosystems of partners.

The primary drivers for changes to BA are:

  • a multi-trillion-dollar Internet of Everything (IoE) market up for grabs – up to $20 trillion by 2020 according to some estimates;
  • big, new challenges involved in managing multiple, end-to-end partnerships, while providing seamless customer experience across ecosystems;
  • the need for new business models to generate and share new revenues; and
  • acting as a trusted business ecosystem partner.

More specifically, urgent priorities include monetization, cost- and revenue-sharing through real-time, micro-payment processing, and combating fraud in this dynamic and complex environment to assure revenue.

A not only for members solution

TM Forum is establishing a pilot scheme called Innovate Working Group for Business Assurance in the context of IoE and the digital economy. It will build on the great achievements of previous collaborative Revenue Management (RM) and Revenue Assurance (RA) projects within the Forum to create innovative solutions for IoE and digital business requirements. Best practices developed by these groups save operators around the world many millions of dollars every year.

Most excitingly though, the team intends to drive the Forum’s long-established and hugely successful, open collaboration model beyond the Forum. Collaborative R&D, including jointly executed proof-of-concept Catalyst projects, are the heart of the Forum and the assets generated and evolved by them are in commercial deployments the world over.

To extend this model, the team plans to engage CSPs, consultants and analysts, software companies, individual subject matter experts, and other organizations that are not Forum members, but are involved with BA for the digital world.

Impacting factors, scope and approaches

The idea was born at TM Forum’s Action Week in Lisbon last February, where highly experienced RA professionals from around the world discussed business transformation strategies and corporate objectives. It became obvious that even organizations leading in the practice of RA struggle to quickly deploy best practices in areas related to new digital services and IoE.

The challenge is all the greater given the speed of change due to pressures to reduce time to market and the added complexity of a multi-partner ecosystem. As CSPs become digital service providers (DSPs), we need ‘assurance by design’ principles – principles where BA is inherent in services produced and delivered by multiple business partners to ensure services are secure, and all revenue is captured and accurately recorded.

It also became clear that strategic leadership teams within operators need to grasp the importance of RA and RM, and that the scope of both needs evolve to full-blown BA that is fit for the digital era – and that means expanding established notions of BA too. We recognized that we would have to extend our open collaboration model to make these big changes. Some of the learnings from Action Week, including those from an interesting case study shared by a European operator that took a more transparent approach to RA will be reflected in the future TM Forum Revenue Assurance guidebooks.

A first pragmatic step

As a pragmatic first step help RA and RM teams achieve these goals, the working group agreed to issue a statement of direction. Its aims include creating more visibility around BA and efficiency (such as cost savings) by demonstrating the impact on customer satisfaction, among other things to show that companies must redouble their BA efforts as they will be vital to succeeding in this hyper-connected digital environment.

In particular, complex interactions between partners and customers highlights the central issue of trust and BA has a critical role to play here.

TM Forum and its members defined an IoE Roadmap of Challenges identifying the 20 most prominent barriers to IoE business and development. These main challenges have now been grouped into the three pillars of IoE success: monetization, management and trust (MMT).

The bigger context

The absence of any one of the three will result in stagnation of the IoE economy at best and its failure at worst. As a team, we’ve plotted BA’s relevance against the Roadmap of Challenges to illustrate the importance of this discipline in enabling MMT in areas like monetization, customer trust, partnering, data ownership, systems transformation, etc.

The Innovate Working Group will drive recognition of the strategic and overall business relevance of RM and RA processes under the name of Business Assurance for Digital Communications Service Providers. Part of our work will be to position and brand the RA discipline across areas driven and impacted by digital transformation and emerging business models.

We encourage you to get involved in this new open Innovate Working Group. One of the first activities of the group is to perform further research in the area of new challenges and innovations in BA. Don’t hesitate to share your views or ask any questions here or by dropping me an email.


    About The Author

    Head of Risk & Assurance

    Rene is Head of Risk & Assurance at Telia Company, Finland. He is responsible for managing GRC (governance, risk & compliance), fraud management, revenue assurance and credit control. He has also been the leader of the TM Forum’s global RA survey since 2014. Additionally, Rene is one of the driving forces behind the new TM Forum’s Business Assurance Initiative. In his co-lead role, Rene’s ambition is to help professions in the Business Assurance area to acquire capabilities to master future challenges and to become proactive value drivers in their companies. Rene has over 15 years of industry expertise and has spent 10 years in international consulting and auditing, with a background in GRC, RA and outsourcing/partner management. He recently received an outstanding contributor award for thought leadership in his area.

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