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John Myers

Hey all-

Welcome to my blog. The fine folks at the BeyeNETWORK™ have provided me with this forum to offer opinion and insight into the worlds of telcommunications (telecom) and business activity monitoring (BAM). But as with any blog, I am sure that we (yes we... since blogging is a "team sport"...) will explore other tangents that intersect the concepts of telecom and BAM.

In this world of "Crossfire" intellectual engagement (i.e. I yell louder therefore I win the argument), I will try to offer my opinion in a constructive manner. If I truly dislike a concept, I will do my best to offer an alternative as opposed to simply attempting to prove my point by disproving someone else's. I ask that people who post to this blog follow in my lead.

Let the games begin....

About the author >

John Myers, a senior analyst in the business intelligence (BI) practice at  Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). In this role, John delivers comprehensive coverage of the business intelligence and data warehouse industry with a focus on database management, data integration, data visualization, and process management solutions. Prior to joining EMA, John spent over ten years working with business analytics implementations associated with the telecommunications industry.

John may be contacted by email at JMyers@enterprisemanagement.com.

Editor's note: More telecom articles, resources, news and events are available in the BeyeNETWORK's Telecom Channel. Be sure to visit today!

September 2010 Archives

Competition for a limited number of customers in highly penetrated markets and increased government regulation has created a unique connection in the telecommunications industry - the linking of financial risks with operational risks.

On the financial side, the competition for customers has led to a near-realtime activation requirement for service connectivity and a true realtime, “self” provisioning requirement for products like phone apps and IPTV content.  A failing in this area leads to either a customer experience issue with an incorrect provision of a telecom service/product or a billing issue for that service/product that is incorrectly accounted for as a revenue or expense.

In terms of operational risks, increased government risk and compliance reporting requirements has led to the need to identify interactions across a wide range of platforms and associate those interactions with internal and external risks to the organization.  An inability to understand these interactions can lead to data breaches that lead to unwanted and costly corporate exposure or points of internal process breakdown that can indicate potential if not outright fraud.

Automated Processes: Linking Financial Risks with Operational Risks

In the past, these two practices were separated in the worlds of the office of the CFO represented by billing operations and customer fraud management and the office of the CSO in the form of corporate and information technology security.  And for the most part, these two groups had little need to interact unless focused on some aspect of internal fraud detection. However, with the increased implementation of automated business processes and applications to meet the market challenges of customer expectations; financial and operational risks now need to be linked to maximize revenues and minimize risk exposure.

Billing Operations teams need to understand the linkages between internal and external interaction with the systems that allow for various stages of “realtime” provisions of services:

  • Has the configuration of the billing system been changed?
  • Who has accessed the product catalog? How often?
  • When was the last update of the metadata associated with customer care?

Security and IT Operations needs to understand the financial impact of unauthorized access or suspect platform behavior:

  • How much exposure has a data breech led to?
  • What is the dollar value of a change to a server configuration?
  • Which customers are impacted?
Forensics on the Fly

ArcSightLogoRecently, ArcSight announced the release of their next generation Enterprise Threat and Risk Management (ETRM) package.  At the heart of this announcement is the upgrade of the following ArcSight products:

  • ArcSight ESM 5.0
  • ArcSight IdentityView 2.0
  • ArcSight Logger 5.0

Each of these offerings brings a new aspect to the ability of Security and IT Operations teams speed the analysis of system, access and log event across a wide variety of platforms.  This comes from the ability to perform “forensics on the fly”.  This ability to link disparate events and recognize their relation to enterprise risks goes a long way to answering the questions of “who?” and “what?”.

Telecom Take

For telecom organizations, the link between the CFO and CSO for enterprise risk management has been limited.  Now, with the ability to see events across multiple automated platforms in both financial and operational terms,  these links can strengthen and expanded to meet the challenges of both teams.

Finance can delve deeper into the root causes for the financial issues of customer/external usage fraud and revenue management.  Security and IT can assign monetary values and establish ongoing business cases for their compliance activities.  In both cases, the telecom organization should embrace the responsibility to link these worlds for long-term competitive advantage as well as short-term financial recovery and regulation compliance.

How is your telecom organization linking these aspects of risk management?

Post your comments below or email (John.Myers@BlueBuffaloGroup.com) / twitter (@BlueBuffaloGrp) me directly.

Posted September 21, 2010 8:28 AM
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I have maintained that as a business intelligence professional you will always find work if you can do the following:

“Tell them something that they didn’t already know…”

If you can tell your customer/client/co-worker something that they didn’t know from data they use everyday, you can amaze them as well as provide value.  But as Abraham Lincoln alluded to in his famous quote:

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

You need to adjust the level of analytics that you present to your audience so that you can continue to “amaze” them and provide that analytical value.

From the Propellerheads to the Business Analysts

It is this need to continuously explore new ( … and usually more complex… ) areas of analysis that is one of the drivers for predictive analytics.  No longer is “management” happy asking descriptive analytics questions like “who are our top-10 customers?” or “where are our most valuable customers?”.  Management is now asking questions about what are customers going to do in the future based on the past experiences/current behaviors – or predictive analysis questions.

These questions will run the gamut of relatively simple, ad-hoc predictive questions about one product during one month to complex, regularly scheduled enterprise-wide forecasts about customer bases.

This new level of information demand will only increase going forward.  And may very well overload the current capacity of propellerheads …err… statistical professionals to the point that none of these questions can be answered or at least answered in a timely fashion….

Recently, I had the opportunity to see a solution that may be an effective way to move predictive analysis workload from the statistical labs to the cubicles of front line business analysts.  This would allow for business analysts to take on certain tasks without requiring them to learn complex ( and at time costly… ) statistical analysis packages as well as provide relief to statistical professionals.

Riding to the Rescue on the Excel ‘Ribbon’

PredixionLogoPredixion Software offers a new cloud based solution that operates from within Microsoft Excel, but gives the power of complex statistical packages – Predixion Insight.

Predixion Insight takes each of the standard “steps” in the process of predictive analytics and places it intuitively in an Excel ribbon (see below).  Placing these tools easily in the Excel ribbon allows for savvy business analysts to use their favorite descriptive data analysis tool to perform predictive analysis.


Another appealing aspect of the Predixion solution is linking to source data rather than using extracts.  By using Excel’s integration with external data sources via the PowerPivot (nee Gemini) functionality, business analysts stay within the “good graces” of the IT and data governance teams.  By directly linking to the source data rather asking for time consuming data extracts, business analysts using Predixion Insight can further ‘self-serve’ their analytics needs as well as use timely rather than out-of-date data sets. 

Telecom Take

Telecom carriers will find the ability to spread the predictive analytical workload between statistical professionals and business analysts to a boon.  Currently over-burdened statistical teams can focus their efforts on enterprise wide analysis using their chosen tools.  Business analysts can focus on more tactical predictive efforts using tools that they already know.

Both groups using similar, or the same, predictive methodologies can make transitions relatively smoothly when the need arises to migrate ad-hoc department analysis to enterprise wide; or enable lessons learned at the enterprise level to department analysis.

Also, this type of environment can speed along the development of predictive models for the increasingly important area(s) of Customer Experience.  It has become increasingly clear that this particular has many aspects that “cry out” for predictive modeling.  However, existing tools and processes are not adapting fast enough to make this a true competitive advantage in telecom.  Too many telecom execs are settling for descriptive over the predictive due to the lack of ‘agility’ ( … little a agile… )

How do you see the drivers of descriptive vs predictive analysis in your telecom organization?

Post your comments below or email (John.Myers@BlueBuffaloGroup.com) / twitter (@BlueBuffaloGrp) me directly.

Posted September 14, 2010 3:30 PM
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