Friday, June 25, 2010

This is Us

About a week ago, I went to a Backstreet Boys (BSB) concert. If you know the group I am talking about, then I am betting that right about now you are rolling your eyes and wondering if I should ever be taken seriously again. For those of you who do not know BSB, then we will just leave it at pop-singing boy band that used to cater to teenage fans about eight to ten years ago (and in case anyone is wondering they are still making new albums, and touring worldwide).

As a lifelong fan, I will say this concert was absolutely amazing. This was my (eh hem) fourth BSB concert in my lifetime, but it is really hard for me to embarrassed; the Boys have never let me down. However, besides screaming at the top of my lungs, boppin’ along to all my favorite tunes from 7th grade, and just generally behaving like a silly teen, I did make an interesting observation. When I had gone to my first concert I was 12 years old, and like me, most of the fans had been preteen-teenage girls. Some of them came with parents, but most of them were at the age where they could go to the concert with other friends. I am pretty sure we saw less than ten boys/men.

The one I went to last week featured a completely different demographic, the girls who had once been younger were now in their 20s, and instead of going with girlfriends many brought a significant other or a young family. While there were certainly more women, there were also plenty of boyfriends, husbands, and sons in the crowd as well. There were many situations where I would see a group of people and wonder who from there is the BSB fan - the 4 year old boy, the 9 year old girl, the middle aged parents, or the older still grandmother. None of these people would have been at this concert 10 years ago!

But then something magical happened, the show started and it was as if all of us had been transported back to our younger selves. Despite a much more diverse and different crowd then they had back in their prime, the Backstreet Boys still performed a darn good show for everyone there. They were able to instill the same feelings and excitement in the crowd, and after just a few songs, even the boyfriends and the grandma (referenced before) were singing and dancing along.

Although, few may take BSB seriously enough to consider them professionals of any sort, I think this situation actually proves just the opposite. In their case, they are entertainers, and they have lived up to their objective of entertaining a crowd, no matter what types of people might be included. They adjusted to the changes in their audience without sacrificing integrity in the image, sound, or personality loyal fans have come to expect since their beginning.

Revenue assurance, in many ways, is in the same place as BSB, their “audience” is shifting. Some RA departments are finding their scope expanding into more operational departments. Other revenue assurance teams are taking on a more strategic role and getting involved with new product development and marketing. And even the RA team who is most unchanging still needs to work with others in a telco atmosphere that is never constant.

That is why, in my opinion, revenue assurance is similar to BSB, as they seem to constantly handle their new “audiences” and react to new situations and roles without losing the integrity of the value that they bring to Telecoms. I certainly can’t predict how the RA role will shift in the next five or even ten years, or who their new “audiences” will be. But I do believe that the core principles and objectives that revenue assurance has today – consensus, rationality, integrity, consistency, etc– will be just as critical in the future.

Ultimately, this is why I keep putting principles up for discussion on this blog, as a community matter. Maybe I am over-exaggerating their importance, but to me they are the foundation for revenue assurance professionalism and identity.
When I left the BSB concert with my ears ringing, voice sore from shouting, and legs exhausted from dancing, it was as though I was the same person walking out of one of their concerts ten years ago. The concert had been based on their new album called “This is Us,” and I felt they stayed true to that theme.

So, especially now, as RA finds themselves changing into new roles (as I imagine they always will), we, as a community need to make sure we have a solid grasp on those things that help us to say “This is Us” and here is what it means to be an revenue assurance professional.

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